Memo on trade, climate and White House action as UN meets in New York – Food Tank

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Greetings from New York City!

The UN General Assembly is meeting this week alongside Climate Week. Policy makers, activists, non-profit organizations and many others are coming together from across the planet to figure out what we need to do to solve the climate crisis.

I had the privilege of attending a fun dinner hosted by Wholechain, founded by Food Tank friends Mark Kaplan and Jason Berryhill. They are incredible social entrepreneurs working to make our food and agriculture systems more transparent and in turn more visible. We need companies to step up – and these guys are part of making that happen. I had the opportunity to speak with companies like Aqua Kelp, which produces delicious kelp burgers, Grain4Grain, which creates non-use flour, and other environmentally and socially sustainable products.

The private sector cannot be just for profit. Many small and medium-sized companies are leading the way on these issues, with mission statements that put the environment and social justice at the forefront from day one. And then it’s the bigger companies, the bigger companies, in terms of showing these smaller companies commitment.

But here’s what we need to be careful about: When big companies embrace these promises, they’re not just greenwashing, they’re not just making green wishes and saying, “I hope these promises we’re making come true by 2050!” “

By 2050 it’s too late! We cannot simply wish for a greener world in 30 years – we need the commitment of policy makers, companies and many of us to act now. We need to make these commitments more urgent and realistic, whether using soy or beef or food production that is free from deforestation. We have to start thinking of this as the norm, and not the exception.

The Power of Urgent Action is something I was lucky enough to discuss this week on the FoodTalk podcast with activist and “Orange is the New Black” star Alicia Reiner. She’s a strong advocate for the arts, reducing food and plastic waste on film and TV sets, using love — not fear — to inspire action, and more. I hope you will listen to our conversation by clicking here.

Next week, I will be in Washington, DC for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. The last time the White House held such a conference was in 2011. That was in 1969, so this is too late. As I understand it, the administration will announce a national strategy that identifies actions to stimulate the public and private sectors to address the links between food and hunger, nutrition and health. So stay tuned: I’ll have a lot more to say next week about what we’ll hear and see at the conference.

The conference is diverse – I hope there is a wide range of views and opinions. And this is not just academics and advocates, but experienced people who have been doing this basic work for a long time and know what communities want and need. And I sincerely hope that the administration will listen, so that we can build a better national strategy.

What topics would you like to see at the White House conference? Whose voice are you hoping to hear? For all the food tankers out there like yourselves around the world, we’re here for you, please get in touch with me at and let me know how I can be your eyes and ears on DC land.

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Photo courtesy of Patrick Tommaso, Unsplash

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