OpenIDEO

In 2010 IDEO launched OpenIDEO, a website ‘Where people design better, together” for social good. It is a platform upon which people can contribute ideas and collaborate together to develop solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems.

This is a list of the inspiration ideas and concepts that I have submitted to OpenIDEO so far:

ChallengeWhat global challenge do you think innovation leaders should work to solve right now?

Concepts

How Can Disaster Relief be Coordinated to Make it Most Efficient And Effective? December 15, 2010

10-openideo-i20-demian-concept-10-85-wWhen natural disaster strikes there is always an immediate and immense global outpouring of medical aid, food, supplies and support. Most times, this influx of aid is not accompanied by operational management and coordination through a centralized organization. Too often this results in aid transportation bottle necks, disproportionate supply surpluses, misallocation of resources, distribution delays, etc. All of this can put the most vulnerable disaster victims at greater risk and potentially cost more lives. Is there a better way to coordinate the good will, resources and energy of the global community to more efficiently and effectively bring relief to the victims of disaster?

Natural disaster strikes and immediately, from around the world, governments, aid organizations, charities, religious groups, etc. mobilize and send people and resources to the damaged area. Often, the amount of aid coming in at one time overwhelms the local infrastructure and its ability to accept it. Planes are turned away from a crippled airport, or sit on the ground, unable to land or take off in heavy traffic without a working control tower. Once there, supplies are unloaded without a clear understanding of where they will be stockpiled, how they will be distributed or if they are actually needed at all. A shipment of donated clothing may be blocking the arrival of urgently needed medical triage units. Cases of clean water might pile up at the airport because there are no available vehicles to distribute it to refugee camps. Food is arriving to refugee camps which is good, but the victims also need tents and medical supplies to treat the injured. When will they arrive?

All of these problems and many more can arise when multiple governments and organizations react to a natural disaster. Aid reaches those in need but sometimes not as quickly as it should and sometimes it is not really the thing the victims need most. Is there a better way to organize and coordinate disaster relief to make the process as efficient and effective as possible?

One inspiration that comes to mind is a wedding gift registry that couples in the U.S. make of things they would like to receive on the occasion of their wedding. The gift registry is posted online at the websites of the stores the couple registered at. Guests buy gifts from the couple’s list and check off what they purchased so that other guests will not buy more of that thing than the couple wants. The couple hopefully then ends up with most everything that they wished for and no duplicates or surplus of one or two items. Could this idea be applied to disaster relief? Maybe one central organization such as the UN could maintain a master list of needed supplies for a given disaster. Donating governments and aid organizations then can reference and check off as they deliver portions of the aid. The list could include not only items such as bottled water, tents and medical supplies, but also service requirements such as machinery to clear rubble, trucks to deliver supplies, engineers and health professionals. The list could be amended in real time as needs become apparent and aid organizations could tailor their subsequent deliveries accordingly. Instead of a disaster relief guessing game that results in surplus and distribution bottle necks, maybe some sort of open-source master list could be tailored on the fly and in real time to more efficiently address the needs of each particular disaster relief effort.

What other ways might disaster relief be systematized to make it a smoother process that helps as many victims as possible as quickly as possible?

ChallengeHow might we increase the availability of affordable learning tools & services for students in the developing world?

Concepts

Harness the Power of Educators Worldwide! September 20, 2010

10-demian-concept-edu-2-85If crowd sourcing can be used to build a massive Wikipedia, solve math problems, write code for a free operating system, search for extraterrestrial life, etc., why not use it to build an educational system from the ground up?

Many teachers can find themselves frustrated by the educational curriculum that their government mandates they use to teach. Why not let them express their educational ideas and passion for teaching by contributing to the construction of an entirely new system? ‘Open Source School’ would be a platform for teachers and experts to contribute and write an entire curriculum for children from nursery school through high school. They could collectively construct year to year course abstracts and lesson outlines, building on each other’s work. Educators could also collaborate on writing textbooks for each course to follow the outline structure. All of the collectively authored material for ‘Open Source Schools’ would then be made available for free, either as downloadable PDF files, a series of websites that can be accessed over the length of the course or paperback books that could be printed locally. Developing world educational systems could then utilize the entire scope of it without being financially burdened with the price tag. ‘Open Source School’ would also benefit from being continually tested, adjusted and updated by the teachers that continue to update and monitor the material.

