100 episodes

The Leading Voices in Food podcast series features real people, scientists, farmers, policy experts and world leaders all working to improve our food system and food policy. You'll learn about issues across the food system spectrum such as food insecurity, obesity, agriculture, access and equity, food safety, food defense, and food policy. Produced by the Duke World Food Policy Center at wfpc.sanford.duke.edu.

The Leading Voices in Food Duke World Food Policy Center

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.9 • 11 Ratings

The Leading Voices in Food podcast series features real people, scientists, farmers, policy experts and world leaders all working to improve our food system and food policy. You'll learn about issues across the food system spectrum such as food insecurity, obesity, agriculture, access and equity, food safety, food defense, and food policy. Produced by the Duke World Food Policy Center at wfpc.sanford.duke.edu.

    Introducing Operation Good Food and Beverages - New Way to Think about Black Activism

    Introducing Operation Good Food and Beverages - New Way to Think about Black Activism

    What can be done to reverse racialized marketing of unhealthy foods to Black Americans? What if healthy eating could be seen as a radical act, or even as a form of Black activism and liberation? Today, we're talking about these issues with Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika about a new campaign called Operation Good Food and Beverages. This is an advocacy movement developed by and for Black youth who want to reclaim healthy food as part of Black lives. Shiriki is an emeritus professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and research professor at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.
    Interview Summary
     
    I long admired the work you've done on food and beverage marketing, particularly around the issues of targeted marketing. And then still, you do even more worth admiring and along comes this new campaign that you call Operation Good Food and Beverages. Can you tell us about it?
     
    This campaign is really the culmination of my efforts to do something about the marketing of unhealthy foods in general. But to Black communities in particular, I think first and foremost, it's a call to action to make healthier foods and beverages more available and promoted in Black communities, especially Black youth. It has some educational or motivational elements to it because the call to action is contextualized in a broader message about good food. And, how young people like to have good food, how it makes them feel, and that the messages are in one place on the website. We are more than food companies think we are. You know we're much more than that. So it's a positive campaign. The main elements: our website with various resources, and two social media accounts. One on Instagram and one on TikTok. The main audience is youth, but we also hope to reach parents and others in Black communities Including celebrities and allies of Black communities and anyone who really sees this as an opportunity to send a positive, but somewhat different message to the food sector about marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages.
     
    So before we dive in and learn a little bit more about the nuts and bolts of this, why did you decide to focus on marketing to youth, and in particular, on Black youth specifically?
     
    Well, there are a lot of reasons for choosing youth. I think the most positive reason is the increasing role of youth in various social justice movements, and in raising their voice. There's a lot of energy in the generation that we were targeting here: Generation Z. Those are sort of late teenagers and maybe early college age. So that's one reason. Youth are really great messengers, I think, for a positive message that relates to them and relates to their communities in general. The reason, in terms of food marketing, is that it is kind of a perfect storm. There's a whole body of work that talks about the sensitivity in the adolescent years to identity formation issues, role models that they see, and perhaps a particular responsiveness to ads in Black youth. Seeing themselves positively represented, perhaps and helping in that way with identity formation, but linking this to some of these unhealthy products that they see in the media. So there are really a lot of reasons that Black celebrities are really prominent among people marketing these foods and beverages. And so we thought, considering that these diseases really start at a young age, then we would work with youth in terms of prolonging their lives and keeping their risk factors down.
     
    That certainly makes sense. So tell us what youth will encounter when they interact with this program. What does the program consist of?
     
