Hai Vo
Art: Nat Damm

Hai Vo

Food Activist and Farmer
Davis, Calif.

Five years ago, as he was about to head off to college, Hai Vo weighed in at 250 pounds. But at the University of California–Irvine, he underwent a double transformation: By embracing healthful food, he lost more than 100 pounds, and in an effort to spread healthful food to everyone else, he became a food activist. He got involved in the national Real Food Challenge campaign and cofounded a Real Food Challenge project at UCI. He researched the university’s food-procurement system, drew more than 500 people from the campus and community to events promoting sustainable food systems, and helped get the whole UC system to adopt Real Food Challenge’s goal of purchasing 20 percent “real” food (i.e., eco-friendly, local, and fairly and humanely produced) by 2020. His efforts earned him a Brower Youth Award last year. Now 23, Vo is a fledgling farmer, raising sustainable food with a few friends on a small farm in California, and he’s generating ideas for getting “real” food into national-park concession stands as a member of a guild at the Institute at the Golden Gate.

Watch a video about Vo’s work: