Monica White receives two awards for her research on Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement

January 16, 2020

Nelson Institute professor of Environmental Justice, Monica White has been awarded both the 2019 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity (REI) Fellowship for her research relating to Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement.

White received the 2019 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award for her book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, which was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2018. The award is presented by the Division of Race and Ethnic Minorities Section of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, which includes a committee of academics and professionals. In selecting White for this award, the 2019 committee said, “[White] deftly blends the past and present through her methodological techniques of archive work, semi structured interviews, informal meetings, and more to provide a strong picture of how the resistance of black farmers in the past is being channeled in the present in contemporary black agriculture and food justice and sovereignty movements in places like Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and New York City.”

As a part of the award, White also received a monetary donation, which she gifted to the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives. This organization, which “provides assistance and advocates for the needs of its members in the areas of cooperative development and networking, sustainable production, marketing and community food security,” provided White with editorial support and feedback.

“I’m very grateful to have been selected for this award,” said White.

In addition to the 2019 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award, White has also been selected for the Institute for Research in the Humanities University of Wisconsin-Madison Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity (REI) Fellowship. This award allows tenure or tenure-track faculty to be released from teaching and service duties for up to two semesters so that they can focus full-time on their research. In this case, White will be working on her next book which will focus on the individuals who stayed in the south and did not participate in the Great Migration.

“There is a lot of material on the Great Migration from the south to the north but nothing concentrates on those Black families who stayed,” said White. “I want to concentrate on the cost of the migration in terms of fractured families, and for those who stayed, how they held onto institutions, land, and how they created survival strategies. Millions stayed and those stories have been overlooked, so I’m beside myself with excitement to have the opportunity to dive into my new book.”

As a part of the fellowship, White will participate in weekly meetings with other fellows where they will present their work and share their ideas.

“This is one of the many gifts I’ve had working here at UW-Madison,” said White. “My work is better because of the collaborative intelligence and the way colleagues freely give and share here. I feel fortunate to have a chance to collaborate with other fellows.”

Farmers market ‘reconnects’ with campus 

This is a project I have assisted whenever called on to do so. This university attracts a great many rural and suburban from a diverse set of backgrounds and yet has almost no attention paid to environmental sustainability or food policy in its coursework, outside of a very few entrepreneurial and committed professors.

A selected student runs the 2-3 times per semester market, and is in charge of adding vendors, running the actual market day and doing on-campus marketing. From my vantage point, this simple project has taught quite a few young adults about farming and about healthy food at a point when they are willing to take in new information. It has also opened an ongoing discussion of why the campus outlets don’t offer better and local food whenever possible.
This market is also an example of the expanded typology that we need to categorize and share so that organizers or partners don’t only expect a 30 + member heavy-on-raw-goods Saturday morning market as the only appropriate intervention. The goals of this market are closely tied to their unique structure and strategy or, what we used to call the 4Ms at Market Umbrella (well, I still call them that)-the market’s mission, management, marketing and measurement. Those first two Ms are the framework for the internal systems created and are linked (the mission should tell you what type of management/governance is required) and the following two are designed once the system of management has been created.

(By the way, this is also a framework we used for evaluating any new project at MU for many years: we first decided if any project suggested was clearly within our mission; then we discussed the type of supervision (management) that would be required and decided if we had the skills and hours to do it well; any marketing and outreach also meant ensuring that our vendors and present shoppers understood the project and of course measurement was based on the external benefits of the project but the impact on the market itself was also measured. Even if the project was successful by external measures, if the present market community felt the project had negative impacts that outweighed the positive ones, then it was not repeated or made into a actual program past pilot stage.)

Many vendors found having a farmers market on campus was beneficial towards the students. It offered students a way to buy local food. Ory explained that Locally Preserved products could easily be incorporated into easy meals for college students. One option is adding their apple pie butter to a bowl of oatmeal for flavor.

