FarmLink: Connecting Food Waste to Food Security

Going to the grocery store is suddenly accompanied by a strange anxiety – do I have my mask? My sanitizer? Will they have what I need? What if I can’t find any milk or meat? In the midst of all of this stress and chaos, very few of us have stopped to think about the people less fortunate: those who can’t even afford to shop at the grocery store. Where will they get their food?

Food Problems in the U.S. Existed before COVID

Food insecurity is an increasingly large problem in the United States, even when we are not dealing with a pandemic. We’ve always faced challenges with feeding our entire nation, especially in low-income and food desert communities. In 2018, 10 million adults in the U.S. used food pantries – that’s 5% of the population. Since COVID, Feeding America gave out 20% more food in March than the average month and estimates that 1 in 6 Americans could face hunger.

Now, this does not mean that we don’t have enough food to feed our people. In fact, we have more than enough. The COVID economy is not helping. In addition, the problem currently lies with how much food we waste, how much goes uneaten, and how much food we lose along the food production chain. In fact, the FDA estimates that between 30 to 40% of the food supply in the United States is wasted and lost every year. Each year, it’s estimated we waste about 140 billion pounds of food, with produce on farms accounting for 20 billion pounds. How is this possible when so many people are going hungry?

It is a perfect storm: food is being wasted and food banks need food. Seems counterintuitive, right? With unemployment at 13.3% due to businesses closing and workers being let go by their companies, people suddenly find themselves in a position where putting food on the table is no longer a simple task. Lines outside of food pantries run for miles long, but because of the disturbance in the food supply chain, many return home hungry and empty-handed.

Then came FarmLink…

FarmLink is an organization that started about 2 months ago by some pretty incredible young people: Will Collier, a Brown University graduate; James Kanoff at Stanford University; and Aidan Reilly, Ben Collier, and Max Goldman at Brown University. They came up with the idea after reading about the lines at food banks and the amount of food being wasted in the country. From there, they connected the dots, or linked them, if you will. Aidan Reilly and James Kanoff, who volunteered at their local food bank in Los Angeles in earlier years, saw the effects COVID was having close to home.

“COVID spurred our creation of FarmLink because of the unprecedented amount of food waste in the system and demand at food banks. Food bank lines were miles long. There’s more demand than in the Great Depression. Seeing food waste and food security, we wanted to attack both and combine two pieces of the process.”

– Will Collier, co-founder

The goal of FarmLink was simple: to rescue wasted and surplus food from farms and connect them with food banks around the country in need of food during COVID. The first transfer they made was with an onion farm in Idaho, Owhyhee Farms. At Owhyhee, there were millions of pounds of surplus onions going straight to the dump because they had nowhere to go. FarmLink called the farm and inquired about rerouting the onion truck to a foodbank in L.A. instead of the dump. They successfully transferred the onions, and FarmLink took off from there.

How It Works

FarmLink, though early in its inception, launched with what has proven so far to be a well-oiled transfer system from farms to food banks. With efficiency top of mind at every step, they get in touch with farmers and food banks with the use of research teams. The researchers figure out where to find surplus and what farms are in surplus of what items, depending on which items are in harvest. They then look to see what counties around those farms are underserved and in need of food.

The method is not to move food more easily, but rather to fill in the gaps and get food to communities truly in need. Some places where FarmLink has already provided food are the Navaho Nation in southwestern U.S., New York City, Detroit, Chicago, L.A., and Siskiyou County in Northern California, which was labeled the hungriest county in California in 2017.

FarmLink is 100% volunteer-operated and all proceeds go to the purchasing of food from farmers and transportation. They work hard to pay farmers that need compensation for pick-and-pack fees, which include harvesting, labor, and packaging, and also provide breakeven money on a crop so farmers can continue planting that crop. FarmLink also compensates truck drivers and any essential workers in the process to support the supply chain.

“The growth and support we’ve gotten and sheer volume we’ve been able to move has been completely overwhelming … we’ve been in awe with the scale we’ve been able to grow at and seeing so many people come together.” – Will Collier

FarmLink Today and Going Forward

Today, FarmLink has hundreds of volunteers all across the country and from more than 20 schools, and it’s still growing! They have a weekly newsletter to keep donors and supporters up to date on what’s going on and how they can continue to help the process. Every piece of FarmLink has been developed and continues to operate virtually, proving you can do anything you put your mind to, even with limited human contact. The founder and most volunteers are young college students or recent college graduates.

Will Collier recognizes the benefits to this: “It’s been incredible for all of us to see how interested and motivated our generation is. One thing you hear is millennials are looked at as selfish with phones, technology, social media, but I think this has been an amazing way for all of us to share that we do have interest in helping out our communities and people across the country.”

Even once COVID is no longer an issue, this will only be the beginning of FarmLink in fulfilling their continued goal of leaving no person hungry.

Will says, “the cusp of what we’re trying to get to is still undiscovered.” In May alone, FarmLink moved one million pounds of food, and in just the first half of June, they have already moved over three million. The possibilities are endless for this incredible company!

Want to be part of the change?

FarmLink is always interested in volunteers! Applications can be found on their website and donations are always welcome! You can also subscribe to their weekly newsletter, join their Facebook group, and follow them on Instagram @farmlinkproject to stay in the know!

The Future of Food Packaging

Paper or plastic? Until COVID, cities and municipalities were banning plastic bags, plastic straws, and plastic cups.  As dutiful citizens, we brought our canvas bags to the grocery store and used paper straws to drink our iced lattes. But now, studies show that our unwashed reusable bags have a 99% chance of harboring unwanted bacteria and 8% chance of E. coli. This also increases the likelihood that we’ll transfer these pathogens to our grocery carts and refrigerators.

So what is the solution? Plastic pollutes and canvas bags are not clean. So what new technologies will help us with producing packaging that is both sanitary and sustainable?

The Movement

Until 2018 or so, the thin drinking utensils that had long been ubiquitous at restaurants all over the world were easy to overlook. They were always available if you wanted one, and few people seemed to mind, or even think twice about using them.

But that was before many realized the damage that plastic drinking straws were causing to the world’s oceans. In fact, a widely-circulated video from 2015 showing rescuers trying to save a sea turtle that had a piece of plastic straw stuck in its mouth has been credited with helping to kick off a worldwide effort to ban their use, culminating in the #stopsucking movement aimed at addressing the estimated 400+ million plastic straws that researchers say are littering the world’s coastlines.

