Social Enterprise – Part 2

Presented by: Center for Balanced Development

 

Focus: Food & Health

 

Conceptual Framework:

 

History and Background

Food traditionally and throughout history is directly related to health and well-being. Of course, there are other health factors such exercise and rest. However, a quick look at the history, reveals that the average life expectancy has been greatly increased through the advances made in healthcare and the type of food that we consume. We have evolved throughout hundreds of years from a very harsh lifestyle plagued by disease and difficult living conditions to a highly-evolved and sophisticated cities with access to a global supply of various food. Meanwhile, the pollution factor and lack of an active-lifestyle, we are finding that, has tremendous negative impact on our health.

 

Present Status & Needs

Today, some parts of the world we are seeing huge over-consumption of food and obesity while in some other parts millions of people are experiencing hunger and high rates of malnutrition and mortality.  

So the question of global balance in terms of the basic need for nutrition is in question. At the same time, we are realizing good quality food is essential to health and longevity. In the recent years, major findings and discoveries on the effects of food on our health show a trend towards balanced consumption and access to quality foods. Today, there is popular trend – based on research and experience -  that fresh organic veggies, fruit, beans, nuts and some limited consumption of animal products could greatly contribute to health        

 

Future Outlook

At the current rate and trends in terms of mass food production, difficult social issues and global warming , It’s difficult to say whether in the near future we would be able to promote basic human health on a massive scale. However, regionally and in certain parts of the world, we are seeing a popular trend towards better health and healthy eating habits. Eventually, through a process of maturation, most people in the global community will have access to the knowledge and means of producing quality food at the local level. Meanwhile, each one of us can try to look deeper into being an example as well as an agent of change when it comes to good health and simple steps needed to achieve it.  

 

 

Application for Social Enterprise Focused on Food & Health:

 

Urban Farming

Among the various trends that are becoming increasingly popular, “urban farming” truly stands out as a very promising social enterprise with numerous benefits in terms of social, economic and ecological impact. Small initiatives as well as large-scale urban initiatives where a group of people collaborate to produce fresh organic food for local consumption and the creation of neighborhood co-ops.

 

Hydroponics farming

This is a very effective method that can be used in small applications in a small apartment as well as large scale projects in big containers without the use or minimal usage of soil. Over the years this method is gaining popularity as our global resources become scarce. NASA researchers have done research on using hydroponics to grow plants in space stations and possibly future settlements on the moon or other planets. Hydroponics is the way of the future and young social entrepreneurs can be very successful in the innovation, production and marketing of their low-cost systems. 

 

Neighborhood Harvest

There is a great need to harvest the fruits, veggies, beans and nuts that grow in private backyards or some public places that it is not being used and is ultimately wasted.

This is a labor-intensive enterprise and can be easily done by talking to the owners and asking permission which also helps to keep the yard clean and free of rotten fruits and veggies that can attract mosquito and flies. In some cases, the owner might like to receive some of the harvest for personal use. However, usually most of the owners cannot handle the amount of harvest that even a few trees can produce. The Harvest can be sold at a farmers market or through a network of clients in the area.

 

Lunch Delivery

This is a great social enterprise that can be of immense value to people at work or those at home who do not have the means or the strength to prepare a meal for themselves and normally utilize fast food or packaged microwave meals. The meals can be very simple and made with local organic produce and fresh baked goods to contribute to a healthy diet. The meal also can be enjoyed in the fresh air to relax and get a boost of sunshine. The social entrepreneur can start from a small area and gradually expand the scope of operation.

 

Drip Irrigation Farming

Having access to adequate water for irrigation is a major issue across the planet. Farmers in remote areas have to carry buckets of water over long distance to be able to keep their crop which is often their source of livelihood growing. Simple irrigation systems, consisting of container and a series of small tube can be very effective in farming. There are several companies that produce drip irrigation systems at very reasonable cost which at times can be subsidized by international development agencies. Drip irrigation, not only saves water but also it’s a great tool for the creating higher yields and avoiding crop spoilage in hot weather. The sale of these low-cost irrigation systems to local farmers in developing areas can be a great and rewarding social enterprise.    

