My team’s work with SA Harvest has had a substantial impact on my understanding of the world and of myself.
Before the ACE program began, I understood little about the widespread ills surrounding the world’s nutritional patterns and infrastructure. However, my project opened my eyes to the reality of society’s relationship with food. I learned that food is interconnected with almost every nameable social issue, ranging from wealth disparity to domestic violence to deforestation. Nutrition undergirds all the complexities of modern society and human achievement – without healthy dietary habits, proper childhood development is impossible, and susceptibility to disease is an alarming threat. Little progress is possible without the consistent availability of nutritious food, which I had formerly taken for granted.
Notwithstanding the profound importance of food, we treat it as just another way to turn a profit. Through industrialization, healthy foods have been replaced by cheaper, processed alternatives, which have led to stunning increases in obesity and health crises. Despite increases in obesity, severe undernutrition remains a persistent global threat, even though nearly a third of all food is wasted. This ACE program has shed light on remarkable inefficiencies in diets and international food markets, and these problems will only worsen as the climate changes, the population grows, and the commercial food giants strangle smaller, healthier competitors out of business.
“This project opened my eyes to the reality of society’s relationship with food. I learned that food is interconnected with almost every nameable social issue, ranging from wealth disparity to domestic violence to deforestation.”
– Zach Wassmer, Duke Men’s Swimming and Diving
Beyond my improved understanding of food systems, I have learned about myself throughout my ACE experience. In my everyday life, I struggle to balance academics, athletics, and a social life, and opportunities to carry out meaningful work are elusive and difficult to fit into a busy schedule. In just three weeks, ACE enabled me to work on a real project with a real organization to solve a real problem. Throughout, I believed that my contributions could make a tangible difference for a cause that was unequivocally good-natured – the feeling accompanying this belief offered an experience and fulfillment like no other. Moving forward, I’ll chase this feeling as I strive to make a real, righteous impact.