First, the state of California banned them in restaurants.

Then, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws as well as plastic utensils.

And then corporations jumped on the bandwagon, with companies like Starbucks, Aramark, and American Airlines all vowing to stop offering plastic straws to their customers.

Even then-New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got in on the act, showing off his new, reusable metal straw. Paper alternatives popped up in restaurants all over the country.

Suddenly, avoiding plastic straws was en vogue.

Packaging in focus

But straws were just the beginning. In the years since, the debate over straws has led to additional conversations about all of the other plastic products that punctuate modern life.

In fact, plastic straws aren’t even the worst offenders in this group. Food wrappers account for about 31% of all plastic pollution, followed by plastic bottles and container caps at 15.5%, and plastic bags at 11.2%. Plastic straws and stirrers only account for 8.1%.

University of Georgia professor Dr. Jenna Jambeck has calculated that, as of 2010, nearly 8 million metric tons of plastic were ending up in the world’s oceans and coastlines each year. This is approximately 25% of the 35 million tons of plastic pollution produced globally every year.

According to a 2017 study out of the University of California, Santa Cruz, 91% of the plastic that we use – for straws, utensils, packaging and everything else – is not recycled.

As plastics break down in the ocean, they become harmful microplastics that are ingested by aquatic life, disrupting their development.

This fact is leading a number of municipalities to ban the use of disposable plastic bags outright, with the state of New York adopting such a ban this year, following a similar ban in California from 2016. That ban has resulted in a 72% decrease in the number of plastic bags being recovered during cleanup efforts in the Golden State.

Even short of outright bans, some cities are having success with tax incentives. After Chicago imposed a $0.07 fee on plastic bags in 2017, usage in the city dropped by 40%, mirroring a similar drop-off in use in Washington state following its own $0.05 fee in 2010.

Public opinion has even swung so far in favor of alternative packaging that actor Chris Pratt recently caused a stir on social media after appearing on Instagram holding a single-use plastic water bottle. The message: appearances matter when it comes to packaging these days.

Is it paper or plastic?

Plastic ends up in the ocean and is generally not recycled. But paper bags have their pros and cons, as well. While produced from a renewable source like timber, which also takes CO2 out of the air, producing paper bags generate approximately 4 times more water and take 10% more energy. Additionally, paper bags are heavier to transport –  transporting 2 million bags requires 7 trucks, while plastic bags only necessitate one truck. Clearly, this is a problem that extends throughout the food supply chain, and it’s about more than just plastic or paper.

Now with the new sanitary measures on coronavirus, cotton grocery bags can be filled with bacteria and must be washed after every use. And, because of how it’s made, it must be used 131 times to equal the environmental footprint of a plastic bag.

 It’s time for new alternatives!

The struggle for truly sustainable packaging

“When talking about sustainable packaging, it’s important to think about sourcing,” explains Nina Goodrich, Director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. “Where do the materials come from? If it’s a biopolymer, was it sustainably sourced? If it’s a fiber, is it certified or responsibly sourced? And if it’s post-consumer recycled material, that would count under sourcing, as well.”

The push right now across the industry, she says, is toward a better understanding of what’s in our packaging and the impact that it’s having on the world.

“We want products to be recyclable and recoverable, but we also want to manage the environmental carbon footprint of packaging,” Goodrich says. “So, we don’t want to over-package, but we also don’t want to under-package because food waste is such a huge contributor to climate change.” It’s really important that if we transition out of plastic into another package that we’re still taking packaging waste and food waste into consideration and not causing food waste to go up.”

According to some estimates, more than 30% of the food produced globally every year is wasted, with that figure jumping to more than 40% percent in the U.S. The World Resources Institute says that, if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the U.S., and by zeroing out food waste we could theoretically reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 11%.

This fact is driving innovations in food packaging.

“Right now we’re seeing a big movement away from single-use plastics,” explains Victor Bell, the founder of Environmental Packaging International. “Also, people are looking at more technologies to use recycled content in their materials so they close the loop.”

At the same time, reuse models are coming back in a big way, he says.

Across industries including cosmetics, the cleaning industry, food, and more, Bell is seeing more use of refillable bottles and reusable packages that go beyond the metal and other bottles that individual users have begun carrying in recent years.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, for instance, recently pledged to reduce its reliance on single-use packaging, introducing reusable pint containers for its grocery store items. Nestlé, which is a founding partner and investor in TerraCycle’s Loop, a “subscription and home delivery service for foods and other products with reusable packaging,” later followed suit, offering Häagen-Dazs ice cream in sustainable packaging as well.

“But you’ve got to look at those supply chains carefully,” Bell says, “because the carbon footprint of any alternatives can be devastating. The problem is a lot of the big companies that are involved in these efforts – like Walmart, Stop & Shop, and Hannaford’s – are part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy, so they’ve made a commitment that everything is going to be recyclable. That means there’s got to be infrastructure for it, but in the United States we have no infrastructure for handling those kinds of materials.”

In reality, the push for more sustainable, lower-impact packaging alternatives has taken a number of different forms, embracing existing materials for new uses as well as coming up with entirely new solutions.

Paper AND Plastic

“We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this year, so we were the first company to offer a sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles,” says Rob Koenen, chief marketing officer of Boxed Water Is Better. “And what’s funny is the name has been kind of a blessing and a curse because it challenges the consumer to ask exactly that question – ‘why is boxed water better?’”

Koenen says he focuses on three numbers: 10, 9, and 700. That is, only 10% of plastic is being recycled right now, which means that 9 million tons of plastic are being released into the environment every year and that plastic sticks around for over 700 years.

If Christopher Columbus drank a bottle of water and threw it overboard when he landed in the New World, it would still be around today.

Boxed Water’s solution has been to marry the sustainable qualities of paper with the protective properties of a thin layer of plastic on the inside of the box, layering it in rather than blow molding it to minimize the ozone depletion impact of its production process.

And it’s almost infinitely scalable.

“Just look at Europe,” Keonen says. “Europe’s a hundred years ahead of us in sustainable packaging, and even they aren’t coming close to running into issues with timber supply. Our company is at 50% capacity and we’re already going to buy a new machine in the next six months because our demand is increasing that much, and we can totally keep up with demand.”