    So the program consists of a website as the sort of main home base. It's called Operation Good FB, and it is meant to create a very positive picture of foods and beverages that youth might want. As well as mentioning what the problem is, but not dwelling on the negatives of the problem

    • 12 min
    Insights from a nationwide survey of hunger relief organizations during COVID

    Insights from a nationwide survey of hunger relief organizations during COVID

    During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, much of the US was in lockdown. Many people had lost jobs or could not work from home during that time and struggled to pay their bills. Shortages of food and other basic necessities were common. Many people needed help during this time. Charitably-funded volunteer staff organizations like soup kitchens and food pantries suddenly found themselves on the front line of a massive ongoing food relief emergency. Many of them did heroic work. We're speaking today with the co-authors of a new report titled, "The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on US Hunger Relief Organizations, from August and November of 2020." Gizem Templeton is a researcher at Duke University's World Food Policy Center. Alison Cohen, formerly of WhyHunger, is a research consultant on the project. And Suzanne Babb is the director of US programs at WhyHunger.
    Interview Summary
     
    So Gizem, let's begin with you. Can you tell our listeners about the survey itself and what WhyHunger hoped to accomplish through this work?
     
    Gizem - Sure, Kelly. So as a research partner for WhyHunger, we wanted to survey hunger relief organizations, which are food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, as well as hunger advocacy organizations during the pandemic in the summer of 2020. Our goals were twofold. First, we wanted to document what was happening in terms of pandemic impact and response. And second, we were interested to see what programmatic policy and food system recommendations they had for the future. All in all, over 240 hunger relief organizations from 39 states responded to our survey.
     
    It was important to understand the impact on hunger relief organizations because these organizations are mostly dependent on charity donations of cash and food. Their operating budgets change from year to year. And, they're staffed largely by volunteers who tend to be older individuals. So as you can imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic created a range of daunting challenges for them.
     
    You may probably recall the many media stories with photos of long lines of people trying to get food during the summer of 2020. The hunger relief organizations in our survey said that demand for food and other services increased significantly. We heard that people who used to donate money were coming in to get food themselves. And also, that many families were struggling simultaneously with job losses, housing issues, and reduced access to food. Hunger relief organizations did everything they could to stay open. And we saw a lot of innovation to meet the demand, in this survey.
     
    I mean, there is no question that hunger relief organizations gave their all for our society during the pandemic, but in their own words, they also questioned the country's dependence on charitable donations to keep people fed. And survey responses highlight a need to strengthen the national social safety net and to focus on the root causes of hunger.
     
    So Gizem, how did the hunger relief organizations grapple with these tremendous challenges during the pandemic?
     
    Gizem - Yes, so first, all but two of the organizations who responded to our survey were able to remain open. But all of them had to make big changes very quickly to keep up with an almost overwhelming demand for food and new safety practices as more was learned about COVID. And we saw shifts to curbside pickup of food, some home delivery, and a few organizations were even able to offer client transportation for housebound individuals. Some hunger relief organizations made a shift to online ordering.
     
    I would say the biggest challenge they faced was the loss of volunteers due to COVID risk. And they had to suspend some programming as a result of that. Many surveyed organizations said some of their volunteers and staff contracted the virus during this time. Another challenge was not enough refrigeration space for perishable food and storage for shelf stable food as the volume of food coming in i

    • 15 min
    Striving for Black Food Sovereignty – Stewards for the Land

    Striving for Black Food Sovereignty – Stewards for the Land

    Today, we're talking to Dr. Jasmine Ratliff, who goes by Dr. Jas, and is an applied food systems research and policy specialist, and co-executive director of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance. She believes that your zip code should not determine your life expectancy and that building relationships are essential to creating a sustainable and just food system.
    Interview Summary
     
    So let's begin with this. Could you tell our listeners a little bit about The National Black Food and Justice Alliance and some about your work there?
     
    Yes. The National Black Food and Justice Alliance is a coalition of organizations. So we're not just one organizations. We represent multiple others, about 50 now, and we are committed to building Black leadership and Black food sovereignty.
     
    Those are really important goals, and not easy ones to reach for sure. So let's dig in a little bit about how you go about doing that. Let's start with kind of your vision. How do you envision food justice and how do you think about the term food sovereignty?
     
