Colette Cyrus- Burnett
CEO, Global Food Warrior
While working with UN Women, I learnt that worldwide we needed a revolution around access to nutritionally sound food, no matter what comes. We NEED food growing within walking distance of our home to be sure to survive. What COVID-19 has taught us is the need to be able to eat despite every unforeseen supply chain challenge, and we need child hunger to END forever.
Global Food Warrior was birthed
While traditional farming is seen as hard work in the hot sun, our work at Global Food Warrior is “heartwork” done for the love of mankind. We are spreading the movement of harnessing our health and wellness through nutrition by helping countries and communities hyper-localise their food sources using the most innovative and automated growing systems that are customised to their needs. We achieve this by focusing on youth employment and engagement at every stage. This way we are able to impact child hunger globally in a sustainable way by encouraging more youth into the industry in very diverse roles. Young people are at the helm of every project, as we get to teach while learning from them, we implement innovative solutions like large scale, solar powered, wind cooled vertical farming greenhouses which grow nine times the food in the same space that traditional farming can, using only 10 percent of the water. We digitise as many processes within the industry that we can as we engage young minds in the wonder of Agriculture. Global Food Warrior exists to show what love can achieve through food.
Vision requires Courage
Twenty years in Bank Branch Management in NYC, taught me the reins of my life needed to be in my own hands so I left in 2009 to open Super Wings NY. A year later I battled chef Bobby Flay in a Throwdown and WON! We became the most famous wing spot in NYC, winning every contest we ever entered. The Best Wings In Brooklyn Contest three times! International Best Wings in Buffalo, every chef battle and countless TV and local news outlets. Entrepreneur of the year 2013, and 2015. Brooklyn’s best Business 2013 and Best of NYC 2012. We were winning BIG TIME with lines out the doors and around the corner each day. And on SUPERBOWL. It was WILD! But burnout came fast!
Awards and accolades are not enough
How many plaques and proclamations can your mantle hold to collect dust? My eye wouldn’t stop twitching and my health deteriorated BIG TIME. I had to shift and do so quickly. A barrel of joy showed up when I partnered with my Alma Mater, Medgar Evers College to work with their Beacon programme to teach children how to make healthy eating choices. Teaching them made me laugh so hard! They would be bouncing out their seats. There I learnt that more than 10 percent of NYC children went to school hungry! Yes, in Brooklyn there are several pockets of the community that are referred to as “FOOD DESERTS” and children can have no food to eat before coming to school and all those children looked just like me. That, to me, was untenable! We got to work on creating growing systems within the schools in those neighbourhoods. We grew peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, sometimes inside in grow beds or vertical planters, sometimes in ground in enclosed spaces/greenhouses. We honed our craft, we partnered with scientists and botanists and created solutions of every kind. School teachers started reaching out for systems for their classrooms and the movement had begun!
The goal is self-mastery
Then I learnt that in the Caribbean and particularly in Trinidad and Tobago, we went from being food secure in the 1960’s where we would grow enough to feed our entire population, to this day in 2021, where we import between 70 to 80 percent of our food! Alarming how vulnerable that leaves us! Trinidad and Tobago being my homeland, this disturbed my core.
In 2015, I closed all three of my restaurants and took the leap. Time to pivot and not be held hostage by obligations I had created for myself. Tough call, this was my baby. Super Wings NY was my heart, my team, my family. I LOVED it. I had customers who would come from far and wide just for some wings and a hug. I think it was mostly for the wings though. Our ginger buff and Trini Tamarind wings are legendary!
It took some radical self-care to reset but today I am careful to set boundaries and get silent so I hear my inner voice…so when it says no, it’s no!
When doing something that has never been done, you can’t do it wrong
We build ecosystems that honour nature and encourage innovation. I am here to help entities see how easily they can impact the food security movement while taking good care of their community as part of their corporate responsibility goals. These companies can impact climate change positively and contribute to our overall GDP by investing in food. We all need to eat so growing food is like growing money. Private companies can partner with Global Food Warrior, by choosing to invest and grow more food with better operating systems to optimise capacity and achieve financial success. Hops included!
That there are billionaires in this world, commercialising the moon, tells me we have enough resources to feed hungry children. We just haven’t made it a priority. We are here to shine light on that!
This virus has taught us how fragile life really is, we can wake up tomorrow, or NOT. It’s that simple. So, I encourage women to seize the adventure that is life, kick off your shoes and dance with the divine. After all, we simply cannot eat our cars.
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