And Boxed Water isn’t the only company in this space anymore. Actor Jaden Smith recently launched a competitor called Just Water, and fellow actor Jason Momoa is canning water for his Ever & Ever brand.

Biodegradable materials

 “So, our company started in 2016 after one of the partners worked at a commercial shoot for one of their customers, and he saw the amount of plastic that was generated from just one meal for the whole crew,” says Ricardo Mulas Ochoa with E6PR, a company that has developed eco-friendly six-pack rings made from by-product waste and other compostable materials.

“By 2018, Saltwater Brewery became the first partner to launch our rings to their market on their beer, and now we have over 90 customers all over the world.”

Targeting the craft beer market initially, E6PR’s 100% biodegradable and compostable.

Beverage rings fit on the top of canned products to keep six-packs together for transport and sale. The company says that its product will degrade completely in less than 200 days.

The rings are made from the fibrous material that is left out in wheat fields after harvest, which is typically either composted in the field, burned, or sold as cattle feed. It’s a byproduct of the food and beverage industry, that E6PR is using to develop packaging for those products down the line.

And it can be used for more than beer.

“The rings can hold pretty much any beverage that can be canned,” Ochoa says. “Right now the majority of the customers we’re working with are beer brewers, but we also have customers who make kombucha, who make wine, and more, so there is a lot of room for growth.”

And E6PR is just one example of a company pushing the boundaries of what can be used to package our foods. Potato Plastic won the James Dyson Award by eliminating food waste and providing nutrition for the soil. They mold plastic utensils out of potato starch using the unused ‘ugly’ potatoes which can biodegrade into the ground in two months.

CPG company Alter Eco recently took the step of switching out the packaging for coconut clusters from plastic laminated paper to recyclable cardboard, while Holy Lama Naturals out of the U.K. is now using palm leaves to package its soaps. Vetropack is delivering beverages in a new type of lightweight glass and Ecovative is even working on a sustainable alternative to styrofoam that’s made from mushrooms.

SOS: Save Our Soil

As you may know, we have written about why soil is so important. We need it to grow our food, clean our water, and recycle CO2. 11% of our entire Earth is used for crop production, which we need soil to complete. Yet, we still take soil for granted. Let’s dive into why we are losing soil and how we change this trajectory.

CIA world factbook

Soil loss

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 33% of the world’s soil is moderately to highly degraded, or worn down, due to erosion by wind or water, drought, loss of soil or organic carbon, loss of biodiversity, destruction of ecosystems, habitat destruction, and pollution.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that, because of degradation, half of the topsoil on Earth has been lost over the past 150 years. This is critically important because it threatens our ability to provide food for a growing population and jeopardizes the quality of our environment. Soil is a finite resource…its loss and degradation is not recoverable within the average human lifespan. Unless we drastically change our ways.

The USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service explains managing soil health, or improving soil function, as “mostly a matter of maintaining suitable habitat for the myriad of creatures that comprise the soil food web.”

This agency has developed four primary drivers of soil health to improve soil function:

  1. Disturb the soil as little as possible
  2. Grow as many different species of plants as you can
  3. Keep living plants in the soil as often as possible
  4. Keep the soil covered all the time

What is stopping them from achieving this state of soil health is industrial agriculture, which is cultivating crops on a large-scale by the use of intensive actions and chemical fertilizers.

Dr. Bill Robertson, an expert on soil restoration and professor of Crop, Soil, & Environmental Science at the University of Arkansas states, “soils are different everywhere you go…I grew up around Lubbock, Texas and I went to school in College Station, and the soils are different in both places.”

He says that this was even the same in 1995 when he moved to Arkansas. “That was my first experience with soils that have low organic matter and are pretty weathered. In Lubbock, when it would rain I’d sink down way past my ankles, but here in the mid-South with the types of soils we have, a lot of times after rain you don’t even leave any footprint in the soil.”

Why is this happening?

According to the FAO, there are many reasons why we are losing our soil, from erosion, poor farming practices, rain intensity, and wind. Even though we have learned a lot from the days of the Dust Bowl, we have not completely adopted best practices everywhere.

Tilling the soil with a tractor works crop residues and turns over the soil. While initially it aerates and fertilizes, in the long run it causes great damage to the soil. It changes the natural balance of the soil, leaving it dry and compacted so that it can’t support microbes like healthy soil can.

Compacted soil reduces airflow, water filtration, and impacts root growth. Remember, we need these microbes because they act like a fertilizer in the soil. No-till farming allows the crops to decompose into the soil and prevents erosion via wind or water.

Overgrazing by cattle is another reason we are losing soil because it weakens plant growth. A lack of plant growth reduces root mass in the soil, which in turn increases runoff and causes high soil temperatures.

What’s the solution?

One solution is to plant a cover crop, which is planting a particular crop specifically to improve soil quality. By doing this, the cover crop can help feed soil microbes and act as a sort of “glue” to hold them together while the soil rebuilds its microbiome. A second solution would be to introduce root systems. By doing this, the structure of the soil improves because space becomes available for air and water to regenerate the soil.

Dr. Robertson has begun to implement cover crops in some of his side-by-side fields. He says, “in fields where there are cover crops and that are fed soil microbiomes – they can hold 6-8 inches of rainwater per hour.

Conversely, bare, tilled fields only absorb ½ inches an hour.”

According to his research, for those crops that had a 1% increase in organic matter in the soil and added microbes, there is almost an extra inch of water retention per hour. This tells us that by improving the microbiome in the soil, it’s possible to reduce the need for irrigation, and, in return, build healthier, more resilient crops and boost yield without increasing cost.

It makes sense and further supports our point of why industrial agriculture is so detrimental to our soil. As natural microbes and bio-pesticides are absorbed into the soil, taking the place of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they are better able to support robust plant growth. This leads to bigger yields, better resistance to pesticide stress, and an all-around healthier ecosystem.

“We can work against Mother Nature for a while,” he adds, “but after a while if we can just figure out how to work with the natural process, life is much simpler for everybody.” He continues with, “A lot of farmers treat their soil like they’re building a house and then tearing it down, improving soil structure but then coming in there with deep aggressive tillage and destroying all they built. You never get anywhere doing that.”

