Celebrating 2015 with Change Food


Change Food is proud to celebrate another year of educating and advocating for a more sustainable food system. July was the end of our 2014-2015 year and marks our second anniversary.  As the scope of Change Food’s impact expands, we are raising awareness, activating consumers and helping make the changes necessary so that healthy, delicious, safe food is accessible to all. Keep reading to learn what we’ve been up to this year.  And check out our recently redesigned and relaunched website!

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A Fond Farewell to TEDxManhattan

By Brittany Barton for Change Food

November 4, 2015


Five years. 90 speakers. 7.2 million YouTube views. 494 viewing parties. 8 million people impacted. TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” resonated across the world and made great strides for an improved food system. The five influential one-day events held from 2011 to 2015 were a nationally-recognized brand and a sought-after platform for individuals and organizations doing innovative work in sustainable food and farming. It provided innovators with an opportunity to raise their profile and reach far beyond their existing audiences. TEDxManhattan has had a significant impact, acting as a catalyst for new opportunities, spurring media coverage of new projects and leading to dynamic partnerships.

After five years of significant successes, TEDxManhattan has officially retired and we bid it a fond farewell. The impact of each event will live on in the projects, collaborations and new events made possible by TEDxManhattan.

We wanted to take an opportunity to thank and honor all of the speakers, participants, viewing party organizers, sponsors, volunteers and all those who attended the event. TEDxManhattan was all of us combined.


More than anything, TEDxManhattan was about the people. It was about the connections, collaborations and friendships the events made possible. The selected speakers were given an opportunity to present their project or idea to a captive audience and each person walked away with a community of champions ready to support them.

And for some it completely changed their lives. Some speakers were new to the food movement and had never been exposed to such a receptive audience. Veteran food activists were ready and willing to lend their expertise. Below we’ve highlighted only a few of the incredible partnerships made possible by TEDxManhattan.

Audience member Susan Haar organized the Harvard Food Law Conference that has led to students organizing regionally and in other groups. She says, “I really want to say it never would have happened without (Diane Hatz) and TEDxManhattan. In one day you completely woke me up to the possibility of changing the food system and the urgency to do so.” The Harvard conference energized everyone in attendance and next steps proposed by students are already in the works – including a website, an alumni network, sharing of administrative resources for starting a student food law society, sharing of ideas for topics of student notes, cross-network projects, and an annual meeting.

Susan was introduced to 2015 TEDxManhattan speaker, Michele Merkel, Co-director of Food & Water Justice and invited her to be the keynote speaker for the Harvard Food Law Conference. It gave Michele’s justice program great exposure and also a view into the future of the legal efforts in the food movement.

Michele’s 2015 TEDxManhattan talk, “Using the legal system to fight factory farms” spurred a Food & Water Watch alert, and over 13,000 people took action against the EPA, asking them to reinstate the rule to create an inventory of CAFOs. This occurred within days of her video release.  Continue reading

Make Changes in Your Community with Ali Berlow’s “The Food Activist Handbook”

Change Food believes that every individual plays a role in transforming our food system into one where healthy and sustainable food are accessible to all. And in recent years, thanks to leaders in the food movement, more and more people are learning about the realities of our current food system and our roles within it. However, you may be left wondering: what can I personally do to make an impact within my own community?

No matter how old you are, where you live, or how busy you may be, The Food Activist Handbook offers the information, tools, and resources for you to get involved. Author Ali Berlow offers practical advice that can be heeded by anyone, not just the wealthy or those with ample free time. The Food Activist Handbook is an inclusive, no-nonsense guide “to help you energize and organize your local food system and create better access to healthy food for everyone.” The way we eat determines the way we interact with the environment, the economy, our neighbors, and our own bodies. And we are all responsible for whether or not these interactions are healthy, beneficial, and progressive.


The Food Activist Handbook makes it easy to spark real change in your community.

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Transforming Livelihoods with Ceres Community Project

Change Food is excited to put a spotlight on another Change Food community member – the Ceres Community Project and its founder, Cathryn Couch. For the past eight years, Ceres Community Project has revolutionized meal delivery service for vulnerable and underserved communities by providing 100% organic, sustainably raised meals to low income people and families struggling, as well as a nutritional education program that alters longterm eating habits for the better.

