Food Tank’s 13 Resolutions to Change the Food System in 2013

Reading time: 6 – 9 minutes

As we start the new year, approximately 180 million Americans have made a New Year’s resolution [1-3]. Two of the top five resolutions for 2013 focus on food, specifically weight loss (#1) and healthier eating (#5).

Ellen Gustafson and Danielle Nierenberg, co-founders of the food think tank Food Tank that launches on January 10th, have also been thinking about resolutions for the year ahead. They think eaters, farmers and policy-makers need new, bigger resolutions to fix the food system — real changes with long-term impacts on plates and in fields and boardrooms all over the world — and offer 13 resolutions to change the food system in 2013.

Food Tank

Almost half of all New Year’s resolutions are still going strong after six months [2]. With nearly one billion people hungry worldwide and more than one billion suffering from the effects of being overweight and obese, Food Tank’s 13 resolutions to change the food system are resolutions the world can’t afford to break.

Food Tank’s 13 resolutions to change the food system in 2013

  1. Grow food in the city: Food isn’t just produced in fields and factories. Nearly one billion people worldwide produce food in cities. If you live in the city, start an urban rooftop garden.

  2. Create better access to food: Focus on getting and/or providing more opportunities to make healthy food choices.

  3. Demand healthier food: In Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, author Michael Pollan advises not to eat anything that your grandparents wouldn’t recognize [3]. Try eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods without preservatives and other additives.

  4. Cook more: Learn how to cook healthy, nutritious foods at home.

  5. Create conviviality: Eat with others. Sharing a meal with family and friends can foster community and conversation. Research shows that youth who have regular family meals report earning better grades in school, are more motivated at school, and get along better with others [4]. Conversely, kids who have infrequent family dinners are almost four times more likely to use tobacco, more than twice as likely to use alcohol, two-and-a-half times likelier to use marijuana, and almost four times more likely to say they expect to try drugs in the future [5].

  6. Focus on vegetables: Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, and don’t contain cholesterol. A diet rich in vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.

  7. Prevent waste: Roughly one-third of all food is wasted in fields, during transport, in storage, and in homes. But there are easy, inexpensive ways to prevent waste. Initiatives like Love Food, Hate Waste offer consumers tips about portion control and recipes for leftovers.

  8. Engage youth: Making farming both intellectually and economically stimulating to make the food system an attractive career option for youth. In Africa, cell phones and the internet are connecting farmers to information about weather and markets, while in the U.S., Food Corps is teaching students how to grow and cook food, preparing them for a lifetime of healthy eating.

  9. Protect workers: Farmworkers are some of the country’s most vital workers, since their labor enables us to enjoy high quality, low cost, fresh fruits and vegetables. However, despite their contributions, farmworkers are some of the lowest paid, least protected, and unhealthiest workers in the United States. That can change as farm and food workers across the world fight for better pay and working conditions.

  10. Acknowledge the importance of farmers: Farmers aren’t just farmers, they’re business-women and men, stewards of the land, and educators, sharing knowledge in their communities. Slow Food International works with farmers all over the world, helping recognize their importance to preserve biodiversity and culture.

  11. Recognize the role of governments: Nations must implement policies that give everyone access to safe, affordable, healthy food. Consider Ghana and Brazil: government actions, such as national school feeding programs and increased support for sustainable agricultural production, have greatly reduced the number of people that are hungry.

  12. Change the metrics: Rather than improving nutrition and protecting the environment, governments, non-govermental organizations and funders have focused on increasing production and improving yields. It’s time to change the metrics and focus more on quality to improve public health, environmental health, and livelihoods.

  13. Fix the broken food system: Agriculture can be the solution to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including unemployment, obesity, and climate change. These innovations simply need more research, more investment, and ultimately more funding.

For more information on Food Tank, check out the video below. You can connect with Food Tank on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. State & County QuickFacts. United States Census Bureau. Accessed Jan 2.
  2. Norcross, JC. The Resolution Solution: Creating and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions. 2012 Dec 10.
  3. Norcross, JC. 2012. Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions. Simon & Schuster.
  4. Pollan, M. 2009. Food Rules: An Eaters Manual. Penguin Books.
  5. Eisenberg et al. Correlations between family meals and psychosocial well-being among adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Aug;158(8):792-6.
    View abstract
  6. The Importance of Family Dinners VII. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. 2011 Sep.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.