Blog: Education

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March 23-24, 2010 Boston, MA   Do you know how many tomatoes a Florida farmworker has to pick in order to fill one 32-lb bucket? Do you know how many buckets Florida farmworkers have to fill in an hour in order to make the FL minimum wage?   These were the questions I asked students at Emmanuel College (Boston, MA) and Lesley University (Cambridge, MA) to answer during a recent visit. As students poured through the doors of the café, pushing past each other and trying to beat the lunch lines, I stood by the entrance shouting “Answer two quick questions and win a free pizza party!” And I was happy to learn that even though I’m almost a full year out of college, some things haven’t changed: students still love pizza, (especially when it’s free :0)   The purpose […]

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   By Vera Chang, West Coast Fellow, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation Here is my latest piece on our Triple Pundit business of sustainable agriculture series: When Commodities Traders See Tomato Pickers in Action. It’s about the Student Farmworker Alliance and Farmworker Rights Workshop I participated in at Strengthening the Roots: Food and Justice Convergence.

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Last week (2/22/10) East Coast Fellow Carolina Fojo visited Oberlin College and Case Western University for two very different but very successful events about social issues that relate to the very food we eat. Here’s a rundown of what happened: Oberlin College: The Oberlin crowd at my event was pretty liberal, well-versed on many of these issues, and asked some good, challenging questions. What made this event unique, however, was that after my presentation we set up a sort of “Foodie Fair”, in which several on-campus groups (animal rights, slow food, carbon sequestration research, composting/gardening, etc.) put together signs, and set themselves up around the room next door. Once my presentation was done, the crowd shifted to that room to continue the conversation about how to improve the food we eat.    The “Food Fair” was extremely successful. Here’s one example: […]

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East Coast Fellow at Duke University! Two weeks ago was college visit number three, Duke University. On Monday night, I went to the Dusdac meeting (Duke’s Dining Committee) and met with a lively, rambunctious group of students. They asked questions like “Just to play devil’s advocate, WHY should I care about those hens anyway?” Another highlight from the Dusdac meeting was that I got to talking with an Assistant Professor/Nutritionist at Duke (who had attended the meeting), and she liked my presentation so much she asked me to come back and give a lecture in one of her classes! Tuesday night was the Story Behind the Food event. The group was extremely attentive, and there was a nice range of interests—animal rights, reusable containers on campus, an enviro awareness group, on-campus gardens, etc. They asked well-informed, intelligent questions, and Nate […]

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02/12/10   Last week was “Food Week: Eat to Live” at the University of Pennsylvania. The students at Penn truly stepped up to the plate, not only helping to coordinate one event, but 6!! It was truly a spectacular week, full of delicious food and passion for food issues.   Here’s how it all happened: In December I was connected with Professor Mary Summers, who teaches “Politics of Food”. Professor Summers, in turn, connected me with about 20 very determined student activists—most of them didn’t know each other, but all cared about different food issues. A few of them had been throwing around the idea of doing an entire week of Food issues at Penn, but nothing concrete had yet materialized. We did a giant conference call; I told them I’d be there the week of Feb 1—and Food Week […]

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Most of my work for Bon Appétit this past month and a half has been research-oriented. Since I’m going to be working with farmers and speaking to students about issues of food sustainability, I need to understand the issues themselves well. Here are a few facts I’ve learned thus far… More to come in my next vlog!

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(This vlog was inspired by a conversation I had with my cousin last week.) Part of our job as Fellows this year is going to be speaking with students at universities and trying to raise awareness about issues of food sustainability. I’m excited about this aspect of our job because I’ve always been a big believer in raising awareness. But I have to admit that I often find myself asking whether raising awareness is really the best way to make social change happen. The fact is, in today’s world we’re all very busy… So does that mean we’re too busy to spend time trying to change our world? Or are activists correct in believing that if you can just get the information out to people, they’ll care, and they’ll do something about it?