In preparing over 100,000 meals each year, Ceres is making real change in Northern California and across the country. In using local teen volunteers and adult volunteer supervisors in their gardens and kitchens, Ceres involves the communities they serve in the food making process in the most intimate of ways — literally growing it from the ground up and preparing it. The teen volunteers take on a mature amount of responsibility in maintaining their garden and kitchen sites, including managing compost systems and pollinator habitats, seed saving, food safety, menu design, and cooking and serving meals, creating an ultimate garden-to-table experience.


Teen volunteers tend to crops at a Ceres Community Project garden, beginning the farm-to-table experience.

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Eat Your Turkey and Save the Planet Too

By: Brittany Barton for Change Food
November 18, 2015

Family and friends are gathered around the table, ready to indulge in the Thanksgiving feast. The turkey is looking especially plump this year, and pies with intricate lattice-work line the dessert buffet. Vegetables are present too, although many are hiding in creamy casseroles. Thanksgiving is pinned as the ultimate food holiday, where we celebrate a bountiful harvest and eat one too many slices of pie. Since we are celebrating food, it is the perfect time to consider the effects our meal is having on our environment. What is the real cost of your Thanksgiving meal?

This Thanksgiving, have a meal that positively impacts the good food movement. We have an overwhelming number of choices in today’s food market and it’s the choice you make that will either make or break a healthy food system.


TEDxManhattan speaker Stefanie Sacks says, “Start to question the foods you choose for you and your loved ones.” Green bean casserole is a good example. This dish is traditionally made with canned green beans and canned soup. These two products are shipped hundreds or thousands of miles, made from non-organic sources and sealed in a BPA-lined can; translating to carbon pollution, pesticides and health risks associated from BPA.

Thanksgiving table photo by David Trainer courtesy of flickr

Thanksgiving table photo by David Trainer courtesy of flickr

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Mouth-Watering Images of Monthly Produce Make Eating In-Season a Work of Art

Eating locally and in season is good for the planet, your local economy, and your body. “Locavore” chefs in the best restaurants around the world are adapting their menus to appeal to this sustainable and in-style way of eating (as foods taste better when they are appropriately ripe), influencing the consumption patterns of thousands and therefore the future of our food systems. All around, consuming foods produced within a one hundred mile radius from where you eat is a responsible way to interact with your environment.

Now it’s easy on the eyes as well. Artists Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin have done it again: the duo that brought us Food Maps, a series of photographs depicting the crops produced region by region around the world, has produced a new series of stunning images entitled Food Scans.

August’s range of juicy tomatoes (credit: Henry Hargreaves and Caitlin Levin)

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Reading for Change! Make an Impact With Waste-Free Kitchen: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money by Wasting Less Food by Dana Gunders

Change Food welcomes you to the launch of our Reading for Change series! Here, we will be sharing reviews of some of our favorite food and farming-centered books each month. We kick off today by introducing Waste-Free Kitchen: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money by Wasting Less Food by Dana Gunders. In this new release, the author, a Change Food friend, provides us with practical and easy-to-follow strategies as to how to reduce food waste within our own homes. You may have seen Dana’s work featured on Dr. Oz, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, NPR, and many more media outlets — now, this knowledge is readily available for your reading pleasure.

Author Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defense Council

Author Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defense Council

According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, where Gunders resides as a Staff Scientist, the average American throws out about 25% of all their purchased food and beverages. For a family of four, this ends up being between $1,365 and $2,275 in wasted food each year. Imagine not only the money, but the opportunity cost in time spent shopping, as well as the sheer volume in produce we could save on a macro level if every household were more informed on how to conserve their groceries.

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Food Co-ops for Social Justice

By Brittany Barton for Change Food

Food cooperatives impact communities in ways that go beyond food. Right now, over 45,000 co-ops in the country are providing low cost, healthy food to its members. These stores are community-run businesses based on the cooperative principles that each member has a voice in decisions regarding the production and distribution of its food.
One example is The Seward Community Co-op; created in 1972, it remains a staple in its Minneapolis neighborhood. So much so that they have opened a second location, named the Friendship Store. Friend of Change Food and former TEDxManhattan speaker LaDonna Redmond is a key player in it’s creation. The store is located in the Bryant-Central neighborhood, a predominantly African American community that has been without a full service grocery for over 30 years.

