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40 Organizations That Are Shaking Up the Food System

The Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations’ international agency overseeing global food security and agriculture, meets in Rome in 2011. (Giulio Napolitano of the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization )

Since our launch in January, Food Tank has worked to amplify the messages of groups working around the world to improve the food system. 

The 40 organizations we're highlighting today are doing invaluable work to change the way we eat, grow, cook, buy, and sell food. Our hope is that the more people know about the work that these groups are doing, the more people can be inspired to make their own change in the food system. 

We realize many, many organizations are missing from this list. Who would you add? We will publish additional suggestions from you on the Food Tank website next week. 

Please share this list with 40 of your friends and family members--and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest--so that we can all take one step closer to our goal of a more sustainable, healthy, and socially just world!

1. Ashoka Innovators for the Public (United States/International) – Ashoka supports a network of 3,000 social entrepreneurs across the world. By providing financing and start-up capital, Ashoka has been transforming the landscape of social innovation since 1980. It is encouraging fundamental transformation of the food chain to full nutrition with an initiative linking human wellbeing, agriculture, and the environment.

2. Australian International Food Security Centre (AIFSC) (Australia) – The AIFSC is a non-profit organization that works to promote agricultural innovation and attract investment to agricultural development projects. Aiming to build capacity for farming initiatives worldwide, AIFSC focuses on achieving specific goals like improving nutrition, connecting researchers with industry, and enhancing supply chain systems to allow farmers to bring their products to market. 

3. Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) (Italy) – The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition works to promote science and research for combating hunger and malnutrition worldwide. Using knowledge gleaned from research projects around the world, BCFN seeks to take innovative ideas for tackling food insecurity and translate them into effective policy recommendations for governments around the world. Since their inception, they have released original research on a wide range of topics including global obesity and sustainable agriculture.

4. Bioversity International (International) – Bioversity International is a research and development organization aimed at supporting smallholder farmers in the developing world through sustainable agriculture and conservation. Bioversity International focuses on rain-fed farming systems, managed by smallholder farmers, in communities where large scale agriculture is not possible.

5. Calacea Farm, Not For Sale (NFS) (Romania) - NFS is an organization working to fight modern-day slavery around the world. In Romania, NFS works with their partner Mariana, operating an organic farm, which accommodates survivors of human trafficking. Just outside Timișoara, the farm offers individuals in recovery opportunities for health care, education, life skill training and new employment, to restore dignity and help re-build their future. Last year, NFS helped construct a building to house up to 50 additional farm workers, a workshop space to make jam, milk, and cheese, and two greenhouses to produce fruits and vegetables.

6. Center for Food Safety (United States) - The Center for Food Safety is a non-profit advocacy organization that promotes food systems that are safe, sustainable, and environmentally sound. Using a legal team, original research on agriculture, and grassroots organizing, CFS’ mission is to protect human health and the environment, achieved through careful monitoring of the agricultural industry for violations of food safety and environmental laws.

7. The Center for Studies and Development of Cambodian Agriculture (CEDAC) (Cambodia) - In partnership with Farmer and Nature Net (FNN), CEDAC has worked to promote the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which has been shown to increase yields and improve soil fertility while reducing the use of chemicals and maintaining local ownership of seeds. CEDAC supports several other agricultural innovations and techniques including Ecological Chicken Raising (ECR), pig raising, home gardening, aquaculture, composting, and multi-purpose farming.

8. Chicago Council on Global Affairs Global Agricultural Development Initiative (United States/International) - The Global Agricultural Development Initiative seeks to inform the development of U.S. policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the U.S. Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations. 

9. Christensen Fund (United States) – The Christensen Fund is a philanthropic organization dedicated to promoting biological and cultural diversity, making grants to organizations that work in fields like conservation science, visual arts, and education. The Fund is particularly noted for its work on agrobiodiversity and food sovereignty, in which it provides resources for indigenous and local farming communities to protect and enhance local food systems. 

10. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) (International) - The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research is a network of research organizations that are looking to promote and support global food security. With 15 centers around the globe, CGIAR helps to share knowledge and advance research on rural poverty, health and nutrition, and management of natural resources.

11. EARTH University (Costa Rica) – EARTH University is an international non-profit undergraduate institution based in Costa Rica focused on agricultural sciences and natural resource management. EARTH’s mission is to “prepare leaders with ethical values to contribute to the sustainable development of the tropics and to construct a prosperous and just society.”

