ORGANIZATIONS WORKING TO ADDRESS AND TRANSFORM THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM

🍎 These organizations are treasure troves of information, free resources, reports and learning opportunities. If you want to start somewhere, I recommend checking out World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Healthcare without Harm, and Heal Food Alliance.

There are many organizations here working to transform our food system.  All have numerous resources, reports and articles some of  which I have also provided.  I have put *** for the ones I think it may be most valuable to start off with looking at.

You may find more ideas on this page:

  • 50by40 seeks to cut the global production and consumption of animal products by 50% by the year 2040
  • Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation is a think tank that seeks to determine the effects of economic, social, environmental and scientific factors on food
    • The Food Sustainability Index was created by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation. It uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to rank 67 countries on the sustainability of their food systems
  • Center for Biological Diversity uses legal action, creative media and grassroots activism to protect endangered species and preserve the critical natural diversity of the environment
  • The Conscious Food Systems Alliance is a movement of food, agriculture, and consciousness practitioners united around a common goal: to support people from across food and agriculture systems to cultivate the inner capacities that activate systemic change and regeneration.
  • Cornucopia Institute
    • The Cornucopia Institute provides needed information to family farmers, consumers, and other stakeholders in the good food movement through research and investigations on agriculture and food issues. We research brands and investigate the industry to identify and elevate authentic organic foods and farmers, while we scrutinize the USDA National Organic Program’s enforcement and application of the organic law. 
    • Watch this page for  CAMPAIGN updates as we continue to highlight the wisdom and challenges of authentic organic farmers and the resilience of regenerative, ecosystem-based farming models.
  • Datassential Plant-Forward Opportunity report, in partnership with The Culinary Institute of America, Food for Climate League, and the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative
    • 2022 Plant-Forward Opportunity takes the pulse of consumers on the topic of plant-forward eating through the exploration of sentiments and behaviors concerning plant-based foods, plant-forward menus, sustainability, health, and more.
  • Diets for a Better Future demonstrates the leading role G20 countries can and must take to realize the exponential changes required for a healthy and sustainable world. The report explores what a more equitable distribution across a global ‘carbon budget’ for food could look like.
    • National Dietary Guidelines are a necessary component of food policy and an essential first step to promoting healthy eating habits in a country often through educational programs or public awareness campaigns.
  • EAT-Lancet Commission on Food Planet and Health is a collaboration between 37 of the world’s leading scientists to answer this question: can we feed a future population of 10 billion within the boundaries of our planet?
    • EAT-Lancet Commission Brief for Everyone
    • EAT-Lancet Commission Brief for Healthcare Professionals 
      • A diet that includes more plant-based foods and fewer animal source foods is healthy, sustainable, and good for both people and planet. It is not a question of all or nothing, but rather small changes for a large and positive impact.
      • Foods sourced from animals, especially red meat, have relatively high environmental footprints per serving compared to other food groups. This has an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, land use and biodiversity loss. This is particularly the case for animal source foods from grain fed livestock.
  • Ellen Macarthur Foundation has a project called The Big Food Redesigned about making nature-positive food the norm
    • Today, just four crops provide 60% of the world’s calories, while many ingredients that could be used instead and have a lower impact are rarely used. A nature-positive food system requires a more diverse mix of plants and livestock and a better understanding of local contexts to function effectively.
    • The big food redesign shows that circular design for food – which involves fundamentally redesigning product portfolios to use all the diverse food outputs of a nature-positive food system – offers significantly greater benefits than using the same ingredients as today, but sourcing them better through regenerative production
  • Farm to Fork Strategy of the European Commission  ( Part of the European Green Deal -striving to be the first climate-neutral continent)
    • There is an urgent need to reduce dependency on pesticides and antimicrobials, reduce excess fertilisation, increase organic farming, improve animal welfare, and reverse biodiversity loss.
    • Putting our food systems on a sustainable path also brings new opportunities for operators in the food value chain. New technologies and scientific discoveries, combined with increasing public awareness and demand for sustainable food, will benefit all stakeholders.
  • Food Tank educates and advocates for sustainable ways to fight against hunger, obesity and poverty and create sustainable change within our food system
  • Food and Agriculture Organization: part of the United Nations, the FAO leads international efforts to achieve food security for all people
    • FAO +FCRN: Plates, Pyramids, Planet pp. 1-7 (Executive Summary)
      • Characteristics of low environmental impact diets consistent with good health:
        • Diversity – a wide variety of foods eaten.
        • Balance achieved between energy intake and energy needs.
        • Based around: minimally processed tubers and whole grains; legumes; fruits and vegetables – particularly those that are field grown, “robust” (less prone to spoilage) and less requiring of rapid and more energy intensive transport modes. Meat, if eaten, in moderate quantities – and all animal parts consumed.
        • Dairy products or alternatives (e.g. fortified milk substitutes and other foods rich in calcium and micronutrients) eaten in moderation.
