Kyra Busch has advocated for local food sovereignty for over a decade. Working with the Alternative Agriculture Network of Thailand and the Educational Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange, she worked on successful initiatives to certify and import Fair Trade Thai jasmine rice to the U.S. and to prevent an inequitable U.S.-Thai free trade agreement. Kyra spearheaded the nation’s first Indigenous farm-to-school program and managed a culturally appropriate food delivery program for diabetic elders on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. Kyra holds a Master’s degree in Social Ecology of Conservation and Development from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where she wrote her thesis on a groundbreaking biocultural curriculum in Kuna Yala, Panama. Kyra is now the program officer for Agrobiodiversity, Food Sovereignty and Resilient Biocultural Landscapes at the Christensen Fund in San Francisco. In this episode, Kyra talks to Devon about farmers who love the fabulous diversity of traditional rice varieties in Thailand, how traveling and studying abroad can lead to solidarity, the promise of agrobiodiversity for a sustainable food system, and thinking about agroecology on a 100-year time frame.
Brian Dowd-Uribe is a food systems researcher and assistant professor at University of San Francisco. He met Devon in the Environmental Studies PhD program at UC Santa Cruz. There, Brian’s research took place in Burkina Faso, where he looked closely at the introduction of genetically modified cotton and its impact on state and its cotton companies, and at the impacts of liberalization on farmer livelihoods. At the same time, with a group of other PhD students at UC Santa Cruz, Brian co-founded the New Roots Institute for the Study of Food Systems. He worked as a post-doc at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, looking at community gardens in East Harlem, and then for three years at the University of Peace, a United Nations-affiliated university in Costa Rica. He and his family recently returned to Northern California, where he grew up, for a tenure-track position at University of San Francisco. In this episode, Devon and Brian talk about Burkina Faso’s unique high-quality cotton industry, prospects of genetically modified crops in bringing economic development to the poor, and the need to (and joy of) creating alliances and relationships across unequal differences in power.
Since moving to Mexico City in 2007, Niki Nakazawa has navigated between the art, architecture, music and food worlds. After several years working as managing editor at art and architecture publishing houses, she founded the experimental pop-up restaurant and catering company Pichón with Emma Rosenbush and Kenny Curran. Pichón is a pop-up restaurant and a project dedicated to culinary research and experimentation. It is inspired by the chinampas of Mexico City, the culinary traditions of the Mexican countryside, and the gastronomic revolution that has transformed food culture. They believe that the best food is prepared with ingredients grown locally and sustainably, and that food should be a vehicle for strengthening community, from its cultivation to consumption. Chelsea talks to Nikki about chinampas, the island-gardens of the Mexican highlands, about what it means to eat local in Mexico City, about cooking as an exploration, and about her recent culinary residency in coastal Oaxaca.
Michelle Glowa is an assistant professor in Anthropology and Social Change department at CIAS in San Francisco. Her research interests include critical political ecology, urban social movements, and agri-food studies. Her work uses interdisciplinary frameworks to explore the dynamics between activists engaged in changing the landscapes of cities and food systems and the contemporary institutions with which they interact. Michelle approaches her research with over a decade of experience working with food justice and urban agriculture organizing in the United States and Mexico. Specifically, she focuses on the dynamics of land access and property rights, shifting land use and development, in food justice organizing. Michelle received her B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Political Science from Colorado State University and her PhD in Environmental Studies from University of California Santa Cruz. In this episode, Chelsea talks with Michelle about the role of urban gardens in re-imagining and reshaping cities.
Joey Smith runs Let’s Go Farm in Santa Rosa, California, on the land where he grew up. For the last five years, he has grown a very wide variety of vegetables bound for a Community Supported Agriculture and for the Windsor Farmers Market. Joey also works and teaches hands-on vegetable farming at Shone Farm, which belongs to Santa Rosa Junior College, a community college here in Sonoma County. Joey, like Devon, is an alum of UC Santa Cruz and of Food First’s internship program. In this episode, Devon and Joey talk about young people farming, growing unusual vegetables, a strategy for ending hunger in Sonoma County, and the farmers - one down the street and one in rural Costa Rica - that have inspired Joey.
Victoria Wagner is a visual artist, educator, and baker based in Sonoma County, California. Her work is comprised of organic, multilayered paintings, sculptures and drawings that vacillate between objective and non-objective notions. The main thread of her work is found in tonal vibration, electricity and naive human understanding of the simplicity of the natural world. Recently her work has been shown at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, theLab, Headlands Center for the Arts, Sonoma County Museum, and the DiRosa Art and Nature Preserve. She teaches at the California College of the Arts. This past summer, she ran an experimental biscuit business out of her hatchback called Hello Nomad Roadside Biscuits. In this episode, Chelsea and Victoria talk about the overlap and symbiosis of baking and painting, the selling biscuits in the least likely corners of Sonoma County, and getting to know your neighbors through food.
