Eat, Drink, Think
Eat, Drink, Think

Episode · 2 months ago

Hunger in North America with Ben Perkins, Leanne Brown, and Mark Winne

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode of Eat, Drink, Think we’re digging into the important issue of Hunger. Unfortunately, it’s more timely than ever. Last year saw the first uptick in food insecurity in America in years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our guests are:

Ben Perkins, CEO of Wholesome Wave, a national nonprofit working to increase access to healthy food for all. Before joining Wholesome Wave, Ben held leadership roles with the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. He’s also an ordained minister with a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. 

Leanne Brown, author of the cookbook Good & Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day. The book began as her Master’s thesis project in food studies at NYU. She wrote it to help people on a tight budget, especially SNAP recipients. She has always offered the book as a free PDF and it’s been downloaded more than 15 million times. 

Mark Winne is a food activist who’s worked on issues related to hunger and nutrition for 50 years. He’s an author and a Senior Advisor to the Food Policy Networks Project at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future. His most recent book, Food Town USA, explores seven often-overlooked American cities that are now leading the food movement.

I'm toy manning and this is eat, drinknink, a podcast brought to you by edible communities, the Game SpiritAward, winning network of magazines published across the US and Canada.Together we celebrate all things: Local and sustainable in the food world. Inthis episode for digging into the important issue of hunger.Unfortunately, it's more timely than ever. Last year I saw the first uptickin food and security in America in several years because of the Covinnineteen pandemic. On today's episode I talked to authorand activist Mark Winnie, whose work on hunger spends an astonishing fiveDickens for another perspective. On the topic,we've got lean Brown. She literally wrote the book on how to eat well on asnap budget. But let's start with my conversation with Ben Harton. Ben Parkins is CEO of wholesome wave, anational non profit working to increase access to healthy food for all beforejoining wholesome waves, ben held leadership rolls with the AmericanHeart Association and the American Stroke Association. He is also anordained minister with a Master's degree from Harvard Divinity School Welcome Ben. Thank you so much forbeing here. We thank you. It's great being here,you parked in public health for a very long time, as I understand it, but Ibelieve wholesome wave is the first organization you've led that has aspecific food focus. Why that? Why that did you want to make that shift? Well? Actually, interestingly enough,before I started with wholesome wave, I was with the American Heart Association,and it was during in my six year tenure at the heart association that last year,Ovid hit and at the heart Asso station food was always an issue, a focus, andwhen that, when Ovid hit, of course, it became even more of a focus. I had alsoduring that time been recruited to be on the board of a local non profit inthe Boston area that also focused on food security, and so during that timeI developed an interest in the issue of food and nutrition security, and thisopportunity was presented to lead the organization to lead wholesome wave andone of the things that really appeal to me about possom wave was its focus onthe role of policy in impacting population health. In my work andpublic health, I had done a lot of work in terms of individual and communitylevel kinds of interventions, but increasingly realized that, if we'retruly going to impact the health of thousands and millions of folks that weneed to look at things like policy and because wholesome wave, its originswere really in this idea of looking at policy and impacting policy forpopulation health. I was really intrigued with the opportunity to leadan organization that had a deep understanding of how to movepopulations towards help. Yes, as you know, I wrote about wholetime way,founder, Michele Nashan for the edible communities magazine and we talked alot about those policies. Wholesome life was a pioneer in snap, doublingprograms and farmers markets and grocery stores. So obviously the twoare very interconnected. Another thing that Michele and I talked about- was ashift that wholesome lave is making to focusing from on food and security tomore of nutrition and security, and I wonder if you would give me yourperspective on the difference between those two terms, how do you define foodinsecurity or security versus nutrition insecurity? Yeah? That's a that's agreat question and in many ways it goes back to the very founding of theorganization. Michelle has said that it's not just about getting people food,it's about getting people the right food and, in our case healthy pros,healthy fruits and vegetables. So the idea here is that there one way tothink about food is there's this sort of notion of foodsthat are energy dense. So they get a lot of calories out of them and that'simportant having meeting a daily require of calories to feel the body isimportant and it's also important to have foods.That are what we call nutrient dents, so foods that not only fill yourstomach. U, but also give you the...

