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Published January 10, 2013, 10:49 AM

Entrepreneurs launch Food Tank website

Producers, consumers and those involved in the food system can go to to talk about what can be done about the world’s obese, hungry and malnourished people.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

They call it Food Tank: The Food Think Tank.

Producers, consumers and those involved in the food system can go to the web site,, to participate in a discussion about what can be done about the world’s 1 billion obese people, the 1 billion hungry and the 2 billion who suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.

The website effort was founded by food and agriculture activists Ellen Gustafson and Danielle Nierenberg. The developing site is designed to offer links to global resources for food and agriculture-related issues.

“Over the last 30 years, the western food system has been built to promote over-consumption of a few consolidated commodities and has failed to be the harbinger of health as it spreads around the world,” the founders say.

They also focus on the issue that a third of all food worldwide is wasted — 1.3 billion tons annually. “In the developing world, roughly 40 percent of all food goes to waste as a result of pests, disease and improper storage.”

Gustafson and Nierenberg are looking to make food production and consumption more “economically, environmentally and socially just and sustainable.” Among the potential solutions include such things as market garden projects in rural Niger, rooftop gardens in Vietnam, and elsewhere.

Gustafson, 32, is founder and executive director of the “30 Project,” an organization of activists on hunger, obesity and agriculture. She also co-founded FEED Projects LLC, with Lauren Bush, a model and niece of George W. Bush, to provide school meals to children around the world, funded by the sale of tote bags. She also is in the process of writing a book tentatively titled “We the Eaters.” She holds a bachelor of arts in International Politics from Columbia University and was a reporter, specializing in terrorism topics for the ABC News investigative unit, among other things.

Gustafson grew up near Philadelphia, worked in New York and now lives in San Diego, where her husband serves in the Navy. She says she and Nierenberg have attended World Food Prize events in Iowa, and sustainable food systems meetings in San Francisco and are “often the only two people (who are) sitting in both of those meetings.”

While not prepared to discuss policy objectives, she tells Agweek that there’s a lot of agreement that U.S. policies might look at ways of helping farmers in the developing world, rather than shipping U.S. grain on U.S. ships. She says we can help farmers in the developing world without hurting American farmers and the group is raising funds for a meeting on the topic.

Nierenberg, 34, is widely quoted on hunger and poverty matters. She worked two years as a Peace Corps volunteer and is food security adviser for Citizen Effect, a non-governmental organization focused on sustainable development projects. She holds a master’s degree in Agriculture, Food and Environment from Tufts University in Boston. Her undergraduate work was in environmental policy at Monmouth College in Illinois.