6 projects that will give you hope for a new food economy

6 projects that will give you hope for a new food economy

Now more than ever, consumers care about where – and whom – their food comes from. Naomi Starkman and her team at CivilEats have been telling the stories of food producers, policymakers, eaters and advocates since the award-winning news blog was started in 2009.

Starkman, a food policy consultant and editor-in-chief of CivilEats, will offer insights during a panel about food reporting at Natural Products Expo West. In the meantime, she shared a few of her favorite stories from last year that highlight some of the heroes working to make the U.S. food system healthier and more sustainable.

Standards for better working conditions on large farms

When farms have good pesticide and food safety protocols, and when farm workers feel empowered and respected in their jobs, the whole food system benefits. Industry players like Costco came together with advocacy groups around that cause to create the Equitable Food Initiative, which is working to create and implement standards for labor, pesticide use and food safety on farms. EFI certifications have already been issued to at least two growers in California.

Expo West appearance:
Naomi Starkman spoke as part of Natural in the Media: The Narrative of Food Reporting at Expo West 2015.


Scholarships for groceries

It is possible to eat healthy on a budget. That’s the message behind Groceryships, a program that provides struggling families with resources that encourage them to shift the way they spend their food dollars from packaged products to fresh, plant-based foods. The six-month program offers families a weekly stipend to buy fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and seeds, as well as group support meetings, medical screenings and weekly classes on nutrition and healthy cooking.  Participating families in the first half of 2014 saw family members lose weight, and all reported eating significantly more fruits and vegetables.

Workplace CSAs

Organizations like FairShare CSA Coalition are helping connect businesses with local farms that offer CSA programs. Through partnerships with these businesses, farms across the country are finding increasing support and upping their CSA shares while reaching mainstream eaters who may not already be eating fresh, organic produce. Double win!

Shared kitchens for Motor City entrepreneurs

The high cost of setting up a commercial kitchen can lead would-be food entrepreneurs to a dead end. That’s why Eastern Market, an urban farmers market in Detroit, teamed up with FoodLab Detroit to give new life to abandoned or underutilized commercial kitchens in the city’s churches, community centers and businesses. Detroit Kitchen Connect encourages innovation and entrepreneurialism in a city that's recovering from an economic collapse.

Ranchers opt for cooperation instead of competition

This is the story of four small California meat producers who turned to each other to cut down on some of the inefficiencies in running their own small family farms. Under the women-led Capay Valley Meat Growers co-op, the four farms buy supplies in bulk, carpool animals to the slaughterhouse and alternate selling their meats at farmers markets so the others can spend more time on their farms. Plus, having four producers sharing a stand at the markets ensures that there’s ample product to sell each week.

The nation’s largest rooftop farm

Atop soap company Method’s new $30 million facility in Chicago, Gotham Greens is set to build a 75,000-square-foot farm that will bear an expected 1 million pounds of produce annually, meanwhile, helping revitalize the city’s historic Pullman neighborhood.

What projects or initiatives are you following closely?


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