    I work at the Alliance. And at the National Black Food and Justice Alliance, we focus on Black food sovereignty and self-determining food economies, and specifically land justice. And we approach these through a lens of healing and organizing and resistance against anti-Blackness. And all of the work that we do is in pursuit of food justice. So I have a couple definitions. Founding executive director Dara Cooper defined food justice as a process whereby communities most impacted and exploited by our current corporate-controlled, extractive agricultural system shift power to reshape, redefine, and provide indigenous, community-based solutions to accessing and controlling food. And that includes the means to produce food that it is humanizing, fair, healthy, accessible, racially equitable, environmentally sound, and just. That's how I feel about food justice and it leads us right into food sovereignty. So I know you mentioned it's an overall long goal, and we borrow this one from La Via Campesina, but food sovereignty is the right for peoples to define their own food and agricultural systems, instead of food being subject to international market forces - as we all know food is so globalized. So sovereignty is absolutely our ultimate goal and it can't be achieved without confronting actual governance. So we work to ensure that Black people not only have the right, but the ability to control our food.
     
    It really helps to have those definitions. And let's talk just a little bit more about this. So you talked about decision making, needing to reside in the community where the issues are occurring and you mentioned power transfer. Can you just give us some examples of where the system doesn't support these kind of things? Like how is the current system not empower people, and how does it strip people of decision making about their own food systems?
     
    Yes! I didn't actually plan to share this one, but I will. A lot of people refer to your geographic location, and I know in my bio you mentioned this, but your zip code shouldn't determine your life expectancy. And right now that does. We don't have the autonomy to create the environment around us. It's so saturated with capitalism and other things that don't put people first. So I think food apartheid instead of the food desert reference is a real way that people are disenfranchised and not in power. And that's also a definition from Dara Cooper, that it's the systemic destruction of Black self-determination to control our food. This includes land, resource stuff, and discrimination, hypersaturation of destructive foods and predatory marketing in a blatantly discriminatory, corporate-controlled food system that results in our communities suffering from some of the highest rates of heart disease and diabetes of all time. Many, like I said, use the term food desert, but food apartheid is a much more accurate representation of the struc

    • 10 min
    Down to Earth with NC Farm Bureau’s Shawn Harding

    Down to Earth with NC Farm Bureau’s Shawn Harding

    Today, we're talking with the President of North Carolina Farm Bureau, Shawn Harding. Farm Bureau is the state's largest farming organization is often referred to as the voice of North Carolina agriculture. In this interview, we'll explore the diverse ways this vital association supports North Carolina farmers and growers. I might also say that there are Farm Bureaus in all 50 states, and from what I understand, North, it's a special pleasure to have Shawn with us.
    Interview Summary
     
    I was mentioning before we went live that our center has had a nice relationship with Farm Bureau over a number of years. And one thing that was especially, meaningful to us is with your predecessor, Larry Wooten, and several of his colleagues took us on a tour of farms in Eastern North Carolina. And that was very eye opening and a very moving experience for us to get to talk to farmers and understand a little better. So, I appreciated the work of Farm Bureau before, but especially, after that. So, let's begin. You became President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau nearly two years ago. And anyone in the agriculture world knows a Farm Bureau but others may know less. Would you mind telling us what Farm Bureau does?
     
    Yes, certainly. As you mentioned earlier on, we often refer ourselves as the voice of agriculture because that's what we do. We spread the message of farmers and agriculture. And, you know, what's interesting is our organization started 1936 by farmers who felt like they needed a voice. And in 1936 there were a lot of people on the farm. Now, very few people on the farm, very few people that really understand agriculture. So, we feel like our mission to be that voice for agriculture is more relevant now today than ever before. And we try to stay core to that mission and just spreading the word of our farmers and agriculture and what they do.
     
    I thought I heard that North Carolina Farm Bureau was the second largest in the country. I don't know if that was correct then or still is, but what explains why North Carolina has such a robust Farm Bureau presence?
     
