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A Malawian Farmer’s Inspiring Lessons on Climate Change, Food Justice and Gender Equity

Hunger and food insecurity are major concerns for millions of families, and have plagued the United States for decades. Structural racism is one key driver of these challenges, creating inequities in access to healthy foods and putting the health of many children at risk.

As we seek solutions and successes in other countries for improving the health and well-being of all children, there is much to learn from Malawian farmers. The film The Ants and the Grasshopper shares some of these lessons, weaving together three of the most urgent themes of our times: climate change, food justice, and gender equity.

Jamie Bussel, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), sat down with award-winning filmmaker and New York Times bestselling writer, Raj Patel, to discuss the film, and how lessons from the film can inform our collective efforts to build a Culture of Health.

Watch a recording of a live conversation Jamie and Raj had late last year:

In Malawi, child malnutrition is a significant challenge. Rising temperatures and extreme drought have damaged the soil and made it tougher to grow nutritious food. As a result, families are pushed further into hunger and poverty. 

The film follows Anita Chitaya, a Malawian activist and farmer who addresses problems in the food system by mobilizing people in her village to create new agriculture methods and plant nutrient-rich food, and tackling gender inequities by getting men involved in growing and cooking food. 

The film then showcases Anita’s journey across the United States as she meets with farmers, food justice advocates and climate skeptics, to share lessons and engage in conversations about how to build a future where all children grow up healthy. 

You can also visit rwjf.org to read the highlights from their conversation in RWJF’s Culture of Health Blog.

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