“Making” healthier soil

Farmers are also taking steps to ensure healthy soil every day. By increasing the organic matter in soil, you can improve its long-term health and performance. Similar to how you drink and eat pre- and probiotics to improve your gut health, farmers incorporate organic matter, such as crop residues, animal manure, compost, cover crops, and perennial grasses and legumes to feed the microbial community in the soil.

Soils deliver ecosystem services that enable life on earth (FAO)

Researchers also agree that soil health improves through diversified crop rotations, minimal soil disturbance (no-till and reduced tillage), and the use of cover crops. These practices are the basic principles that underpin conservation agriculture. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water infiltration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat—all while harvesting better profits and often better yields.

The good news is that there is a worldwide effort among government agenciesNGOs, and food and agricultural companies to provide education, research, and funding to farmers, ranchers, and landowners to help improve, manage, and sustain healthy soils.

Global status of human degradation of soils (FAO)

For too long, we have cared too much about what the soil can do for us, and each year it grows a little more tired, depleted, susceptible to pests, disease and water shortages, and we are all responsible. It is up to us, farmers, ranchers, soil scientists, legislators, and consumers, to invest in our soil once again.

Soil Health Institute

How are NGOs helping?

The Nature Conservancy 

The Nature Conservancy identifies three main reasons why soil conservation is critical:

  1. Fighting climate change: Soil contributes to the recycling of CO2 in our environment because it contains double the amount of carbon than our atmosphere. Soil degradation leads to a decrease in soil maintenance of CO2, which, in turn, will act as a barrier to fighting climate change.
  2. Sustainable food production: We know that healthy soil is crucial to agriculture and crop production. When soil becomes lost, unhealthy, or eroded, this stands in the way of achieving sustainable food production.
  3. Protecting the habitat and biodiversity: We know that soil regulates water, but when erosion occurs, this can cause a loss of nutrients in the soil and an excess of nutrients in water systems. This could lead to problems in water diversity and can even negatively impact the water that we drink every day.

This is why the Nature Conservancy prides itself on being an advocate for soil and implements different practices including, restoration of biodiversity, carbon sequestration, lower sedimentation, and crop productivity.

The World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund is known for being advocates for animals and nature, but they are also advocates for the soil, too. Soil erosion leads to an increase in infertile land. An increase in demand for food production has led to the conversion of natural vegetation in forests and grasslands to cultivating crops in man-made farm fields and pastures.

The World Wildlife Fund says this is problematic because agriculture, “often cannot hold onto the soil, and many of these plants, such as coffee, cotton, palm oil, soybean, and wheat, can increase soil erosion beyond the soil’s ability to maintain itself.”

What is Soil?

We live in a world with a growing population where understanding the importance of vital elements has never been more necessary. Understanding all that sustains us, and keeps us healthy, is critical to our survival. At the root of that is soil. And what better time than now to appreciate the outdoors, when we’re eager to be out of our homes and in our backyards and gardens! Look out the window – plants, crops, trees, lakes, rivers, streams, gardens, grass…are all supported by the often misunderstood “skin of the earth”.

So let’s get to know our soil to make us better home gardeners and, more importantly, better stewards of healthy soil for the greater good.

What is Soil?

It is a natural body on the land surface of Earth, made up of minerals and organic matter. Soil has many jobs, including:

  • Providing our plants with the minerals and nutrients needed to give them proper nourishment which then keeps us healthy
  • Holding in moisture, preventing flooding, giving us groundwater, and keeping water intact for crops to grow
  • Modifying the atmosphere by providing a massive carbon sink for the Earth’s CO2 cycle by emitting and storing CO2, water vapor, and other gases
  • Purifying the water as it enters the ground
  • Providing a habitat for everything, from groundhogs and gophers to bacteria and fungi
  • Recycling nutrients so they can be used over and over again
  • Finally, it is also the foundation for photosynthesis, which is needed to grow our food

Soil vs. Dirt

Soil is found in layers with the “litter zone” on top. This layer is what we can see and where we find matter, like twigs and leaves. After that, there’s the topsoil, the subsoil, and rock fragments and bedrock at the bottom. That is a lot more than just a pile of dirt!

The most important layer is the topsoil, where all plant growth takes place. But it is a long, slow process. Because it is made from crushed rock and decaying plants and animals, it can take thousands of years in colder climates and hundreds of years in hot, wet climates to make just one inch of topsoil. Crushed rock is the time-consuming part.

Think of the rich, dark soil that was formed by the glaciers when they came down across North America and other parts of the world. A combination of glacial pressure, wind, rain, and basic weathering broke down the rocks into smaller fragments. As they break down, the minerals from the rocks dissolve into the earth.

Take a look at the soil in your hand, rub it between your fingers. Those shiny particles could be crushed rock from the glaciers millions of years ago.

Some Fun Topsoil Facts:

  • One earthworm can digest 36 tons of soil in one year – that is equal to five elephants!
  • There are over 70,000 kinds of soil in the U.S.
  • Five tons of topsoil spread over an acre is as thick as a dime

Soil is also formed by decaying roots, old plant material, and living organisms, which help break it down.  As dying material degrades into the soil, it provides nutrients for vegetation, as well as enriching the microbiome. These microbiomes are arguably the most important part of the soil.

The Soil Microbiome

When you hold soil in your hand, what you can’t see with the naked eye are the billions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other microorganisms. These are known as microbes and, this collection is commonly referred to as the soil microbiome.

When in proper balance, the microbiome stores and cycles nutrients like carbon, nitrogen, and provides stability and support for growing plants. It is truly the foundation of a natural regenerative process that has existed on Earth for millennia.

Microbes act like a fertilizer. They help plants change nitrogen from the air for growth and maturity, absorb phosphorus for health and vigor, and can protect a plant from fungal disease, like botrytis, or gray mold. This is the fungus we see most on our spoiled, inedible strawberries.

A diverse microbiome is an essential ingredient to healthy food and nutrition and is responsible for the micro and macro ingredients for our daily 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables, protein in wheat, and healthy animal feed for our protein. The more microbe diversity in your gut, the healthier your gut and overall immune system. A spoonful of soil? It is generally thought that by working in the garden, you inadvertently ingest soil – and healthy microbiomes for your gut.