Cost - By utilizing the expertise of teachers worldwide that want to help those less fortunate than they, up-to-date educational materials co-authored by the ‘Open Source School’ community will be free to access by developing world educational systems.

Distribution & Delivery - Downloadable PDFs that can be viewed on a computer or printed locally and recycled at the end of the course. Or accessed via a website that can be used throughout the course to walk teachers and students through the material on a daily basis.

Make Donating to Developing World Education a No-Brainer! September 20, 2010

10-openideo-concept-edu-1-85We often learn about need in other countries and think ‘I should help’, but then never get around to writing a check. Taking a cue from IDEO’s successful ‘Keep the Change’ banking program, set up charitable funds that allow for automatic micro incremental donations.

Just like IDEO’s successful banking concept, people with the ‘Educate India’ Bank Card automatically donate the change rounded up from their purchases bought with this card. The change donation goes into a fund that purchases books and supplies, or scholarships, for the Affordable Public Schools network, thereby defraying some of the cost to parents.

ChallengeHow can we raise kids’ awareness of the benefits of fresh food so they can make better choices?

Concepts

Hybrid Produce Brings Advertising Dollars! September 09, 2010

10-openideo-concept-5-85Savvy companies could develop hybrid varieties of fruits and vegetables and market them as an extension of their brand. Attracting the attention of kids to healthy foods!

Hybrid fruits and vegetables have existed and been produced for hundreds of years. Apples are a good example of this. Descriptions of apple varieties in the grocery store will tell you that this apple is a product of growers combining two different varieties to give the result a sweeter flavor that bakes well. Or that apple is the product of growers developing a fruit that is crunchier and tarter than others. What if brands used this as an opportunity to extend their identity into the produce aisle of the store?

A creative company could develop a new variety of a fruit or vegetable. They could then name it as their own and start to brand it as an extension of their products. Sprite would be an easy one. If the drink combines the taste of lemons and limes why not develop a fruit hybrid that is half lemon and half lime? It could be called the ‘Limon’ or the ‘Sprite’ lemon or any one of a number of clever names. Sprite could then advertise it and tell the story of their carefully selected fruit used for the drink which can be bought on its own.

Nestle is another good example. Instead of those super-sugary drinks that Jamie Oliver sees all of the school children drinking, why not promote the Nestle ‘Quick’ strawberry that is selected and grown specifically for the drink? The kids that like the drink might then be interested in eating the natural strawberries.

Campbell’s Soup could also have a lot of fun. They could develop a new mushroom variety and call it the ‘Warhol’ mushroom, connecting it to all of the visibility Campbell’s receives due to Andy Warhol’s appropriation of their iconic soup can. We use carefully selected mushrooms in our soup. If you would like to use the same mushrooms you can buy them in the produce aisle.

Cherry Coke could advertise special cherries bred for their sweetness and ‘fizzy’ quality. Smucker’s could develop a new grape and name it after the company’s founder to help build a story of tradition.

The possibilities are many. The main point here is that there is a big opportunity for brands to utilize the fruit and vegetable section of the grocery store as a way to extend their identity. Naming and branding their own varieties of produce would allow companies to talk about the great natural ingredients chosen and developed to be used in their products as well as draw kids attention to the names they recognize and love that now are popping up in the vegetable aisle. Which would hopefully get them interested in eating the fruits and vegetables that their favorite snacks are made from.

Farmer’s Market Meets Fast Food! September 03, 2010

10-demian-concept-4-85If farmer’s markets selling fresh fruits and vegetables played by the same rules as fast food restaurants – convenient, fast, heavily branded, heavily advertised and visually fun – kids might be drawn to them and more interested in eating there.

