The Brown Symposium kicked off with the lecture “Eating the Future: Why Changing your Diet is Not Enough” by Richard Wilk, Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University.
He began with a history of the American diet. From the Great Blanding as immigrant cultures homogenized into American culture and adopted what came to become to be known as the American diet. By 1950 food become focused on bland staples, meat, vegetables, and starch.
He discussed how after 1950 food became not just sustenance but “nutritainment,” takingaway the idea that there was “someone picking it.” He highlighted that over the last couple ofdecades that food has undergone a Great Awakening saying “a real revolution is going on infood production,” but kept his lecture realistic. He brought up American obesity trends, butoptimistically cited the leveling off of obesity in the last two years and the increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables. He also discussed that there a lot of challenges to thefood movement including: the class gap between consumers and farmers, the price gapbetween what consumers can afford and farmers can produce, the lack of economies of scalesof small farmers who cannot compete with agribusiness, and how to afford to feed the growing population.
This was followed by the lecture “Indigenous and Green Economies for the Seventh Generation” by Winona LaDuke from the White Earth Reservation in Northern Minnesota, 2007 National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee. She imparted her Anishinaabeg teachings and related them to food.
Ms. LaDuke singled out climate change, materials based economies,peak oil, and tar sands as contributing factors to an unsustainable future. She brought up the idea a utilitarian and single species world view has caused us to consume more than our share of the biosphere, that our normal world perspective is short term and not durable andsustainable. She warned about the dangers of the reduction in biodiversity due toindustrialized agriculture. In biodiversity, such as cultivating indigenous corn and squash, shesees an enormous benefit.
After a lunch break the symposium continued with the lecture “On Being and Not Beingthe Wretched of the Earth: A Critical Race Feminist Analysis of Vegan Consciousness” by doctoral candidate and creator of the book Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food,Identity Health, and Society, Amie Breeze Harper of University of California-Davis.
She began the lecture in a unique way, with songs from the soundtrack of Panther (1996) and a capella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock. Breeze Harper continued the lecture with narratives of her life and of other black vegans like herself which demonstrated how our availability to food isaffected by race and class. This idea was upheld by her Sistah Vegan project which showed that not all people have access to vegan foods.
“A lot of the black women wanted to transition into veganism [but their]socioeconomic class was a problem ,a lower socioeconomic class, or geographical restrictions didn’t allow them to get the foods that they wanted and if you look at the literature on who has access to the healthiest food it’s white middle-class America ” Breeze Harper said.
With that the lecture was transitioned into one of not just vegan‘s access to healthy food but to everyone’s access to food and how it is different for those not of the white-middle class. As she mentioned, minorities livingin the in the inner city have less access to healthy foods as they are often expensive and far away inwhite suburbs.
The lecture was then ended with Breeze Harper reminding the audience that whenthinking foward about our food and sustainability to be mindful of how it is promoted, to have bothrace-consciousness and class consciousness.
The symposium then continued with the lecture “Industrialized Agriculture and the Rupture ofthe Human-Animal Bond” by Wayne Pacelle , President and CEO of the Humane Society of the UnitedStates and author of The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.
Pacelle explored different subjects that deal with animals in our society, primarily those animals that are used for food,ranging from euthinzation to federals for the protections of animals. He then transitioned intodescribing how the Humane Society has changed about the treatment of the animals we eat and howthey continue to do so.
“I feel strongly that we have got to treat animals right, and the gestation stallshave got to go,” Pacelle said as he referred to the current changes to be made.
Shortly after Pacelle’s lecture began the “Culinary Culture: A Ceramics Perspective” Exhibition inwhich Dr. Patrick Veerkamp introduced the connection between ceramics and Foodture as well asintroduce various pieces to the audience. At approximately the same time the Food Festival, an event with an array of student organizations and local business such as SEAK, the SU Community Garden, BostBee’s and Lockhart Farms, took place in the Bishops Lounge.
Monday night was then capped off with “River of Words” performed by David Asburyand Bruce Cain, featuring the premier of two new musical compositions. The night began withLike a String of Jade Jewels, progressed through River of Words, and ended with SleepingFlowers.
The lectures continued the next day with Jo Luck, former President of HeiferInternational, and her lecture “Global Hunger is More Personal Than You Think” in which sheexplored the idea that the spread of common grounds and values can helps societies interactpositively as well as sustain themselves adequately.
“We will never feed this planet in 2050 if we’re not coming together as a team” Luck said.
She continued her lecture with narratives of her past involvement in areas of Africa such as Rwanda and how her idea of cooperation did in fact help each society prosper in its own way. She mentioned that she respected the customs of where she resided as asign of respect and helped them with her ideas proving that cooperation works with the right amount ofinput.
With that the Brown Symposium lectures ended.
Afterwards a panel consisting of all the speakers , except Winona LaDuke, and students VanessaToro, Sarah Puffer and Joey Kyle continued the discussion of Foodture through a Question and Answer session in which the students mentioned asked the speakers questions in regards to various aspects ofFoodture. This panel brought up comments that proved to have an impact as people nodded inagreement.
“Eating more local means eating less foreign,” Wilks said shortly after beginning the panel
The Brown Symposium finally came to an end with the Empty Bowls Project Lunch in whichpeople bought bowls that would then be filled with soup. These bowls were created and donated by theSouthwestern Ceramics Program and were filled with soups from local restaurants Pei Wei andMonument Café, to name a few. The lunch was largely possible through the efforts of the Arts in Action Paideia and Dr. Asbury. The proceeds of the event were donated to The Caring Place and Meals onWheels.
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