    Well, in 1936 a group of farmers got together and started this organization and really their mission was just to help farmers but also help rural people to any kind of issues they had. And in 1953, believe it or not way back then they were having trouble getting insurance. And so, we started an insurance company. In order to buy insurance from North Carolina Farm Bureau you had to be a member. And so, you joined and you were able to participate in our insurance company. And it was very successful very helpful for our rural families back then. And thankfully, we've been very successful over the years proud of our insurance company. And that's one of the reasons that we have such a large membership in North Carolina. We just crossed 600,000 members for the first time in our state, which does make us the second largest Farm Bureau in the nation. And so, certainly we have many members who have no connection to agriculture but just enjoy and appreciate our insurance company. So, we're proud of that but anyone can join North Carolina Farm Bureau. $25 membership. And if you want to support farmers and support our mission certainly anyone can join. Tennessee Farm Bureau is the largest Farm Bureau, our neighbors to the west. And so, we're looking at how long before we could be number one, but we'll see how that goes.
     
    Well, good luck. And 600,000 is pretty impressive, I must say. So, I'd like to talk about one particular part of the work that you and your colleagues are doing, your Young Farmer program. And I recall hearing from Bert Pitt in Edgecombe County saying that the average age of farmers in North Carolina is around 67. And farming is so critical to the future. I'd like to hear about the kinds of support and recognition that your Young Farmer program offers to newer generations of farmers.
     
    Thank you for asking about that program. It's really near and dear

    • 17 min
    Power & Benefit on the Plate: A History of Food in Durham, NC

    Power & Benefit on the Plate: A History of Food in Durham, NC

    So why is the food history of a community so important? And can Durham's food history be applied to other places? Who owns land, who can grow food and make a living doing so, and who has access to food, any food, least of all healthy food? The answers are deeply influenced by historical policies and practices. These in retrospect, clearly exacerbated, supported, and even created food related calamities, the dual burden communities face of both food insecurity and diet related chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. Understanding these practices is important in creating change. And in understanding that conditions imposed on neighborhoods rather than personal failings of residents explain what we see today.
    This is a story about Durham, North Carolina. These days, Durham is famous as one of the South's foodiest towns and known for its award-winning chefs, thriving restaurant scene, and reverence for even the most humble foods served with down-home charm. But Durham, just like the rest of North Carolina, like other states and other countries, has discouraging any high rates of food insecurity. This is juxtaposed to high rates as well of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related chronic diseases. It is helpful of course, to know how things are now, but a more complex and highly important question is how we got here. Enter history. What can be learned from a detailed historical analysis, in this case of Durham, and how relevant is this information to other places?
     
    The Duke World Food Policy Center worked with historian, Melissa Norton to write a report titled, "Power and Benefit On The Plate The History of Food in Durham, North Carolina". This recording is an abridged version of that report and features documented historical quotes from the relevant periods in history as read by contemporary voices.
     
    Let's go back to the beginning. Durham, North Carolina is the ancestral home of the Occaneechi, the Eno, the Adshusheer and the Shocco indigenous peoples. Before European colonizers came, land was not something that people owned. Instead land and its natural resources were shared so that everyone could benefit.
     
    “To our people land was everything, identity, our connection to our ancestors, our pharmacy, the source of all that sustained us. Our lands, were where our responsibility to the world was enacted, sacred ground. It belonged to itself. It was a gift, not a commodity. It could never be bought or sold.”  Robin Kimmerer, Potawatomi Nation.
     
    Durham's tribes and clans supported themselves through hunting, foraging and communal farming. They managed the habitat for fish, fowl and other wild animal populations. They used controlled fires to clear land, had complex farming irrigation systems and created a network of roads for trade and exchange. When European settler colonists came into North Carolina life for indigenous people changed dramatically. At first, they taught colonists how to forage and clear land, what to plant and how to care for crops. The colonists came to North Carolina believed that they had the spiritual, political and legal blessing of Pope Alexander the sixth through the doctrine of discovery. This decree labeled indigenous peoples as subhuman because they were not Christian and treated their land as available for the taking.
     