Develop a chain of branded farmer’s markets positioned to compete against fast food restaurants for kid’s attention. Each ‘Grow2Go’ (working title) store would sell fruits and vegetables collected from local farmers. This would be especially helpful in suburban and rural areas that don’t have easy access to farmer’s markets. Stores would use the same vocabulary as popular fast food chains, featuring bold graphics and signage, casual indoor seating and drive-thru service. In addition they would also have a farm stand of daily delivered fruits and vegetables and a roof garden for added visual impact. ‘Grow2Go’ would look like a fun fast food restaurant, and be as convenient, but offer fresh and healthy food.

With the supply of locally grown produce ‘Grow2Go’ would then also make food to sell at their in-store counter or drive-thru windows. There could be a ‘Grow2Go’ line of fruit smoothies – think locally sourced Jamba Juice. There could also be a line of vegetable based smoothies, maybe putting a modern twist on traditional cold gazpacho soups. Flavors could include, tomato / melon, garden gazpacho, cantaloupe / almond, etc. Hot menu items could include corn on the cob with chili and lime, veggie burgers, sweet potato fries, grilled eggplant, etc.

By centralizing the organization ‘Grow2Go’ will be able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables in a highly branded and advertised form, making the typically ‘grass-roots’ look of independent farmer’s markets more interesting and visually appealing to kids.

Jamie’s High School Vegetable Competition Show! August 30, 2010

10-openideo-concept-3-85With Jamie Oliver as the host, harness team spirit and have high schools compete against each other on this TV show to research and then make the best dish using the featured vegetable.

Use the visibility of Jamie’s Food Revolution to engage high school kids to get excited and get involved. Each show will pit teams from different high schools to compete against each other to prepare the best dish using a featured vegetable. The show could be interspersed with Jamie giving background information on the vegetable, where it grows best, what country’s cooking traditions use it the most, typical dishes made with it, etc. The two schools picked for the episode will put together two teams to represent them. Before the show is taped the teams could do research projects in school about that vegetable, learning it’s history, health benefits and how best to prepare it. The entire school could get involved in the recipe development and then support the teams as they compete on the show. Jamie would guide the teams as they worked and then MC a panel of judges to pick a winner. This show would greatly increase kids awareness, interest in and excitement about vegetables and healthy eating.

‘Moo-vable Barn’ City Farming Summer Program August 26, 2010

10-openideo-concept-2-85Take a cue from the food-truck craze and create ‘Moo-vable Barn’ Trucks. These barn trucks will not only service multi-lot urban farm projects for kids but will also draw attention and build interest in this fun program aimed at educating city kids about growing great vegetables and eating healthy food.

A Summer farming program for urban kids could promote itself and create brand awareness by utilizing a fleet of ‘Barn trucks’. Like the highly graphic food trucks that have been popping up in US cities, these ‘Moo-vable Barns’ could be a fun eye-catching way for kids to get excited about being involved with agriculture. Each truck could transport a teacher and a team of kids to the many urban farm plots growing in reclaimed vacant lots around the city. The barn trucks would be equipped with all the tools and supplies necessary for tending the farm plots as well as snacks, water and food for the kids. It could also have an RV-style bathroom. Everything the kids need for a day of mobile farming. The trucks could also serve as the program’s produce stand at the farmer’s market when it is time to sell their harvest. ‘Moo-vable Barn’ trucks could be a fun and very visible way for kids to become engaged in learning about all the delicious fruits and vegetables locally available to them.

Grab Kids Attention in the Vegetable Aisle! August 25, 2010

10-demian-concept-1-85Parents drag kids through the produce aisle as they enter the grocery store. So why not use the opportunity to show kids the connection between some of their favorite book and cartoon characters and the healthy vegetables that inspired them?