        • Unsalted seeds and nuts.
        • Small quantities of fish and aquatic products sourced from certified fisheries.
        • Very limited consumption of foods high in fat, sugar or salt and low in micronutrients e.g. crisps, confectionery, sugary drinks.
        • Oils and fats with a beneficial Omega 3:6 ratio such as rapeseed and olive oil.
        • Tap water in preference to other beverages – particularly soft drinks. 
      • One important step that governments can take to signal their commitment to a more sustainable and healthy future, is to develop and disseminate food based dietary guidelines (FBDG) that embed health and sustainability objectives. These can then form the basis of policies seeking to foster such patterns.
    • Healthy soils are the basis for healthy food production
    • Soils for Nutrition: State of the Art booklet on food production and food security, and the environmental and climate change impacts associated with fertilizer misuse and overuse.
    • Sustainable and Healthy Diet: Guiding Principles pp. 7-11 (Introduction + Infographic), 17-19 (Summary Paper 1), and 21-22 (Summary Paper 2). This report of  guiding principles takes a holistic approach to diets; they consider international nutrition recommendations; the environmental cost of food production and consumption; and the adaptability to local social, cultural and economic contexts.
      • Food systems are simultaneously a leading cause of environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources. Currently, food systems are responsible for a significant share (20-35 percent) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and are a major driver of land conversion, deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Agriculture alone accounts for roughly 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, and causes water pollution.
      • Additionally, current food systems are characterized by inequitable power concentration and imbalance, with some actors profiting greatly while others remain impoverished. These systems are failing to deliver equitable benefits for all, and are leaving the most vulnerable behind.
      • Diets are more than the sum of nutrients and foods consumed or the dietary patterns associated with them. They are a way of life that shapes and is shaped by the way food is produced, procured, distributed, marketed, chosen, prepared and consumed. The social/cultural aspects and the economic impacts of food and food systems must be taken into account in the dialogue on responses to improve diets and eliminate hunger.
  • Friends of the Earth is a grassroots environmental network that aims to defend the environment and create a healthy, just world through sustainability, connectivity and systemic change
    • Spinning Food: How Food Industry Front Groups and Covert Communications are Shaping the Story of Food: Certain “front group” * companies within the food industry are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to undermine public awareness of the benefits of organic food and diversified, ecological production systems. “With the future of our food at stake, it is critical to raise awareness about the coordinated messages and covert communication tactics being used by this vast marketing machine.” 
  • Global Alliance for the Future of Food is an alliance of philanthropic organizations working together to transform global food systems to create a more sustainable future for coming generations ***
    • UNRAVELLING THE FOOD–HEALTH NEXUS ADDRESSING PRACTICES, POLITICAL ECONOMY, AND POWER RELATIONS TO BUILD HEALTHIER FOOD SYSTEMS
    • HOW TO TRANSFORM FOOD SYSTEMS: 7 CALLS TO ACTION
    • POWER SHIFT: WHY WE NEED TO WEAN INDUSTRIAL FOOD SYSTEMS OFF FOSSIL FUELS (Report)
      • Even if governments delivered on their 2030 climate pledges, by 2037 food-related fossil fuel use alone would blow the remaining portion of the 1.5C carbon budget, an estimate of the maximum amount of carbon dioxide emissions that can be emitted before tipping the planet into dangerous levels of global heating. 
      • The report identifies multiple drivers for the fossil fuel dependency – from energy-intensive ultra processed foods like snacks, drinks and ready meals in high income countries, to the global reliance on fossil fuel-based chemicals for crop production. It finds that the majority of fossil fuel consumption is in the processing and packaging stage (42 percent), and in retail consumption and waste (38 percent). Agriculture production accounts for 20 percent of energy use in food systems, with fossil fuel use to produce fertilisers expected to increase substantially through 2050. Natural gas is the basis for chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which are used to increase the growth of crops and kill off pests. Plastic packaging is produced from natural gas and crude oil.
    • Creating Better Health for People, Animals, and the Planet: Food Systems Insights for Health Professionals showcases 10 food-focused initiatives that have taken action to promote human, ecological, and animal health and well-being.
      • Food is at the heart of human, animal, and ecological health and well-being; however, our present-day food systems put all three at  risk. Industrialized food systems and unhealthy diets significantly  contribute to climate change, undermine the integrity of ecosystems, and are responsible for the escalating rates of disease.  
      • THE IMPACT OF FOOD SYSTEMS ON HUMAN HEALTH Food systems impact our health in a multitude of ways. The World Health Organization estimates that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are responsible for 41 million deaths each year —  71% of all mortality globally. Diet is a leading risk factor for NCDs. Other hazards associated with our food systems include food-borne disease and exposure to pesticides and toxins among farm workers and eaters alike. The resistance of people and livestock to antibiotics and other antimicrobials is creating an emerging public health crisis. And then there’s zoonoses — pathogens that cross from animals to humans, most recently illustrated by the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic. The primary pathways through which food systems impact health were identified in a 2021 WHO report, Food Systems Delivering Better Health.
  • Good Food Purchasing Program works with public institutions to create transparency in the supply chain from farm to fork and support small to mid-sized agriculture in local areas
