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All Together Now: World Food Day 2012

One in seven people around the world will feel hunger today. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) brings global awareness to this issue every year on October 16th, and have done so since 1981. Today, there are more than 100 countries that will celebrate World Food Day. Over 450 national and private organizations in the U.S., such as Oxfam America and Ending Hunger, will host events around this year’s theme, “Agricultural cooperatives–key to feeding the world,” to bring better understanding around what cooperatives are and how they help relieve food insecurity and improve community self-sufficiency.

Agricultural cooperatives are enterprises owned and democratically operated by the employees that work there. They range from farming to retail coops that pool together resources and share in the costs and benefits of running a business. “There are many examples of co-ops and they take away the hierarchies that make it difficult to create a quality of life,” says Madeleine Van Engel, a baker-owner at Arizmendi, a cooperative bakery in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many examples of agricultural cooperatives in the U.S. not only feed their community, but also create economic and social sustainability in places often deemed unlikely. Read more

Teaching the Way: How D.C. (and the Rest of the Country) Can Eliminate Food Deserts

Washington, D.C. sports its proud identity as the nation’s capital, but it also suffers the typical problems of urban blight, including food deserts, impoverished areas with limited access to healthy food. Almost 16,000 people reside in such food deserts within the city.

Fortunately, a number of forward-thinking organizations have resolved to end food insecurity in the nation’s capital through food access, affordability, and community education. As a result, D.C. capitalizes on its dual local/national character and acts as a role model for initiatives that support access to good food throughout the nation.

How do we lead the shift from processed, unhealthy products to fresh, nutritious food? While accessibility and affordability are certainly crucial, community education is a key component, notes Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s Michael Babin, and founder of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. Read more