What would you do to make our food system more awesome? That’s a question that the Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences wants to know. And they’ll even pay for your awesome ideas.
Starting next month, the micro-grant foundation will be awarding $1,000 grants to “further food awesomeness in the universe.” They are encouraging anyone–whether you have a background in food or not–to submit applications with their ideas on how they could improve how we eat in this country. It could be urban farming, food trucks, recipe collects, pop-up cafes, school lunches, etc.. The more inventive the better, they say.
While you’re thinking about your own ideas, let us share the best one we’ve heard in a long time.
The other day the New York Times ran a proposal for subsidizing fresh foods. The idea is simple: tax more for unhealthy foods like soda, french fries, doughnuts and processed foods, then use this additional tax money to lower prices on healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies. Not only would this theoretically reduce consumption of unhealthy foods, but it would make more nutritious ones more affordable and available.
As for those who say this would be unfair to their sugar- and calorie-laden diets, Mark Bittman says too bad:
We could sell those staples cheap — let’s say for 50 cents a pound — and almost everywhere: drugstores, street corners, convenience stores, bodegas, supermarkets, liquor stores, even schools, libraries and other community centers.
This program would, of course, upset the processed food industry. Oh well. It would also bug those who might resent paying more for soda and chips and argue that their right to eat whatever they wanted was being breached. But public health is the role of the government, and our diet is right up there with any other public responsibility you can name, from water treatment to mass transit.
We think that’s an awesome idea. Which brings us to a way to take it one step further.
How about offering media discounts to advertisers of healthy products and increasing rates for those marketing unhealthy products? Think about the last time you saw an ad for a banana. See what we mean? If Americans are bombarded with over 2,000 advertising messages a day (most of which we speculate are for things we don’t really need), imagine what would happen if, instead of that McDonald’s commercial, your family saw one for fresh seasonal greens that are available right at your local street corner. Or, in lieu of that Coke, Oreo or Captain Crunch spot, you watched one about how to create a delicious and easy summer fruit salad. Think of how farmers all over the country would benefit, how the health of so many would improve, and how the health care system would prosper.
You have to admit, it’s an intriguing idea.
What would you do to make our food system awesome?