Most of what we know about worldwide hunger is wrong, according to Ellen Gustafson.
Her and Danielle Nierenberg, two longtime food activists, have partnered to launch The Food Tank, with the goal of not only educating the public about the real-world realities and implications of hunger and food access, but also gathering both Big Agriculture and local food activists under one roof to discuss ways to provide healthy, sustainable food to the entire world’s population.
"We spend a lot of time looking at hunger as an 'us and them' issue, but the reality is that food issues both in the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, have similar challenges and similar solutions," Gustafson told The Daily Meal. "It’s about building regional food systems, with easier access. The assumption that we’ve figured it out is not only arrogant, it’s wrong."
One of the largest issues the think tank, which will host events across the U.S., will be facing is the fact that the metrics currently used to come up with ideas to change food systems are incomplete at best.
"The question that’s been asked historically has been, 'How can we grow more food?'" said Gustafson. "When in reality what we should be asking is, 'How do we develop agricultural systems to get people to eat healthy? Foods with a low disease rate, a good environmental outcome, and long-term yields."
These answers won’t come easy, but Nierenberg and Gustafson are hoping that by bringing together farmers, businesses, workers, nonprofits, local activists, academics, policy-makers, industry, journalists, community organizations, the funding and donor communities, and everyone else in the food world under one roof and getting the conversation started, steps can be taken toward the end goal of a perfect worldwide food system.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.