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Food Literacy For All: Wayne Roberts, "Make America's cities great again: How food policy can heal and overcome deep social divides"

Food Literacy For All: Wayne Roberts, "Make America's cities great again: How food policy can heal and overcome deep social divides"

One dominant element of the American spirit is positive-ism. How much time do social cause leaders spend promoting the positive, as distinct from opposing the negative? How much energy is invested in being for, not against, making the alternatives visible, viable and actionable? Food is made for actionism, as shown by the growth of farmers markets (is there a more pleasant tool for overcoming urban-rural divide?), craft beer, urban agriculture, and hundreds of artisanal products that are rocking the food world. Part of actionism is recognizing that Trumpists did not make a clean sweep of all levels of government. They did not win at the municipal or county or regional or school board level. They did not win at the level of popular organizations, such as ratepayers groups, and thousands of community groups that constitute the fundamental level of government — self-government. These levels of governance are wide-open. What are we waiting for? Wayne Roberts will speak about the role that food, and cities in particular, can play in healing the deep social divides made more apparent under the Trump Administration. 

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Wayne Roberts is a Canadian food policy analyst and writer, widely respected for the role he played for 10 years (2000-2010) as the manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council, a citizen body of 30 food activists and experts widely recognized for its innovative approach to food security. Roberts earned a Ph.D. in social and economic history from the University of Toronto in 1978, has received numerous awards for his work on environmental issues and has written 12 books, including The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food (2008) and Food for City Building: A Field Guide for Planners, Actionists & Entrepreneurs (2014). He has been invited to speak around the world on strategies that combine food security, community empowerment, environmental improvement, social equity and job creation.

Food Literacy for All (NRE.639.038 and ENVIRON305.003) will be structured as an evening lecture series, featuring different guest speakers each week to address diverse challenges and opportunities of both domestic and global food systems. The course is designed to prioritize engaged scholarship that connects theory and practice. By bringing national and global leaders, we aim to ignite new conversations and deepen existing commitments to building more equitable, health-promoting, and ecologically sustainable food systems.

This community-academic partnership course will be co-led by Jennifer Blesh, agroecologist and Assistant Professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, Malik Yakini, Executive Director and a co-founder of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and Lilly Fink Shapiro, Program Manager for the Sustainable Food Systems Initiative. UM students can enroll in the course for credit and community members can attend the series for free (signup here). Food Literacy for All will take place Tuesday evenings during the winter semester of 2017.