Feeding Ourselves & Future Generations: Oxfam's GROW Method


The Mission List is thrilled to be working with Oxfam America to raise awareness about, and create action around, the GROW Method. The GROW Method includes five doable, simple steps to help people change their cooking, eating, and food storage habits to fight hunger and boost sustainability. Be sure to check out the GROWPinterestpage for recipes and other inspiration. (We admit to being a little addicted to their Pinterest page...the recipes are great!) And now, GROW campaign manager Vicky Rateau wanted to share the GROW Method with you: Thank you for taking a moment to learn about Oxfam’s GROW Method and how you can use its five steps with your families and share it with your friends and networks.

The GROW Method is about sustainable use of our resources (like water and land) in order to protect them for future generations so that we can feed a growing population.

The five recommended steps of the GROW Method are:

  1. Reducing food waste
  2. Supporting local and small-scale farmers
  3. Cooking in ways that use energy most effectively - like using lids on pots
  4. Buying food that’s in-season
  5. Eating less meat and dairy (for example, eating one meat-free meal per week)

The five recommendations that make up the GROW Method are intended to start a conversation about how you can make positive food choices that are good for your family and good for the planet. If you have your own ideas or ways that you help use food and energy resources wisely, we would love to hear them!

Why are these conversations and simple actions important?

Our planet has limited resources -- fuel, land, and freshwater -- to grow food. Growing, processing, and cooking food uses these resources, so we need to make sure we aren’t using them carelessly. Growing, processing, cooking, and throwing away food also increases our production of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

How does the climate impact our food system?

Climate change is a big, big issue. Volatile and extreme weather that can result from climate change hurts people all over the globe, especially small farmers and poor communities. Farmers’ crops can be ruined by extreme weather, and disasters drive up the cost of food, making it more difficult for the poor to feed their families. Gradual changes to the temperature of our planet will increasingly make it difficult to produce food in many of the places it is currently grown.

How does GROW help small farmers?

Additionally, many of the farmers and laborers who are directly involved in the production of our food are poor and work under difficult conditions for little money. Ensuring farmers are paid a fair price for their produce, which Fair Trade-certified products guarantee, is part of the solution to ensuring that farmers can support themselves and their families.

How does meat production impact the environment?

And finally, many farm animals are fed on crops that are grown on previously forested land. Cutting down these trees not only contributes to deforestation, but reduces our planet’s ability to turn carbon in the atmosphere into oxygen. Fragile ecosystems are harmed, and the fuel it takes to cut down trees also contributes to climate change. Feeding, watering, and providing land for these animals to live on requires many more resources than growing food for direct human consumption. Subsequently, reducing the amount of meat we eat even slightly (GROW Method #5) helps reduce strain on resources and our ecological footprint. GROW doesn’t ask people to give up meat entirely if they don’t want to, because we understand that many people’s only source of protein is meat. But with global meat and milk production expected to double by 2050, reducing the demand for meat and dairy produce is one of the most significant actions that can be taken to reduce food’s impacts on both people and the planet. For those who are able, replacing meat with beans or lentils once per week has a huge impact.

What’s the impact of GROW?

GROW alone won’t stop climate change, poverty, or hunger. But it’s small steps like those laid out in the GROW Method that can help us change the conversation about the way we eat and think about food, while also positively impacting our food system and reducing strain on resources.

In developing countries, we’re working with farmers and rural populations to grow food sustainably, to grow drought-resistant crops, to support extension services for farmers, and to get products to market in a way that farmers get a larger share. GROW is one piece of the giant food puzzle we’re working to solve. We hope you’ll join us!