 

Conservation

Food conservation is a healthy habit as well as economical. By reducing waste, we save on resources. Meanwhile millions of people who do NOT have access to food sources can be the beneficiary of the surplus that is created through conservation. The other area of great waste is food that has a freshness date and once expired it is thrown away. This is a common practice in the large grocery stores in the major cities around the world. Most of these foods, including breads, dry foods and even some of the perishable foods that can be cooked to make sure that it is not spoiled. Often these foods are given away for free to non-profits. To register a non-profit focused on supplying food to the poor and needy is a fairly simple process and can be eligible for government and private grants.    

 

Exercise & Rest

It is common knowledge that exercise, physical activities and rest is needed and highly beneficial. However, we are finding that a coach can be very helpful. Whether it is just a 5-minute routine that is designed for our purpose or a rigorous hour of exercise, getting into the habit or working out is not only good for our physical health but also it helps us with rest and relaxation. This can be done via SKYPE, Phone, E-mail or in person for a few minutes every day at a marginal cost depending on the time and communication method. However, the benefits can be tremendous and it promotes a healthy culture as well as better social relations.    

 

Access to Healthcare & Prevention Programs

A majority of the world population does not have access to healthcare and healthcare professionals. Meanwhile, in some areas we have an over-abundance of doctors and hospitals. Clearly, there is a great need for health specialists that can receive a basic education (1 to 2 years) on nutrition and health issues and can attend to the needs of millions of folks in poor countries, villages and remote areas in terms of good nutrition and prevention and issues such as vaccination, colds, fevers, common illnesses and conditions that can be treated with simple over-the-counter or in this case through the village clinic. Here is a social enterprise initiative that can be funded by the public or private sector and has tremendous impact on the lives of millions of people who do not have access to information and education.

The example of the “Barefoot Doctors” in China during the 60’s is a point in case that can be studied.

    

 

Neighborhood Care Volunteers

To build better and more harmonious communities, we can start paying attention to the needs of our neighbors as an extension of our family. A simple visit to see how the neighbor is doing without any strings attached and purely for the sake of creating better and closer neighborhood relations is the greatest social enterprise that can be very rewarding in more ways than one. This simple initiative has the potential to create a starting point and a strong foundation for social relations at the regional and global levels. However, the practice brings us together and with it our ability to help each other in all aspects of life. 

 

 

Implications of a Social Enterprise Focused on Food & Health:

 

Social

Food defines our physical reality which in turn effects our mindset and social behavior. A healthy individual is able to maximize his / her contribution to society and advance civilization. What is important is that a basic knowledge of nutrition and health is of great advantage to society as a whole in the same way that the health of each body cell or organ contributes to the greater health of the whole body. Our social norms and what happens in society in part is a product of what we eat and how we treat or absue our bodies. The old proverb that a healthy mind is in a healthy body holds true as we experience and observe life around the world.     

 

Economic

Today, the cost of healthcare is major expense. Meanwhile, publicly-funded insurance programs such as Medicare in the United States has become a major expense that threatens the vitality of the entire economy of the nation. As the science of medicine evolves, the age of mortality rises and costly treatments to extend life a few more years or to keep terminally ill patients on life-support, the cost of healthcare and insurance premiums rises to meet the needs and demands of the healthcare system.

Proper measures of prevention and having access to fresh healthy food as well as an active life-style can help reduce the cost of healthcare dramatically and increasing our awareness of nutrition while saving lots of money on what could have lead to chronic disease and difficulties.      

 

Ecological

The food production chain has had tremendous impact on our food supply. Whether we are talking about the massive corporate farming methods and the use of chemicals and pesticide has depleted our soil and adversely affected the quality our food supply which could be the source of numerous modern-day illnesses that either did not exist over a hundred years ago or has increased in thousand folds. Our marine life and fish supply is highly contaminated while animal and dairy products are filled with antibiotics and hormones. Small organic farming in the neighborhood for the local consumption can offer a ray of hope in a situation where mass production is becoming highly problematic.

 

In conclusion, good quality food, active life-style and rest is critical to our health. Each one of us can take steps to improve our health as well as the health of our neighbors and friends around the globe. Here, we all carry a huge responsibility and cannot just depend on public or private sector to take care of this important aspect of our life.    

 

For more information, please contact: info@cbdus.org