There is an opportunity in the vegetable aisle rarely taken advantage of. Advertising to kids! There are countless children’s books, cartoons and movies that center around farm animals, vegetables, fruits, etc. So why not use the opportunity to draw kid’s attention to the good stuff behind the stories? An ad feature stand for Ratatouille could help kids realize that they can make the actual dish they saw in the movie! There could be tear-off recipes along with all the vegetables needed. Once kids see and get excited they will want mom or dad to help them make it. Publishers and movie companies could benefit from the cross-over advertising opportunity by also stocking the movie DVD. There could also be brand expansion with a Remy Cookbook, Remy aprons, wooden spoons, stuffed animals. All right there in the vegetable aisle! Movie companies would pay for the merchandising opportunity, kids would get excited about eating healthy and grocers (and farmers) could benefit from the new interest from kids.

Inspirations

Grab Kid’s Attention in the Vegetable Aisle! August 18, 2010

Justin Bieber performs onstage during Z100's Jingle Ball 2009 prParents drag kids through the produce aisle as they enter the grocery store. So why not use the opportunity to show kids the connection between some of their favorite book and cartoon characters and the healthy vegetables, dairy and eggs that inspired them?

There is an opportunity in the vegetable aisle rarely taken advantage of. Advertising to kids! There are countless children’s books, cartoons and movies that center their story around farm animals, vegetables, fruits, etc. So why not use the opportunity to draw kids attention to the good stuff behind the stories? Chicken Little or Chicken Run could have advertised on egg cartons. Even printing the chicken’s names on the eggs helping to carry the movie’s story home to the kitchen. Ads for Ratatouille could feature the vegetables used in the recipe. Once kids make the connection from the movie to the actual ingredients in the traditional dish, they might want mom or dad to make it for them. Veggie Tales ads next to cucumbers and tomatoes. Every book about a cow could be featured on the side of a milk carton. Publishers and movie companies could benefit from the cross-over advertising opportunity and grocers (and farmers) could benefit from the new interest from kids. And the ad dollars.

Doctor’s Prescription: Farmer’s Market! August 13, 2010

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Massachusetts doctors are prescribing coupons for fresh vegetables from local farmer’s markets.

Today’s New York Times article http://tinyurl.com/26g7klz about Massachusetts doctors prescribing vegetables to kids in danger of obesity and it’s related health risks is definitely an inspiration. Doctors’s give coupons redeemable at local farmer’s markets where kids can use them to buy vegetables and fruits. This practice exposes kids to fruits and vegetables that they might not otherwise have tried and it also hopefully replaces some of the snacks and sugary drinks that they would normally be eating.

Join The Clean Plate Club! August 13, 2010

Kids join the Clean Plate Club, earn points for finished meals and use them to play in the Club’s online community.

Kids join the Clean Plate Club online. When they finish their meals, parents approve a points reward on their Club profile. The kids can then spend these points towards time on the Club’s multiplayer games, merchandise or towards dessert and snack allotments. The parent section of the online community gives healthy balanced weekly menu planning suggestions as well as recipes and grocery lists. Kids can meet other kids in the community and share stories of their favorite foods, the craziest thing they ever ate and even the food they least like. The goal of this interaction would be that kids might encourage each other to eat something that they might not have otherwise tried. The Clean Plate Club community would foster kids supporting other kids to broaden their healthy eating horizons.

Jamie Oliver’s Seasonal Inventor! August 11, 2010

10-demian-jamies-seasonal-inventor-1-85

A show where kids go head to head to invent new recipes for seasonal vegetables.

Jamie Oliver hosts a fun cooking show which is a contest between kids to invent new dishes using seasonal vegetables. When the kids are done they have fun tasting their creations with Jamie and then learning from him as he creates a dish using the same seasonal vegetable. As kids progress in the contest the seasons change. So a contest involving Spring onions will come just before a round using Summer squash or heirloom tomatoes. The show will teach kids that the kitchen holds a wealth of fun and creative possibilities with delicious implications. As well as an appreciation for seasonal vegetables and how good they can taste.


Reality TV On The Farm! August 11, 2010

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Reality TV show pits teams against each other to run the most productive farm for a growing season.

