Friday, April 14th was the first broadcast of Lexington Food Justice Radio 🎧💯🍽⚖️🌱🌎💚
Our guests were Stephanie Wooten -- Executive Director of Glean KY. Stephanie discussed the origins of GleanKY and her recent experience at the 1st International Gleaning Symposium. Dr. Keiko Tanaka -- Professor of Sociology at UK. Dr. Tanaka specializes in studying the impact of technology on our food system.
Fascinating topics and discussion. But even more powerful was the synergy between GleanKY's work and Dr. Tanaka's research regarding food insecurity here in Lexington. Particularly how GleanKY's Neighborhood Ambassador Program connects people to fresh, healthy food options that are otherwise not easily available to them because of physical barriers like distance, safety, economics, culture and trust.
If you missed the live broadcast, here's the podcast on soundcloud 👇🏽
- GleanKY started in 2010 by 3 friends who set out to address 2 issues: food waste & hunger. They started gathering excess, fresh produce from farms, grocery stores and other food suppliers. Then distributed to feeding programs and neighborhoods of folks without easy access to fresh produce.
- GleanKY is truly rooted in grass roots activism!! From 2010-14, it existed via the hard work and efforts of an all-volunteer army of food justice warriors. A testament to these 3 friends, but more importantly, to a caring and engaged community.
- GleanKY now has paid staff to provide necessary infrastructure to allow it to grow and thrive. In fact, during the Gleaning Symposium, Stephanie realized that it is further ahead in terms of infrastructure than other gleaning orgs that may have started as offshoots of feeding programs.
- But GleanKY still relies primarily on volunteers to accomplish its Mission.
- Stephanie recently attended the 1st International Gleaning Symposium. One of the primary topics was gleaning from fruit orchards.
- The primary orchard gleaning source in our community is Reed Valley Orchard.
- Plant It Forward offers opportunities for private individuals/families to become part of the solution and become food justice warriors.
- One aspect of Dr. Tanaka's research combines the academic disciplines of sociology and agriculture to study how the changes in technology affects our food system.
- Food is an entry point for students to learn about agriculture and societal changes within every culture as reflected through their food.
- Food justice involves understanding who is harmed and who benefits from food policies and practices. And the whether there is an equal distribution of food and resources (land, water, etc.) needed to grow and raise food.
- Specific food justice concepts are (1) Use of GMO's and their effects on farming systems and consumers (2) Food Safety (3) Beginning farmers - how they are learning and building their knowledge and expertise (4) Distribution of fertile lands for farming (5) Sustainable agriculture, etc.
- Thus food justice spans the spectrum from environmental justice to economic and social justice, including fair labor practices, to understand how food is grown from seed to harvest to distribution to sale.
- On a local level, food security is a major issue where Dr. Tanaka's research has focused. Particularly given the high rate of poverty in our community.
- Physical access is a major barrier that needs to be addressed. Physical access in terms of a neighborhood's distance from a grocery store that offers fresh, healthy foods. Many people living in these neighborhoods don't have transportation.
- GleanKY's Neighborhood Ambassador Program is a gap service that eases barriers for residents in these neighborhoods where distance is a challenge.
- Cultural, economics, and other social elements can also have a negative impact on physical access.
- Bike racks, safer sidewalks, cleaner buildings (for grocery stores), peer influence (if others in the neighborhood are going to a store, that motivates others to go there too) -- can improve physical access.
- But there is hope. Dr. Tanaka discussed how her students have been transformed with the research they have done. Some now recognize that food insecurity is a major issue. One in particular realized after volunteering at God's Pantry that this is a band-aid and much more is needed to address. So the fact they are thinking outside their respective bubbles is encouraging. As they are our future food justice warriors!
- Stephanie added that continuing to learn and challenge ourselves throughout our lives is important.
- Ben discussed the need for more bike racks and safer sidewalks to improve physical access.
- Rowena added that these are doable actions items that hopefully our listeners will be motivated to alert their community leaders. Also we need to realize that even if these are not issues in our neighborhood, we ALL need to care and advocate for these improvements. Because as Dr. Tanaka stated -- we are all connected!!
Hope these notes help to process all of the information and better understand how this can help us all be food justice warriors within our community. But these are certainly no substitute for the amazing content of the show. So please take some time for a listen 😉
The next live show will be Friday, April 28th, 10 - 11 am. Our guest will be Mac Stone from Elmwood Stock Farm. We will discuss the concept of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Specifically how these programs are a foundational component that offers an avenue of financial stability for beginning and small-scale farms.
Please tune into WLXU 93.9 FM. Or if you're outside the station range, you can listen online 👉🏽 Lexington Community Radio. Once you are at the website, CLICK 👉🏽 "Listen Now!"