Inspire Awareness Now is an organization committed to improving the health and well being of our country and planet by way of food choice. Over $3 trillion are spent on health care in our country each year while minimally half of that can be attributed to what we eat. At the same time, we are using our natural resources at an unsustainable rate. Over 78% of all agricultural land and 50% of all fresh water used in our country is used to produce livestock, which then after consumption is the major contributor to our health care crises. Globally, raising livestock occupies 45% of the entire landmass on earth and is the primary cause of the rapid loss of biodiversity and extinction of species—plants, insects, animals—we are seeing on earth (each year the number of species becoming extinct are up to 10,000 times the historical background rate). The meat, dairy, and fishing industries are also one of the largest sectors affecting climate change. The 70 billion animals raised each year on our planet emit more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector—all the cars, trucks, planes, and trains in the world. One to two trillion fish are taken from our oceans each year, causing irreversible damage. Many researchers agree that it would require 1.5 to 2 full earths to sustain what we are currently taking from and doing to our planet.
There are 1 billion people suffering from hunger in the world with more than 3 million children dying from starvation each year. At the same time, over half of the grain produced in the world, nearly 1 billion tons, is fed to livestock. Global food security is not an issue of production—it’s an issue of where all the food produced is going. Last year (2014), 77% of all coarse grain produced globally (oats, corn/maize, barley, sorghum, rye, millet) was given to animals.
Inspire Awareness Now (IAN) views these as serious disconnects in levels of awareness and policy. Therefore, we help correct or solve these problems by educating, advocating change, and administering services to transition our current meat and dairy farming as well as fishing systems into organic or biodynamic plant based operations, which will result in much more efficient use of our nation’s water and land, and food supply while drastically reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel use. Importantly, this transition will result in the increase in many more job opportunities in skilled labor, management, and education—all of which span the academic and previous job experience spectrum. By providing more green jobs, our initiative will ultimately have a positive impact on the unemployment rate and the current “structural” component of those who are jobless in the U.S. The envisioned goal is for a healthier economy, healthier and more productive population, a truly more sustainable food production system, a healthier country, and ultimately a healthier, more peaceful planet and just planet.
In developing countries, Inspire Awareness Now will work with other organizations to educate and implement farming and marketing systems to improve long-term soil fertility, yields, health of the community members, and economic strength. In the Amazon Basin, Africa, Malaysia/Indonesia, and other areas of tropical rainforest, IAN will provide education in order to eliminate forest destruction. Seventy five percent of all rainforest land cleared has been due to raising livestock or crops to feed them. Local farmers will learn to benefit from raising sustainable medicinal plants, herbs, and many other edible fruits, vegetables and grains on reforested pastureland. Certain countries in Africa, for instance, where 1/3 to 1/2 of all topsoil has been lost due to grazing livestock eventually leading to desertification, plant based systems using indigenous species, and organic soil building techniques such as terracing, crop rotations and cover crops and rain water management will be encouraged while empowering farmers with knowledge and skills to succeed. Between 50-65% of all subsistence farmers in many African countries are women who are disadvantaged. These women will be given the tools they need to thrive by way of education and economic assistance.
There are over 2 million farms in the U.S. with 98% being family owned. We have an aging population of farmers with more than 25% of all farmers over 65 years old. The average age of our nation’s farmers is 57 years old. It’s time we develop incentives for young individuals to enter this vocation, creating jobs, technique guidance for rebuilding soil fertility, education regarding sustainable resource use and plant based systems, and funding to ensure success.
A 2011 report to the United Nations by Olivier de Schutter, its Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, concludes that ecologically based farming requires both greater knowledge and more human labor. But that can be an economic advantage: “Creation of employment in rural areas in developing countries, where underemployment is currently massive, and demographic growth remains high may constitute an advantage rather than a liability and may slow down rural-urban migration.”
There are many notable organizations and movements to create healthier food choices and implement food productions systems. Institutions and communities are beginning to rally around concepts such as Real Food, local, farm-to-table, farm-to-campus, organic, biodynamic, sustainable seafood, grass and pasture fed, free range, traceable, small family farms, CSAs (community supported) and urban agriculture, and humane—all of which are fueled by the desire to move away from agribusiness and the past 50 years of industrialized, profit-driven food production systems. However, none of these concepts or movements will be successful long term if they include raising, slaughtering, and eating animals or harvesting fish out of our oceans or on land. Beyond the primary reasons implicit to their effect on Global Depletion, nearly all of these movements have precepts embedded in misinformation and inaccuracy. While operating with inherently good intentions, the results of these movements and organizations will never be optimal.
