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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

When Ryan and Travis Croxton decided to bring back their grandfather's oyster company, it coincided with Chesapeake Bay’s lowest oyster harvest ever.

All images via Upworthy.

Their town's once-flourishing industry was collapsing. In fact, things got so bad, their native oyster was almost put on the endangered species list. It was a pretty big dilemma (and inconvenient timing), to say the least. But it only spurred the Croxton cousins' Rappahannock Oyster Company even more to find a solution.


They scoured the internet to see what other countries were doing, how they were producing their seafood. What they found was a more advanced, efficient technique that could help save not just their own business, but Chesapeake Bay's entire oyster industry.

Watch how this amazing journey unfolded right here:

This community of dedicated fishermen is making sure the Chesapeake Bay oyster doesn't end up on the endangered species list.

Posted by Upworthy Video on Friday, March 17, 2017

Rather than just gathering what oysters were left, the Croxtons turned to aquaculture, which is basically the farming and harvesting of anything that lives underwater.

Outside of aquaculture, gathering fish and oysters is just about that — gathering. Get, get, get. Fish, fish, fish. You collect as big a bounty as you can and you sell it for top dollar. The problem with that model is it becomes all about how much you can get, leaving little regard for resources.

In contrast, aquaculture is all about those resources. It focuses oncreating a sustainable ecosystem where underwater plants and animals can thrive more naturally.

And when it comes down to it, oyster aquaculture can be a boon to both the environment and the economy.

For one thing, oysters are a natural cleaner and they act as an amazing filter for pollutants, such as nitrogen. "During its duration in the water, it's filtering 50 to 60 gallons of water a day," explained Ryan Croxton.

Promoting a habitat and life cycle that allows these oysters to blossom benefits Mother Nature (and our tummies) even more. "The oysters we grow actually increase the population of the wild oysters," added Travis Croxton. "You see underwater vegetation coming back, which provides sanctuary for marine animals."

When it comes to aquaculture and fish, however, the method does have potential downsides. Installing cages to farm the fish is necessary, and building them can damage a coast's natural ecosystem. On top of that, waste can accumulate in these structures and contaminate an area's water supply.

Aquaculture also has the potential to create countless new jobs. In the U.S. alone, aquaculture production hit just over a billion dollars back in 2012. But when you compare it to the $120 billion worldwide industry that it was valued at that same year, you can see there are still many opportunities for growth.

And it's already happening.

When the the Croxtons first started out, only a few businesses were doing aquaculture in their community. Now? Several hundred. "I've increased my workforce by about 30%," said Richard Harding, owner of Purcell’s Seafood Company. "We're a small business in a small community, so every job counts."

The best part? Aquaculture has the potential to improve food access for people all around the world.

A 2015 report by WorldFish shows how fish consumption is rising in developing nations — and future demand worldwide is only expected to increase in the coming decades. This means that aquaculture is going to play a pivotal role in making sure that everyone gets fed.

In fact, by 2030, it's already estimated that two-thirds of the global fish supply will be produced via aquaculture.

So yes, demand, populations, challenges — they're all rising. But, you know what? So is the know-how of the people addressing this issue. "Aquaculture is one of the rare things in this world that is a win-win for everything," added Travis Croxton.

The next time you grab an oyster platter, think about how that little gooey organism is helping change the world. Then, of course, think about how dang delicious it is.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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