In my practical work, I basically want to promote food smart mentalities. This means that I want to raise awareness and increase consciousness of the general public about the issues of food waste. I believe in order to reduce our food prints on the environment and the economy, we need to change our mindsets and apply them to our lifestyles. This will need to happen on many scales, both locally, nationally and globally, across homes, businesses and industries. I came across a very useful article on the Guardian outlining 10 poignant projects which have been set in action which aim to drastically reduce food waste problems in specific areas and sectors across the world:
For most of the past half century, many of us didn't know – and didn't care to know – how or where our food was produced. For many, food came from the grocery store or restaurant, not from the ground.
In the USA, The Food Network draws more viewers than any other cable news channel, but people are cooking less than ever. The time it takes the average American to prepare dinner is now less than half the length of a Hell's Kitchen episode. Cooking has become a spectator sport, with people watching TV chefs battle it while they grow ever-distant from the farmers who produce their food. The loss of culinary skills and regular meal times mean 40% of American meals are solitary, and eating with friends and family has become the exception rather than the norm.
Globally, famers are aging. Their average age in sub-Saharan Africa and the USA is 56. Youth, in rich and poor countries alike, don't consider agriculture a viable career. Those that choose it often feel forced into farming because they have no other options.
But now, the growth in farmers' markets and increasing interest in local food and food transparency is not only bringing people closer to producers, but creating excitement around cooking skills and conviviality. Here are 10 projects connecting eaters and producers, encouraging youth to choose agriculture, bringing people together over food and restoring lost culinary traditions.
1. Developing Innovations in School and Community Cultivation – Uganda
Teaching pupils about indigenous crops, founders Edward Mukiibi and Roger Sserunjogi have partnered with Slow Food International to strengthen relationships between young people and food. As well as improving diets and agricultural techniques they've helped reignite a vibrant cooking culture and local food knowledge.
2. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) – USA
KYF2 local markets provide opportunities for new farmers, diversified sales for experienced farmers and retail for small businesses, and allow consumers to learn about the origin of their food. Strengthening regional food systems, fostering healthy eating and empowering consumers are the United States Department of Agriculture's goals.
3. Tackling the Agriculture-Nutrition Disconnect – India
Agriculture employs more than half of India's workforce and yet pervasive undernutrition endures, especially among the young. With the long-term goal of building a nutrition knowledge and innovations network in India, this International Food Policy Research Institute programme, provides an information-sharing platform for nutrition, health, agriculture and education stakeholders.
4. Fresh! From Finland
This campaign encourages the use of local foods in schools, teaches children about food origins, and educates Finland and the world in appreciating Finnish food. Parents are urged to enjoy food with their children, with the aim of raising a new generation of eaters who think of food as a vehicle for connection and gathering.
5. The Centre for Foods of the Americas – Latin America
Much like language, culinary tradition must be practiced to be retained. This team preserve Latin American cuisine, travelling through the 21 countries cataloguing ingredients, dishes and street food
for future generations.
6. Manna From Our Roof – Italy
Federica Marra wants to bring young people closer to the food system and shorten the field-to-fork loop. Using urban roof gardens young people own the process, from growing methods and energy supplies to harvesting and taking the product to market.
7. The Prettiest Kitchen Gardens – Hungary
By encouraging Hungarians to grow food, not just flowers, this new initiative revives the forgotten popular kitchen garden traditions.
8. The Binational Center for the Development of Oaxacan Indigenous Communities – USA
Created by a group of Oaxacan mothers, who were worried about their children forgetting native recipes – and the consequential health problems they observed. They publish recipes, consult, run workshops and classes to preserve and stengthen indigenous food culture.
9. The European Council for Young Farmers – Europe
Giving a voice to young farmers and promoting a youthful and innovative agricultural sector is the Council's aim. Through exchange programmes, training and protecting agricultural and cultural traditions, they work to support young farmers and strengthen rural areas.
10. USAID Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Programme
With a focus on youth and women, this project encourages farmers to develop dairy skills and grow their income throughout the value chain. Transferring knowledge from older farmers, as they retire, to Kenya's youth, is seen as critical.
These projects are especially important in the International Year of Family Farming. Farmers are more than just producers, they're the stewards of indigenous foods and traditional cooking practices as well as entrepreneurs, who deserve to be recognised for their capacity to improve local economies and raise incomes in both developing and industrialised nations.