OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Nourish people with the food they need

Our goal is to reduce diet-related diseases by 50% in the Metro Atlanta area by 2050.

Photo of fred leveau
5 4

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Trimtab LLC

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Fred Leveau - Trimtab LLC Whitney Easton - Trimtab LLC

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://medium.com/trimtab-thinktank

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Just beginning now

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Atlanta, GA

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

4.6 million people live in the metro Atlanta region, defined as ten counties in a roughly 25 mile radius around the City of Atlanta.

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Our company, Trimtab, LLC, is a sustainability centered design and innovation consultancy formed by founders Whitney Easton and Fred Leveau. Atlanta is our home, and while our projects take us all over the world, we are deeply committed to working towards a sustainable future for our city and its region.

Whitney is a cultural anthropologist and professor with a deep interest in sustainable food systems. She has conducted long-term fieldwork on agricultural transformations in Italy and brings her training as an anthropologist to bear to the complex challenges of the U.S. food and healthcare systems. She engages her students in experiential learning activities on local farms and markets in classes like Fast Food/Slow Food and Food and Culture. She enjoys learning about Atlanta and its food system through the eyes of students from all over the world. She has also conducted research for major global food companies, a national healthcare system, and the Gates Foundation.

Fred is currently a Sr Director of Product Design at a Tier 1 company in its space. He has over 15 years of experience in the creative industry in various capacities and verticals, with over 6 years in a functional leadership role managing direct reports ranging from 8 to 17 people both in design and other functional areas. He has also reduced his cholesterol levels by over 50% by changing his diet. His journey back to cardiovascular health is the inspiration for our vision.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

4.6 million people live in the metro Atlanta region, wich we define as ten counties in a roughly 25 mile radius around the City of Atlanta. The Georgia capital’s fast-growing and diversifying population is projected to increase by 50% to reach 6.6 million by 2050, with its nearly 60% minority population also growing.

Atlanta faces the daunting nationwide public health crisis of dietary-related chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Over 30% of the city’s adults are obese, 75% do not consume five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and some 15% are uninsured. Atlanta is the nation’s most unequal city by income, with 36% of its residents living in “food deserts” and relying on processed, low-nutrient foods. It is also one of the nation’s most sprawling cities and its residents depend on cars or notoriously limited public transit. We choose to work in our metro Atlanta food system to address these problems.

If these trends continue, Atlanta’s 2050 future looks bleak. With gentrification, income inequality, and an overburdened transit system, an already documented pattern of suburbanization of food insecurity is likely to expand. Inaccessibility of fresh foods will fuel diet-related diseases, further straining healthcare systems and eroding human wellbeing. Without concerted effort, Atlanta’s growing income inequality will be reflected in diets, and viscerally, in health outcomes over the next thirty years.

But there is hope. Atlanta is home to a vibrant local food movement, bolstered by a year-round growing season and the nation’s greatest per capita greenspace. Diverse initiatives are working to promote economic development, community resilience, environmental stewardship, and population health through local food production and consumption. Atlanta has over 300 community gardens that connect more than 7,000 residents. Notably, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has partnered with Wholesome Wave Georgia to create markets that double SNAP/WIC dollars and are available at their transit stations in underserved areas. These markets have doubled more than $81,000 SNAP dollars and seen over 60,000 customers since they were established in 2015.

Atlanta is both an education and public health hub, home to the CDC headquarters and the Emory University/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute. It is also known for its social justice history, powerfully documented by the King National Historical Park and the Museum of Civil and Human Rights.  Potential corporate sponsors like Delta and Coca-Cola are also based in Atlanta.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

5000000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Currently, Atlanta shares the nationwide dilemma of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) being the major cause of death. NCDs cause 60% of deaths in Atlanta, while cardiovascular disease (CVD)  alone causes every third death. Beyond this public health crisis, health disparities make the picture more grim, as NCDs and obesity through “overnutrition” are rapidly expanding in low and middle-income segments. NCDs are increasingly acknowledged as being related to diet, physical activity, and smoking. In particular, diet is an essential part of ensuring heart health. Focusing on prevention will be the most cost-effective and sustainable way to reduce NCDs in Atlanta and beyond. 

We choose working to expand access to fresh, locally produced food as our point of entry because it can be a formidable force in aligning the three spheres of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social.  Economically, local food systems benefit local economies and livelihoods. In terms of environment, local food systems tend to use agroecological production methods that sustain human and natural ecosystems while avoiding the detrimental impacts of industrial agriculture. And socially, food access can assuage the inequities that plague cities. Beyond these benefits, we strongly believe that preventable human health challenges will not improve without a holistic balancing of people, planet, and profit. Our vision holds that providing populations access to sustainably produced, highly nutritious foods will be the driver in reducing the health disparities that afflict our nation and ensuring food justice at a population level.

