This year has had its fair share of food moments. Food policies and programs have been developed to address nutrition and food security, efforts have been made to standardize and quantify food waste, and a growing group of young food leaders around the world have continually contributed to growing involvement and effort in improving the global food system. Here are 16 noteworthy food moments of 2016:
- The U.S. Congress passed the Global Food Security Act of 2016. The vote put the United States government’s Feed the Future initiative into law, reinforcing the nation’s commitment to fighting hunger and supporting food security and nutrition worldwide.
- The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP). IYP worked to encourage more production and consumption of plant-based foods as a source of essential nutrients at the national, regional, and global level. Efforts throughout the year sought to create awareness, understand the challenges faced by farmers, and support market access and sustainability through events and discussions throughout the world.
- France banned food waste in supermarkets. In January, France officially banned supermarkets that are 4,305 square feet and larger from throwing away and destroying unsold foods. Alternatively, they must donate their excess food and foods nearing “best before” dates to food banks and charities, or as fodder for animals. The law will also make it easier for food industry companies to directly donate their excess products from their factories to food banks. The new law is projected to add an additional 10 thousand meals per year for France’s hungry.
- Nepal pledged to end hunger by 2025. Launching a National Action Plan on the Zero Hunger Initiative in partnership with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Nepal reasserted provisions of its constitution that address national food sovereignty and the right to food. Nepal is one of only a handful of countries whose national constitution includes food.
- U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced legislation to standardize food date labeling. Consumer confusion over date labels contributes to 90 percent of safe food that is lost in America. This legislation established a uniform national date labeling system to reduce food wasted and money lost by minimizing confusion and simplifying the compliance process for companies.
- New Zealand’s BioGrow Society and Soil & Health Association merged. The consolidation of the two organic organizations combines their skills and resources into one entity that is stronger and more unified. The merger hopes to continue to strengthen the growth of organics in New Zealand as well as move towards developing a national legal and regulatory standard for what is considered “certified organic.”
- The University of California’s Global Food Initiative released its 30 Under 30 list. The list highlighted thirty young leaders and activists who are working to improve the global food system more sustainable and nutritious for all. By conducting research and identifying and sharing best practices, the Global Food Initiative aims to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population of eight billion by 2025.
- Africa celebrated the first Africa Day for School Feeding on March 1. The first Africa Day for School Feeding took place to celebrate homegrown school meal programs as an integral multi-sector approach to accomplishing Africa’s sustainable development goals. This follows the adoption of homegrown school feeding programs by African heads of state in January as a continental strategy for improving the retention and performance of children in schools and accelerating entrepreneurship and income in local communities.
- Hawai’i passed the first state-funded tax credit in the United States to support organic farming. Spearheaded by the Hawai’i Center for Food Safety (HCFS), the legislation will reimburse organic farmers for virtually all costs of organic food production and certification, up to US$50,000.
- Iceland and the World Food Programme signed its first partnership. The Strategic Partnership Agreement will provide multi-year funding towards achieving zero hunger, the second goal of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The second goal pledges to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture worldwide.
- Toronto Food Policy Council launched Food by Ward. The mapping tool documents the available food assets of each of Toronto’s neighborhoods, making it easier to identify areas of food access inequality and the specific service needs each community requires.
- The Natural Resource Defense Council and the Ad Council launched a national public service campaign. Save the Food draws attention to the amount of food wasted by consumers in efforts to encourage them to become more conscious and proactive in reducing the amount of food they discard at home.
- The Rockefeller Foundation launched YieldWise to develop ways for the world to cut food waste in half by 2030. The US$130 million initiative, in line with the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, will focus initial efforts in countries where half of all food grown is lost—Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
- Italy’s Ministry of Health placed restrictions on the use of the world’s most popular herbicide, glyphosate. The restrictions include a ban on glyphosate on public areas—parks, gardens, courtyards, road and railway verges, sports fields, playgrounds, and school grounds—frequented by vulnerable groups such as the young or elderly. It is one of the widest bans on glyphosate to date.
- Four cities in California and Colorado passed soda taxes on election day. More cities are expected to follow in an effort to reduce consumption and the associated health care costs of the sugary beverages. A series of reports by the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study found that soda taxes, in addition to reducing consumption, can improve the health and economic wellbeing of communities.
- The first-ever global standard for measuring food loss and waste was launched. The Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW Standard) includes a set of definitions and reporting requirements to effectively and standardly measure, report, and manage food loss and waste. It was launched at the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen. The standard will help countries, companies, and others to quantify their food loss and waste and pinpoint where it is occurring, saving them money, resources, and reducing the amount of food wasted.
Picture credit: FoodTank