Food. It’s a remarkable creation. Seeds that germinate in the dark of soil and sprout through ground towards the sun. Stalks growing tall, producing colorful flowers, and developing into the edible foods that we consume. Humans have found creative ways to mix our foods to form unique dishes, flavors, and culinary experiences. Many of the cultural traditions we appreciate as people are centered around food. We take pictures and post about the good (and bad) foods we consume daily.
Food is a necessity to sustain life, but it is also a joyful part of life. Cooking with friends and family. Making sugar cookies at Christmas. Roasting pumpkin seeds and hot apple cider in Autumn. Ceviche and steak tacos on the coast of Mazatlan. Coffee and chocolate in the mountains of Chiapas. Food was designed to be enjoyed. Consuming and sharing food is part of the human experience. We domesticated plants (and animals) in our history for complex flavors and tastes. We plant, prune, harvest, store, cook, sell, buy, and share food.
Yet billions of people don’t have enough food, and millions of other people have a bit too much. People in the United States throw away roughly half the food we purchase. Half. That’s an absurd amount of food. That means we could cut our food budget in half each year. And if you’re like me your first through is, “Well, I know I don’t waste half my food. I’m not one of those irresponsible, uppity people that over-consumes.” Yet, if I really think about all those fruits and veggies in my fridge that begin to wilt, the leftovers that don’t really look appetizing reheated, the hundreds of to-go boxes I’ve left on the restaurant table, etc. We waste because we can and because food is everywhere. Our value on food is a different than people in other parts of the world, or for the food-insecure families in our neighborhoods.
We live in a world where under-nutrition (malnourishment) and over-nutrition (overeating) are major health issues. It’s a paradox, right? Parts of our world deal with people who get sick by eating too much, and other parts deal with people who get sick by eating too little. The agricultural industry produces enough food for everyone on the planet to meet their daily nutritional requirements. However, that doesn’t happen. We know that doesn’t happen because we see the commercials with the kids that need help. And that single parent who works hard but can’t afford the expensive, nutritious foods for their kids. Or that guy who was never taught how to cook so he only buys frozen meals. Or the migrant family that can’t get the traditional herbs, spices, and vegetables to make the cultural meals they are accustomed to.
These are issues of food access. Barriers to local, healthy, nutritious, economical, culturally-relevant foods. Barriers in knowledge on how to prepare meals. Barriers on how to consume a balanced diet. Barriers in how to purchase and store foods to reduce waste. Barriers in getting to the grocery store. Millions of people in the U.S. live in food deserts (regions where majority residents live greater than 1 mile from a grocery store). And the numbers are worse in the developing world. These barriers act like walls preventing people from enjoying food the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.
Our hope and mission is to increase food access for individuals. That’s access to consume, produce, purchase, prepare, and enjoy food. We believe food is a basic human right. And food is one of the best preventative medicines for at-risk communities. An important strategy we are taking to increase food access is to build gardens. Community gardens have been shown to reduce the prevalence of food deserts in U.S. cities. Gardens provide local, fresh, and healthy food options for communities. Many gardens incorporate fruits, veggies, herbs, and animals to meet all nutritional requirements of communities. It’s a first step on the path toward a sustainable, independent future for many at-risk communities. And it’s a main focus of ours over the next five years to address food access in the places where we operate.
So. Enjoy your meals today.
Try to throw away a little less food today. Eat a few more fruits and veggies. And join us in securing food access for all. If you think this is a cool idea, you can donate towards is here.
P.S. We will be taking a team to build gardens in western Mexico to implement this strategy. You are welcome to join us! Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org