I wrote this paragraph as a first assignment for Dissertation Seminar, which I'm completing this spring. It's about what feeds me as a community-engaged scholar and the bigger picture I hope this work will serve.
Energizing my work is the desire to introduce a new phrase to the constellation of local/alternative food research that includes food justice, food sovereignty, food dignity, food access, and food security. This phrase is food empowerment and is based on the premise that the current industrial food regime has created drastic environmental and socioeconomic imbalances that perhaps an empowerment agenda can help correct. Despite their popularity, community-based food system (CBFS) efforts such as community gardens, community-supported agriculture, gleaning, cooperatives, etc., struggle to be self-sustaining and meet the long-term needs of hungry people. Further, where higher education institutions are involved in CBFS, their engagement with local stakeholders has produced criticism about how participants’ voices are (not) represented and how institutions’ presence in food projects may inherently re-inscribe patterns that led to the need for such projects in the first place. As a researcher, I identify as a higher education professional, foodie, gardener, community member, and low-income single parent with firsthand experience receiving assistance.
To balance out the work I'm doing with my head this year, I'm also experimenting with baking sourdough bread, working with my heart and hands. This newfound passion is very much about connection, between people and across time, and also about being here in the present, physically and
spiritually. It's so nourishing! And it's a great way to resist the lull of dark winter days in New England.
What energizes your work? Let's connect.