Humans have been growing food, cooking and eating for centuries, but it’s never been more difficult to navigate our food system than it is right now. Processing, marketing, healthwashing, genetic modification, chemicals, toxins – it’s all impacted our food supply and more importantly, our health and wellbeing.
Thankfully, we have these top 50 food activists on our side. They champion whole food eating, challenge corporations to change their damaging practices, educate us about nutrition and how food affects us, raise awareness about the link between our food choices and the environment, and more. These food activists encourage us to make informed decisions about what we eat and inspire us to do the best we can.
Here are our Top 50 food activists – we hope you are empowered by them as much as we are!
The Scoop: Michael Pollan has opened millions of eyes about our food and where it comes from. We love his articles, documentaries and books (he’s on the reading list for the culinary nutrition expert program) for their honesty, evidence-based information and easy-to-read style.
The Scoop: Marion is a professor, award-winning author and prolific blogger who fosters frank discussions about food safety, food marketing, and the politics surrounding food. We appreciate her sensible, tell-it-like-it-is attitude and her unflappable commitment to making researchers and politicians accountable for their actions.
The Scoop: Dan is an award-winning chef at Blue Hill Farm whose 2014 book The Third Plate has radically changed the way we think about food in the culinary nutrition expert program. His examination of food, our health and sustainability will challenge you to think about what’s on your plate in a completely new light.
The Scoop: We love Kris for her spirited personality and her devotion to helping others heal through food and lifestyle practices. Her ‘Crazy Sexy Cancer’ series of books are essential guides to plant-based foods and have been an entry point to healthy eating for thousands of people.
The Scoop: When Melanie began covering the food industry for the New York Times, she discovered how little consumers know about the food they’re eating. Her book, Pandora’s Lunchbox, tells the story of what happens to processed foods before they reach our plates. It’s an eye-opening tale, that’s for sure!
The Scoop: Samin is the author of Salt Fat Acid Heat, which was also turned into a beautiful Netflix documentary. We adore her positive, can-do attitude and the way she encourages us to tap into our intuition in the kitchen using fresh, whole ingredients.
The Scoop: For years we’ve been told to fear fat and avoid it all costs. Nina puts her investigative journalism skills to good use with the book The Big Fat Surprise, which completely rebukes the seemingly age-old fat wisdom and lays out a fact-based argument for why fat is actually good – no, great – for us. It’s no wonder The Big Fat Surprise was named the best book of 2014 by the likes of the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.
The Scoop: Jamie has long been a darling in the food world (and has enjoyed a particularly strong female fan base!), but now he’s garnered the attention of health-minded folks, too. His campaigns to reduce obesity, improve school lunches and lower sugar consumption are prime examples of a celebrity using his powers for the ultimate good.
Meghan Telpner (*ACN Founder + Director)
The Scoop: Sure, we’re biased, yet we know we’re not the only ones who love Meghan’s vibrant spirit, fun cooking videos and made-up words. Meghan is a true advocate for health who aims to empower culinary nutrition experts around the world to educate their communities about food, and her investigations into corporate healthwashing claims have raised public awareness, held companies accountable and created change.
The Scoop: Mark’s best-selling books have encouraged us to get back to basics in the kitchen and even encouraged the most enthusiastic meat-eaters to go vegan until dinnertime. He believes that food has the power to make or break our health and the health of the planet – and we couldn’t agree more.
Dr. Vandana Shiva
The Scoop: Dr. Shiva is a scientist and author who has spent decades championing biodiversity, gender issues, seed protection, organic farming and non-GMO foods. Her impressive non-profit organization, Navdanya, has helped set up 122 community seed banks across India, trained over 9,00,000 farmers in seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, and raised awareness about indigenous culture. Good food starts with the soil and seed and we appreciate her efforts to keep these elements healthy!
The Scoop: Robyn was one of those moms who rolled her eyes at the parents of kids with allergies – until her own children developed them. The information she’s revealed about the American food system has influenced major companies to change their ways, and she founded the Allergy Kids Foundation, whose goal is to restore our children’s health and the integrity of our food supply.
The Scoop: Jeffrey is a world leader in the non-GMO movement and has raised widespread awareness about the dangers of genetic engineering and how we as consumers are being misled by corporations. His documentary Genetic Roulette and book Seeds of Deception are must-watch and must-read content.
The Scoop: Bryant is a chef, author and speaker who is well-known for his passion for food justice and sustainable food systems, as well as providing ideas for how we can help provide healthy food to those in low-income areas. Several of his cookbooks, including Afro Vegan, Vegan Soul Kitchen and The Inspired Vegan have been critically acclaimed and well-loved by home cooks.
The Scoop: Joel was famously chronicled in Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and is a well-known advocate for small farms, biodynamic farming and local food systems. He’s a prolific writer – with nine published books, mostly about farming and food production – and his sense of humour makes him a sought-after speaker, too.
The Scoop: As one of the co-founders of Four Sigmatic, Tero has brought our understanding of the power of mushrooms to a higher level. He cuts through the hype to help us learn the science around medicinal mushrooms, as well as how to include them in a whole foods diet.
