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Equity and Inclusion in Food was the Theme of our Fourth Annual ThinkFOOD Conference

The Center for Food Studies at Bard College at Simon's Rock held its fourth annual ThinkFOOD Conference on Saturday, April 8, 2017 in the Kellogg Music Center.

The 2017 ThinkFOOD conference explored the theme “Equity and Inclusion in Food. ” A panel presentation and keynote address examined diversity and equity in food and its relevance in the national dialogue about immigration, minimum wage, and local food movements.

ThinkFOOD ConferenceDr. Maryann Tebben, head of the Center for Food Studies, explained, “ In 2016 we witnessed the development of a policy platform on food from the Movement for Black Lives; a statement by the National Young Farmers Coalition on a path toward a more diverse population of farmers; a national dialogue about the federal minimum wage; a James Beard award to Jarry magazine (a publication ‘that explores where food and queer culture intersect’); and a presidential election that brought questions about immigration policy to the forefront.”

“The prospect of diversity and equity in food has never been more relevant,” Tebben continued. “We hope to provide a forum for discussion of this theme across a variety of disciplines and perspectives that will allow us to frame food equity in an useful way that can lead to productive solutions. How can we make food equity an universal concern?”

The morning panel entitled "Farmer and Farm Worker Pay: Balancing Equity and Viability" discussed living wages and overtime pay for farmers and farm laborers. Panelists include speakers from Woven Roots Farm, FARMroots of Greenmarket/GrowNYC, and the National Organic Farming Association.

Lunch—featuring local foods—was served in the Simon’s Rock Dining Hall.

Dr. A. Breeze Harper, an African American food and health scholar, delivered the keynote address, “Reading the Signs of Food, Ethics, Whiteness, and Resistance: A Black Feminist Praxis.” Harper, the author of Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society, will talk about strategies to identify conscious and unconscious racism, and the health and nutritional consequences of “racial battle fatigue” within the ethical foodscape of veganism. In her preview of the talk, she noted, “This talk will be of interest to anyone who desires to gain literacy and action around intersectional approaches to health, veganism, food, and racial justice.”

Dr. Tebben’s work in food studies stems from her research in French literature. She recently authored the chapter “Semiotics of Sauce: National Identity and Naming of Pasta Sauces” in Representing Italy Through Food (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017). Prior works includes Sauces: A Global History (Reaktion Books, 2014) and an article on the history of French dessert in Gastronomica.

The 2017 ThinkFOOD conference was co-sponsored by The Nutrition Center, Berkshire Grown, and Guido’s Fresh Marketplace.