22 Solutions-Focused Stories on the Food System in 2022 | Civil Eats

22 Solutions-Focused Stories on the Food System in 2022

Not all the news is bad. We rounded up some of our favorite recent stories about people working together with compassion, ingenuity, and solidarity across the food system.

Abby Barrows pulling up one of her experimental oyster bags made of metal and wood at Long Cove Sea Farm. (Photo credit: Greta Rybus)

Abby Barrows pulling up one of her experimental oyster bags made of metal and wood at Long Cove Sea Farm.

Despite the stresses of an ongoing pandemic, extreme weather conditions, and an extreme news cycle, the team at Civil Eats continues to report on inspiring stories of success all along the food chain. We know that our readers are hungry for good news, and work hard to report on solutions to incredibly complex problems in the food system. As we take our annual summer hiatus this week, we share some of our recent reporting that shines a light on how communities are working to address the growing threat of climate change and corporate influence,  better access to healthy, affordable food, and creating a more inclusive food and farm system for all.

Rear view of a couple working in the field of a family owned farm. They are walking along the rows, separated by a row of vegetable plants, looking at each other and conversing. He is a mature man in his 40s. She is an Hispanic woman in her 30s.

Can Farmers Help Each Other Navigate Mental Health Crises?
The pandemic precipitated a new mental health crisis in ag. Programs have some federal funding—for now.

NYC Community Gardeners Might Have New Protection in the Fight Against Development
Designating community gardens as ‘Critical Environmental Areas’ could give neighborhoods a seat at the table when developers move in.

California Gives a Big Boost to Corner Stores that Sell Fresh Produce
The state’s Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program will invest $20 million to bring fresh produce to low-access communities in 2022.

Early morning packing of organic school food boxes at WCCUSD's central kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Conscious Kitchen)

Pandemic Disruptions Created an Opportunity for Organic School Meals in California
A large Bay Area school district that serves low-income families is on its way to offering 100 percent organic food. It’s not alone.

Is Michelle Wu America’s Food Justice Mayor?
The new leader of Boston is embarking on the most ambitious food policy agenda the city has ever seen, and one that could serve as an example for cities nationwide.

Soil Proof: The Plan to Quantify Regenerative Agriculture
With the 1,000 Farm Initiative, Jonathan Lundgren will spend the next 10 years studying the potential to draw carbon into the soil and bring life back to farm fields.

Lexa Meyer of Blue Evolution harvesting kelp in Alaska. (Photo credit: Alf Pryor)

Can Small Seaweed Farms Help Kelp Scale Up?
While some farms plan to grow massive quantities of kelp, Atlantic Sea Farms is counting on Maine’s small-scale fishermen to expand the industry and distribute ownership.

Vegan Fridays for All? More Schools Offer Plant-Based Meals
Despite many challenges, schools are focusing on equity and nutrition in an effort to feed kids more options.

Sustainable caught fish from Long Island’s Haskell's Seafood, a family run fishery, being delivered to the kosher Masbia pantry in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Photo Essay: How Nourish New York Is Still Feeding NYC
A program created to support farmers and feed New Yorkers amidst the pandemic’s food crisis is here to stay.

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As Dollar Stores Proliferate, Some Communities Push Back
Dollar store parent companies say they’re feeding people in ‘food deserts,’ but critics say they’re making food inequity worse. Now, 25 municipalities have some form of moratorium on new stores.

Can Produce Prescription Programs Turn the Tide on Diet-Related Disease?
As the farm bill process ramps up and some hope to expand the use of Produce Rx programs, new research seeks to assess the impact of this “food as medicine” tactic.

Caroline Yelle holds a frame from her beehives while searching for a healthy queen bee.

Civil Eats TV: Let Them Bee
‘To save ourselves, we have to save the bees’: Caroline Yelle is breeding queen honey bees to survive the changing climate and multiple other threats.

How Mexican Public Health Advocates Fought Big Soda and Won
The new film ‘El Susto’ documents efforts to tax soda in Mexico at a time when Coca-Cola was more accessible than water and Type 2 diabetes was the leading cause of death.

In the Battle Over the Right to Repair, Open-Source Tractors Offer an Alternative
Proponents say an open-source farm equipment ecosystem is key to a future of more innovative, repairable, and environmentally adapted tools.

The community library at the MLK branch of the Oakland Public LibraryPublic Libraries Are Making It Easy to Check Out Seeds—and Plant a Garden
Across the country, libraries are giving away seeds to encourage neighbors to plant food, spend more time outside, and build a relationship with nature.

Farmers Trial Climate-Friendly Chickpeas in Upstate New York
Introducing a new crop to the Finger Lakes region could give farmers access to a ready-made market—if growers can perfect their techniques.

This Antioxidant May Provide a Key Link Between Regenerative Agriculture and Human Health
Recent studies have found that crops grown with regenerative practices contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Ergothioneine, a ‘longevity vitamin,’ stands out as one of the most important in the bunch.

The Estate vineyards. (Photo courtesy of the Heritage Grape Project)Will Climate Change Help Hybrid Grapes Take Root in the US Wine Industry?
Winemakers around the country are working to bring back indigenous and hybrid grape varieties that are better adapted to extreme weather and the new pests and diseases that come amid climate change.

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‘Buy Nothing’ Groups Are Doubling as Food Distribution Networks
As inflation and grocery prices soar, a volunteer in San Francisco created a food pantry from scratch to feed neighbors in need. Now, she hopes the model catches on.

Eric Oransky, founding partner, Maine Ocean Farms, holding up two filled beechwood oyster harvest bags. Credit: Ocean Farms Supply

To Cut Ocean Plastic Pollution, Aquaculture Turns to Renewable Gear
Shellfish and kelp growers are exploring alternatives ranging from kelp-based ropes and lobster bait bags to oyster cages made solely from wood and metal.

This Pilot Program Is Supporting Tribal Food Sovereignty with Federal Dollars
Tribes are teaching the USDA about self-determination agreements in order to administer their own FDPIR food assistance programs. Will it be enough?

This San Francisco Supper Club Gives Youth a Chance to Reinvent Themselves
At Old Skool Café, young people whose lives have been impacted by violence, the foster care system, and incarceration are learning the ins and outs of the food business and forging new paths in the process.


Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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