The Scoop: Michele, a public health lawyer, has been writing about food politics and the food industry for the last two decades. We love how she uses the law to fight corporations that harm the public’s health – and her work has led to federal bans of dangerous products in the US.
The Scoop: America’s former First Lady is an outspoken advocate for improving children’s nutrition and eliminating childhood obesity. Her Let’s Move! campaign while in the White House helped parents and children make healthier choices, provided better food in schools, and increased accessibility and affordability to nutritious fare. She also planted a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House, which grows food for the house as well as for local food banks and soup kitchens (our youngest CNE got to visit this garden after winning a kids recipe contest thrown by Mrs. Obama).
The Scoop: We are huge advocates for the zero waste movement, which is why we are incredibly impressed with Pashon’s work. She founded Detroit Dirt, an organization that rescues food waste, green waste, spent grains and herbivore manures and makes high-quality compost to distribute to local farmers in Detroit. What a great way to create a sustainable, healthful loop!
The Scoop: We respect Ora’s commitment to community building through food. A few of her many accomplishments include Harvest and Revel, an all-female catering company, coordinating FIG (Food Issues Group), a forum for food industry professionals who care about sustainability, and being a part of Queer Anga, a health and wellness collective for queer and trans people.
The Scoop: Nikiko is a third generation fruit farmer, artist and author of The Perfect Peach and Changing Season, which she co-wrote with her family. Both family and garden roots run strong in the Masumoto family, and we admire her creativity and passion for farming.
Sana Javeri Kadri
The Scoop: Sana is a writer, photographer and the founder of Diaspora Co., an organic turmeric business owned and run by queer women of colour. We appreciate Sana’s commitment to fresh, sustainable and equitable turmeric sourcing from a family-owned farm in India that supports the health of the people who grow their product as well as those of us who consume it.
The Scoop: Michael is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has shone a big, bright spotlight on the food industry and how it tries to manipulate us. His book Salt Sugar Fat (also on the culinary nutrition expert program reading list), which details the way companies cultivate food addictions, is jaw-dropping.
The Scoop: Anna’s a writer and educator who advocates for sustainable food for us and the planet. She has initiated a bunch of cool projects, including Real Food Films (it uses online movies to spread the word about sustainable farming) and Small Planet Fund, which has raised $1 million for grassroots organizations.
The Scoop: Natasha is a farmer, speaker and author who works to build equity and justice in the food movement. Her groundbreaking book The Color of Food tells the stories of Black, Native, Asian and Latina farmers and their contributions to the food movement, which have often been ignored by mainstream media.
Dr. David Perlmutter
The Scoop: Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist who takes gluten-free eating to the next level with his evidence-based, grain-free slant to addressing brain health. His books Grain Brain and Brain Maker will make you rethink the way you consume grains, even the gluten-free ones, and offer you a multitude of ways to maximize your noggin.
David Thomas and Rachel Rennie
The Scoop: David and Rachel are the young co-founds of D’Market Movers, the first online service for healthy food in Trinidad and Tobago. They support local food industries, organic farming and farm-to-table items that help to cultivate health, wellness and nutritious home cooking for their clients and the community.
Vani Hari (The Food Babe)
The Scoop: Vani is well-known for putting pressure on corporations to disclose ingredients and eliminate the harmful toxins that impact our health. She has amassed a loyal following (The Food Babe Army) who helps her create the change they want to see in the world, and we adore how she galvanizes her tribe to stand up for what they believe in despite corporate or public constraints.
Josh Gitalis (*ACN Instructor)
The Scoop: It isn’t easy to disagree with Josh’s point of view – not only because he’s articulate, but also because he infuses everything he does with evidence-based medicine. Josh makes food, health and wellness practical and easy to understand (he has the best analogies that make the most complicated concepts clear as a bell), and our culinary nutrition expert students love his courses and guest appearances on our weekly livestreams.
People’s Kitchen Collective
The Scoop: Founded by Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Jocelyn Jackson, and Saqib Keval, the People’s Kitchen Collective aims to promote social justice and food activism through community dinners, art and workshops. We appreciate their unwavering commitment to equality starting at the kitchen table.
The Scoop: Jillian is a lawyer and popular speaker who founded F.A.R.M.S., a legal and education non-profit that provides services to small farmers and rural youth. She has also raised thousands of dollars for charitable food programs.
The Scoop: Dara is a writer, James Beard Leadership Award winner and food justice activist who works with the National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA), an alliance of Black led organizations working towards national Black food sovereignty and land justice. We have great respect for her diligence and commitment to tackling racial injustices in the food system.
The Scoop: Dr. Hyman is a physician, functional medicine specialist and author with a vast knowledge of an array of health and wellness areas. Whether he’s writing about blood sugar imbalances, sugar cravings, weight loss, or hormones, he always has practical and specific dietary advice to help people eat better.