12. Ecoagriculture Partners (United States/International) – Ecoagriculture Partners supports agricultural communities in managing their landscapes by using ecoagriculture in order to enhance rural livelihoods, conserve biodiversity, and produce food and fiber in environmentally sustainable ways.

13. ECOVA MALI (Mali) – Founded by former Peace Corps volunteers, Cynthia Hellmann and Gregory Flatt, ECOVA MALI works with Malian farmers to teach other farmers about  sustainable agriculture methods. They also offer micro-financing and small-scale grants so that farmers can invest in the sustainability, both social and environmental, of their operations.

14. Farm Labor Organizing Committee (United States) – Founded in 1967, FLOC was initially organized by Baldemar Velasquez, a migrant worker who sought to improve the working conditions of others like him by creating a mobile organizing base that could move along with workers as the seasons changed. Now, FLOC has over 20,000 members and works in both the United States and Mexico.

15. Feeding the 5000 (United Kingdom/International)Tristram Stuart’s initiative is organizing the world to prevent "wonky" fruits, vegetables, and other food from being wasted. Feeding the 5000 encourages farmers to participate in the “gleaning movement” – where volunteers collect unattractive produce that would otherwise be wasted for consumption.

16. Food & Water Watch (United States) - Founded on the belief that people have a fundamental right to trust the safety of the products they eat and drink, Food and Water Watch is a nonprofit organization that works to make food and water resources accessible and sustainable. They work to monitor food production and clean water systems, track the environmental quality of oceans, keep watch over U.S. corporate influence on public policy, and hold policymakers accountable for policies that pollute.

17. Food First: The Institute for Food and Development Policy (United States/International) - Food First is a research and advocacy organization that seeks to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger worldwide, working with social movements to amplify their voices and boost their efforts toward food justice and sovereignty. Believing that change happens from the ground up, Food First supports an agricultural approach that moves away from transnational agri-food industry to one focused primarily on farmers and communities.

18. Food Mythbusters (United States) – Food Mythbusters is a campaign of the Real Food Media Project that seeks to dispel misconceptions about food production and promote reforms in industrial agriculture, unfair labor practices, and food advertising, among other issues. In order to tell “the real story of our food,” Food Mythbusters utilizes video series, grassroots events, and interactive digital content.

19. Global Partnerships for Afghanistan (GPFA) (Afghanistan) – GFPA launched the Women Working Together collaborative initiative in 2005 in order to increase the quality of life of women in Afghanistan. GPFA focuses on programming that enhances female-run farms and orchards, teaching food preservation, greenhouse operation, and other practices.

20. GoodPlanet Foundation (France) – The GoodPlanet Foundation seeks to educate the public about the importance of environmental protection. The organization utilizes the power of photographs, posters, websites, films, and other visual media to spread information. For example, GoodPlanet has lead successful campaigns on the awareness of ocean and forest conservation, respectively.

21. Growing Power (United States) – Growing Power, Inc. is an American non-profit organization and land trust that seeks “to grow food, minds, and community” through a network of farms, training sites, and community food systems that provide access to food for all people. Growing Power also runs a number of youth programs and collaborates with various organizations, including Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. This year, Growing Power celebrates its 20th anniversary.

22. Heifer International (United States/International) - Heifer International is a non-profit organization that seeks to end hunger and poverty by providing communities in need with livestock and other animals that help them to build local, self-sufficient agricultural systems. It also offers a variety of resources that help impoverished farmers create sustainable sources of income, providing them with research on effective grazing methods, optimal animal well-being, and the creation of local networks that farmers can use to share resources with one another.

23. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) (United States/International) – IATP is a research and advocacy organization working to promote fair and sustainable food, farm, and trade systems around the world. Created in response to the American family farm crisis, IATP initially sought to document the failed policies that had led to prices dropping below the cost of production, and put many family farmers out of business. Now, IATP works with organizations worldwide to analyze the impact of global trade agreements, develop clean energy models, and stop the excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture and aquaculture.

24. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (International) – This United Nations-supported financial institution is on a mission to eradicate rural poverty in developing countries. IFAD helps empower the rural poor by providing them with the resources they need to invest in themselves and increase their incomes.

25. L.I.F.E. (Lasting Impact for Ethiopia) (Ethiopia) – This nonprofit organization is educating and empowering Ethiopian youth. In January 2012, a school for Ethiopian youth was established in the village of Nazerate, with a curriculum emphasizing literacy, agriculture, health, and sustainability.

