The global community needs to make three important New Years resolutions as part of the Milan Charter in 2015 in order to create a food system that makes hunger, obesity, food waste, and injustice part of the past.
The three resolutions will promote healthy lifestyles, promote sustainable agriculture, reduce food waste. They call on all of us--eaters, business leaders, policy makers, and the funding and donor communities--to make commitments to a better food system.
The Charter was launched by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) in 2013, and recently won the backing of Italian Prime Minister Renzi. Italy is now working to get the 140 countries participating at Milan EXPO 2015 to sign it.
It's not just an Italian initiative, it's one that needs all of our support.
1. Resolve to End Food Loss and Waste
One-third of all food produced never reaches people's stomachs. It's not just the food itself that is wasted, precious land and water resources are wasted as well. And food waste in landfills is one of the biggest contributors of gas emissions, according to the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP).
Eaters can learn from a number of groups, like Love Food Hate Waste, Feeding the 5000, and the Food Recovery Network, how to reuse leftovers, eat "ugly" but tasty vegetables, or donate food that would otherwise go to waste. And consumers need to remember to trust their senses--not confusing sell-by, use-by, and expiration dates--to tell if something has gone bad.
In addition, governments and non-profit organizations around the world are working with farmers to prevent loss through better storage practices--simple innovations, like better drying mats, and improved infrastructure, like roads and silos, can help farmers get their products to market before they spoil.
2. Resolve to Promote Healthy Lifestyles
While hunger continues to plague nearly one billion people, one and a half billion people struggle with being overweight or obese. For every malnourished person, there are two overweight individuals.
Individuals and communities can come together to educate youth about growing food, cooking, and sharing food. In Uganda, children are learning not only about the importance of indigenous and healthy foods, through Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC), but also how to eat. The founder of Project DISC, Edie Mukibbi, who is Vice-President of Slow Food International says that "[i]f a person doesn't know how to grow food, they don't know how to eat."
The Milan Charter aims to fight against obesity with food education and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. In the United States, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Campaign encourages students to get active at school and home. Organizations like the Food Corps are helping improve school lunch by teaching kinds where their food comes.
3. Promote Sustainable Agriculture
Family farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America are already cultivating practices that can help mitigate climate change, build soils, and protect biodiversity. To help them do their multiple jobs better, governments and communities need to invest more in family farmers--small and large--around the world.
2014 was designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Family Farming--and 2015 is the International Year of Soils. Soils may the most important input on farms--and family farmers are the key in preventing erosion, soil degradation, and desertification around the globe.
And despite the ageing of farmers around the globe--farmers in the U.S. are 58.3 years of age, while in South Africa the average age of farmers is 62 years old--youth are taking the lead in pushing for a more sustainable food system. The National Young Farmers Coalition and the National Farmers Union in the U.S., and university extension programs in other countries, are helping young farmers gain mentoring services, education, and access to land.
This new year, support the Milan Charter, and become the generation to find solutions to nourish both people and the planet! Add your name to our petition with TakePart by clicking HERE.
Danielle Nierenberg is the President of Food Tank and a member of the BCFN Advisory Board.