...proper nutrients so that you operate at an optimal level. Sofoods that are energy dense may not necessarily be nutrient dense, and sowe want to also make sure that the folk that we focus on foods and, in our caseagain healthy fruits and vegetables, that we know to the nutrients, becausethat's a key component of health people can get enough calories and stilltheoretically be starving. In the sense that their body isn't getting thenutrients that it needs to function optimally, yeah I mean that's where Ireally see an overlap between your work of the American Heart Association andthe American Stroke Association and this work, because it's those nutrientdences that are associated with a better health outcomes and preventionof diseases like heart disease. Correct, absolutely you've said that your toppriority at wholesome wave is insuring. Poverty is not a barrier to choosingfruits and vegetables, and I did mention the snap doubling program fromwholesome wave now here in the middle of thousand and twenty one. How is awholesome wave working towards the goal of removing those barriers to choosingfruits and vegetables so key to removing those barriers isreally it sort of goes back to the beginning of our conversation, which isaround looking at opportunities to impact policies so key to our work, we're looking at waysto imbed the concept of produce, prescription programs into both federaland state level policy, because again, what we know is that if you can getsomething in better than policy in this taste, Medicare Medicaid you get scalein a way that, if we're just doing individual programs here and there,while certainly it's great for the communities, it's not going to it's notscaled and therefore, if we're talking about the health of the most vulnerablefolks and we're talking about millions and millions of people who arenutrition and secure a part of that has to be the role ofpolicy right. We even as we continue having our programs in variouscommunities throughout the country. Again, we realize that the goalstandard the Holy Grail is around federal and state policy. Now youmentioned the produce prescription program. Can you just briefly describethat program for listeners that might not be familiar with it, so the protest prescription program isessentially a lot like it sounds. The idea is, if I am someone who is, has has a chronic disease like heartdisease or diabetes or I'm obese, or I am trending towards having somethinglike hypertension or diabetes, and my health care provider in a caving say aroutine screen make its a physical or whatever does a kind of screening todetermine that I am either at risk, or I have a particular chronic healthcondition that provider can write a prescription for healthy produce, and then I takethat prescription and depending on the type of program, the particular the wayyou fulfill the prescription will vary, and that really depends on thecommunity who we're working with. But the the fulfilment can look, somethinglike a voucher that you take to a farmer's market or you take to asupermarket or it could be a gift car that you take to a supermarket or canbe like a debit card that you can take to a supermarket or farmers market, orthings like that and it's pre loaded with the benefit, and I then redeem itfor healthy fruits and vegetables and what happens in any true produceprescription program. Because again I have a health care provider WHO's.Making. That referral is that that providers also monitoring my particularhealth metric, so, for instance, body mass index or blood blue coast like aone C, which measures a blood goo coast over a roughly three month period or mymy hypertension for my blood pressure. Things like that. So looking at thosemetrics and following them over time as a way to show the impact of consuminghealthy fruits and vegetables on those various health metrics and it seems sopowerful when it comes to a condition...

...like prediabetes, which you know affectsuch a large number of people and during that time, in typical medicine,nothing is very little is done to prevent the progression of the disease.But we know that the diether interventions like eating morevegetables can really prevent it from becoming full blown diabetes. So to meit seems like a very ambitious and potentially impactfulproject. Absolutely you talked about medicating Medicare. What do you? Whatdo you think are be obstacles to achieving that? Having that funded mymedicate and Medicare at the federal level yeah, I think the biggestchallenge is that we need more data to make the case for the cost savings onthe system, at the end of the day, being able to show an improvement inhealth care outcomes, a reduction and health care cost and an improvement ofpatient experience. Those are sort of the three core elements of what we callsort of the value based Care Mon and so everything that we do in terms ofprotus prescription. We want to collect data, the sort of classic data, butalso, as importantly, there are things like stories so being able to haveconversations with folks who've been in those programs who tell really powerfulstories about the impact not just on them, but in fact, often on theirentire family, because what we know is that we are talking about vulnerablecommunities, vulnerable folks and we're not simply talking about the individualor the identified patient or index patient, but they're also part of afamily system, and so those kinds of stories are incredibly powerful interms of making the case. So the stories along with the data are P interms of advocating and furthering policy, so that we achieve the theultimate goal again of getting this embedded as a permanent part of of someof the federal and state policy right. I think and hope you'll find out thattreating something like prediabetes with more fruits and vegetables iscertainly a more cost. Effective approach than the the drugs that become you know, thestandard of treatment after a person has diabetes. Absolutely. Yes, I was in trained to see that you are inno deigned, minister and I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit abouthow your role as a minister informs your work in the world of nutritionsecurity. So the best way to answer that, I think for me, a lot ofwhat I say is that my spirituality is really all about thisworld. It's very this worldly, I'm not too concerned with the after life thatwill take care of itself, and so one of the key ways. I feel that I can liveout. My spirituality and my faith is through the work in the here and now inthe world to make it more just to remove barriers to access, in this casewe're talking about healthy fruits and vegetables. But of course, I've been inpublic health for two decades and I've worked in HIV AIDS as well. On a bigpart of my work, there was around increasing access to preventative resources tools, condomsposted pre exposure, propolis those sorts of things, but the idea is how isthe work that I am doing contributing to human flourishing, and so I like tosay I want to create. I want to be a part of creating a world where you haveheaven on earth and that the earth is so fabulous that there's no need forheaven, and so that's really sort of my philosophy, and so I see this workaround food and nutrition, improving nutrition security or accessto nutritious food as one way to contribute to human flourishing plainexample. I think that's so moving in such a interesting perspective to thinkabout food and nutrition, advocacy and social justice work as a spiritualpractice. I'm going to be thinking about that for a long time to come,yeah. Well, thank you very much for being onthe podcast. It was such a pleasure to talk to you Ben. Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here that was Ben Parkins, CEO of wholesomewave. You can learn more about all the work that wholesome wave is doing atwholesome wave dot, Org...

