Transforming Food Policy Through Science from Coast to Coast

April 21, 2014 | 1:54 pm
Michael Halpern
Former Contributor

From Let’s Move! to farmers markets, the conversation about how public health science is informing and leading to healthier food policies and food environments is growing. And at every level, good things are happening. Leading up to the May 6 Science and Democracy Forum on “Science, Democracy, and a Healthy Food Policy,” we asked for examples of people using scientific and public health evidence to improve food environments. Here’s a flavor of some of the work highlighted in your responses:

Photo: Flickr/Gwen

Gwen’s first homegrown tomato. Photo: Flickr/Gwen

In Alameda, California, the Alameda Backyard Growers have a simple motto: ”Grow community, one veggie at a time.” Gardeners work together to collect surplus fruits and vegetables to donate to the local food bank, so healthy food is accessible to all. In addition, the organization offers free sustainable permaculture lectures, and opportunities for community members to learn about local water management policies and how to reduce water consumption while still producing food.

Transition Fidalgo & Friends is developing a transition community in Anacortes, Washington, practicing resilience and sustainability through education and skill-sharing. Concerned about the environmental and health impacts of produce that is shipped to the grocery store from across the country or world, the organization teaches community members to grow their own gardens for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

The Sustainable Food Center is working to strengthen the local food system in Austin, Texas so everyone can have access to healthy, affordable food. In-house experts discuss the science behind sustainable agriculture and organic farming, and detail how these practices can reduce food insecurity while helping the environment. Programs include education and resources for home gardening, farmers markets, and farm-to-cafeteria and farm-to-school programs.

Photo: USDA Farm to school program

Photo: USDA Farm to school program

At the nexus of policy and practice, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has for for almost 25 years developed policies that benefit farmers, consumers, communities and the environment. For example, the institute’s work in sustainable agriculture is based on agroecology principles  that promote soil health and fruitful crops and reduce the environmental impacts of farming.

At the May 6 public forum, we will highlight work in several communities to share innovative ideas and practices with others throughout the country.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you:  tell us about organizations, public policies, or community efforts that are using public health science to improve our food systems.