Ever wonder how some plants grow in dry conditions? Microbiomes! The microbiome in and around the roots of that plant helps it survive amidst drought and heat. Scientists can isolate these microbes and apply them to crops with drought conditions. For example, the company Indigo Ag has developed microbial-treated seeds for wheat to increase plant health in the face of water stress.

Microbes perform critical functions in soil food webs, such as decomposing organic materials, cycling nutrients, and improving soil structure. (USDA NRCS)

Did you know? Penicillin, tetracycline, and streptomycin are just a few of the several hundred antibiotics originating from soil microbes.

Combating Desertification & Land Degradation


We all have special days in our lives that we remember and celebrate – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – as well as those remarkable people who always remember these special days and surprise us with a telephone call or a thoughtful card. I’ll admit I don’t routinely fill this role, but today, I’m happy to remind everyone that June 17, 2020 is indeed a day to remember: it is the United Nation’s global observance of Desertification and Drought Day.

You might be thinking, “wait, what day is that?!” Well, on June 17 each year, people around the world concerned about the scourge of desertification, land degradation, and drought work to raise awareness and promote solutions to these important issues.

Think this day may not pertain to you? Think again. These intertwined issues of desertification and drought are related to broader issues such as the food we eat, farmer livelihoods, water quality, soil health, ethnic and gender diversity, wildlife biodiversity, refugees and social migration patterns, the rate of deforestation, and the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. This topic is the fulcrum to gain leverage for many of the positive changes you’d like to see in the world.

Put simply, as our consumption increases, the health of the land on which we produce food, cloth, and other goods decreases. Severe weather patterns, such as excessive rain or drought, can quickly degrade plant growth and cause soil erosion. Farm management practices, like grazing duration, excessive tillage, poor irrigation practices or leaving the land bare of plant growth, can instigate a decline in productivity.

Once soil deterioration starts, a downward spiral can ensue, causing a once productive landscape to look more like a desert. Deserts are harsh places to live – food production is difficult and people who find themselves in these places tend to move on. Hence our deserts become deserted.

At this time, over one-half of the global agricultural lands used for food production are considered moderately to severely degraded. Furthermore, they are being abandoned at an unsustainable rate and many are challenging or impossible to restore.

soil degradation

Depending on the type and extent of degradation, the land may never be suitable again for food production or it could take several decades to rebuild the topsoil. In China, for instance, roughly 20% of the productive farmland soils are now contaminated with heavy metal pollution. A large portion of this land may never again be fit for food production, but other areas may be rehabilitated to serve as livestock feed in the future. China, India, and other countries with severe land degradation issues are increasing imports of certain food items, which in turn, drives agricultural expansion in countries such as Brazil or Indonesia. Of course, some former ag lands reverting to nature could be a benefit to biodiversity, climate, and broader ecosystem health.

But restoration work takes time, concerted effort and considerable nuance.

It is imperative that we reverse the desertification trend to avoid creating more lands in need of restoration.

The high rate of abandonment is one of the main drivers for converting existing forests or open savannahs to agriculture. Taken together, this land-use change makes up the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the global food system. Without meaningful change to this degrade-abandon-convert trend, experts predict we will burn through another 400 million hectares – an area twice the size of Mexico – at the expense of natural ecosystems – over the next 30 years.

Surface land use chart courtesy of Growing Better Global Report, Food and Land Use Coalition (2019).

For my organization – The Nature Conservancy – the trend is deeply alarming and unacceptable. We face not only an unprecedented loss of nature, but also food security and economic challenges if we can’t reverse this trend. Consider:

  • Today, the expansion of agriculture into natural habitats is the largest driver of biodiversity loss globally.
  • Plus, after 10,000 years of agriculture, virtually none of the new land coming into production today is the highest quality land for food production.
  • In addition to the priceless loss of biodiverse species, these inefficient land-use dynamics cost the global economy several trillion dollars annually.

Thankfully, there is a business and science case for change that is gaining traction. Actors throughout the global supply chain are taking steps to slow the conversion trend and deploy a suite of regenerative management practices to restore existing agricultural areas.

Planting diverse cover crops annually to improve soil health is perhaps the one regenerative management practice that if widely adopted, could do the most to restore degraded croplands.

In the U.S., for example, the past decade has seen small but steady increases in farmers utilizing cover crops to maintain and restore croplands. While every farm has a slightly different set of circumstances to consider, most farms will start making more money by routinely using cover crops by the third year of adoption, if not sooner.

Over the next decade, our task at TNC is to assist the farmers and ranchers who have successfully restored their lands utilizing these regenerative soil health management practices to transmit this knowledge through various means to millions of their peers around the world.

We can all play a small role in this process, too. Simply by eating a more diverse diet – trying something new – we will send market signals to food producers to incorporate more diversity into our agricultural landscapes. Several thought-leading chefs are taking “farm to fork” considerations even further by using new ingredients to support the health of our soils – from dirt to dinner, if you will.

We are encouraged by the growing attention to these issues, especially among practitioners. Farmers, ranchers and pastoralists around the world are recognizing they can move beyond simply sustaining their land resources. They can adopt management practices which restore and revitalize the health of ecosystems.

Today, as we observe Desertification and Drought Day while still in the grips of a global health crisis, we do so to call attention to this important issue.

But I hope that I’ll have the occasion to remind everyone in ten years that June 17, 2030, is a day for celebration – a celebration of a decade well spent embracing the solutions to this vitally important global challenge.

Want to learn a few facts about desertification? See our infographic below to learn more:

Does Intermittent Fasting Make Us Healthier?

Despite the re-openings of parks, beaches and restaurants, many of us find ourselves in a slump between bad news and worse news. Exacerbating our uneasy feelings is how hard it’s been for some of us to break up with hourly visits to our refrigerators and pantries.

But is there much research on the effects of not snacking all day on my long-term health? I’d like to lose my “COVID 5” around my midsection, but also do something that will make me healthier for longer, and also happens to be a sustainable way for me to eat, year after year.

It’s a lot to think about all at once, but as good ol’ Ben Franklin wisely said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. And as this mom of two kids enters – gasp! –  middle age, I’ve gotta start getting serious about this, like, now.

So I perused our diet posts and reread our article on intermittent fasting from three years ago. More recent research released from clinical trials and academic institutions continue to tout intermittent fasting as a way to not only manage weight, but also prevent age-related diseases, like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Additional benefits include combating the age-related increase in fat tissue and decrease in muscle mass.