Lean, browns cook book, good and cheapeat well on four dollars a day began as her master's desis project in FoodStudies at n y. u she wrote it to help people on a tight budget, especiallysnap recipients. She's always offered the books for free as a PDF, and it'sbeen downloaded more than fifteen million times. You can buy a printedcopy of it as well, and if you do, another copy will be given away tosomeone who needs it. Today there are more than five hundred thousand copiesin Prince Wow. He terere some numbers welcomely an I joy nice to be here. It's been a fewyears since good into was published, but it feels very relevant to me now,especially due to the uptick en food and security around the pandemic lastyear. Is it still being downloaded regularly? Did you see more peopledownloading it in two thousand and twenty? Yes, I mean here's the thingit's a little hard to sort of tell ourselves as like a really helpful sortof dad. A driven story in that way from those numbers because the numbers aresort of because of the nature of the Internet, the way because the freedownload kind of the more it gets out there, the more it's linked indifferent places, the more it just gets downloaded generally. So it has beensort of going up steadily in this sort of straight magical way, and I did Ididn't exactly. I don't feel comfortable saying: Oh, it definitelywent up more sort of during the pandemic, but what I did experiencesort of anic totally was a lot more people reaching out to me once again hearing more from mediaagain just sort of hearing more deliberatelyfrom people once getten. As so many people were struggling. It's not. Imean, I think the thing is the relevance of it remains sort ofconstant as we live in this world where, as a culture, we sort of you know it'san awful thing to say that it's the truth. It's that we have sort of saidit's okay for a lot of people to be hungry and to sort of not have theirneeds met. It is a Marinia issue, it's always an issue right and it's one thatI know you and I and many people are always working on always willing tofight on and trying to shift. But it's it's a perennial sort of cultural blindspot thing that we accept, because is always no but but obviouslyyour point is of course well taken that during the pandemic. At the same time,I think so many people were reorienting themselves kind of almost re reallyhaving to go through the sort of foreship of how they felt aboutthemselves in the kitchen and how they had to manage sort of their food intakeand the way that they feed their bodies and their food budget. Well, exactlyyes, and so all of that is linked to budget and linked to so many sort ofbehaviors that that we experience, and so because of that- and it was so cuteand so kind of intense, and I think frankly, for many people, whether ittruly was survival or not, because in many cases yes, you know when we'retalking about budget. It's like survival like in the truest sense, butalso in this sort of other, maybe less acute, less like physical sense more inan emotional way. I think many people were feeling very, very worried and anxious about itand like can I keep up with this? Do I know how to feed myself this way? You know how do I handle this withperhaps a home full of kids there, all the time and they're used to gettingmeals from different places, all those kinds of factors that can feel can feelreally overwhelming in the body, even if they are sort of directly survivalbased yeah, as I've explored the topic of hunger for this season in edible communities, magazines.You know our future stories about hunger. I've definitely encounteredsort of two schools of thought of dealing with insecurity. One of them isthat people need more money. Basically, they need more, you know money, so theycan buy more healthy fruits and vegetables and there's another threadthat people need more education in the kitchen. People need recipes and theyneed to learn how to cook, and I it seems like based on your work that youwould fall. I mean I think, it's obvious, that people need both, but youhave done a lot in the education space. Do you think that people do have an impression of the cookingskills in general and North America? Now Your Canadian and you live here inthe states? What is your take on People's current? Culinary Literacy?Shall we say? Well, so I guess if I don't yeah agreeexactly in that binary like, I totally think that everyone needs more money, Imean, and I truly think in terms of like the quickest road to be helpful. Ithink more money is the choice. I would, I would say that pretty unequivocallywhereas- and I think the reason that you see me sort of working in this areaaround education and empowerment is because that's sort of where I havesomething to give o. You know, that's...