26. Latin American and Caribbean Center for Rural Women (Enlac) (Latin American and Caribbean Regions) – The Latin American and Caribbean Center for Rural Women (Enlac in Spanish) serves as an organizing voice for marginalized, rural women. Enlac calls for policies that give Latin American and Caribbean women equal access to land rights, raise awareness about violence against female agriculture workers, boost access to clean water, and conserve native seeds. 

27. Millennium Institute (MI) (United States/International) – Millennium Institute is an independent nonprofit with the goal of promoting systems literacy and dynamic modeling tools in order to achieve sustainable development globally. MI works to achieve awareness through public education and strategic partnerships centered around interdependence and sustainability.  

28. One Acre Fund (United States/Sub-Saharan Africa) – The One Acre Fund provides farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with the tools they need to successfully operate their plots, such as seeds and fertilizers, credit, access to markets, and educational programs on farming techniques. These services are provided at a fee to the farmers who participate.

29. ONE Campaign (International) – The ONE Campaign is an international advocacy group aimed at alleviating extreme poverty and preventable disease through public awareness.

30. Oxfam International (International) – Through a wide variety of approaches – ranging from long-term campaigns, such as their Behind the Brands Campaign to secure labor rights for employees in the cocoa industry, to immediate emergency support – Oxfam has taken measures to bring an end to global poverty.

31. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) (United States) –ROC-United is a labor advocacy organization that focuses specifically on the American restaurant workforce. Founded by restaurant workers who survived the 9/11 attacks to help other displaced workers, ROC-United primarily advocates for better wages and working conditions, seeking to act as a champion for members of an industry that is less than one percent unionized.

32. The Savory Institute (United States/International) – This organization, lead by Allan Savory, the “father of holistic management,” uses livestock in sustainable ways to restore grasslands. The Savory Institute teams up with private investors to purchase ranch real estate for restoration.

33. Slow Food International (Italy/International) - Slow Food International is an international non-profit organization with supporters in 150 countries that emphasizes the importance of good food and the factors that make it possible, including biodiversity, culture, and knowledge. Created to respond to an increasingly “fast food” world, Slow Food seeks to preserve local traditions, enhance people’s understanding of food and where it comes from, and comprehend the impact that our food choices make on the world.

34. Soil Association (United Kingdom) – The Soil Association is a U.K.-based charity that campaigns for humane and healthful food through sustainable farming and land use. Founded in 1946, Soil Association was an early player in the movement to identify links between farming practices and the health of humans, plants, animals, and ecosystems. Now, the organization works closely with communities to create and inspire trust in organic farming methods and the food that they produce.

35. Songtaab-Yalgré Association (SYA) (Burkina Faso) - SYA brings together women from across Burkina Faso to produce shea nuts, using the collective to simultaneously improve their literacy and their working conditions. As a locally-sourced crop, shea nuts were chosen for their potential to allow the women harvesting them to achieve a higher level of economic self-sufficiency, and empower them to become independent in their society. Workers at SYA distribute profits equally and set aside a percentage to fund community development projects as well.

36. Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (United States) – The Stone Barns Center is a non-profit organization that aims to create a food system that is healthy, sustainable, and which benefits all people. On an 80-acre farm just outside of New York City, the Center offers cooking classes for all ages, organizes a seasonal market, and operates two food venues. All profits support farm operations and community education programs, and the Center encourages anyone to visit and see the benefits of a sustainable farm.

37. U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (International) – The Food and Agriculture Organization is the United Nations’ international agency overseeing global food security and agriculture. Among their many research areas, FAO’s main activities include knowledge-sharing among member nations, making information about food and agriculture available for all people, supporting policies to reduce malnutrition and other illnesses worldwide, rallying the international community to promote effective strategies for agricultural development, and conducting research to better understand the complex issues that face the global food system.

38. WinRock (United States/International) – WinRock works with marginalized people all over the world to provide them with the skills and resources they need to bring themselves out of poverty. WinRock’s projects include, among others, empowering women and youth, and teaching environmentally responsible farming methods.

39. World Food Programme (WFP) (International) – The World Food Programme is an international anti-hunger organization within the United Nations that collects and distributes food assistance to populations in need. As the world’s largest organization working to combat hunger, WFP distributes food to over 90 million people annually, mainly delivering assistance to children, refugees, people in emergency situations (such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti) and the rural poor.

40. World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) (Taiwan/International) – AVRDC is an international non-profit organization dedicated to reducing poverty and malnutrition in the developing world by increasing agricultural production and access to a variety of vegetables, providing essential micronutrients for populations in need. The Center works with both private and public sector partners to strike an effective balance between necessary research for new technologies and development to employ those technologies effectively.

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