Though many, but not all of these studies are based on animal trials, they may hold true for us as well, as inferred from several human clinical trials.

Why Fasting?

“Fasting”…doesn’t sound very fun, does it? It makes me think of something you’re forced to do before a medical procedure – ugh. However, fasting has been practiced for millennia due to its medicinal purposes and to permit the body time to heal itself without distraction. But the thought of going days without food not only sounds daunting but unhealthy.

Another option that’s been shown to have positive results for aging? A calorie-restrictive (CR) diet. That’s when you limit the daily intake of calories to about half of what you normally consume. But this has been associated with long-term loss of lean muscle mass, immune suppression, and participant non-compliance. Ummm…no thanks. And shouldn’t we be strengthening our immunity right now?!

Meeting in the Middle

Not to fear: recent studies have shown a way for the body to reap the benefits of fasting without the daunting task of not eating (or eating enough) for days. And it’s achievable in our modern-day lifestyle.

Time-restricted feeding (TRF), a form of intermittent fasting, limits the number of continual hours you eat during the day – every day. Similar to its fasting and CR counterparts, TRF allows our bodies to have time to actively regenerate stem cells, thus positively affecting aging. But unlike CR, TRF results in a more dramatic drop in insulin levels while increasing our cells’ protection from oxidative stress. These attributes can play a role in cancer risk reduction, thus making time-restricted feeding a great consideration for long-term health.

And for women, the benefits extend even further. Analysis from Women’s Healthy Eating and Living study found that female participants in a breast cancer survivor study who didn’t eat for at least 13 hours overnight had a 36% reduction in the risk of recurrence. Furthermore, they were 21% less likely to experience breast cancer-related mortality.

Why it Works

Research shows that time-restricted feeding is a naturally efficient mechanism for eating, as it logically works with our sleep cycle to provide the digestive “break” our bodies need to regenerate cells. This “break”, ranging from 12-16 hours in length, includes overnight hours and can either start early in the evening or extend through the morning.

When you think about eating from, say, 9am to 7pm, you’re fasting for 14 continual hours. This also means you’re completely doing away with late-night eating, which is associated with a higher risk of diabetes and obesity. And you’re allowing your body to have a more restorative sleep without being distracted with digesting your late-night snacks with Seth Meyers.

Fasting 101

Much research has been conducted on the various ways of restricted feeding and fasting and its myriad benefits. The most well-known researcher, Dr. Valter Longo, discovered the foundation of a time-restricted diet with his fast-mimicking diet, which has been shown to prevent cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity among its 100 participants, one of the larger human studies conducted in this field.

To understand how fasting can lead to keeping you healthy, let’s first start with a quick bio-nutrition lesson:

When fasting, the body uses its glycogen stores in the liver for energy. Once available glycogen is depleted, triglycerides are then broken down to produce fatty acids, which the liver converts to ketones for fuel. Ketone levels begin to rise after 8 to 12 hours without food.

Once our energy source switches to ketones, our bodies become better at glucose regulation, stress resistance, inflammation suppression, and restoring mitochondria health. Furthermore, in a fasted state, damaged molecules are repaired or removed. Endurance, coordination, and balance are increased and muscle mass is maintained despite the regular period of fasting.

Should you do it?

Do you want the full effects of intermittent fasting? Then be prepared to do this for the long haul. And not to binge after each fast.

Researchers, including Longo, urge us to make these intermittent fasting practices a permanent lifestyle change and not as a “diet”, per se. Many of us turn to diets for a quick way to lose weight, so avoid fasting diets where you “starve and feast”, eating whatever you want after the fast is completed. Those diets, like the Every Other Day Diet, just encourage poor eating habits with low nutritional value.

More importantly, intermittent fasting may not be appropriate for everyone, particularly if you are underweight or recovering from a long-term illness. Significant lifestyle changes like this should be conducted under the supervision of practitioners you trust.

How to do it?

Ok, so you’re ready to feel amazing for a very, very long time. But…how do you start? If you’re like me, you reallllllly look forward to your three-square meals a day, with maybe a snack or two in between. You can still have your meals – they will just be condensed in a shorter period of time.

First, let’s start with the foundation for any good diet: lots and lots of veggies and fruits. The MIND Diet serves as a helpful foundation here. It is a research-backed program that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by half and keep the brain years younger. The diet centers on “brain-healthy food groups”, like leafy greens, vitamin-packed veggies, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and – wait for it – wine! By getting used to filling your plate with nutrient-dense foods, they will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Are you a snacker? Time to elevate your game by cutting out your mid-meal snacks. Yes, I’m sorry…this includes that random bowl of cereal, too – no matter how healthy it is.

Now that your diet is on point, it’s time to start a simple form of time-restricted feeding. At first, try limiting your fast to 12 hours. Most of this time can easily be done while you sleep. Cut off your food by 8:00 pm and then have breakfast at 8:00 am. Gradually increase your fasting hours from 7:00 pm to 9:00 am. Ready to keep going? 16 hours is really the limit for most people. Some people eat all their food for the day in one sitting. We tried that once, and were left miserably hungry for 23 hours.

Whichever you choose, be sure to start your fast well before bedtime so you sleep properly and let your cells do their work!

A Few Notes…

Just like when you cut out sugar, carbs, or caffeine from your diet, there is a period of discomfort as your body adapts to this new way of eating. But with some small changes taking place over a few months, you can reduce the negative side effects and find this to not only be a manageable way of eating, but also helpful in making you feel better and have more energy.

Oh, and by the way, you can drink water, tea, and black coffee during your ‘fasting’ period. It is recommended that if you want a splash of milk, it won’t hurt to have fewer than 50 calories. Also, stevia will not trigger an insulin response, unlike some other sweeteners.

Now it’s time to let down your refrigerator gently…it’s not a full break-up, after all 😉

Demanding Equality: Women Farmers in Africa

Editor’s Note: These days, it feels like a challenge to find stories of unity and empowerment. So we feel very honored and proud to present our readers with these uplifting stories of three African women farmers who not only challenge the status quo, but have dramatically improved the well-being of their families, their countries…and beyond.