...like that's what I can offer and Ibelieve, obviously, that it very much goes hand in hand, but I would say Iguess it's not even just about education, it's really about somethingdeeper, and that is a self, a belief in yourself that you can do it, which is,I think, what, in my experience, talking with many many people, you know cooking itself is prettysimple: It's just it's physical! It's a physical act! It's something that you can watch avideo. You can read a book, you can watch someone. Do it there's so manyways into learning it, and you know you can literally just if you can makeyourself a sandwich. I if you can boil yourself some pasta. If you can open acan of beans, I mix it with something. Then you can cook like it really isthat simple you can sort of have success, have a very low bar to success,and yet what I know it is is that for manypeople that just really isn't not only is that sort of doesn't feel likeenough it. Actually, it feels like something that they're really lackingand a lot of people who grow up, maybe not so lucky to have a home life wherethere is a lot of cooking and food preparation, sort of presented in asort of healthy manner. I don't mean healthy in the sense of like forts andvegetables, but I just mean in the sense of it's present. You know it'snot something that has to be a really big deal or that's emotionally, fraughtor sort of heavy or loaded in any way. But it's just a part of people's lives,and many people do not have that, and I think that that sort of the biggerthing is really this belief that that tortures like genuine. I know thatsounds so over raw, but it really is true that so so many people myselfincluded at many times. I noticed this within myself that we can just reallyput so much pressure on creating meals in a particular way, and I think, whenyou sort of have wol background in it and suddenly you're off in an adultrole, whether it's because you know you're young and on your own for thefirst time or maybe you have children or a family or something has shiftedand you're, suddenly feeling a need to take on more in the kitchen and don'tfeel up for it. That can be extremely difficult, and I find that many peopleare sort of overwhelmed and don't necessarily have the resources to sortof take it on can often give up easily or just be really really hard onthemselves and feeling like what you know really what I said at thebeginning, like if you're making a sandwich, it's okay, that is enough. Itis enough and it is a starting point and you can go, you can go further oryou can accept that as it is and accept yourself to be where that is, itdepends on how much do you enjoy it? How much time do you want to spend onit? You know I have this one friend of mine and he absolutely hates cookingand yet, at the same time I know that something that's so important to him isto have you know, meals on the table for his kid and his partner every day,and he and when I visit him, I noticed him making food for me without my having toask just like always making sure it's available at these times. You know Ihappen to know that he had a childhood that was somewhat radic and his familydidn't always provide meals on a regular basis, and so it's something tohim. That is love. It's so important to have that stability and it meanssomething to him, and so that is what drives him to create these meals, eventhough the actual act IV it doesn't, he doesn't enjoy it, and so it was soimportant. I remember when we first met. He talked to me all the time about howmuch he hated cooking and how much he resented it, and it's sort of beeninteresting to watch him as we've had conversations over the years. I can seehim being more comfortable with himself now and he makes these sort of simplemeals out of just a few ingredients, and but he does it regularly, he justgets it done. He still says he doesn't enjoy it, but he enjoys the act of love,that's behind it and that's where he that's his motivation from, and so so.This is a very long winded answer, but it's like. I think that these it's likethese- are these really unexplored sort of experiences that we have in thekitchen, and I think that's so much of what keeps us stuck or feeling whetherit's budget based or it's something that's budget and something more orit's something completely different. These sorts of things are: what canmake us feel so uncomfortable, so scared so anxious when we go into thekitchen and that's what can then stop us also from learning and from gettingbetter and feeling any sort of mastery is. If you always feel this, likehideous furious tension in your body, every time you cook or spend time inthe kitchen, like yeah, of course, you're going to avoid that right and ifyou have a very limited budget for food, you can't afford to make something.Have it turn out wrong and then order a pizza, so the confidence is really key.That's right, and so you have to develop this very flexible attitude,which is so hard. You know where you just have to go like okay, I'm am goingto eat whatever we make, and you know what that's okay and I think I can behard you're shoveling food that you really don't like into your a face notto blame yourself and I think, even...