Source: Farmers’ market ‘reconnects’ with campus | lionsroarnews

 

Some background from the professor and the founder…

Green Pave: Tulane’s New Food Truck | NOLA DEFENDER

I wonder what spurred Sodexho to do this? And how about that language in the press release “will not be denied the opportunity to indulge”?

Tulane students are often accused of an ivory tower lifestyle removed from the actual City of New Orleans. However, today international food services giant Sodexo announced that Tulane kids will not be denied the opportunity to indulge in the food truck trend. On Monday (8.31), the University is rolling their own food truck, only for meal plan subscribers.

Source: Green Pave: Tulane’s New Food Truck | NOLA DEFENDER

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine-New Orleans

One of the most exciting developments in food and health is happening in my own town of New Orleans and right in my neighborhood. Very proud of this work being done by “Dr. Gourmet” (who happens to be my mom’s doctor), Tulane University and the good people of Broad Community Connections.

The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is a first-of-its kind center dedicated to comprehensively integrating nutrition and dietary intervention strategies into medical school curriculum,” said Dr. Benjamin Sachs, senior vice president and dean of Tulane University School of Medicine. “The goal is to train doctors not only how food choices affect health and disease progression but also how to translate this information in practical ways that empower patients to lead healthier lives.”

Inside Tulane Med.

Connecting Students and Farmers—Still Trying | FoodAnthropology

This campaign (just down the road from me) has already done amazing work to get the conversation and the organizing started for regional products to be used in the Southeastern Louisiana University campus purchasing process; FYI-this university sits within a very active farming community and many of its farmers sell to nearby New Orleans outlets. The campus student group Reconnect and their academic advisor Dr. David Burley continue to offer as much information and to open as many communication channels as they can to assist Aramark in understanding what the campus wants, but to no avail. In response Aramark has deliberately undermined their efforts with their embargo against meetings and their”food giveaway” tactic! Using markets as organizing wedges can be the best way to keep the pressure on head-in-the-sand institutions; big props to the Reconnect students and to Dr. Burley for keeping these efforts going year after year. If you have any resources or ideas to assist their efforts to put pressure on Aramark, feel free to email them.

Connecting Students and Farmers—Still Trying | FoodAnthropology.

Vermont Law School Helps Farmers Markets and CSAs

Good overview of the new Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School that Laurie Ristino is heading. I am honored to be part of one of their first grants to help markets, written in partnership with NOFA-VT. If the proposal is successful, legal resources will be written for markets and for CSAs over the next few years.

VT Law

Maryland Food System Map | Center for a Livable Future

This is one of my favorite food system sites . Wouldn’t it be great if each state and every regional projects collected and shared this type of visual data?

A screen shot of the Maryland Food Map circa July 2013.

A screen shot of the Maryland Food System Map circa July 2013.


Note from the organizers:

Map updates include expanded Nutrition Assistance data and updated points of interest for Maryland.
Nutrition Assistance – new and updated data about federal nutrition assistance programs.
SNAP usage by Zip Code
Schools with 50% or more children who are eligible for free and reduced cost meals
Afterschool Meal Program Sites
WIC office locations
NOTE: The following existing data layers have been moved to this category:
SNAP Participation by County
SNAP Retailers
WIC Retailers
Points of Interest – updated points of interest note changes in addresses and expand lists statewide.
Institutional sites in this list – schools and hospitals – will be expanded further this year, as we gather data and statistics about how these institutions are using local food. Here are the layers currently updated:
Hospitals
Public schools
Recreation centers
Senior centers

Maryland Food System Map | Center for a Livable Future.

Local First Webinar Series | BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

BALLE is one of my go-to organizations, partly because their deep reservoirs of knowledge come from localized economy leaders, rather than some academic institution or a centralized big-city NGO. Therefore, their knowledge and growth seems to be thoughtful and they advance real ideas. Their webinars are done well and the next two focus on local procurement in government contracts.