Instead of taking people to a farm why not bring the farm to them? Millions will watch as farming gets the ‘Reality TV’ treatment. This show would pit teams of non-experienced people against each other on separate farms to see who can produce the most, and best, vegetables and livestock in one growing season. Viewers would get an education as they watched contestants struggle to learn about planting, fertilizer, watering and care for all of the vegetables they are trying to produce. They could watch the cute piglets grow up and see the farm kids collecting eggs every day. And they would get to see all the beautiful vegetables at harvest. But most of all, viewers would see how the farmers really take pride in what they produce. And this might give people, especially in urban areas, a new appreciation for fresh fruits and vegetables and all the care that goes into producing them.

Pop Songs About Healthy Food! August 10, 2010

Justin Bieber performs onstage during Z100's Jingle Ball 2009 pr


If Justin Bieber sang about healthy eating there would be a sea-change in teenage food choices. At least for the girls…

If pop music stars such as Justin Bieber and other famous personalities popular with teenagers, sang songs about their healthy eating habits there would be a massive, hormone fueled shift in the world’s teenage population toward a newly fixated interest in food that was good for them. If Zac Efron gave Access Hollywood a tour of his vegetable garden every girl would want one of their own. And then, teenage boys, seeing that girls liked boys with vegetable gardens, would start growing their own to impress the girls at school. A fanciful depiction of course but the point is that there is a huge resource in pop idols that can be tapped. A highly persuassive power that could be harnessed for good. The question is how to convince Bieber to move away from the wind tunnel that styles his hair and start writing songs that promote healthy living. And loving.

New Sims Game – Your Own Body!‘ August 10, 2010

Build a simulation of your own body with this new Sims game and play it to test out eating choices and exercise strategies. On yourself!
What if a new version of the popular Sims game brand called ‘Sims Body’ was released? This new game would allow the player to create a simulation of their own body which they would then ‘live’ with in the Sims world. With detailed constructs of both interior organs and systems as well as exterior muscle and skin tone, the player’s Sims body would develop and change over time depending on what the player fed their simulated body, its level of exercise and how they took care of it on a daily basis. Too much fast food and no exercise? Flab starts to show as well as clogged arteries. Not enough roughage? Digestive system clogs up. The game system could also be a great way for kids to track what they actually eat on a daily and weekly basis and see the extrapolated consequences played out on their avatar. Sims Body could really be effective in helping kids to understand the ramifications of their eating choices.

10-demian-sims-body-1-85Build a simulation of your own body with this new Sims game and play it to test out eating choices and exercise strategies. On yourself!

What if a new version of the popular Sims game brand called ‘Sims Body’ was released? This new game would allow the player to create a simulation of their own body which they would then ‘live’ with in the Sims world. With detailed constructs of both interior organs and systems as well as exterior muscle and skin tone, the player’s Sims body would develop and change over time depending on what the player fed their simulated body, its level of exercise and how they took care of it on a daily basis. Too much fast food and no exercise? Flab starts to show as well as clogged arteries. Not enough roughage? Digestive system clogs up. The game system could also be a great way for kids to track what they actually eat on a daily and weekly basis and see the extrapolated consequences played out on their avatar. Sims Body could really be effective in helping kids to understand the ramifications of their eating choices.

National Agricultural Center System‘  August 9, 2010

10-demian-stone-barns-1-85The government should create a national chain of agricultural centers, similar to its state park system, as an appreciation for local farms and to promote local produce.

A recent visit to the Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture, as well as Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant was a revelation on how inspiring a farm can be. The Stone Barns farm is not only ‘postcard beautiful’ but it also is set up to teach people about every aspect of careful farming sensitive to the land. Families and classes can come to tour the farm and hear the farmers talk about farming, how different animals are cared for and about tending the many vegetables that grown on the farm. Kids can feed the animals, help to pick vegetables and learn how to prepare some simple dishes. An on-site cafe and restaurant also supplies visitors with food that is grown right there to take home or eat on the spot.