...harder than that with that relationshipwith yourself sometimes can also be that relationship with other people. Ifyou have children that take care and if you're going Oh gosh, I tried to makethis thing and I did my best, but you know it really isn't good and I feelbad eating it and my kids are complaining- and you know I, of coursethey are, and so I feel like they're ungrateful, but also it isn't good and,like all those feelings, are so hard to manage, and it's like. We need todevelop these really robust sorts of emotional skills to sort of just go.You know it's okay, to have a meal that actually isn't very good. So long asit's edible, that's, okay, you still did the best and that is or you'll haveanother chance in a few hours, exactly you're going to have a chance tomorrowand just don't hold yourself. If we can let go of that and not tell ourselvestory. Well, that's how I am. I always do that. I'M A bad cook! This is what Ido it when we hold on into that than we, of course can't move forward and we'realso just making ourselves so miserable and just it hurts. You know that kindof experience and I think, learning to work through that stuff isso so important. I do think your book has lots of resources and recipes in itthat can help a home cock, build confidence. I'm I still think about the.I think you call that stuff on toast or food on toes. I really like make itsimple, and I was wondering you know it's been several years: Do you stillhave a recipe that you like to cook out with the book? A lot is: what's yourfavorite or what is what's still with you? Yes, I definitely do. I will saythat for myself, I've never been one to exactly. I don't usually make the exactsame thing over again, except sort of in broad strokes. So you know I makethe Chanania in some version or another. I make stuff on toast all the time,whether it's the exact ones from the book or if it's it's, you know someversion. I am constantly inspired by and Rita's what the book teaches like.I think that section in particulars you know, encourages you to take whateverit is that you have and make it into. You know a wonderful meal or staff, yes, and I think that isthat's sort of what, as I'm talking about all these sort of emotionalexperiences, I think that's such a sort of beautiful medicine to all those thatanxiety and all that stuff is just to have those moments where actually youcan just have success at making something on your own that isn't maybeas well. You focus because I think, if you can do that in simple ways, it's soempowering it's really an experience like a full body feeling experiencewhat Oh, I can do this all right. Well, this isn't quite the magic that or thelike, exact formula that it feels like you know, so many people experiencerecipes as basically like a chemistry assignment from high school thatthey're like about ready to fail, and it's like you know what it's really notlike, that it's actually much more like finger, painting or something and thatyou know the results are first, if you're not being graded right, exceptmaybe by your family, et your family, and then you can be like well, you guysneed to you know that we're all missed together. So why are you get to grademe? That's sort of a discussion to be had,but also you know this takes just aren't that high and I think we justneed to experience what that really feels like. So we can start Ed, and Ithink things like that doing like a simple things on tes, where it's likeyeah, I can make Toast and Oh yeah. You know what I have some Zukin I can like.I can kind of figure out how to like add some gard to that in a pan and makethat something gummy and then you have it and it's actually pretty good and itusually sort of defies your expectations in a good way. I think youjust so well. It builds that self trust right, true and competence. Yes, yeah now as part of the project that I'vebeen working on the article that we have in the in the fall issues ofetable communities, magazines and some other segments of this very podcast.I've been talking a lot about food and security versus nutrition and securityand the importance of getting nutrient dense food to people. So I thought that, given your expertiseon budget cooking, that you might have some inexpensive grocery staples fromthe Proto section that you could mention as a good thing to buy and cookwith, if you're, on a very limited budget, whether you it's a snap budgetor just a small budget yeah. So I think obvious, but certainly seasonality is really important. Soright now we're in the summer, and so you can get a lot of you know. Thingslike Zucchini, which I had just mentioned. Zucchini is very inexpensiveright now, tomatoes are cheaper than they usually are. Although I generallygot canned tomatoes, even canned corn, even at this time on your depending,can be cheaper and is really a wonderful, a wonderful product that youcan. You don't have to worry about storage and is very, very high quallity.I Yeah I mean, I think, and vegebles...

