The clear message at this weekend’s TEDxManhattan conference: Our food system is broken. From the way we farm to the way we feed ourselves, we're set up to produce unhealthy food and unhealthy people. But there is good news: With help from innovators like those who presented on Saturday, it’s getting easier to be a part of the good fight, even without lots of money or friends who ferment things.
© Jonathan Snyder
1. Get Over Your Fear of Eating Insects
Here's a fact about some cricket products: They’re delicious. According to the United Nations, if more people used insects as a protein source, it could help end the problem of food insecurity around the world. Megan Miller’s Bitty Foods is doing its part to make the creepy-crawly more palatable. She mills crickets into flour, which she uses for everything from cookies to muffins to pizza dough. Put some of Bitty’s food out at your next party. If anyone can tell that the recipes are made with exoskeletons, I will personally come to your house and eat the entire plateful. We already witnessed Exo protein bars raise more than 200 percent of their funding goals on Kickstarter, but it’s not too late for you to be a pioneer of the insect-eating trend.
© Noah Kaufman
2. Garden Indoors, with Fewer Than 500 Square Feet
Do you want to grow your own greens and avoid having the storebought variety rot in your fridge? Did you just discover that your studio apartment doesn’t come with a garden? Or a patio? Or a window? That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of luck. If you invest in a tower garden and a few grow lights, you may be harvesting lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and anything else your heart desires faster than the disgusting premade salad you just bought can turn brown. Also see Aerogardens.
3. Pay Attention to How Restaurants Treat Their Workers
How much do you know about the people handling your food? That’s the question Saru Jayaraman asks, and the answer is usually, “Not much.” Americans eat out more often than anyone else on the planet, and the restaurant industry is one of the fastest growing in the country. But the workers at those restaurants often make well below minimum wage. Not only can they not afford to eat where they work at, some can barely afford to eat, period. Jayaraman and her organization, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, have created an app that aims to help you find out how your favorite restaurants treat their people, and it's as easy as a game of Candy Crush.
4. Hashtag #whogoeshungry
Most people probably know of chef Tom Colicchio for two reasons: his successful group of restaurants or his status as the head judge on Top Chef. What you may not know is that he is on the front line lobbying Congress to help feed those who cannot feed themselves. He gave a great talk at the conference you can watch here (seriously, it’s only like 12 minutes out of your day). He makes a strong case for making food policy one of the most visible issues in American politics. But until the next elections roll around, lending your voice to the cause can be as simple as using the hashtag #whogoeshungry or by signing on here to help spread the word.
5. Unearth Local Produce at the Supermarket
What do you think of when you hear the word locavore? Someone with enough money and free time to go to the farmers’ market every week? That’s not necessarily the case. Red Tomato it making it easier to eat locally by helping nearby farmers bring their produce straight to local grocery stores. All shoppers have to do is look for the label. To see what’s wrong with factory-farmed produce, watch Red Tomato founder Michael Rozyne play baseball with some of it above.
Related: Chefs Make Change on Food & Wine