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Grist 50

Grist / The Understory

Meet 5 people fixing the food system.

By 2050, the world’s population could hit 9 billion. That’s a lot of mouths to feed!

The brightest minds in gastronomy and agriculture are working to ensure that producing all that grub doesn’t take human health and the environment down with it. We interviewed a few of them for the Grist 50 2018, our list of rising stars cooking up solutions to humanity’s biggest challenges.

  • Native Americans struggle with some of the highest obesity rates in the country. Chef Mariah Gladstone, a member of Montana’s Blackfeet tribe, is sparking an interest in wholesome, indigenous foods in her community. Elk meatballs, bison lasagna, and pumpkin seed brownies are on the menu.
  • Fred Iutzi, a sixth-generation farmer in Kansas, is spearheading the effort to replace millions of acres of corn fields with perennial crops that require less fertilizer and pesticides.
  • Virginia Emery’s Seattle-based startup, Beta Hatch, produces bug-based feed for animals like fish and chickens. It’s packed with protein and better for than planet than soy, which is usually a big component of livestock feed.
  • U.S. farming has a diversity problem. Mai Nguyen raises heritage crops like Syrian wheat and Vietnamese eggplant — and she’s working to make sure that America’s farmers aren’t all white dudes. Double diversity whammy.
  • FoodLab DetroitDevita Davidsons nonprofit, helps launch homegrown food businesses in Detroit. Slowly but surely, those small operations are rebuilding the city’s economy.

Craving more fixes? We’ve got ’em.