...are pretty great a lot of time, not allof them, but many of them are really great same with and frozen vegetables.Often they are already precut. You know. A frozen collie flower often is is likehalf the price of the fresh stuff. It's already chopped for you. It's ready togo, it's very easy to use in a recipe, so I do find it's sort of you're likeOh. I happen to actually be getting some more convenience for this and andit's a little less expensive as well and which is unusual and then yeah I mean it's, it's so sort of base.It almost always sounds a little bit too simple, but really yes, looking at this, the seasonal stuff,that's available like Zukin, which is so delicious and really, if you havegarlic, if you have somain onion, if you have even just as simple as saltand pepper and some anything else, that is like a tiny bit of sausage likeZucchini takes on so much flavor from other stuff, and even just salt willbring out its natural, just lovely, lovely flavor, and you can get a lot ofit for for very little, and it's just a wonderful vegetable, I think, to reallyembrace at this time of year. You know it's sort of a funny like classic. Weall are not. We all, I'm sure, like people grew up in the Midwest or inCanada, where I'm from Zukin I grows so so plentifully in people's gardens.It's almost like a weed and you, if you give a for with the garden they'll, belike. Oh my God, take my Zukin some point and it can feel like. Oh Cos. Idon't want this much to canion, but it's really really lovely. It's sort ofsomething to be embraced for that Short period of the summer, where it is soplentiful and really delicious. I understand you have a new book comingin January, two thousand and twenty one. This will be airing in the fall. So notthat far off at this point, can you tell us a little about it sure? Well, Iguess I've sort of been telling me a little bit about it in the way thatI've been answering at questions, because it's so focused on it's goingto it's called good enough and it is a cookbook, but it's also full of a lotof personal essays and sort of experiences of me personallyand sort of sharing the work that I've done and of how to feel how to feel goodwhile you're cooking, and so what I keep really thinking that it's calledgood enough. And it's very much about thinking of. Of course, your food,whatever meal is, is good enough, but also thinking, first of yourself asgood enough yourself as good enough to be able to create food. That is goodenough for you and to be able to orient yourself so that cooking can be thebeautiful act of self care that I think it really is meant to be, and it can beso so healing and that you can have at any budget, but that there's you know areality that we have to work through. I think a lot of fears and anxieties, andI know I certainly have a battle with anxiety and depression over the yearsand certainly over the last bunch of years, and since I had I had my daughter and sort of so I justtried to share that as honestly and openly as I could and share what I'velearned and in the hopes that people will be able to sort of benefit from myexperience and feel feel good about them. So I mean reallyall my recipes. I think all my recipes. It's never been, I'm always so thrilledto hear that someone sort of adapted or made changes to my recipes, because you know their starting point. I wanteveryone to make them their own and then what matters to me is that youfeel good that you feel empowered that you feel confident in your life andthat when you make food you feel good while you're doing it and that itdoesn't matter what the outcome is. You know that maybe you know if we're icinga cake together. I want us just maybe it's lobsided and goofy looking at theend, but we had a beautiful time and we felt good while we were doing it and wecelebrated that at the end and that's sort of how I want that's, that's thebook that I'm created is like about really addressing at how we feel. Whilewe make the recipes rather the outcome. Well, I'm really excited to read it. Iagree with everything you said about cooking being healing, and I I can'twait till it is available and I get to take it to my kitchen yeah. I can'twait to share with you joy. Well, thanks for being with us. Thank you that was author. Lean Brown learn moreabout her work at Lean Brown com mark winny is a food activist. WHO'sworked on issues related to hunger and nutrition. For fifty years, he's anauthor and a senior adviser to the food policy networks project at the JohnsHopkins University Center for a Livable Future. His most recent book food town,USA, explore seven often overlooked American cities that are now leadingthe food movement thanks for being with us today. Mark.Thank you for having me so I've been...

...thinking a lot lately about thedistinction between food and security and nutrition and security. I wroteabout that in my article for edible communities this season, and I'mwondering how do you feel about those terms? You have a long perspective onthis topic and it seems like the preferred terms, maybe our changing.What do you think the difference is well, the terms are always in flux, butthe main difference that I see is. First of all, we measure officiallymeasure food insecurity. It's one of the things that the US Department ofAgriculture does annually, and so there's really so fairly precisemeasures around what constitutes food and security and security, nutrition,security or insecurity is not used as commonly and generally would refer moreto it. You know an individuals or or households, nutritional health, dietaryhealth. At any point, when we think about food and security, we tend tothink of have a bigger context. We think about the socio economicconditions of a community. We also think about you know: issues aroundracial equity have entered the discussion more recently, so it Gensohave a somewhat larger context. Even more. You know terms of itsrelationship to the food system and to a particular community, butnevertheless, I think you know nutrition security is always somethingthat we are paying attention to because ultimately, or was talking about, isthe dietary health nutritional health of the individual right. I think theidea of nutrition and security is to talk about the quality of the caloriesthat people needed, not just a quantity of them absolutely right, I mean, Ithink this is it when I think about nutrition security. My my brainimmediately goes to some of the questions we have of overweight obesityand I rerented illnesses which are growing, and I would say that thoseproblems eclipse at this point those related to food insecurity. Some people may disagree with me onthat. But if you look at the numbers on the projections that have been made bypublic health officials, the growth and obesity and subsequently illnesses suchas diabetes is really astounding and very scary, I mean are projections nowthat sixty percent of the people in certain states, particularly in thesouth, will be obese, and the consequences of that for our health forquality of life for card communities is serious, very serious, yeah, bothimportant arms in the introduction to food town, USA, you define the foodmovement as the people, and I'm quoting you here. The people who are committedto healing the failures of the conventional food system with entirelynew ways of producing and distributing food. How does that intersect withhunger and food and nutrition and security? And Your View Yeah? That's a really good question.It's it's been interesting. I have the advantage, maybe a disadvantage, I'mnot sure sort of following the growth of various kinds of food activitiesover over a pretty long career, and you know there are essentially were twovery large movements. One was to you look at the quality of food. Look atwhere it's produced. Look Up. You know the the evolution of the of organicfood and its importance and sustainable production and looking at the impact offood production on the environment and people thinking about their own healthand getting you know both food. That's healthy, local, sustainable. That wasone very large stream. How you might say a river of the food movement and asomewhat parallel track was the concern about hunger, which really didn'tmanifest itself. Until probably officially E T S, the mid is, and thenwe began to see the growth and food banks, food banks having started up inthe late N S, early N S, but becoming more and more prominent across the USas a response to higher levels of poverty declines in the social welfaresystem in the US, through a politically the country. Turning against a lot ofthe set of programs, nutrition, related programs like what was them food stamps,and now it's snap. So we have this growth in hunger and awareness ofhunger. At the same time, we had a very strong awareness of where our food wascoming from and how it was produced and what the consequences of that were forour individual health and environment. Fortunately, those two movements cametogether, and now we are seeing people...