In this episode, Chelsea interviews husband and wife team Kati Greaney and Pete Rasmussen about their collaborations in farming, activism, and filmmaking. Kati is a photographer, filmmaker, and educator who has for the last ten years worked internationally creating documentary photography and film about farmers and farmers movements. She holds a MA from the Social Documentation program a at UC Santa Cruz. Most recently she directed and produced Los Guajiros, a film that follows two young Haitian agronomists, exploring Cuba's world-renowned agricultural model. Pete is a farmer and educator who founded Sandhill Farms in the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. There he grows over 30 varieties of rare, gourmet, heirloom garlic from around the world. Pete worked for the Community Agroecology Network where he organized and led farmer exchanges from Latin America to the US, and planned student trips to farming communities throughout Latin America.
Farnaz Fatemi is a poet, a writer and a teacher of the craft of writing at UC Santa Cruz, and a gardener and lover of tomatoes. Her poetry has been published in the Ekphrasis, Red Wheelbarrow, and several other poetry journals, and in the anthologies Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been, and recently, Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran, both compilation of works by the Iranian writers outside of Iran. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A favorite recent work of hers is in the Tupelo Quartlerly, a very personal and lyric essay about visits to Iran called The Color of the Bricks. Devon and Chelsea speak with Farnaz about tomatoes; the interplay between gardening, cooking, and writing; travel; and the necessity of poetics and creativity in a movement.
Maywa Montenegro de Wit is a seed scholar and science writer who I know through many mutual friends and through the agroecology movement. I love to keep up with her written work, in part because it is so well crafted, but also because she continually brings fresh analysis and perspective to conversations that can feel tired-- like conversations about the role of urban agriculture, the importance of biodiversity conservation, and the use of genetically modified organisms. She is a PhD Candidate at UC Berkeley, where her research focuses on the social relations around seeds and seed systems. She also has a degree in molecular biology, and a masters in science writing from MIT. She publishes work in academic journals and also widely in the popular press. She was an editor at Seed Magazine, and her work is published recently by Ensia, Gastronomica, The Huffington Post and Grist.org, among many other publications.
Maywa talks with Devon about the conservation of crop wild relatives, GMOs, the food movement, and the privileged positioning of scientific knowledge and the need to recognise many kinds of knowledges about food.
Articles we discussed:
In this episode, Chelsea meets up with Amanda Eicher at Southern Exposure in San Francisco to talk about food and eating in the context of art and activism; about the OPENrestaurant project, and her long-term community-based art project in rural El Salvador.
Amanda’s projects investigate the roles artists play in development processes; the ways groups engage in creative thinking; and intersections between traditional community-based art practices and contemporary approaches to social engagement in art, relational aesthetics, and dialogic practices. Her work often touches food, especially in the OPENrestaurant project, which experiments with the daily activities of food and restaurant workers in art spaces.
Her work has been shown and/or supported by SFMOMA, Berkeley Art Museum, UC Berkeley's Arts Research Center and the UC Futures Working Group, the Botkyrka Konsthall in Tumba, Sweden and their residence in Fittja, the Fittja Pavilion at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, in projects at CCA's Wattis Center for Contemporary Art, and in an upcoming residency at the Di Rosa Preserve and Stag's Leap Winery in 2015.
Caiti Hachmyer runs Red H Farm in Sebastapol, California, growing vegetables for the Sebastapol farmers market and a community supported agriculture program. She is also a researcher and food systems activist. Her research has taken her into the strategies and politics of land tenure for urban farming, and the workings of the world bank. She is the author of the 12th edition of Alternatives to the Peace Corps from Food First Books, as well as many articles on farming on the Farmers Guild website. She holds an MA in urban planning from Tuffs, and she has worked as a researcher and organizer for Food First and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers.
Devon talks with Caiti about farming in Sonoma County, the tension between a thriving market for artisanal food and a high cost of living, Caiti’s experiments with dry-farming and no-till at a human scale, and more.
The food movement has grown more than we ever could have imagined when we were cooking, growing, thinking about and eating it a decade ago. The culture and politics of food are part of daily conversations. With so many people deeply involved in making and thinking about food, we think it is time to broaden the scope of voices that represent the food movement.
In our first season, we are interviewing friends who have shaped the way that we think about food over the years, through conversations and through their work as artists, chefs, farmers, gardeners, researchers, poets, journalists and more.
The first season launches on Monday, November 23, 2015. Subscribe to the podcast now, and stay tuned!