While it is a commonly held popular notion that we lack sufficient food to “feed the world,” insightful research shows that it is differential access to food, rather than overall amount, that must be addressed to ensure food security for all. A strong local food system can play a foundational role and we argue that we are facing a deep crisis not of food availability, but of food sustainability.

We anticipate that the main challenge of our future food system will be harnessing the initial resources necessary to make it a self-sustaining system.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

To achieve our vision, our plan considers individually and collectively four broad areas of activity in the food system.

Our comprehensive objectives are:

1 - Agriculture and stewardship

– Increase by 25% arable land within the larger Metro Atlanta

to do so we will need to:

- Build three additional “food forests” of a minimum of 7 acre spaces with fruit-bearing trees.

- Create 15 additional community gardens.

- Convert existing buildings with roofs built to capacity into high-rise gardens planted at government expense.

- Ensure all new buildings include green areas around houses, on roofs, and even on individual floors — all open horizontal surfaces.

- Convert the south faces of possible buildings to grow vegetables.


– Regenerate the topsoil that has been damaged by industrial agriculture

we will need to:

- Reduce by 50% the number of monocultures, intensive fertilizer use, and market driven cropping patterns.

- Build on existing effective food recovery and composting infrastructures to make suitable compost widely available to local farmers.


– Build 25 self- managing indoor vertical farms with robotic systems to plant, manage, and harvest vegetables/legumes

we will need to:

- Find technology partners like Spread to expand their technology to vegetables and legumes.


– Increase by 25% the availability of food with high CVD/Diabetes impact and low relative environmental impact (some nuts, minimally processed whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes)

we will need to:

- Focus efforts on our 5 foods with 5 health outcomes foods and 5 environmental outcomes (GHG emissions, land use, scarcity-weighted water use).

- Divest current subsides to major crops towards these crops.

- Support transition from mono mainstream crop to these crops for producers.


– Increase by 25% the number of Atlanta’s local producers (from small farmers to urban gardeners) that sustainably grow and harvest local vegetables and fruits

we will need to:

- Distribute 100,00 seeds and 2M lbs of local soil to consumers for them to take a more active role in producing and processing their own food.

- Create a Nutrient Dense Food Producer award and reward program to demonstrate that growing and cooking food is an empowering and engaging experience.

- Reach 25 Metro Atlanta high schools with participatory production programs to gain basic food literacy through edible education curriculum.

- Encourage local traditional practices via small-scale farming and heritage agriculture.


– Invest $2M in seed breeding bank for breeding fruits and vegetables that are better suited for our local ecology and also support biodiversity (seeds like baobab, moringa and fonio)


– Transition 35% of arable lands to regenerative agriculture to restore soil quality and nutrient output of foods


2 - Distribution and retail

– Achieve 75% of Atlanta residents are within a quarter of a mile of fresh food

we will need to:

- Aggregate fresh food from local producers and deliver it directly to consumers.

- Expand distribution food channels to places that intersect with where target segment actually is (ie. The Fresh MARTA Market).

- Invest in hyperlocal subscription meal kits which are sold direct to consumers.


– Reach 3M more people that can afford healthy food

we will need to:

- Increase budget for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

- Expand the reach of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to 3M more people.

- Expand Food Sustainability programs in Metro Atlanta universities and schools.

- Expand the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers issued to low-income senior citizens.

- Give healthy stores rent-free locations in exchange for commitment to say 10 years and running nutrition classes for local residents.

- Create property tax incentives for local farming and food businesses.

- Double the four MARTA markets local farmers produce sourcing from 20% to 40%.

- Double the four MARTA markets distribution from 15,000 pounds to 30,000 pounds.


– Make community-supported agriculture the preferred way that many people buy their food

we will need to:

- Promote these 6 foods as functional foods—foods that offer immediate (such as improved digestion, energy or increased energy) and long-term health benefits (NCDs).


– Emulate industry best-practices for last mile delivery to shorten the supply chain between producers, distributors, consumers and composters


– Create a resilient ecosystem centered around productive and viable food system

we will need to:

- Encourage local restaurants to increase their sourcing of local products by 25%.

- Create 5,000 direct local jobs in production, distribution, retail and 25,000 indirect local jobs supporting the ecosystem.