In sub-Saharan Africa, smallholder farmers make up 80% of all farms, with women comprising at least half of the work force. However, a pervasive gender imbalance exists here, with men dominating the industry and given opportunities and resources their female counterparts can only dream of. Motivated by the stories of their mothers and their own experiences in rural Africa, these three inspiring women, Ruramiso Mashumba, Slyvia Tetteh, and Sussana Phiri, have created a better life for themselves, their families, and all women farmers through their educational and empowerment efforts.

From Ghana to Zimbabwe to Zambia, here are the stories of our farmers.

These are the stories of Ruramiso Mashumba, Slyvia Tetteh, and Sussana Phiri, exemplary women who have changed the face of farming in Africa. Together, they unify their voices through their Facebook page, Women Who Farm Africa, which shares resources, experiences, and information to empower women around the world. They take pride in Africa’s culture of leaving no one behind by educating women on preventing food insecurity and encouraging their role in strengthening the local and global economies.

These women believe that “closing the access gap between men and women farmers would increase agricultural productivity by 2.5 – 4% in developing countries – thus reducing hungry people by 150 million. The result is a thriving community, country, and world.

Ruramiso Mashumba, CEO & Founder, Mnandi Africa

I was born in the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare. My mother worked in the rural areas. I remember when we were younger, she used to sit us down and tell us about the women she worked with in agriculture. Many of times they couldn’t afford to send their children to school if there was a drought in the country. The women worked tirelessly day in and day out to earn just a few dollars.

From that age, I made up my mind that I, too, want to work in supporting women in rural communities.

When I was 14 years old, my dad bought a farm and I was moved to a school next to the farm that had a focus on agriculture. This is where I learned about commercial agriculture and the power it had to transform the rural economy by transforming lives of farmers. I decided to further my studies at school and receive a diploma. My experience wasn’t easy. The school was not ready for women. They didn’t have a uniform for us. I had to wear khaki shorts, shirt and long knee-length socks as there was no uniform for girls.

For two years, I studied agriculture at my school. Throughout the entire time, I was bullied. They called me a boy because of my uniform. I remember the boys would pull my chair and laugh at me every day.

Despite how difficult it was, I was determined to make sure I didn’t give up. I felt I must persevere because I was an example for little girls in my school who were younger than me. I wanted to show them you can achieve anything, even when the odds are against you, if you put your mind to it. So I made sure I studied hard.

After two years, I graduated third in my class out of fifty students. I’m happy to report the two people above me were also girls.

We stuck together and yes, we did persevere.

I then went on to further my education in the UK. I remember my first day on a British farm. These farmers were so cool! They had tractors, combine harvesters – worlds apart from the women my mother described in her story who farmed with manual tools and torn clothes.

After I graduated, I decided to return to Zimbabwe. My goal was to change the face of my country’s agriculture. I was encouraged and motivated. I wrote a business plan.

I remember the day I finally got an appointment to see my bank manager. He was dressed smartly in a pin striped suit and looked very important.

I sat down anxiously and presented my proposal. After what felt like a lifetime, he inhaled and said, “Young lady how old are you?” I replied 25 years old. He said, “Hmm…do you have collateral?” I replied, “No, just my University degree.”

He replied, “Soon you will be married and what will that mean for our money? Hmmm, unfortunately, we are unable to assist you.” I went home in tears.

I sat down with my parents crying. My mother got up, got a box, and took out her savings she had put aside to buy a car and said, “My girl, you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. Now, go and conquer the world.”

That year, I planted 1 hectare of cabbages, oilseed vegetables, and king onions. I used the knowledge I had learned at university that farming is a business and within one month, I was already selling, and my product was very successful.

The reason for my success was because of the education I gained not only in practical farming, but also business management, which included modules like how to secure markets.

As a result of my high-quality products, the next year I got my first big break. My company was contracted by a local producer to grow snap peas for them to export into the EU and became their first woman grower, as well as their first grower younger than 30 years old.

The company had seen proof from the quality of my current crop that I was competent to produce high-quality product for them to export.

I have since shared my story and inspired other young ladies in rural areas, as well as in the urban areas. I tell them that agriculture is male-dominated, but women farmers can and should stand shoulder to shoulder with men.

Together, we can do more. Together, we can change the image of the continent and we can feed the world.

Today, I am the first woman chairperson of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union youth. I have represented women in ag across the world by sharing not only my story, but also the stories of the many women food producers who need access to education in agriculture, technology, and finance.

A lot of people see me today winning awards, traveling the world, farming with tractors, working with planter and center pivots, and think I have arrived.

In many ways I have, but honestly, as a farmer I am still faced daily with army worm, increases in pests and diseases, and climate change. I understand personally how hard things are and have the education to know that there are solutions. That’s why as a farmer, I have become an advocate for women in science.

Together, men and women can feed our growing population. Science is not moving fast enough for us as farmers. We need seeds that can adapt to today’s challenges and my involvement with Cornell’s Alliance For Science is motivated by my strong belief that science needs to hurry up.

The technology is there. I conclude by this popular African saying, “alone you can go faster, but together we can go far”.

Let’s come together — farmers both men and women, scientists and innovators — to help feed the world and leave no man behind.

Slyvia Tetteh, Administrator, Chamber of Agribusiness, Ghana

My name is Slyvia Tetteh. I’m from the United States of Africa; specifically, Ghana.

Famous Ghanaian educator Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey famously once said: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate an entire nation”. I believe this to be true. I want to share with you why I’m dedicating my life to empowering the women farmers of Africa.

My passion for empowering women began with my mother, Lawrencia Larbi. Despite so many obstacles, my mother had a dream of completing her education. Unlike here in America where families live on farms, in Africa our farms are usually located far away from our homes, and you must travel by foot because the paths are too narrow for vehicles. My mother would wake up every day at 4am. She would do this to help her parents feed the family and to raise money for her education. After putting on her school uniform, she would walk one hour to work on our family farm.

After working for several hours, she would then walk upwards of two hours with her mother to the market. There, they would sell our farm produce, and sometimes banana leaves. My mother did this every day. Only then did she depart for school. Unfortunately, some days it took hours before she and grandma could sell any of our farm produce. Often, by the time they made enough money, morning classes had already ended. Sometimes they did not sell anything until midday. By then, it was already too late for my mother to go to school. My mother was pressed between a rock and a hard place.

