Featured Educator: Chef Dave Smoke McCluskey
Chef Dave is a grizzly man with a scientist’s mind and a pirate’s mouth. He’s got 40 years in the culinary industry, a career composed of little formal training, dozens of restaurants, hundreds of catering gigs, and boundless curiosity. His quest for perfection on the palate stems from one simple yet elusive question of his peoples’ past: “What has been lost?”
“It’s not just about the genocide and ethnic cleansing that was perpetuated against us. It’s about the loss of foodways … the totality of what was taken,” he says. “What did our ancestors eat. Why did they cook the way they cooked?”
“What is that bacon in your beans replacing?” he asks. “Was it bear? Turkey? Hazelnut oil?”
Featured Innovator: Randolph Keaton of Vacation Vittles
At first glance, Vacation Vittles is a simple, savvy twist on the standard CSA business model. Beach vacationers staying on the shores of Wilmington, NC, order farm-fresh bags of seasonal produce grown by local farmers and delivered by youth. It’s a sunny story of short-value-chain economic development on the seashore.
But Randolph Keaton—the driving force behind Vacation Vittles—is not a person whose story begins or ends with oceanside burgers and grilled corn on the cob. Rather, Randolph uses the unjust circumstances of living in proximity to concentrated hog feeding operations, high rates of asthma and obesity, contaminated groundwater, deforestation, deteriorated soils, intensified hurricanes, and the resultant flooding—all happening within 60 miles of the beach—to educate, embolden and employ rural Black youth.
Partner Organization News: Promoting Racial Equity at the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems
The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) works across local, national, and international spheres to support just, sustainable, and regionally integrated food systems. Since its founding in 2012, the Center for Regional Food Systems has employed a combination of applied research and outreach to advance collaborative, community partnerships on projects ranging from farm to table to food system policy. CRFS recognizes the power that cross-disciplinary cooperation and collective impact have in tackling complex social issues. Accordingly, the Center has positioned itself as a “backbone organization,” fostering a network of diverse perspectives in the pursuit of a common agenda: championing good, healthy, and affordable food.
Featured Activists: Produce(n)Protest
Kandeaux is a wordsmith, activist farmer, policy wonk, and educator. Candace is systems, networks, codes, and innovation. They joined forces with fellow farmers of color—including Chicago urban hemp and viticulture legend Kenya Sample—to create a movement called Produce(n)Protest and a palette of digital power tools to make it all happen.
Produce(n)Protest asks the most weighted question in community food systems work today: how can activism intersect with agriculture to measurably upend the disparities entrenched in centuries of land-based institutional racism and economic injustice?
NAFSN National Partner FEATURE: Wallace Center Completes Inaugural Cohort of Food Systems Leaders
The Wallace Center is a national nonprofit that bridges the gap between on-the-ground food systems practitioners and funders, public agencies, and experts in the field, the Wallace Center has been working as a support system and intermediary to create resilient local and regional food systems throughout the United States for almost 35 years. As a food systems leadership organization with a focus on advancing systems change, the Wallace Center is sharpening its focus on racial equity and anti-racism and is working to ensure that all of their initiatives and programs contribute to the dismantling of structural and systemic racism in the food system. Within the Wallace Center, there are two main focus areas: Food System Leadership Team and Resilient Agriculture and Ecosystems Team. The Food System Leadership Team develops and offers an accessible and varied suite of opportunities for food systems leaders to connect and strengthen their professional skills, technical knowledge, and organizational capacity.
Featured Practitioner: Susan Chen
Working at the sensitive crossroads where human dietary behaviors intersect with food security and food waste, you will find Virginia Tech PhD candidate Susan Chen knee-deep in research.
The questions she poses are simple yet daunting. Almost philosophical. "If a child sucks the juice from an orange slice," she asks, "but doesn't actually eat the orange, is that food waste? And—if it is—then how do we measure that?" Indeed, matters of orange-sucking vs orange-eating are at the root of myriad conversations among a wide range of food systems professionals: carbohydrates with and without fiber, consumer and producer waste, convenience and scratch cooking, just to name a few.