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Just Food and Fair Food: A Multidisciplinary Exploration

Visions and Voices

Scholars, policy analysts, activists and food providers will examine questions of just and fair food—the availability of fresh, equitably produced, affordable food for all—on a national, regional and local level. A fair-food bazaar will include lunch and conversation with panelists and local fair/just food practitioners.

Writers such as Michael Pollan, policymakers and activists have examined important issues concerning food safety, environmental sustainability and the health costs of processed, industrially produced food. But much of this discussion has assumed an affluent consumer, one with bountiful choices for good food. The question of just and fair food—the ready availability of fresh, wholesome, equitably produced, affordable food to all people, regardless of income or place of residence and especially in urban areas populated by people of color with low incomes—has received far less attention. This event will bring together scholars, policy analysts, activists and food providers to examine these issues on national, regional and local levels.

Paula Daniels, senior advisor to the mayor of Los Angeles on sustainable food and water policy, will moderate a conversation with Oran Hesterman, author of Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All; Robert Gottlieb, co-author of Food Justice and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College; Luz Calvo, professor of ethnic studies at California State University, East Bay, and founder of Luz’s Decolonial Cooking Club; LaVonna Lewis, a USC public policy professor who teaches on food policy; and Sarah Portnoy, who teaches a course in the Spanish department at USC on culinary culture in Hispanic Los Angeles.

The panel will be followed by a fair-food bazaar featuring lunch and conversation with panelists and local fair/just food practitioners. Participants include people from Mama's Hot Tamales and Homegirl Café, both of which will also be providing food; Analena Hope, board member of Community Services Unlimited, a nonprofit supporting healthy, sustainable communities; Marie-Alise Recasner de Marco, founding member of the SoLA Food Co-op and the Seeds of Carver Urban Farm in Leimert Park; Nicole Carter, Gardens Coordinator for the Social Justice Learning Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of youth and communities of color by empowering them to enact social change; Myca Tran, Operations Manager for Urban Agriculture Enterprises, a socially and environmentally responsible corporation based in Inglewood that provides affordable, locally grown organic food to underserved communities; Molly Gray, a USC journalism student who has written extensively on food issues concerning South Los Angeles; Linda Peng, who has researched the role of kitchen incubators in starting small food businesses; and Barbara Born of Fair Trade Los Angeles, an open, democratically organized group of people who are working for proactive, ideal/realistic solutions in a global movement for social and environmental justice.       

About the Panelists and Participants:

Barbara Born participates with Fair Trade Los Angeles to raise awareness of the movements’ socially responsible, sustainable principles and the Fair Trade Towns campaign.  She helps coordinate the Los Angeles Green Festival, as a member of the host committee and outreach to faith based communities. Professionally she is a freelance writer, with a passion for the synergy of public policy and faith and a USC grad, with a MPl and PhD focused on public policy.

Luz Calvo is an associate professor of ethnic studies at California State University, East Bay. Her current research focuses on the cultural and material politics of reclaiming and decolonizing food. She is working on a project called Decolonize Your Diet: Reclaiming Ancestral Mexican Foods with Catriona R. Esquibel. In this project, the authors discuss Latino/a immigrant health, pre-Columbian diets, traditional knowledge about herbs and issues of food sovereignty. (Bio, Decolonial Cooking Club on Facebook)

Nicole Carter, Gardens Coordinator for the Social Justice Learning Institute, is committed to eliminating food deserts, and in her role, builds and manages community and school learning gardens in Inglewood. Nicole has designed K-5 gardening/nutrition curriculum and teaches students in Inglewood elementary schools. In addition, she conducts workshops and trainings for Inglewood home vegetable/fruit gardeners.

Paula Daniels is a senior advisor to the mayor of Los Angeles. She specializes in sustainable food and water policy and she founded the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, a policy-based collaborative of food-system leaders working toward an environmentally sustainable, equitable and regionally based food system. She teaches with the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. (Bio, Twitter)

Robert Gottlieb is a professor of urban and environmental policy and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. He is the author of a dozen books, including Food Justice (with Anupama Joshi, MIT Press). He is the editor of two series from MIT Press: Urban and Industrial Environments, and Food, Health, and Environment, and is a longtime social- and environmental-justice activist and historian of social movements. He has helped develop several groundbreaking food- and environmental-justice programs and events, including farm-to-school and the L.A. Street Summit. (Official website)

Molly Gray is a graduate student studying digital journalism in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. As a USC journalist, Gray has covered many important issues, including food scarcity in South Los Angeles. (Official website, Twitter)

Oran Hesterman is president and CEO of Fair Food Network, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of food systems, sustainability and equity to guarantee access to healthy, fresh and sustainably grown food, especially in underserved communities. A national leader in sustainable agriculture and food systems, Hesterman is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Fair Food: Growing a Healthy Sustainable Food System for All. He has published more than 400 reports and articles, and played an essential role in the establishment of the Michigan Food Policy Council. (Bio)

Homegirl Café and Catering, a division of Homeboy Industries, is a social enterprise assisting at-risk and formerly gang-involved young women and men to become contributing members of our community through training in restaurant service and culinary arts. (Official website)

Analena Hope is a current board member of Community Services Unlimited, a nonprofit organization based in South Los Angeles that works to remove barriers to the creation of equitable, healthful, sustainable and self-reliant communities. She is also a fourth-year PhD candidate at the University of Southern California in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity. Her research investigates and complicates notions of food access, food justice and food sovereignty, using food as a lens to examine the ways that race and class inform health outcomes and life chances in urban neighborhoods.

LaVonna Lewis is a teaching professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy. Lewis’s areas of research focus on cultural competency and the health status and healthcare needs of underrepresented groups. She is currently involved in addressing racial disparities in cardiovascular disease and diabetes through the Community Health Council’s African Americans Building a Legacy of Health Project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This community-based project explores individual, organizational and community support for (and barriers to) healthy living, particularly improving access to healthier food and physical activity through environmental and policy change. (Bio)

Mama’s Hot Tamales Café is an apprentice-operated business and job-training restaurant that provides hands-on and classroom instruction designed to train low- and moderate-income residents living within the central region of Los Angeles in the disciplines necessary to begin a successful career in the culinary world. (Official website)

Linda Peng graduated from USC in May 2012. As a student in Sarah Portnoy’s class, The Culture of Food in Hispanic Los Angeles, she completed a final project focused on incubator kitchens and how they affect the local community.

Sarah Portnoy has been teaching in the Spanish department at USC since 2007, where she has developed an interest in food studies. She is an expert on the culture of Mexican food, and in 2010, she received a grant from USC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching to develop a new class integrating food, technology, participatory learning and the Hispanic communities of Los Angeles. (Bio)

Marie-Alise Recasner de Marco is a founding member of SoLA Food Co-op and the Seeds of Carver Urban Farm in Leimert Park, and has had a lifelong interest in food justice. She sits on the Food Policy Roundtable at Community Health Councils, volunteers with the Community Market Conversion program and has received speaker training on the dangers of GMOs with Jeffrey M. Smith, author and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology.

Myca Tran is the Operations Manager for Urban Agriculture Enterprises, Inc. She oversees the company's farming operations as well as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) bag/box packaging and distribution. Myca also leads food justice policy advancement, along with UAE's community partners.

Organized by Chimene Tucker, Sue Tyson and Eduardo Tinoco (USC Libraries).