3 - Consumption, Nutrition and Taste 

– Increase by one extra serving a day the consumption of whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, some nuts and legumes

we will need to:

- Make our 5 foods as equally accessible in 3 out of 5 stores as the less healthy alternatives.

- Expand the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program to the entire population of Metro Atlanta with the accrued health cost savings.Property tax incentives for local farming and food businesses helping to create jobs.


– Increase plant-based calories to 60% of average daily recommended levels

we will need to:

- Produce protein using a new fermentation process using hydrogen and carbon dioxide (Solein powder by Solar foods).

- Reduce by 30% calories consumed from meat products, including beef, chicken, and pork.


– Support new modes of eating as new social rituals 

we will need to:

- Focus on the notion of authentic food and culture.

- Create 50 cultural spaces where children learn about ecology, young adults learn agricultural and entrepreneurial skills and senior citizens socialize.


– Grow awareness of the relationships between food and health and consuming food as a form of health, wellness, and medicine


– Re-center social places on farms rather than the other way around

we will need to:

- Create and promote agricultural high schools and extracurricular activities that accrue towards graduation in classrooms, cafeterias and school gardens.

-  Create a standardized garden-based environmental education curriculum that integrates with Farm to School nutrition programs.


– Double the number of farmers markets located in the five-county Metro Atlanta region from 63 farmers markets to 120 farmers markets

we will need to:

- Provide free access to city owned land and budgeted salaries for seasonal farmers market managers.


– Double the number volunteers working those spaces

we will need to:

- Promote knowledge around volunteer and community management.

- Identify corporate access to funding resources.


– Change long-standing patterns of shopping and preparation in target segments

we will need to:

- Create healthy cultural markets.

- Use food chefs to show that new foods are tasty, and that new life-styles are enjoyable.


4 - Policy and Information 

– Increase by 50% consumption of local and seasonal food

we will need to:

- Promote local food and growers on multiple channels.

- Wide adoption of local food procurement policy by public and private institutions helping farmers diversify their markets and increase off-season sales.


– Increase reach by 50% to promote healthy agenda and educate people about their health and how it can be maintained

we will need to:

- Create of Citizen Board Office of Nutrition and Diet as a centralized credible source to access tools, knowledge, city officials and other resources.

- Create “health events” by partnering with local communities and media.

- Advocacy among decision-makers and indirect influence through the organization of "grass-roots" support and action.


– Improve the rate of discovery of preventive services to identify persons at abnormal risk of disease by 25%

we will need to:

- Provide information to educate people about their health and how it can be maintained.

- Encourage community organization to create social support and power for social action

- Make prevention channels align with our target segment.

- Train professionals on topics of health behaviors, risk factors, nutrition, diseases, mortality.


– Identify 2 long-term strategic champions and leaders in a position of power in the legislative Metro Atlanta

to help us with:

- Preserving crop biodiversity by deemphasizing monocropping and standardized foods.

- Improving food’s environmental footprint with flexible farming that addresses resource limits and take into account the whole life cycle of a product.

- Evangelizing at state and federal levels that decentralized food production and distribution of safe, local, sustainable food is a crucial element of food security, food autonomy food justice and food access.


– Communicate to system actors that our vision is both possible and profitable

we will need to:

- Initiate lobbying efforts with the pharmaceuticals industry.

- Be inclusive in our local efforts by creating a liaison office.

- Find allies with the media via content production and exclusivity.

- Communicate to large audience the macro and micro impact to the economy.

- Mandate new developments to incorporate community food-growing spaces into real estate projects.


– Grow awareness of the relationships between food and health and consuming food as a form of health, wellness, and medicine

we will need to:

- Pass a law setting nutritional standards for foods sold in schools and universities.

- Promote gardening as a tool for community development in Metro Atlanta.


– Help local food entrepreneurs develop business models with the aim of solving food access and local food system challenges

we will need to:

- Connect local farmers with tech talent by creating a Tech Farm hub.

- Partner with Georgia Tech to establish a new area of applied research.

- Remove barriers to local compost production through urban agriculture tax credits, favorable zoning and building codes and municipal food waste practices and policies.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email
  • Website

5 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Dr. Kelly Gehlhoff
Team

I like the metrics you chose to outline in your vision. This is exciting momentum in Aglanta and including more people in the process... What a big impact your work will have for generations to come!

Spam
Photo of fred leveau
Team

Thank you for your support @Dr. Kelly Gehlhoff.

View all comments