Local First Webinar Series | BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

Jobs seem plentiful

Even though this article seems to suggest that corporations are the target for all of these grads, I think we know that many are hoping to work in small-scaled sustainable ag. Now it’s our job to make that a reality with some serious job programs for alternative food systems.

http://usat.ly/RpLTBc

New campus HQ OK’d for Nicholls culinary school

Believe it or not, my food obsessed city of New Orleans is NOT the home of a dozen first-rate culinary schools; well, actually zero would be the number that we currently have. There has long been talk of Johnson and Wales putting a school in the NOLa area, but this program and school in a new campus headquarters along the Mississippi River Delta of Louisiana (about 50 miles outside of New Orleans) appeals to me more.
Chef John Folse has been extremely dedicated in building this program and his deep commitment to finding homegrown food professionals is commendable, as has been his long time support of the region’s farmers markets. On top of that, he has the encyclopedia on Cajun and Creole cuisine, a highly regarded reference book: Folse Encyclopedia and his cheese making operation is also excellent and one of the few artisanal cheese operations at this level in our state: Bittersweet Plantation

So, to wrap up, a good guy who has done as much as he can to build food systems in his home state. More like him are always welcome.

New campus HQ OK'd for Nicholls culinary school.

Letter to a fellow food organizer

a colleague asked me to give her my opinion on trends and jobs in the alternative food system retail sector. Here is the beginning of my response:

Okay,
Here’s a few of my cents as requested:

As you know, the food hub conversation has taken a lot of the oxygen in the room (and a lot of the funding) away from direct farmer support and farmers markets and as a result, it feels like we are simply treading water in a lot of instances. Spread too thin. Certainly in the expansion of direct marketing farming or in getting any serious cross-sector analysis, we’re not jumping ahead much of where we were 5 years ago.

It’s not that I’m against food hubs, but some of them sound a lot like city governments’ “one-stop shops” which I am not sure has worked either. And it smacks of “scaling up” which is a suspect phrase to someone like me who has seen how long it takes a market farmer to really be ready to price at his or her comfort level and to innovate products. The Cliff Notes version of the market vendor lifespan is that it takes years of a market organizations time and “expertise” to patiently get a farmer to an economic and social comfort level where they actually tell you that they are about to go bankrupt or get divorced or get ready for a kid to go to college and so thats why their business is changing so you can help it change for the better. And that those folks are RETAIL vendors, with tables and tents and signs designed to help them sell retail, and not necessarily the same ones to approach or to change to wholesale vendors seems to be missed by some wholesale organizers.

Sometimes, it also feel that we are extrapolating the wrong lessons of what has worked to build food retail points of entry. Let me say I’m probably not “up” on all of the good work being done, although I do know and learn from original thinkers like Anthony Flaccavento’s and M. Shuman’s excellent research and analysis work. It’s just that the a lot of the scaling up and institutional buying conversation seems wildly uneven from case to case and the skills are simply not embedded into the host area to keep the thing moving forward once a founder leaves or a project fails.

What is true in the food system is that currently the public health sector rules, so therefore the conversation around low-income and at-risk end users of healthy food is the main thing being funded, which is a glorious turn around for those who always had the plan to take the food system there (meaning to everyone) no matter what anti-localvore writers try to say.<
10 years ago, the talk was all about social cohesion and dynamic Main Streets and 15 years before THAT, it was all about farmers extending seasons and growing sustainably, and it was always about doing it for everyone.

The public health sector is staying put, and learning more and more about how to use our points of entry to get results in true behavior change. That sector has changed farmers markets more than any other stakeholder (and that includes government stakeholders) because there are so many levels of public health intervention that they are willing to try wild ideas which often work and because they measure everything they do. However, I expect that the needle will move again-what will be the next issue that leads food system work- environmental impacts or immigrant issues or racial inequities or food safety or civic planning? Who knows really. Of course, it will depend on the crisis that shows up.

As for careers and jobs, it is my biased opinion that the open-air farmers market continues to rule the hearts (if not the minds) of most of the public while inside the food system, organizers favor the urban farm as the winning hand. Oddly, no one has brought these two together in any meaningful way or even examined the impacts of the two combined or separately beyond simple economic data or numbers of projects, as if quantity of projects really mean anything.