  • Heal Food Alliance: By working together, we can build a system that is healthy for our families, accessible and affordable for all communities, and fair to the people who grow, distribute, prepare, and serve our food. To transform our food system is to heal our bodies, transform our economy, and protect our environment. ***
  • Healthcare without Harm, an organization that  works to transform health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice.***
    • The Plant-Forward Future   a curated set of resources from Practice Greenhealth, Health Care Without Harm, and our partners that will help health care facilities set a plant-forward goal, menu and market plant-forward dishes, and track their progress.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a subgroup of the United Nations that assesses climate-related science
    • Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future works with students, educators, researchers, policymaker and advocacy groups to build a healthy, equitable and resilient food system *** .(Articles below)
    • The Connections between Diet, People and Planet article discuses how human health, environment and climate change can be addressed at the table
    • Food System Primer is “designed for educators, students, journalists, policymakers, researchers, and other engaged citizens seeking information and resources about the food system.”
  • Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics: how the food industry influences nutrition and health blogs about sustainability, health and nutrition topics
  • Meatless Monday: part of the Monday Campaigns, Meatless Mondays is a campaign that advocates for avoiding meat on Mondays
  • Natural Resources Defense Council aims to safeguard the natural systems on Earth on which all life depends. It strives to restore the integrity of the environment and defend endangered natural places
  • One Health seeks to optimize health outcomes by recognizing the interconnectedness between humans and the health of animals and our shared environment
  • Rockefeller Foundation (Food Division) aims to increase access and availability of nutrition food to improve the dietary quality of at least 40 million vulnerable children and families around the world in the next three years .(Articles below)
  • Stanford University Dining: One Plate, One Planet is a long-term action plan to alleviate the affects of food waste. By engaging students in a full array of strategies from reducing food-related GHG emissions, composting for animal feed, recycling, food donations, waste to oil biodiesel, and energy and water conservation, they aim to build a culture of environmentally sustainable habits for the future of the planet.
  • Our World in Data: a research platform highlighting global problems and global changes.  .(Articles below)***
  • Project Drawdown:  a nonprofit organization with a mission to help the world reach “drawdown”— “the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible.” 
  • UN Environment Programme is a global champion for the environment with focus on climate, nature, pollution, and sustainable development.(Articles below)
  • World Economic Forum, an international organization engaging political, business, and culture leaders to influence positive change and meet global, regional, and industry agendas. .(Articles below).
  • The World Resources Institute is a research organization working with professionals in over 60 countries to achieve sustainable solutions in seven topic areas: climate, energy, food, forests, water, cities and the ocean *** .(Articles/reports below)
    • WRI works with restaurants, universities, hospitals and more to create dining environments that enable consumers to choose climate-friendly foods. Using cutting-edge learnings from behavioral science, WRI works with the food service sector to make changes within their operations that encourage diners to choose more sustainable, plant-rich options.
    • Cool Food helps organizations reduce the climate impact of the food they serve by shifting towards more plant-rich foods. It is a credible and proven way to reduce your organization’s greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Tracking Progress towards the Cool Food Pledge: Setting Climate Targets, Tracking Metrics, Using the Cool Food Calculator, and Related Guidance for Pledge Signatories;
      • The Cool Food Pledge is a global initiative that helps food providers sell delicious dishes with smaller climate footprints
      • A number of potential solutions exist, including improving the productivity and environmental performance of agriculture (including crops, livestock, fisheries, and  aquaculture), reducing food loss and waste across supply chains, and shifting high meat diets toward plant-based foods.
    • Playbook for Guiding Diners Toward Plant-Rich Dishes in Food Service
      • To help food service companies support diners in choosing more plant-rich meals, this playbook from WRI’s Better Buying Lab outlines the top 23 ‘behavior change’ strategies drawing on cutting edge academic research into how people choose food, as well as insights from experts in the food service industry about what works and what doesn’t.
      • Producing beef emits 20 times more greenhouse gases than common plant-based proteins, which is why shifting diets toward containing less beef, and more plants, is an important climate action. 
    • Creating a Sustainable Food Future – A Menu of Solutions to Feed Nearly 10 Billion People by 2050 (2019) 
      • The report offers a five-course menu of solutions to ensure we can feed 10 billion people by 2050 without increasing emissions, fueling deforestation or exacerbating poverty. Intensive research and modeling examining the nexus of the food system, economic development, and the environment show why each of the 22 items on the menu is important and quantifies how far each solution can get us. 
      •  Today, hundreds of millions of people remain hungry, agriculture already uses almost half of the world’s vegetated land, and agriculture and related land-use change generate one-quarter of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
    • What Is Kelp and Why Is it Vital to People and the Planet?
      • From providing nursery habitats and foraging grounds for a wide range of marine organisms, to critically contributing to a sense of identity for Indigenous and coastal peoples that have used it for generations as medicine, food and material, kelp is of vital importance to the planet and to people.
