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Innovative Houston urban farm scores national award for green work

With poor diet a leading risk factor for morbidity and mortality in the United States, improving the food system is more important than ever. The American Heart Association’s Foodscape Innovation Awards spotlight the voluntary changes being made by the food and beverage industry, and this year recognize two urban farming innovations for making healthy food more accessible to underserved communities. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, awards “Sustainable Farming Through Water Conservation” by Moonflower Farms with the Foodscape Innovation Excellence Award and “Urban Farming Hub Solutions for Healthy Food & Jobs” by Restorative Farms earns the Foodscape Innovation Consumer Choice Award.

“Sustainable Farming Through Water Conservation” by Moonflower Farms, located in Houston, Texas developed the city’s first vertical farm, in 2016. Relying on rainwater to control costs and environmental impact, this urban hydroponic farm provides high-quality produce year-round at affordable prices to residents in underserved communities. Produce is also donated to local charitable food systems. This farming method uses 95% less water than conventional farming.

“Urban Farming Hub Solutions for Healthy Food & Jobs Restorative Farms, located in the southern part of Dallas, Texas in an underserved community, implemented small-scale, professionally run urban farms that promote economic sustainability. Restorative Farms provides jobs, vocational training, and healthy food for the southern Dallas community, while providing the same food at affordable prices to their community neighbors. 

“More families than ever before are food insecure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and with a strong connection between nutrition and health, access to affordable healthy food is imperative,” said American Heart Association Chief Medical Officer for Prevention Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP. “These two innovations demonstrate a way of producing food that doesn’t exclude anyone from accessing it, and the American Heart Association is proud to recognize these efforts.

”The Foodscape Innovation Awards are one facet of the American Heart Association’s broader food systems strategy, which includes convening an annual Foodscape Innovation Summit™ with food system thought leaders in business, government, academia and public health to align on public health strategies, providing consumers with science-backed healthy eating information and more. This year’s Foodscape Innovation Award recipients align with opportunities highlighted at the Summit to transform communities and collaborate in addressing well-being for those who are fed by and work in the food system.

Twenty-six organizations submitted applications showcasing positive changes in the food industry. From those, a panel of judges with expertise in nutrition, food science, retail, food manufacturing and public health narrowed down the applications and selected the recipient of the excellence award, while the public voted to select the consumer choice awardee among three judge-selected finalists.

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