Although there are many reasons for this, it is essentially an issue of definition. What entity has deemed a food or production system as “sustainable?” What food can really be considered as “sustainable?” In the case of grass fed, for instance, it is not a sustainable practice in many geographical regions or on a collective global basis long term from a land and water use, contribution to anthropometric greenhouse gas production, food security, and human health standpoints. And, yet, there is that stamp of approval, made primarily by those stakeholders in the meat and dairy industries—the National Cattleman’s Association, National Dairy Council, AGA, and individuals such as Michael Pollan serving as experts or advisors to many organizations but who consumes beef and tuna, and raises grass fed cows himself.
Therefore, IAN introduces the concept of ‘Relative’ and ‘Optimal’ sustainability—how could our land, air, water, and other resources be best used to obtain the most sustainable food product. It is time that the wealth and wellness of a country or nation are measured not simply by economic standards but by the health of its natural resources, its people, the caring for biodiversity, and by the fact that truly sustainable systems, particularly those for producing food, are properly defined and in place. This then becomes our civilization’s new metric of success.
Sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree and Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act supports regional farm and food systems, but does not support proper nutrition education or the most sustainable food producing systems—which are plant based.
Instead of promoting conventional food choices and small farm systems that produce those conventional foods and therefore perpetuating Global Depletion, IAN supports only those foods that use the least amount of our resources, cause the least amount of ecological footprint, and that provide superior health benefits while diminishing this risk of human diseases and death. It is now well known that animal protein and animal products increase the risk of the four leading causes of death and disease in the U.S.—CHD, malignancies, CVD, and diabetes. It has also been well established that animal protein and products significantly increase the risk of contracting the five most common cancers—lung, colon, breast, pancreatic, and prostate. The primary cause of loss of biodiversity (plants, animals, insects) and reason for inefficient use of our resources—land and water, and significant factor for climate change is raising livestock. IAN recognizes this as well as the steps we must take as a nation and global society to ensure optimal health for the planet and for ourselves. Therefore, IAN promotes and supports only plant based foods and food systems.
IAN provides assistance regionally and locally to farmers, producers and distributors for production, processing, administration, marketing, distribution, and education to increase business opportunities while improving the sustainability of systems.
IAN increases the overall availability of food creating regional production systems and centers where “food deserts” currently exist. For instance, each state, especially those in the Midwest and northern states in the U.S. where the growing seasons are minimal, IAN will promote the development of growing centers and greenhouses where cool weather/short season, highly nutritious plants can be grown on a large scale. Inspire Awareness Now will establish numerous regional centers by either retrofitting existing buildings (specifically greenhouses) or building new ones that would be able to produce plant based foods year round such as lettuces, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, and nutrient dense plants such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and mustard greens. Retrofitted existing buildings would require minimal economic investment, while realizing immediate returns in energy savings and revenues from production. Jobs opportunities would be created in the planning, education, and administration aspects as well as within the management and production processes. Where necessary, new greenhouses would be built especially where there is limited or no access to fresh plant based produce. Many of these new regional greenhouses could be established on existing farms where transitioning has begun from traditional beef and dairy operations to organic plant based systems under the guidance of other IAN departments. IAN will provide marketing assistance for growers to increase their economic strength and growth. IAN recognizes the critical need to strengthen each individual community by the development of regional growing centers—providing education and job training for displaced, unemployed, our youth work force, or otherwise disadvantaged workers—essentially an integration of sustainable systems within a community and then networking one community with another creating, on one hand, locally driven food, and on the other, a system positioned for global sustainability.
IAN will provide assistance to consumers by producing healthy plant foods and by increasing access to and education about the importance of these foods. IAN will increase viability of direct farm-to-table systems and farm-to-school systems, which combine food access with educational protocols to increase awareness for the consumer.
IAN will provide education to governmental agencies, committees, and legislators for them to properly structure Bills, legislation, and overall policy changes.
Providing education to women farmers, creating long term solutions to depleted soils, reducing hunger and land/resource use inefficiencies in Africa and globally.
IAN encourages and supports the long-term health of our planet and all living things, realizing that true sustainability must include a symbiotic inclusion and relationship of environmental, economic, and social concerns (locally and globally) by way of plant based food choices. IAN will impress this upon legislators, educators, business leaders, and all policy makers/leaders.