      • kelp forests generate approximately $500 billion annually in ecosystem services, such as capturing carbon and removing nutrient pollution such as nitrogen and phosphorous from the water column.
  • World Health Organization: “Our Planet, Our Health, Our Future”  This report discusses Biodiversity, climate change and desertification, three interlinked issues relevant to human health.
  • World Health Organization:
    • Sustainable and Healthy Diet: Guiding Principles pp. 7-11 (Introduction + Infographic), 17-19 (Summary Paper 1), and 21-22 (Summary Paper 2). This report of  guiding principles takes a holistic approach to diets; they consider international nutrition recommendations; the environmental cost of food production and consumption; and the adaptability to local social, cultural and economic contexts.
      • Food systems are simultaneously a leading cause of environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources. Currently, food systems are responsible for a significant share (20-35 percent) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and are a major driver of land conversion, deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Agriculture alone accounts for roughly 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, and causes water pollution.
      • Additionally, current food systems are characterized by inequitable power concentration and imbalance, with some actors profiting greatly while others remain impoverished. These systems are failing to deliver equitable benefits for all, and are leaving the most vulnerable behind.
      • Diets are more than the sum of nutrients and foods consumed or the dietary patterns associated with them. They are a way of life that shapes and is shaped by the way food is produced, procured, distributed, marketed, chosen, prepared and consumed. The social/cultural aspects and the economic impacts of food and food systems must be taken into account in the dialogue on responses to improve diets and eliminate hunger.
    • Healthier diets for our planet: new WHO/Europe data tool to drive innovative country policies
      • The way we produce and consume food – through our food systems – is tightly interconnected with environment and health. Foods high in salt, added sugars and trans fats can harm our health and lead to early death. At the same time, the production of food products may contribute to soil pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and packaging waste.
      • The environmental impact of food production is daunting. Agriculture is responsible for about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions and uses 70% of all freshwater resources. Over-application of fertilizers in some regions has led to the pollution of surface and groundwater, and to dead zones in oceans.
      • “If we don’t make changes to how we produce and eat food, like transitioning to healthier and more plant-based diets, we might jeopardize the well-being of our planet and risk not being able to avoid dangerous levels of climate change”
      • In various parts of the WHO European Region and beyond, diets and food systems in general are neither healthy nor sustainable. Unhealthy diets are a leading risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – from diabetes to cancer and cardiovascular diseases – and are responsible for 1 in 5 deaths globally.
  • World Wildlife Fund (Food Initiatives) works to secure a living planet that will sustain a more affluent population. From refining production and distribution to combating waste and environmental impacts, we want to improve how the world grows, transports and consumes this precious fuel.*** (Articles/reports below)
    • Eating for Net Zero (Report from 2023)
      • We need to transform our food systems – from farm to fork. We must move to a new food paradigm; away from a focus on producing as much food as possible and towards ensuring everyone can access and afford the nutritious food they need to live healthy lives.  This involves rebalancing our protein consumption toward plants, eating more vegetables, pulses and wholegrains, and fewer foods high in fat, salt and sugar. Crucially, it can be achieved without costing more.
      •  Food choices are deeply influenced by food environments – what is available, affordable and accessible, and how it is marketed. These factors are determined by governments and businesses and are largely beyond the control of the individual. Delivering change is not just a question of winning hearts and minds but of changing food environments.
      •   The cost-of-living crisis is adding ever more pressure to people’s food choices. Enabling and encouraging shifts to healthy, sustainable diets has never been more important. The most effective policies and actions are those that will improve the accessibility, affordability, availability, and desirability of healthy, sustainable food, making it the easy choice.
      • WWF-UK is calling on UK Government and businesses to make transforming the national diet a priority. Adopting Livewell recommendations could deliver a 36% reduction in emissions and a 20% reduction in biodiversity loss compared to the current average diet, while also enabling the shift to net-zero and nature-positive farming and food production.
    • World Wildlife Fund: Living Planet Report 2020 This is a terrific summary of a report on how the destruction of nature is having catastrophic impacts not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives.
    • World Wildlife Fund: A Consensus on Food, Farming, and Nature
      • A healthy natural environment underpins food security.
      • Farming does not just produce the food we eat but is also central to efforts to tackle the nature, climate, and public health crises.
      • Diversity – in nature, in farming systems and amongst those involved in farming – along with diversity in farm animals and crops, will enable resilience and innovation in the face of climate change and economic challenges.
    • Farm to Fork: Systemic Change is Key to European Food Security and resilience
      • This briefing highlights that short-term measures to return to ‘business as usual’ will have a negative impact on European food security in the long term. Rolling back the Farm to Fork strategy to scale up intensive systems of food production would not solve the current pressures on the global food supply – instead, it would move us even further away from a food system that is resilient to future shocks.
    • WWF Basket

