Saturday, September 26, 2009

IdeaFestival 2009: Growing Our Way out of World Hunger

This past week, I got to attend a unique gathering of today's greatest minds and innovators as a member of the press. Even cooler than that, I got to talk with lots of these people, who treated me as a colleague rather than just another student.

One of these folks was Paul Osterlund, an Intel retiree-turned social entrepreneur. He's a guy from Portland, OR, who devised a fantastic new way to harvest water. It's called Zeba, and his presentation was about the Abundance Farming Project, which involves getting Zeba to people who can really make a use of it.

Zeba is a corn-starch based granule that can store 500 times it's mass in water. A teaspoon of the stuff can start a garden, as it uses and re-uses a liter of water over and over again. A 15-lb box of it can feed a family of 5 for $185. More than that, this means that third world countries racked by poverty and lack of rainfall in a dry climate can grow food again. It means the climate could even possibly be changed for the better in the future, as Zeba could be used to plant trees that absorb CO2 and generate rainfall of their own. In short, thanks to Zeba, third world farmers can now grow their way out of hunger.

I got 45 minutes with Paul at the IdeaFestival earlier this week, and I'll be playing that interview on the Faux Radio Show. You can hear it next Thursday at 8 PM, or anytime after that on the show archive. This sounds like a really revolutionary new thing, and more people should get on board and try and get involved, because Paul needs all the help he can get.

If ending world hunger and growing food sustainably is your thing, you won't want to miss this!

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