Note on business, climate and action from the White House as the United Nations meets in New York – Food Tank

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Greetings from New York!

The UN General Assembly is meeting here this week alongside Climate Week. People from all over the planet are coming together—policymakers, activists, nonprofits, and so many more—to delve into what we need to do to solve the climate crisis.

I had the opportunity to enjoy an interesting dinner hosted by Wholechain, founded by Food Tank friends Mark Kaplan and Jason Berryhill. They are amazing social entrepreneurs working to make our food and agriculture systems more transparent and, in turn, more traceable. We need companies to step up to the plate – and these people are part of making that happen. I had the opportunity to speak with people from companies like Akua Kelp, which makes delicious kelp burgers, Grain4Grain, which creates recycled flour from spent grains, and many others who make products that are both environmentally and socially sustainable.

The private sector cannot be just for profit. So many small and medium-sized companies are leading the way on these issues: From the day they launch, they start with mission statements that put the environment and social justice at the fore. And then it’s the big companies, the big companies, trying to get to these smaller companies by making commitments.

But here’s what to watch out for: I hope that when big companies adopt these commitments, they’re not just greenwashing—or greenwishing, saying, “I hope these commitments we’re making by 2050 actually work! “

By 2050 it will be too late! We can’t just wish for a greener world in 30 years—we need commitments that policymakers, companies, and so many of us can act on now. We need to make these commitments more urgent and real, whether that’s pushing for soy or deforestation-free beef, or using recycled ingredients from food production. We need to start seeing this as the rule rather than the exception.

The power of urgent action is what I was lucky enough to discuss with activist and “Orange Is The New Black” star Alysia Reiner on the Food Talk podcast this week. She’s a strong advocate for the arts, reducing food and plastic waste in movies and TV sets, using love—not fear—to inspire action, and more. I really hope you listen to our conversation by clicking here.

Next week, I will be in Washington, DC, for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. The last time the White House held such a conference was in 1969, so this is long overdue. And from what I understand, the administration will announce a national strategy that will identify steps to catalyze the public and private sectors to address the links between food and hunger, nutrition and health. So stay tuned: I’ll have more to say next week about what we’ll hear and see at the conference.

I really hope that the conference is diverse—that there is a wide range of views and opinions. And that it’s not just academics and advocates, but people with lived experience who have been doing this essential work for so long and really know what communities want and need. And I sincerely hope that the administration will listen to them so that we can build a better national strategy.

What kinds of topics do you want to see discussed at the White House conference? Whose voices do you hope to hear? We’ll be there on behalf of all the Food Tankers like you around the world, so please chat with me at [email protected] and let me know how I can be your eyes and ears on the ground in DC

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Photo courtesy of Patrick Tomasso, Unsplash

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