Food Tank Think Tank Initiates Assessment of Innovation in the Food System Through Two Collaborative Efforts

Food Tank is launching a one-year project to evaluate the potential for democratizing innovation and analyzing the true cost of food.

CHICAGO, IL, September 24th, 2014 (Press Release) – Food Tank is launching two collaborative efforts over the next year with support from the McKnight Foundation. These projects will marshal increased awareness and research on democratizing innovation and true cost accounting while honing in on the Collaborative Crop Research Program’s goal to collaborate with smallholder farmers, leading local researchers, and development practitioners while exploring solutions to sustainable, local food systems.

Food Tank will assess how agricultural innovation spreads among communities and in rich and poor countries alike and the potential for those practices to be replicated, scaled up, and used around the world. In addition, the organization will be working with collaborators and partners to highlight the work being done around true cost accounting in the food system.

The partnership will help significantly scale up, broaden, and deepen the interconnectedness of global agriculture problems through research, strategic collaborations, events, webinars, videos, databases, and more.

“Food Tank is incredibly excited to collaborate with the McKnight Foundation on these issues. It’s more important than ever to find ways for farmers, businesses, and policymakers to replicate innovations and understand the true cost of food,” says Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank.

Farmers, scientists, researchers, NGOs, and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions for a more nourished world. At the same time, the high prices consumers pay for food rarely reflect the true cost of its ingredients, from fertilizer production and water use to land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. Food Tank’s partnership with McKnight Foundation will share groundbreaking innovations in agriculture and highlight the true cost of cheap food.

“Across programs, collaboration is at the heart of McKnight’s interests; it is explicit in our mission statement and in our guiding values,” said Jane Maland Cady, International Programs Director at McKnight Foundation.

Throughout 2014-2015, noteworthy activities will include:

  • Collaboration with experts and partners to share experiences and learn from one another
  • Publication of unique Food Tank By The Numbers Reports
  • Crowdsourcing ideas, innovations, practices, and knowledge around the two issue areas
  • Weekly articles and series on Democratizing Innovation and True Cost Accounting
  • Contribution to McKnight’s Agroecological exchange beta site
  • A new innovations database, drawing on experts in food and agriculture
  • Two live-streamed TedX-styled events, bringing together leading speakers on True Cost Accounting and thought leaders on Democratizing Innovation
  • Webinars featuring relevant experts on True Cost Accounting and Democratizing Innovation
  • Infographics and videos based on Democratizing Innovation and True Cost Accounting

The McKnight Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grant-making, collaboration, and the encouragement of strategic policy reform. Founded in 1953 and independently endowed by William and Maude McKnight, the Minnesota-based family foundation had assets of approximately US$2 billion and granted about US$86 million in 2013.


Food Tank is a think tank focused on feeding the world better. We research and highlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.