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The 30 Project: Have Dinner, Change the World

FEED Foundation co-founder Ellen Gustafson is launching an ambitious 30-year project to change the food system, and she needs our help.

GOOD is incredibly excited to announce our partnership with the 30 Project, to create a long-term vision for food system change and an alliance of committed people, organizations, and businesses that, together, can make that vision a reality.

Below, 30 Project founder and FEED Foundation co-founder Ellen Gustafson introduces us to her vision and goals, as well as the first steps you can take to get involved. I'm particularly excited about the 30 Project because it is such a tangible opportunity for the GOOD community to use our collective strength to make a difference. Long-term food system change is going to require nothing so much as a willingness to imagine the world as a better place and an open-minded approach to how we're going to get there. That kind of pragmatic idealism and collaborative action is what GOOD is all about.

Watch Ellen's TED talk and read her story, below, and watch this space for more updates over the coming weeks and months.


What is good food? Is it food that is good for our health or for the environment? Does it feed the world? Does it taste good? Is it possible to have all of those things? Call me a dreamer, but I think so … if we have a vision for what good food is and a plan to get there!

In the past 30 years, our food system has changed dramatically and has gotten us into a crisis of malnutrition. There are currently close to 1 billion people overweight, 1 billion people hungry, and 1 billion people under-nourished. In other words, almost half of all people on the planet are suffering from a nutritional imbalance.

As different as the problems of hunger and obesity might seem, both are about a lack of access to nutritious foods. And, when you look at the changes in the last 30 years, the rise in both hunger and obesity have similar roots in our radically changed food system. Consolidation of agriculture into bigger, more industrial farms, the massive, subsidized production of corn, soy, and wheat, and the decrease of agriculture aid in favor of food aid have all led to the current crisis of malnutrition. We have too much cheap processed food, too many hungry small farmers, and people joining the ranks of the overweight in droves all around the world as soon as their community is touched by our industrial food system.

So, in 30 years, things have changed quite dramatically for the worse. What that also means is that in another 30 years, things can all change again, this time toward a food system where all people around the world can access nutritious foods to feed themselves and their families better.

But where do we start?

Well, what about dinner?

The 30 Project is a non-profit organization that wants to help create a new vision for a better global food system and work with stakeholders to get there. We want to gather people around the table to have dinner and to have a conversation about food! Sounds pretty obvious, but think about it: When was the last time you went to a dinner party and the conversation was about where the lettuce in the salad or the beef in the hamburger was from or who grew the tomatoes in the pasta sauce?

We're organizing 30 launch dinners in 30 cities across the United States and the world to get the ball rolling. We're gathering people who are working on various elements of the food system—hunger, obesity, agriculture, food justice and procurement—to actually eat together and talk about how to work together in new ways to make the food system better.

We want those dinners to serve as inspiration for a much broader grassroots movement in which people (for example, YOU) commit to having a 30 Project Dinner of your own, and gather friends, family, and community members around a table for a conversation that creates a new relationship with food. In fact, we are partnering to create the GOOD Guide to a 30 Project Dinner, so you will have all the tools you need to add your voice and your action to the movement for co-creating a better food system.

You can read much more about our plans for connecting disparate organizations and points of view, and finding common goals within a long-term vision of a sustainable food system that makes sense for everyone, at our website. You can also stay up to date with the 30 Project right here at GOOD, as we roll out our 30 Project dinners (starting next month), the GOOD Guide, an online platform to collect and aggregate the vision you will co-generate, and a global summit to translate that shared goal into action steps.

And now, for the first time but definitely not the last, we need your help. Our launch dinner takes place at Hayes Valley Farm in San Francisco on March 6, and we have a wish list (above; click to view it larger) of volunteer and material needs. If you are in the Bay Area, or have friends, family, or colleagues there, join us right now to get this project rolling. And if not, don't worry—we'll be asking you to host a dinner in your own community soon!

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