A Nationally funded system of agricultural centers would help to make farms more accessible to underpriveledged kids in urban areas. Building an appreciation in kids for our nation’s farming tradition and the beauty of fresh fruits and vegetables could help to promote healthy eating choices.

Food Programming for Kids! August 9, 2010

10-demian-kids-food-tv-1-85Why not have kid-targeted food and cooking shows?

There is a huge opportunity for networks like the Food Network to have several types of food related shows geared toward kids and adolescents. From food character cartoons like the Veggietales to kid cooking shows the youth audience is wide open for development. There could be shows that show kids in the kitchen and how fun cooking can be. And there can be shows that feature kids and their adventures with food. Example stories could be about a kid who grows championship heirloom tomatoes in his back yard, a kid who traveled to another country and discovered interesting things about how that culture ate, a kid who raises chickens for their eggs, a kid who cooks at his parent’s restaurant.

Instead of yet another repeat of yet another mediocre cooking show, Food Network (or any of its competitors) could do kid programing Saturday mornings, after school and other ‘prime-time’ kid hours.

Branding Vegetables! August 7, 2010

10-demian-branded-veg-1-85A savvy company could capitalize on the kid market for the branding of specialized and rare vegetables.

There is huge opportunity in the vegetable category for branding. Most fruits and vegetables are sold without brand names. A few exceptions are Chiquita and Dole. When a person thinks of ‘banana’ they probably think if ‘Chiquita’, a brand almost synonymous with the fruit. But why is that not the case for apples? We know types of apples – Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith – but not brands. Could Dole, for example, create their own trademarked apple? The same goes for mushrooms. Aren’t Portobello mushrooms simply a name conceived in an effort to sell over-matured white mushrooms? History shows that this marketing has worked. But why was the Portobello not branded? Could it have been? What if, through R&D, a company developed a new, sweeter, broccoli? Or carrots that turned blue? Could these new hybrid vegetables be branded? I ask because a branded vegetable would be one that put itself in front of kids more than other veg. And, who knows, the branding money behind it might get kids to eat more of it.

‘NPR ‘Recipe Corps’ Archive of Family Food History’ August 6, 2010

10-demian-npr-recipe-corps-1-85Record grandparents teaching their grandchildren traditional family recipes that can be collected and shared in a national database.

Just as NPR’s ‘StoryCorps’ program records compelling stories of family history as a discussion from one generation to the next, why not do a similar ‘RecipeCorps’ archive? Record grandparents teaching their grandchildren the family recipes they learned decades ago and have carried with them through the decades. The Bolognese sauce we love, that roast pork we have on birthdays, those shrimp egg rolls… Most of the older ecipes are done from memory and are not written down. A ‘RecipeCorps’ program would travel around the country and build an archive of older people teaching their grandchildren not only how to make a certain dish, but also about their family history and the food that they grew together, ate together and cherished together. This would foster kids embracing their family’s best eating traditions as well as good relationships with each other. The ‘RecipeCorps’ database could then be viewed, learned from and appreciated by everone.

”Consumption’ Dinnerware August 6, 2010

10-demian-consumption-plates-1-85Presenting information in new ways and in new locations might help kids think more about the food they eat

The ‘Consumption’ Collection is a set of four dinner plates I recently designed. Each plate is decorated with data denoting various aspects of our global consumption. What at first looks like decoration is revealed to be a compilation of data about food. From the availability of nutritional resources and per capita calorie consumption to the effects our eating has on our health, the information is presented in a way that seeks to cause the diner to consider their eating habits from a new perspective.

Of course these plates are for adults but the idea behind them is the point. Developing new ways for kids to come into contact with more information might help them to understand how the eating choices they make affect not only their health but also the health of others around the world. And the realization that their ‘choices’ are largely the product of outside influences like advertising and government subsidies.

More details about the ‘Consumption’ dinner plates are here: http://tinyurl.com/22u45xt

”Moo-vable Barn’ Trucks!‘  August 6, 2010

10-demian-moo-vable-barn-2-85Take a cue from the food-truck craze and create ‘barns on wheels’ to service multi-lot urban farm plots by carrying kids, tools and supplies around cities for Summer growing projects.

