By Devon Ericksen
This month, The Worldwatch Institute celebrates the role of youth in the creation of a just and sustainable future. Nourishing the Planet knows that we must not only teach our children about proper nutrition to ensure that they live healthy lives, but also to care about the future of sustainable agriculture. Around the world, children face problems ranging from malnutrition and lack of access to education in developing countries, to obesity and poor school lunches in developed countries.
The future of the world’s food system depends on what we teach and feed our children today (Photo Credit: Food Network)
Though the problems may differ, the solution remains the same: develop local agriculture systems with which to sustainably produce nutritious food for our children. In August, we highlighted ways that people are working to bring agriculture closer to home in our post, “From a Garden in South Africa to a Cafeteria in California: Sharing Meals and Good Ideas”. By making fresh produce more accessible, whether it is delivered from a local farm or grown in the schoolyard, organizations such as Abalimi Bezekhaya in South Africa, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers in California, and the Washington D.C. Farm to School Network are all working to feed our youth healthier food, whether they live in situations of poverty or wealth, whether they are obese or malnourished.
Just in time for school to start, we provided ideas and examples for improving school lunches in our post 15 Innovations to Make School Lunches Healthier and More Sustainable. These changes are badly needed at a time when one-third of American children are overweight or obese—a recent study found that children who eat school lunches are much more likely to be obese than children who bring lunch from home. From school gardens to healthy vending machines, change is happening across the country as people realize the importance of feeding our children healthier food.
In Africa, where almost 15 million children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS, orphanages such as the Dago Dala Hera Orphanage in Kenya are working to provide proper nutrition for their residents and students, and to teach them organic farming practices. Our recent interview with Patrick Odoyo, program coordinator of the orphanage, gives examples of the ways that their farming efforts have benefitted their children and the community. Their communal seedling nursery project provides seedlings to the community, and their residents’ kitchen gardens provide food and income.
The best way to cultivate interest in sustainable agriculture among youth is to promote nutrition education and healthy eating habits. The future of the world’s food system depends on what we teach and feed our children today.
As of this week, you can vote for us on Facebook through the Chase Community Giving Program. The more votes we get, the higher the chance we have of receiving a share of $5 million in grants to support our work on behalf of women and children around the world.
Devon Ericksen is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.
To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.