Below is the latest installment of 5 Good Food Ideas that are reshaping our food system:
- Accelerating the Path to Zero Hunger
- Antibiotics as the Next Ethical Investment Battleground
- Mapping Los Angeles Food Resources
- Peer-to-Peer Insurance for Farmers
- The Match.com of Seed Saving
1. Accelerating the Path to Zero Hunger: Last year, the United Nations announced its own food startup accelerator. Since then, the World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator has already launched 20 concepts across 14 countries. The accelerator program provides cash (50-100k) and coaching, and emulates in part the Y Combinator model. What’s special about the WFP accelerator is the access to a UN network that will help those startup concepts deploy, pilot, and test rapidly. Having such an established network of partnerships, users, and infrastructure is a unique advantage of the accelerator and an incredible opportunity for the startups in the program. WFP sees the accelerator as a way quickly test new ideas and scale successful ones on the path to zero hunger. The WFP Innovation Accelerator is based in Munich, Germany.
2. Antibiotics as the Next Ethical Investment Battleground: Fund manager AMP Capital released a report citing the fragility of investments in companies using antibiotics in the food chain. The report — Is Factory Farming Making Us Sick? — calls into question these investments and makes a case for pressuring companies from using antibiotics in animal production. The fund is pushed to do so by clients who are concerned about ethical investing. The WHO recently identified antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global public health. It claims 100,000 lives in the US alone every year. AMP Capital believes that consumer awareness around the issue will lead to decreased earnings for those companies using antibiotics. In response the firm and its clients are asking companies to begin setting targets for reducing and eventually eliminating the use of antibiotics. Major companies like KFC, McDonald’s, Tyson Foods, Whole Foods are already making commitments and setting targets. Those same companies should pay attention as AMP is watching another food trend — sugar and obesity — very closely.
3. Mapping Los Angeles Food Resources: Food Oasis Los Angeles (FOLA) is a mapping platform that aggregates open data to identify healthy food resources for LA citizens. If you want to find the nearest food bank, farmers market, or community garden, FOLA can help you. The concept was launched as part of Hack for LA, a civic hackathon created under the auspices of Code for America. In 2015, Feeding America estimated that 1.5 million people in Los Angeles County are food insecure. That’s a staggering number. FOLA’s solution aims to help those citizens better sort and identify needed healthy food resources. The database is also useful for policymakers and advocates who want to access health metrics and outcomes. Through the FOLA platform, volunteers can seek opportunities to donate time or money to helping solve hunger in the city.
4. Peer-to-Peer Insurance for Farmers: Farmers in developing countries are more vulnerable to natural calamities. A changing climate coupled with a lack of financial and social safety support means unpredictability at best and financial ruin at worst. In the event of a drought, for instance, farmers not only lose their crops and income for that season but also lose the ability to cover education and health care costs for their families. The cycle of poverty tightens and worsens in these cases. WorldCover steps in to interrupt that vicious cycle with a peer-to-peer funded crop insurance solution. Farmers receive crop insurance and investors get diversified exposure to insurance products and an opportunity to catalyze social impact
5. The Match.com of Seed Saving: 75% of our seed varieties have disappeared since the beginning of the 20th century. That loss is the direct result of our industrial imposed monoculture practices and the corporate consolidation of the seed business by the likes of Monsanto and Syngenta. More importantly, the decline in seed varieties also makes us more vulnerable and poses a threat to future food security. To combat this trend, groups like the Seed Savers Exchange have for decades promoted the practice of seed sharing for farmers to collect and share heirloom seeds. Now, a new online tool called the Global Seed Network has launched to help scale those efforts. The Center for Food Safety (CFS), one of the pioneers of seed sharing, created the online platform to scale the conservation of seed diversity but also to cater the practice to millennial farmers. The free site allows users to create profiles and search the seed database according to specific regional attributes, including frost and mildew resistance or by searching for seeds that do well in highland temperate climates, for example. CFS also understands that state seed laws across the country are opaque and thus farmers need assistance understanding compliance and liability issues. The site hopes to bring greater transparency to those laws and push for clarification where needed.