    “The Indians are really better to us than we are to them. They always give us rituals at their quarters and take care we are armed against hunger and thirst. We do not do so by them, generally speaking, but let them walk by our doors hungry and do not often relieve them. We look upon them with scorn and disdain and think them little better than beasts in humane shape. Though if we're examined, we shall find that for all our religion and education, we possess more moralities and evil than these savages do not.” John Lawson, English settler colonist in North Carolina, 1709.
     
    Settlers forced native people off ancestral homelands and took possession o

    • 52 min
    The Power & Potential of Co-ops for Economic Development Through Food

    The Power & Potential of Co-ops for Economic Development Through Food

    Today, we're talking to a change management leader, a person who is advancing social justice through food co-ops. Darnell Adams co-leads Firebrand Cooperative, a new consultancy helping nonprofits, cooperatives, and other socially responsible organizations throughout the US. In a recent article, she wrote for "Nonprofit Quarterly" that a food co-op isn't a luxury item, but the lifeblood of their communities.
    Interview Summary
     
    So let's jump right in. You've written that a new wave of leaders is organizing in communities, Black communities, Latinx, Indigenous, rural, immigrant communities, and communities lacking in wealth overall. How have your experiences led your work in supporting economic development through food?
     
    Yeah, it's such an interesting journey I've been on. So I'm going to step back just a minute to say how I landed in the places that I've started to work. Certainly my interest in food is shaped by my experience in the world and my childhood experiences. My mother, who is an immigrant, my father, who's an immigrant - their relation to food and the African diaspora. I grew up understanding what food meant in terms of identity, in terms of nutrition, etc. So I had my own thoughts about food certainly from those experiences, and also had my own business as a caterer for many years. I had that understanding of what it means to be a small business, and launching a business and all of the trials and tribulations of doing that. And in the process of running that business I came to find a location where I could situate that business in a way that was affordable to me using a shared kitchen space that was located in Boston, Massachusetts. Then I really started to develop a broader understanding of some of the economic considerations, not just mine, but many of the producers were having in terms of how to run a viable business, and what supports were needed or missing in their experiences. It's kind of a long story and I won't get into it how it happened, but it so happened that at a certain point, I began a new career as managing director of that shared space kitchen. That was a whole leap in terms of thinking about not just my small catering business, but supporting many businesses, whether they be food trucks, caterers, producers of something that was a shelf staple product or something like that. Many of those business owners were immigrants, many were women or otherwise not having the amount of capital to be able to just open up their own spaces.
     
    Tell us a little bit more, if you would, about the kitchen itself and what kind of work it did?
     
    Oh, sure. So the kitchen, and there are now several across the country, but at that time, there were very few of them. It was a shared space that was initially run by a CDFI - a community development funding institution - who was able to obtain funding to open up a kitchen space knowing that there were many people who wanted to run food businesses, or start a food business, but were unable to because of the cost of actually renting out a space. They needed space to use and that would be inspected by inspectional services and given the green light to work and sell their products. So the kitchen did actually aid some caterers and other people who were working underground in their own houses, not being certified, etc., and therefore not able to expand their business. The idea of shared kitchens is really, really important. Certainly it was the way that I was able to launch my business and able to run it for some years because it was affordable to me. And at that one location was able to grow the business and actually move the location to a bigger space. I have a really long story there, but it's CommonWealth Kitchen in Boston and it is still thriving. They were able to actually buy the building recently, and the space that is still producing quite a lot of businesses that are thriving and also moving into their own spaces. The kitchen is able to give the support,

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

shatishaw ,

I love this podcast!

The topics and guests are very interesting. I learn so much about the community and food policy.

DTLASam ,

Great topics

The topics are spot on and the discussions very interesting and authentic. I love that the guests on the show are in the thick of the work making change happen.

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