...who both sides paying attention. Youknow to the quality of the food that they're eating, where its produced, howit's produced a movement that, in the on the local side, you might say thelocal sustainable side, which was pretty much all white white light andbright, as I like to say, is now much more, I think, merged with a communitythat is coming out of of communities of color communities of color, who arejust as concerned about the fact that they're not eating very well thatthey're not eating higher on the food chain, so to speak, who are producingmore of their own food. So you know communities so that merging, whichmight seem a little confusing to people really did have the effect of at acommunity level at a very local level of people, paying attention to farmersmarkets and paying attention to urban gardens and farm a table. Restaurantsand just really a whole sort of wonderful explosion of good and healthyfood. But at the same time, they asked themselves a question and they tookresponsibility for the fact that a good portion of their community was noteating that well, that there was still high lares of food and searty. So I youknow I may sound. Sometimes I perhaps sound a little pollyannas on thissubject, but I have seen across the country in my working communities thatthere's a real coming together of of concerns about hunger and concernsabout where our food is coming from and how it is produced. I think your bookactually illustrate this really well with the case studies of the city, andI would definitely encourage anybody who wants to sort of see that mergingilluminated to check it out. It really sort of helped me connect those dots ina in a new way. Another thing that you say in the book is that you define thesuccess of a city and part by its ability to insure everyone as wellnourished. Can you tell me how incidences of food and security affectwhole communities, how it impacts people, even people who have plenty toeat and that's not an issue in their own individual life? Well, I think youdon't have to look any further than say the growth of food banks and foodpantries and emergency food sites. There's you know keep in mind that Itold people that are younger than me, and that's just about everybody thatyou know: Food Banks, weren't didn't even come on the scene until the nightlate t s we really didn't have any, and today we have over two hundred majorfood banks in this country has a really large warehouse operations, and then wehave sixty thousand plus food pantry, smaller local neighborhood, whateveryou know running from those that are very professional and professionallystaffed to those that are very, you know very much a volunteer refer, youknow, that's that's really new stuff. I mean that is not that has not been. Youknow a part of the American story for all that long and to me that representsyou know, probably the greatest individual personal commitment thatpeople have made an expression of their concern that many people in theircommunity just aren't eating that. Well, there's a lot of other reasons and lotsof other stories behind it. But you know- and I see I saw it in another way-it Companian fests itself in other ways, every community that I visited- and Iweld probably just about any significant size community that I'vebeen to it worked with over the last couple of decades. You know, looks attheir farmers market differently than they used to. For instance, they. Youknow they farmers market being the wonderful place for everybody to shop.Well, not everybody was shopping there, because a lot of the times the priceswere quite high. So we have a really a significant growth in the number ofincentive programs and coupon programs and double up buck programs that havebeen designed to incentivize lower income people to shop at farmersmarkets by making them much more affordable yeah. I wrote about thewholesome waves. Pioneering approach to those snap, doubling programs atfarmers- market, it seems to have you know, made a big difference and this ismoved into federal policy too, there's yeah term tens of millions of dollarsare made available by the US Department of Agriculture every year tocommunities to provide some different forms of incentives to people to shop, not just the farmers markets, but alsoto buy fresh proves, in some cases a conventional retail food stores so rig.You know it's all these things and there's many more examples of howcommunities are just paying attention to people in their community and andmaking sure that you know, I use the term taking care of their ownand we are actually I stole that from...

