What is ALLFED’s mission?
The mission of the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters is to help create resilience to global food shocks.
We seek to identify various resilient food solutions and to help governments implement these solutions, to increase the chances that people have enough to eat in the event of a global catastrophe. We focus on events that could deplete food supplies or access to 5% of the global population or more.
Our ultimate goal is to feed everyone, no matter what. An important aspect of this goal is that we need to establish equitable solutions so that all people can access the nutrition they need, regardless of wealth or location.
ALLFED is inspired by effective altruism, using reason and evidence to identify how to do the most good. Our solutions are backed by science and research, and we also identify the most cost-effective solutions, to be able to provide more nutrition in catastrophes.
What is ALLFED and what does it do?
The Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters (ALLFED) is a nonprofit organization with two primary objectives:
1) to identify, pilot, and prepare resilient food alternatives, in the event that a catastrophe damages conventional food supplies
2) to help governments and communities implement these solutions during a global food shock
As devastating as catastrophes are, the threat of a global catastrophe is not just the initial destruction, but also the impact it could have on food supplies and distribution.
We aim to minimize the damage of a global catastrophe by ensuring that the people continue to have access to nutritious food, during and after the catastrophe.
Our work examines several aspects of resilient food solutions:
- the feasibility of different food options—how they could be grown or produced and what they would cost;
- how the foods could be scaled up to feed millions of people;
- how nutritious the different foods are; and
- the different types of scenarios that might lead to a loss of food—including loss of sunlight, extreme climate change (hot or cold), loss of electricity, loss of industry, and/or loss of transportation—and the different ways to feed people in these scenarios.
In some cases, we might advocate for extracting nutrients from normally inedible material, such as wood, leaves, or grasses. In other cases, we might also recommend that various members of the industry get involved to help manufacture single-cell proteins (like those being used today in many alternative protein products) that are grown with hydrogen or methane. In all cases, we will work with regions to identify the most useful resilient foods that they should include in their backup plan. We will also assist regions to establish implementation plans to ensure they can access these resilient foods in a catastrophe.
Our scientists and engineers study different resilient food options in different regions so that we always have the most up-to-date information on the best food options. Members of the team are also working to build relationships with members of governments and the media to ensure the right people understand the catastrophic risks we are concerned about and how these can be addressed.
Learn more about ALLFED here.
A brief history of ALLFED’s resilient foods
In 2011, David Denkenberger read the paper, Fungi and Sustainability, which says:
“If the worst should occur, we can rest assured that fungi will rescue our planet again, perhaps even preparing a suitable habitat for future intelligent life.”
David wondered if, rather than humans going extinct and letting the mushrooms take over, humans could eat the mushrooms and survive. That question led him and Joshua Pearce to research and write Feeding Everyone No Matter What: Managing Food Security After Global Catastrophe (Academic Press, 2014). Feeding Everyone No Matter What identifies a variety of alternative foods, or resilient foods, people could consume to access some of the nutrients they would need if the worst catastrophes occurred.
Ray Taylor had worked on disaster preparedness and response as a medic in Madagascar and realized the same could be done on a continental or global scale. He’d seen that one of the biggest challenges would be boosting food supplies fast, so when Feeding Everyone No Matter What was published, he saw this as an opportunity to help develop global resilience to catastrophes, and he reached out to David.
Together, David and Ray founded ALLFED in 2017, with the recognition that there is still more research needed to identify which resilient foods are most nutritious and cost effective, and that an alliance of governments, communities, finance, and industry is necessary if foods are to be available to all people during and after a global catastrophe.