Why Sustainable Food Systems Matter, and Where You Come In

At Kaya, we’ve seen firsthand how sustainable, resilient and nature-positive food systems can dramatically impact local communities and the natural world. But don’t take our word for it.

Why Sustainable Food Systems Matter

The UN’s Food Systems Summit notes, “Healthier, more inclusive, sustainable and equitable food systems have the power to catalyze the achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 in every country.”

How is this possible? Well, because we all need food to survive, food systems (production, processing, transport, etc.) touch all aspects of our lives. They also greatly impact the natural world around us. Sustainable food systems contribute to the health and well-being of communities and ecosystems, relieving pressure in other areas of our lives. Essentially, this nature-positive approach benefits local ecosystems that, in turn, can continue to nourish local communities. In this way, resilient food systems have the power to improve health, economic stability, wildlife and the environment, educational systems and much more.

And because the most vulnerable among us are the most affected by food systems, sustainable food systems can dramatically change lives.

Sustainable Food Harvest

Sustainable Food Systems and Where You Come In

The bottom line is that we all need food, and our food systems cause ripple effects. So whether you’re interested in a career in sustainable agriculture or looking to apply knowledge of permaculture and reforestation to your life at home, Kaya’s sustainable food system projects abroad are all about sharing knowledge that can benefit everyone.

The innovative projects we support illustrate the interrelatedness between food and all sustainable development. And because Kaya’s projects are rooted in so many different communities throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, they are as diverse and unique as the people that lead them. As an intern or a volunteer, you can make a difference while learning vital skills and techniques that will last a lifetime.

Well, where to begin? There’s so much to contribute to and learn!

Sustainable Food Volunteers

Sustainable Food System Projects in Ecuador

Our projects in Ecuador all take unique approaches to sustainable food systems!

On our Agroforestry and Environmental Conservation in a Cloud Forest project, community-members on a family-owned reserve work to preserve this vital habitat (Read: What’s a Cloud Forest?) while achieving sustainability. How do they do this? Well, they convert pasture back to forest, grow food using agroforestry, and use ecotourism as a way to generate income.

For a project that combines cultural preservation, sustainable food systems, and economic sustainability, join our Fair Trade Internship in the Mindo Valley. Here, indigenous families cultivate fair trade, vegan cocoa using traditional, sustainable farming practices. Additionally, the project promotes continued education regarding food systems as well as social justice.

On our Sustainable Economic and Community Development project, you can join a unique community perched in the mountains of Ecuador. Through a combination of sustainable food systems and ecotourism, locals are able to support themselves and preserve their cultural and natural heritage. While you’re living and working here, you can learn about organic gardening, the use of small-scale dairy processing factories and jam-making using local resources.

Sustainable Food System Projects in South Africa

Have you ever heard of an eco festival?

Well, our Tree Planting Eco Festival project brings diverse volunteers together to tackle huge issues of our time like climate change and food security. On this project, you’ll learn the connection between local ecosystem function and resilient and sustainable food systems. You’ll band together with like-minded people and plant native trees, help eradicate invasive plant species and engage in community outreach. (If you want to learn more, check out another blog we wrote about this project!)

Most of all, perhaps, you’ll see the effects of your hard work with your own eyes and come to appreciate what a community can really accomplish!

Sustainable Food System Projects in Vietnam

Of course, sustainable food systems and climate change are vitally connected. For this reason, we would also like to highlight our Climate Change Action Internship in Vietnam. Here, a local NGO helps vulnerable communities develop sustainable livelihoods by promoting sustainable agriculture, forestry and more. On this project, you can help engage in community outreach, research and policy reform.

If you’re interested in sustainable food systems in a broader context, and more interested in the research and policy side of things, we would also suggest checking out our Agriculture Internship in Vietnam. Here, you can help improve outcomes for Vietnamese farmers and communities by engaging in important research on topics such as sustainable agriculture, rural livelihoods and more!

Sustainable Agriculture Internship

Virtual Sustainable Food System Projects

If you’re not ready to travel but you’re eager to learn about sustainable food systems in action, why not consider one of our virtual options?

This winter, you can help educate local Ecuadorian children on food security on our Online Alternative Winter Break program. Additionally, you can tackle a sustainable food system project as a Virtual Intern in Ecuador, South Africa, Vietnam, Thailand or Morocco.

All of our virtual programming, no matter the topic, includes vital cultural immersion in the form of cultural workshops and authentic connections with locals.

Sustainable Food Systems Virtual

We hope you’re inspired to learn more about sustainable food systems abroad and at home. To learn more about the projects we offer, please connect with one of our Placement Advisors using the Chat Now feature, or request a brochure. Cheers!


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