A Summer farming program for urban kids could promote itself and create brand awareness by utilizing a fleet of ‘Barn trucks’. Like the highly graphic food trucks that have been popping up in US cities, these ‘Moo-vable Barns’ could be a fun eye-catching way for kids to get excited about being involved with agriculture. Each truck could transport a teacher and a team of kids to the many urban farm plots growing in reclaimed vacant lots around the city. The barn trucks would be equipped with all the tools and supplies necessary for tending the farm plots as well as snacks, water and food for the kids. It could also have an RV-style bathroom. Everything the kids need for a day of mobile farming. The trucks could also serve as the program’s produce stand at the farmer’s market when it is time to sell their harvest. ‘Moo-vable Barn’ trucks could be a fun and very visible way for kids to become engaged in learning about all the delicious fruits and vegetables locally available to them.

‘McDonald’s Rooftop Gardens!’ August 6, 2010

10-demian-mcdonalds-roof-1-85What if the fast food industry took a lead role in talking about healthy, seasonal, locally grown food?

A rooftop garden on every McDonald’s is a bit far-fetched I am sure… but my point is that there is an opportunity for McDonald’s and the other big names in kid-targeted fast food to promote healthy food choices. Is there a way for locally grown fresh produce to be integrated into a large fast food company’s supply chain? If there is a positive marketing angle that can benefit the restaurant I am certain that a way could be found. The battle for kids to learn how to make healthy food choices has to be taken up by the brands that already have kid’s attention. If McDonald’s, through the Ronald McDonald Houses, can support kids with medical needs, why not invest in kids to hopefully prevent them from having future medical needs? Rooftop gardens would be an attention-getting addition to the fast food industry and it would definitely help kids make a connection between the food they eat and where it comes from.

‘Subsidies For Olive Oil Instead of Crude Oil!‘  August 4, 2010

10-demian-crude-olive-2-85What if the government subsidized the production of olive oil instead of crude oil? Would oil then be spilled in the ocean or drizzled on grilled fish? I bet I know the fishes vote. Fewer Hummers and more hummus? Yes please.

The U.S. oil industry receives between $15 – $35 billion a year (2007) in subsidies. What if that money, even half of it, went to subsidize the production of olive oil instead? The higher price of gas would cause people to think twice before buying the big guzzler (another challenge?) and the price of olive oil would become cheap enough that it would be used by more people more often. And the possibilities for olive oil’s use in the fast food industry are many. Just imagine if McDonald’s and Burger King touted their use of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil without having to increase their prices? Kid’s health could make huge strides.

But the larger issue is that of the government supporting industries that promote health and a cleaner environment, not just ones with the most lobbyists or popularity. Our leadership should step up and truly lead by sometimes making the right, though less popular, choices. Help us all to have greater access to eating healthy foods. Instead of letting us eat cake.

‘Give Broccoli a Budget!’ August 3, 2010

10-demian-broccoli-1-85Kids are seduced into wanting junk food by the multitude of well-produced ads they see promoting it. Level the playing field by creating top-notch clever ads and marketing strategies for healthy fruits and vegetables that can stand against spots for fast food and snacks.

A big reason kids make poor food choices is that they are bombarded with ads all day long that tell them to do just that. From sugar-filled cereals to fatty snacks and fast food, the marketing strategies and slick ads of these products specifically target kids knowing that they are both easily influenced and make a large amount of solo purchasing decisions. We, however, don’t see ads for fresh vegetables because no farmer can pay for it. So kids get a lopsided view, based on the ads they see, of the foods out there.

What if an organization were created to combat the continual stream of junk food ads? Either a non-profit or government agency, this organization would seek top-notch ad agencies and creatives to develop ad campaigns for healthy foods such as broccoli with the same slick look and feel as ads for, say, sugary drinks.

With the right message, a cleverly crafted advertisement would soon have kids pulling at their parents sleeves at the store saying, “Mommy, please can we have escarole?!”