      • We cannot hope to meet vital climate targets, or bring nature back from the brink, if we fail to put our food system on a sustainable footing.
      • The WWF Basket sets out a series of Outcomes and Measures to support the goal of halving the environmental impacts of UK baskets by 2030, and a Blueprint for Action, which outlines priority actions that WWF for retailers to address climate and nature impacts.

      • CURRENTLY, GLOBAL FOOD PRODUCTION IS FUELLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AND IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST THREATS TO NATURE.
        • 30% OF HUMAN-MADE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS ARE CAUSED BY FOOD PRODUCTION
        • 60%OF GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY LOSS IS CAUSED BY THE FOOD SYSTEM
        • 50% OF ALL HABITABLE LAND ON THE PLANET IS USED FOR AGRICULTURE
        • 70% OF THE PLANET’S ACCESSIBLE WATER IS USED IN AGRICULTURE
      • The WWF Basket focuses on seven areas where the food system has a significant environmental impact: climate, deforestation and land conversion, agriculture, marine, diets, food waste and packaging. Making changes across these priority areas will all add up to the sector wide transformation that is essential if we are to succeed in addressing climate change and nature loss. Retail sector progress across each area is being tracked annually.* Front Groups below:appear to be independent, but are in fact made up of industry or PR professionals from the industrial food and agriculture sector to promote their messages with consumers and the media; They are manipulating public discourse in order to defuse public concern about the real risks of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture and undermine public awareness of the benefits of organic food and diversified, ecological production systems.

Additional Resources to Explore

Saving the Planet with your Fork

Saving the Planet with your Fork

While not everyone always has a choice in what they eat and buy, for those who do, what goes on the menu, plate or shopping cart can make a difference for our environment.   This doesn’t require perfection or a complete 180 in dietary habits.  But since our...

read more

Join Mary Purdy, MS, RDN on a journey for better human and planetary health! Sign up for Mary’s Newsletter