Bruce Springsteen, but he hasn't pinabout it. How do we take care of our own and taking care of our own? I thinkis a wonderful concept and you don't you don't do it on your own? It's notjust an idea of just a charitable impulse. It's also something that findshis way into public policy, and I think it's a good way to be thinking aboutour community and food gives us a great way to to to. You know, enact our bestimpulses when it comes to my favorite example of that from Gotown USA was thegood food project that you wrote about from the Central Louisiana Food Bank.Can you describe how a program like that that is essentially garden base?Is You know an improvement, or maybe just an evolution from the process-food that is so often a main stay of food banks? Well, that project isactually run by a food bank. It's run by the central in like central,Louisiana, food, bio, ter, the name right, but that's good, the central, aWathin Food Bank, yeah yeah, and you there. The the idea came from the factthat the food bank was receiving all the same kinds of donated food thatfood banks tend to get, and you know not typically the best quality foodwould, you say, was the best quality food and often times food, that'sharmful to people. So but like many food banks are caught in a quandary,you know do they say no to the groups to the companies that are donating foodor do they accept? You know the bad with the good, and so in this case theysaid. Well, you know we just can't turn the food back, but what can we do toincrease the amount of good food? Hence they got into garden. In fact,that glass count they had over a hundred community garden sites andacross a I think it was a twelve or thirteen county or parish area incentral Luisiana. So they really took a very aggressive approach to developinggardens and school gardens and Community Gardens and largerdemonstration, gardens and also providing training and support. Youknow sometimes gardens don't work that well, because the people who areinvolved with them just don't know a lot about gardening, and so, in thiscase the food banks said: okay, we're going to provide. You know, training,technical support, a lot of encouragement, and you know that was avery proactive way for them to say all right. We want to get the best andhealthiest food to people, so we're going to do everything we can doencouraging to grow your own, even though we're still going to have totake a lot of the less healthy food that we have donatorfood and if I recall correctly, you wrote about an educational component aswell, where they were teaching kids about vegetables in some cases, kidsthat couldn't even really identify vegetables. I believe you heard aboutlosing flashcards so that they could. You know this is an egg plant. This isa Ducini. I thought it was very inspiring Vir in Alexandria, Louisiana,which is where they're located their headquarters. There's a this wonderfuldemonstration garden. That was really just very kid: friendly family,friendly, very educational and I think, we're seeing this kind of thingexpanded across the country. There are tens of thousands of schools now, forinstance, that have have their own gardening program, sometimes as part oftheir farm to school efforts. You know to get more local food into theirschool, so you know gardening and kids and education has been really a veryvital and robust part of the food movement right. Another thing you talkabout a lot in a book is the power of Individual Action. I find when I talkto people about this subject. They feel a bit powerless and a littleoverwhelmed. Do you have any advice for listeners who might be inspired to makea difference and how might they go about getting involved in their owncities and towns? Well, there's you know, there's no lackof opportunity in the food world and just about any community. I mean aneasy. Usually an easy entry point would be a food pantry or a food bank,because they're always accepting volunteers. You know they really provedtheir metal in during Ovid and you no volunteers were often threatened and ina sense of you know, they were at risk o working in a food bank and beingsubject to the spread of coved, but they showed up and they did their job.And so there's a? U K, that's certainly a good opportunity. Another place thatI encourage people to get involved as with local food policy council Ye. Thishas been a growing part of the food movement. We have a almost threehundred in the United States now and you there. They look at the whole foodsystem. They look at all the parts out there and all the things we've beentalking about in many more, and so you know that's a good place to getinvolved. It's always good to be thinking, you know beyond just theimmediate project or the immediate activity itself and try to help. Youknow, educate yourself. In other words, why do we have these conditions in thiscommunity or in this country? You know...

...what are the underlying causes? Whatare some of the things I can be doing? That would maybe eliminate the routecauses up hunger. Maybe I should be looking at you know: Higher WagesHigher. You know, quality of life and living standards for people bettereducational systems. You know I sometimes easily to people becomingmore engaged politically as a solution to some of the underlying causes ofhunger yeah. Those are all great points. I'm definitely going to look in to seeif my city has a food policy council. That sounds like a really actionableinteresting way to go about it. Yeah. We all encourage me. We have somethingcalled food policy networks, Dot Org. If you go to food policy networks, DotOrg, that's the site that at the Center for a livable future at Johns Hopkins,where I spent part of my time great, we'll put that in the show, not thegood and Lis all the food ballsy councils in the United States.Wonderful! Well, thank you! So much for joining us today. Mark it's been a realpleasure to talk to. I appreciate your time thanks so much joy that is Mark Winnie. He is the authorof the Book Food Town. U Sa, and you can learn more about mark and his workat his website, which is www mark Winnica, that's m! A R K W! I N N E- thank you for joining us today on eat,drink. Think! If you like this episode, please subscribe wherever you get yourpodcast and don't forget to pick up. You are local, edible magazines. Youcan find show notes for today's episode at Edible Communition t.

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