Our Best Solutions-Focused Stories of 2018

From farming co-ops to heirloom grain projects and healthy food initiatives, we published dozens of stories this year featuring creative, innovative, and hopeful solutions.



In a year marked by increasing bad news, Civil Eats focused its attention in part on the positive, continuing its reporting on what’s working in communities across the nation. These stories responded to myriad social problems and offered creative, innovative, and hopeful solutions to help inform decisions toward impactful policies and practices. We produced dozens of solutions-oriented stories this year; below, in chronological order, are our top picks from 2018:

In Striking Nationwide Trend, Hospitals Take on Hunger to Improve Overall Health
As the Trump administration threatens the Affordable Care Act, medical experts are connecting the dots between a stable, healthful diet and disease prevention.

In the Arizona Desert, Tucson Models Affordable Food Access
UNESCO’s first City of Gastronomy in the U.S. relies on its built-in biodiversity and a wide network of food justice organizations to feed its most marginalized residents.

From left: Jules Exum, Leyna Lightman, Nan Kohler, Kate Pepper, Mai Nguyen, and Roxana Jullapat. (Photo credit: Guy Frenkel)

The Women Reviving Heirloom Grains and Flour
Female grain growers, millers, and artisan bread bakers are collaborating to lift women’s role in bread into the spotlight.

Don’t Call it Food Waste: Entrepreneurs Turn Surplus Food into Gold
Food startups are diverting raw materials from coffee-bean husks to spent beer-brewing grains from the landfill—and developing markets for upcycled products in the process.

A Facebook Group that Helps the Queer Community Fight Hunger
Queer people are one-and-a-half times more likely than others to struggle to consistently access food. Queer Food Share New York City offers a way for the community to feed each other.

Francesca Chaney in front of Sol Sips, her vegan cafe in Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy Sol Sips)

The Entrepreneur Making Healthy Food Accessible to Her Brooklyn Neighborhood
Frustrated by the limited healthy food options, Francesca Chaney opened Sol Sips, an affordable vegan café.

Libraries are Bridging the Summer Gap for Hungry Kids
Lunch at the Library programs support kids from food-insecure households and underscore the evolving roles of libraries.

The Movement to Turn Church Land into Farmland
A nascent movement of faith leaders, conservation experts, and food advocates are joining forces to connect young farmers to the vast quantity of land owned by churches.

Carbon Farming Works. Can It Scale up in Time to Make a Difference?
The knowledge and tools to sequester carbon on farmland have blossomed rapidly in California; now farmers and ranchers just need funding to make it happen.

young entrepreneurs making hot sauceIn Camden, a Hot Sauce is Helping Young Urban Entrepreneurs Fight Poverty
Eco Interns, a teen-focused entrepreneurial program in Southern New Jersey, offers job training and education in community gardens and farmers’ markets for an underserved urban community.

Can Teaching Kids to Cook Make Them Healthier Later in Life?
New research suggests that learning how to cook as a young person leads to better eating practices—and better health—later in life.

Building the Mecca of Heritage Poultry in Kansas
Heritage poultry breeder Frank Reese has been hatching a plan to build the Good Shepherd Institute for over two decades. Now, with help from MASS Design Group, his plan has moved one big step closer to reality.

Once on the Sidelines of Farming, Women Landowners Find Their Voices
Half a million American women rent land to tenant farmers. Now, a handful of conservation groups are working to empower these returning rural stakeholders to prioritize the air, water, and land.

Teen-Run Bakery Brings Healthy Food and Job Training to Minneapolis
Green Garden Bakery offers delicious, plant-based treats, entrepreneurial skills, and community support to an underserved neighborhood—all while the staff attends high school.

Dan Giusti in a lunchroom. (Photo courtesy of Brigaid)

Brigaid is in the Business of Transforming School Food
Led by a former chef from Noma, the for-profit school lunch venture is betting on a new generation of chefs rethinking career paths and buy-in from public school districts.

Amidst Keystone XL Fight, Nebraska Farmers Give 10 Acres Back to the Ponca Nation
In addition to deepening an unlikely bond, the gift from Art and Helen Tanderup could help protect the land and drive a wedge into TransCanada’s plans for the pipeline.

The Co-op Farming Model Might Help Save America’s Small Farms
Amid a nationwide rise in worker-owned businesses of all types, small farms across the country are foregoing traditional farm ownership and reaping the benefits of cooperative farming.

Elizabeth Azzuz and Margo Robbins, leaders of the Cultural Fire Management Council, have been helping Yurok Tribal members burn their land to improve the growth of basket materials and other traditional plants.

Fire and Agroforestry Are Reviving Traditional Native Foods and Communities
In Northern California, the Karuk and Yurok tribes are burning away decades of forest management practices and revitalizing their foodways and communities.

How Navajo leaders are helping preserve and expand traditional foodways
Through cooking classes, outreach, and social media, a new generation of Native Americans are reconnecting to Indigenous foodways.

Agroecology as a Tool of Sovereignty and Resilience in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria
Through cooking classes, outreach, and social media, a new generation of Native Americans are reconnecting to Indigenous foodways.

This Community is Addressing Food Insecurity, One Grocery Store at a Time
Public school families and others created the United Parents and Students’ Store of Excellence Award, which aims to reward stores selling better and healthier food.

Floor-malting the wheat at Blue Ox Malthouse.

Maine Is Scaling Up its Local Grain Economy
Craft brewing, artisanal baking, and innovative mills and malthouses are reviving the state’s economic might.

Already a Climate Change Leader, California Takes on Food Waste
The state’s innovate programs and laws to tackle excess food and reduce greenhouse gas emissions could be a template for the nation.

Denver’s New Sales Tax is the First in the Nation to Benefit Kids’ Health
The unprecedented new measure establishes a minimal sales tax to support healthy food access and food education programs for Denver youth over the next 10 years.

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