The Scoop: Julie is a holistic nutritionist, TV host and author who specializes in anti-inflammatory diets and digestive health. We adore her positive attitude and relentless passion for making anti-inflammatory foods taste utterly delicious.
Julie was a featured speaker The 2015 Culinary Nutrition Conference.
The Scoop: Andrea’s expertise in digestive health and autoimmune diseases have made her a go-to person for both clients and alternative health practitioners. Her online courses teach students how to use the science of functional nutrition to help people heal the gut and balance their bodies.
Carly Stein and Daniel Millar
The Scoop: Beekeepers Naturals is our go-to brand for bee products like honey, bee pollen and propolis. We love their tasty products, but we are more in love with the company mission, which is to save bee colonies around the world from collapsing. They support and promote sustainable beekeeping, including partnerships with leading bee research institutions. Now that’s a mission we can get bee-hind!
The Scoop: Dhru is a partner and CEO at Dr. Hyman Enterprises, plus he is the engaging host of the Broken Brain Podcast that features fascinating guests (many of whom are awesome food activists). We love his positive attitude, and his ability to draws stories from his guests that inspire listeners to live their best, healthy lives.
The Scoop: We all love our blenders, but Tess takes blendaholics to a whole other level on her fantastic site filled with easy recipes for people on the go. She also has a comprehensive smoothie app, where you can explore a ton of smoothie recipes, photos, shopping lists, and even punch in your mood to find the perfect in-the-moment smoothie. We gained true inspiration from her interview in 2015 at the Culinary Nutrition Conference, where she chatted about bringing projects to life, working with brands, and finding work-life balance.
Tess was a featured speaker The 2015 Culinary Nutrition Conference.
The Sioux Chef
The Scoop: This inspiring collection of chefs, foragers and food preservationists aim to revitalize Native American cuisine, educate others about Native food and make it more accessible. They also have a unique menu as part of their catering business and support indigenous food producers.
The Scoop: Mark’s website has educated and inspired a countless number people to consider the Paleo diet. Using a ton of evidence and critical thinking, Mark explores evolutionary science and encourages others to take responsibility for their health through nutrient-dense, whole foods.
Dale and Linda Bolton
The Scoop: Dale and Linda launched Organics for Orphans in 2008, which helps communities in Africa grow nutritious food. They equip people with the resources and knowledge they need to farm organically, and then ask them to help feed local orphans. We are such huge fans of Organics for Orphans that we donated the proceeds from From Scratch Cooking, our annual e-cookbook for charity, to the organization in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
The Scoop: Modern life has brought us many conveniences, but unfortunately the way our food is grown and processed has led to a reduction in vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, fibre and antioxidants. Jo is a recognized expert in obtaining ‘wild’ nutrition from modern food, and she teaches us how we can forage at our supermarkets, farmers markets and local farms to get the most out of our fruits and veggies. Her 2013 book, Eating on the Wild Side, is an incredible guide to sourcing, preparing, buying and storing food to maximize its nutritional value.
The Scoop: Cultured foods have been used throughout history, but it was Donna who began to transform them from the world of grandmothers and seventies’ hippies into the respect and popularity they enjoy today. Donna is a pioneer in digestive health, fermented foods and sugar-free eating – she introduced stevia to the US in the early 90s and coined the term ‘inner ecosystem’, and her bestselling book The Body Ecology Diet is essential reading for anyone who wants to get their digestion and cravings under control.
Dr. Amy Myers
The Scoop: Dr. Myers grew up eating homemade whole wheat bread and yogurt, and was exposed to an array of alternative therapies throughout her childhood. While in medical school, she was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid and began her quest to discover the best methods of healing. As a functional medicine specialist, she helps patients address autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders and candida through a range of dietary protocols, supplements and lifestyle practices.
Dr. Gabriel Cousens
The Scoop: Gabriel blends the world of organic, whole food, plant-based nutrition with mindful eating practices. His book Conscious Eating is considered by some to be a vegetarian bible, and his Tree of Life Center is an ecological retreat that celebrates vegan eating, organic living, holistic healing and connection with nature, joy and spirituality. Once you snag his wisdom, you won’t want to binge on chocolate chip cookies!
Dr. Andrew Weil
The Scoop: Dr. Weil is a longstanding and well-respected expert in integrative medicine. He’s authored 13 books, including cookbooks, and written countless scientific and consumer articles that help people take control of their health. He founded the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine to support healing medicine, the Dr. Weil Foundation to advance our knowledge of alternative education and research, and the Healthy Aging online program to boost mental and physical health. In all of his work, food and nutrients are essential to optimal wellness – and we definitely love that.
J.B. Mackinnon and Alisa Smith
The Scoop: What began as a series of articles in 2005 about eating local for an online publication quickly snowballed into a worldwide sensation and best-selling book, The 100-Mile Diet. J.B. and Alisa’s commitment to only eating food that was grown within 100 miles of their home for an entire year sparked important conversation and awareness about where our food comes from and how far it travels to get to our plates. Concepts like ‘farm-to-table’ and ‘locavore’ are commonplace now thanks to them!