Google Creative Commons

Google Creative Commons

Over five hundred Co-op owners joined the Friendship store within the first week. “People are ready,” says Redmond. The store offers quality food and quality jobs, with 50 percent of employees living less than a mile from the store. This is a huge advantage for a community that struggles with employment discrimination. Co-op employees are provided benefits, insurance and paid $15 an hour.

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This Food Day, Get Inspired with a Fresh New Documentary

Written By: Kelly Mertz for Change Food

How can I incorporate more fresh produce into my diet without breaking the bank? Where are the farmers markets in my area? How can my diet help to heal the Earth? Who are the leaders working to reverse the damages done by the current agribusiness system?

Perhaps these are questions you are already asking yourself. This October 24th, join thousands of people across the United States in celebrating Food Day, a day dedicated to inspiring Americans to make changes to their diets that will positively impact their health and the health of the environment. This year’s theme is “Toward a Greener Diet” and aims to educate the population on how they can make strides toward a greener plate – both literally and figuratively.

Food for Thought, Food for Life confronts the damages caused by the current agribusiness system, and counterpoints by introducing the viewer to those who are working towards a solution.

Food for Thought, Food for Life confronts the damages caused by the current agribusiness system, and counterpoints by introducing the viewer to those who are working towards a solution.

While events will be held in all fifty states, one we are particularly passionate about here at Change Food is the official online release of the film Food for Thought, Food For Life. The twenty-minute documentary, directed by Susan Rockefeller (also of HBO’s Christopher Award-winning documentary Making The Crooked Straight, and Planet Green’s A Sea Change), has already been recognized at several film festivals this year, earning an official selection at the Short Film Corner at Cannes. It explains the downsides to the current large-scale farming system (for example, irrigation is currently the largest single use of water in the world). In turn, it focuses on the change-makers (farmers, chefs, researchers, and activists) who are providing solutions to these problems.  The film examines the intersection of our individual health, the health of our communities on a macro scale, and the well-being of our planet. Continue reading

A Paradigm Shift in Mississippi School Cafeterias

By Ligia V. Henriquez for Change Food

Versión en Español

In her TEDxManhattan talk Good Food Can Change Everything, Sunny Young, winner of the 2014 TEDxManhattan Challenge, described the Good Food for Oxford Schools (GFOS) farm to school program in Mississippi. Today, we are happy to share an exciting update on her work!

Photo 1. Sunny Young at TEDxManhttan on March 2014. Slide showing second grade student, Samaria, eating kale chips after meeting the farmer who grew the kale and the chef who prepared them. TEDxManhattan.

Photo 1. Sunny Young at TEDxManhttan on March 2014. Slide showing second grade student, Samaria, eating kale chips after meeting the farmer who grew the kale and the chef who prepared them. TEDxManhattan.

Through GFOS in the Oxford School District in Oxford, Mississippi, Sunny helped engage and empower school staff, students, and their families to change the way they think of and eat food.

When she gave her talk in March 2014, GFOS had helped transform the food served in their school cafeterias by:

  • Increasing the percentage of food made from scratch served in school meals from 30% to 75% within one year
  • Increasing servings of fresh foods from local producers
  • Eliminating fryers from school cafeterias
  • Introducing salad bars in all the District’s schools
  • Bringing farmers and chefs to schools to teach children about good food

A mother reported that her daughter, Samaria (see photo 1), who previously refused to try fruits or vegetables, was now pestering her for fruits, rather than for highly processed products! (Hint: watch related TEDxManhattan talk: Marketing Food to Children, were Anna Lappé explains “pester power”).

The statistics that Sunny shared during her talk show the need for a paradigm shift in the diets of Mississippi children:

  • Mississippi is the state with the highest obesity rates in the country
  • 40% of Mississippi children eat less than 1 fruit or vegetable on a daily basis
  • 40% of Mississippi children are overweight/ obese
  • 74% of parents are not worried about their children’s weight

As she explained, farm to school efforts are important because in the Oxford School District alone, academic performance and overall well-being have declined in children who are overweight, malnourished, and/or suffering from diet-related diseases. Students as young as five have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, a disease formerly only identified in adults.[i]
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