I think you know my obsession is with measuring the economic, social, human and natural capital of markets AND also with finding a way to make markets the entry point for training food organizers on all aspects of food system work. I foresee a national training program with skills trained in the first 6 months which are transferrable to all parts of the food system and beyond. Along those lines, there is already a push for a voluntary market manager accreditation system (which is beginning in places like Michigan) that might be similar in neighboring states so someone would have a leg up regionally if they have taken the training.
Add to that a yearly networking session for market managers and for those in my mythical training program and you may have the beginning of a movement, instead of rising and falling tide of new markets and projects every year.

And after all, the farmers markets remain the best fulcrum for food systems, so what happens there should matter to everyone else.

What also seems true is in the last 2-3 years the terrain has shifted a great deal, away from larger “big tent” orgs partnering on everything to much more nimble entrepreneurial types sharing knowledge on common problems and tactics. Regionality may once again become the strongest card we can use to strengthen our systems across state lines and across single issue campaigns to truly achieve success. Interestingly, this seems to also true in DC, where there is not one national policy shop office that truly represents the entire membership of most food organizers. Collaboration there has been somewhat successful.
But to leave markets for a minute (hate to do it but I will) I also believe that the wholesale food system is ready for a boost. And no, food hubs so far ain’t cutting it, as far as really reshaping buying habits of purchasers and institutions like the farmers markets HAVE been successful in re shaping the consumer’s buying habits- the 2-3 percent that listen, that is. THAT, of course, is another looming issue-98% of the public who have not used alternative food systems much. And even for the 2-3 percent, what is the actual change-one season? Farmers market shoppers become CSA members or vice versa? What about how they feel about the environment or local businesses after they stick to the market?

So research is needed in examining what is actually been done and not just the PROJECTS, but the efforts of stakeholders, the typology of successful farmers, and the efficient host organizations.
I would also say that as CFSC struggles with it’s post-strategic planning transition (speaking as a Board member for a few more months that assures you that that info is not secret but quite transparent and shared within the CFSC community) and Slow Food reexamines it’s work and searches for a new leader and FMC searches for a new leader, it may turn out all of the national organizations turn more to each other and others to collaborate more closely along with racial equity orgs like GFJI and Alliance for Building Capacity and IATP.

They might. So the collaboration points are a good place to look for work. Chapters? Maybe. Community unionism? Maybe. Or simply skill building and shared measurement in all partnerships. That would help. However, as we strengthen the regional orgs and multi-sector orgs more -since I’m sure im not the only one thinking this way- that may be where the jobs end up too.

In any case or in all cases, what seems clear to be missing in many cases is the entrepreneur’s point of view, whether its a farmer, or a baker or the neighboring business that needs that market or even the market or other food retail organization itself that seem to be considered built already and left out of the capacity building money. (I guess many feel we had our money moment, huh?) So maybe we need more innovative financing too, like CSEs or granny accounts or even to attempt the other part of a currency system-loans and massive fundraising in the market community itself, using the wooden token system as a starting point.
After all, its the entrepreneur is who needs to be encouraged. The entrepreneurs are who need to be analyzed. And entrepreneurs will be multiplying as corporations shut down and lay off more and more, and so seems like the most obvious point of expansion for work opportunities.
So to paraphrase Abigail Adams, …remember the entrepreneurs and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.

Hope that helps, Darlene

University students use market to educate

Very proud of this initiative as it is in my region and I assisted slightly with it. The students have done a very solid job setting up the market structure, negotiating with the university and the hard work of reaching out to farmers and restaurants. Every one of the three market days (so far) has added a new piece; sometimes its been another farmer and sometimes it’s been some in-depth educational activity. In all cases, the farmers have benefited from good sales and the campus community is learning more about local food challenges and benefits.
No question in my mind that they are building the need and finding the partnerships to get healthy, local food at their university.
http://civileats.com/2012/07/17/the-challenge-of-real-food-at-a-southern-university/#more-15028