Hood College Food Day Part 2: The Lecture

In her 30 minute Food Day lecture at Hood College, author Natasha Bowens “Sprinkle(d) through unpacking this (Food Justice), and it’s some heavy stuff”

Farmers market were selling foods that were not culturally appropriate, sellers only spoke English and were Caucasian.

Underrepresented as a woman of color in the healthy food movement, she set out to make a difference.

Bowens and her companions called themselves Food activists.

Several years of interviewing lead to her to launch a Kickestarter campaign and she set out in a 1990 Oldsmobile station wagon which she lovingly named Lucile. For about 5 months she traveled about the country interviewing approximately 75 minority farmers of color.

Bowens asked the crowd whether our food system represents everyone. Why is farming such a white thing. Why is the American farmer a white man? People of all races built the farm system in the United States. Native American, Latin American, African American, Asian, etc. These minorities have highest impact of obesity, and diabetes in the country however.

She stated, people of color are primarily recipients of the food system rather than owners. however they are working to change that. Armed with mobile classrooms, seed banks, and knowledge, the people are bringing back gardening and helping small farmers get established thus improving health overall in their communities.

Bowens urges people of color to get involved so that the May feel like they are a part of the movement. Food culture unfortunately demonizes many cultural foods.

In relation to Frederick, Urban communities need to be more food secure. The broken food system needs to be changed. Urban communities need to support local farmers. The capacity to feed is powerful. What can we do at Hood?

When asked by Ann, of the Housing Authority City of Frederick. “What would you imaging in Frederick that would be more just? What would that look like?” Bowens replied, “For me I think when we’re looking at a community food system, I’d love to see a lot more jobs in food, young farmer training in Frederick. I don’t see a lot of representation from the farmers of color of Frederick. I’d like to incorporate more of the communities that I work in in these discussions. We need everyone to come to the table but sometimes we have to go to their table.”

At the mention of a food equality grocery store in Frederick, “We have a few spaces that could be grocery stores. We are up against some pretty powerful beasts here in Frederick, “Bowens said, “We hit a wall when it comes to what is possible and who owns these buildings. Food deserts: a mile away from any grocery store. I’d love to see a grocery store, a food stock warehouse…while supporting our local growers. We need to keep working together.”

After the lecture Reverend Beth O’Malley commented, “It’s a lot about what we take for granted.”

Hood senior John Curran replied,” I never thought of where it was coming from, I just picked it up of the shelf.”

However Jeanne Robinson, also a senior had a more scarce food story, “There used to be three grocery stores in the county my family farm is on, while there was one when I was born, now we’re down to none. We do live in a certified food desert. We’re about 35 miles from the nearest grocery store.”


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