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Newsletter #1061: The “Food for Good” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

People have found ways to do something good for other people with food since the beginning of time. So it’s no surprise that businesses have found inspiring ways to start meaningful conversations through food — whether that’s to connect on bigger issues like war and racial tension or smaller ones like getting kids to eat fruit.

Here are some inspiring examples of how businesses have used food for the greater good:

1. To unite enemies
2. To fight prejudice
3. To help children eat healthy
4. Check it out: Ambient Mixer

1. To unite enemies

“If you eat a good hummus, you will feel love from the person who made it. You don’t want to stab him.” That’s what restaurant owner Kobi Tzafrir told NPR about why he’s offering a discount for Arabs and Jews to eat together. It’s his way of helping start conversations between the two groups where life is tense in Tel Aviv, Israel. And he says since offering the discount, his business has gone up 20-percent — even if not everyone is taking the deal.

The lesson: What’s going on in your community? Is there a larger scale problem that you can help with (even just a little bit)? The more you know about the people in your area and the problems they face, the more you’ll be able to reach them.

Learn more: NPR

2. To fight prejudice

Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant in Pittsburgh that serves food from countries the U.S. is in current conflict with. They’ve had dishes from Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Cuba, and their mission is to help start conversations and expand understanding of those cultures. But it’s not just the menu that changes. They also share interviews with people from those countries and hold events like film festivals. They also bring international cooking lessons to schools via Skype, and let guest Instagrammers from those countries take over their social media presence. In fact, some restaurants in Budapest have followed their example by serving dishes and holding cultural events inspired by the hundreds of thousands of refugees currently in their city.

The lesson: Especially during war time, it might seem like a good idea for businesses to shun the products our “enemies” make, but instead, Conflict Kitchen embraces them. What makes them remarkable is they ask customers to learn more about and understand the people and cultures they’re supposed to dislike.

Learn more: Conflict Kitchen

3. To help children eat healthy

Countdown, a grocery store in New Zealand, gives away fruit to kids while their parents shop. Each produce section has a kid-height basket of apples, bananas, oranges, and other whole fruits with a sign encouraging kids to grab one and eat it while they’re shopping. But it’s not just about getting kids to eat fruit in the store. Maybe, once their parents see they like it, they’ll buy more. Thus, ending the age-old parent argument that “If I buy this, you’ll never eat it,” while getting healthy food in children’s hands.

The lesson: How much more do these grocery stores gain by giving a little bit away? This idea is more remarkable than just handing out samples because it has a specific audience in mind and finds a way to help.

Learn more:

4. Check it out: Ambient Mixer

Make your own ambient sounds by mixing together audio from rustling papers, wind blowing, light rain, fan noise, and hundreds of other audio clips. You can also listen to mixes other people have made like “Hogwarts Library,” “Summer Night on the Porch,” or “Relaxing Train Ride.”

Check it out: Ambient Mixer

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