She was the youngest in her family. Her brother and sisters had found this schedule impossible to maintain. She had worked so hard to try to finish school, but eventually reality hit her. It was literally and physically impossible to follow the daily routine and achieve academic success. With no other options, she had to marry early and start a family, just like generations of women before her.

While she was being educated, my mother dreamed of becoming a lawyer and eventually a Legislator who served her nation. But with no support financially, and unable to achieve an education, my mother had to give up her dream.

My mother was seventeen when she got married.

No one should give up their dream at seventeen years old. My mother was determined to give me and my sisters the opportunities she didn’t have. And she did. She didn’t always have the money to keep us in school. But despite the fact that she didn’t finish school, she remembered everything she had learned. When we couldn’t afford school, she used her knowledge to homeschool us. I believe my mother was an exceptional woman, but in terms of what she did with the education she had, she was not atypical.

In my country, if you educate a father, he is expected to take his education out of the home and into the workplace to earn money for his family. A woman’s role is to stay home with her children. When mothers are educated, they keep their education in the home and use it to educate their children. If you educate a woman, you educate her children, and by extension, her community. A nation of educated women is an educated nation.

Out of 80% of women farmers with children in the 1990s, I’m one of the lucky ones to obtain a higher education. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Information Studies. My mother’s hard work gave me the opportunity to stand on this platform before you here today. This is why I work so hard to help other women. My mother’s unwavering dedication to educate me drives my passion.

Today, I educate womenI work with women farmers so that they can farm successfully and more easily using modern agricultural biotechnology. I do this because I believe if you educate a man you educate an individual; but if you educate a woman, you educate an entire nation. Our male counterparts also have challenges, yet the current system advances men. Men hand their farms down to their sons from generation to generation.

Therefore, only less than 20% of agricultural land in the world is owned by women farmers. Because men own their land, they have the collateral to secure loans to buy machinery, which allows them to scale their farming.

Meanwhile, so many women are still farming with manual tools.

Research has shown that women farmers produce 70% of food found on the continent, and yet 5 million people die of hunger every year. 5. Million. People. To be able to feed the continent with the expected population increase of 1 billion, things must change. Women must have the tools they need to farm more efficiently, maximizing output on every inch of farmland. Strong policies must be put in place.

The only way to bridge this vast gap of inequity is to educate women. Women Farmers Must. Be. Empowered. Equally. In order to increase yields and achieve sustainable growth, women must be educated about agricultural biotechnology and have access to other available breakthrough technology. Only then will women become productive, independent, and financially stable. Families with educated women are empowered to provide for themselves. Unlike my mother, these families can realize their dreams. There is no reason we can not empower the women of Africa to empower themselves. We. Can.

And when this day comes, we will be able to say the following: We have educated women. We have educated an entire nation. And the world IS a better place.

Sussana Phiri, Farmer & Advocate of Zambian Agriculture

I am Sussana Phiri and I am from Zambia. Chilanga is my hometown. Zambia has abundant arable land, many water bodies, and hardworking women. Zambia is home to a vibrant mix of cultures and is also widely considered to be one of the friendliest and most welcoming nations in the world.

In America, you’re either a farmer, or you’re not. It’s not that simple where I come from. In my country, we are all farmers. When I was little, my father made small farming tools for me and my siblings. They were cute. We weren’t doing much, but it was our introduction to farming being a part of the fabric of our lives. We farmed during the rainy season so we had enough maize to feed our big family through the next year.

My mother always used to say “pang’ono pang’ono ndi mtolo,” translated it means: ​bit by bit causes a heap.

Although we didn’t have endless supplies of food, we all worked together, bit by bit, to ensure we never went hungry. I am so thankful. ​No child should ​ever​ go hungry. Like many people in my country, there were early mornings, long days, and late nights. All day, every day, every year. By the time I was 22 years old, I was studying remotely to earn my degree in education, while farming my family’s land and also teaching pre-school.

Seeing children I worked with suffer because they did not have enough to eat was painful. Despite being hungry, these children worked hard and went to school every day. Theirs is a difficult yet inspiring story, but that is not the story I want to share with you.

I want to share a practice in my country which hurts me, but inspired me to make change.

I want to tell you about a practice called mashanga – a practice which taught me to question what is not right and think outside of the box for solutions. After the rainy season, we wait for the maize to dry. Once it dries, my family harvests it. Mashanga is what happens next, but it shouldn’t happen at all. ​After Harvest season, women with little babies on their backs would ask for permission to go on our land. We would grant it and they would walk through the field, looking for ​any grain we had accidentally left behind. ​They would walk our field for hours, hoping to find any scraps we left behind, and then they would go to other fields after that.

Mashanga is considered normal in my community. Mothers with little babies on their backs, looking for scraps.

This practice made me realize many things. First, in order to live in a better world you must question the world you’re in. Second, just because things have always been done one way, it does not mean they are right, fair or just. And finally, there can be better ways to do things than the way we have always done things. We must question what we think is normal to create change. And if we are to feed every hungry child, we must question what that looks like.

In Zambia, women farmers comprise over 70% of the farming labour, yet they do not have access to information on how to farm better beyond just thinking farming is a way of life.

We also do not have access to technology that would reduce labor while providing greater yields. Women’s work is not valued as it should be given the majority of labor we provide.

We can question this. It should not be normal. No. Things must change. ​Women farmers in Africa are feeding the African continent even under unfavorable conditions. But it is not enough. 1 in 4 children go undernourished everyday. Now imagine the year 2050, when Africa’s population is projected to have 2.4 billion people. ​We cannot move forward accepting things as they have always been. ​This is not sustainable.

pang’ono pang’ono ndi mtolo… bit by bit causes a heap.

I am a twenty-five year old who is working for that heap of change.

Change does not have to happen overnight, but it can and we must work bit by bit to cause a heap.

Today, I am a co-founder of the Women Who Farm Africa campaign. Women Who Farm believes that if we empower women farmers in agribusiness, agricultural technologies, and communication, we can​ feed the world in 2050.

Whether you are a business expert, scientist, communications expert, farmer, or policy maker, you can contribute a bit to create ​a heap of food for all of us. ​

Bit by bit, we can create change together. ​It’s time ​for a new normal, one that empowers women.

It’s time for a heap of change, a heap of change that feeds the world.