The Future of Food in Arizona: Memories of Food to Build a Sustainable Food System
We are all aware the problems and challenges with our current food system. In light of those pressing issues, we, a group of ASU humanities faculty and community partners, have embarked on a project to envision and design what the Phoenix area food system ought to be in 2040. “Dinner 2040” is the project culminating in an event over a meal where researchers and community members will in have a layered conversation about what the food system in Phoenix in 2040 ought to be and how we get there. If we want to ensure a sustainable food system in Phoenix, one that respects Historical, Cultural, and Place-based Practices, supports Sustaining Ecological Health, encourages Culinary Innovations for Human Health, ensures Food Justice, Social Justice, and Food Sovereignty—we are asking what should we be doing now to get to that future.
Joan McGregor is a professor of philosophy in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies at ASU as well as an adjunct professor in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Approaching the issue of food sustainability through ethics, Joan offers a unique perspective on the idea of food systems. She believes by looking at the ethics of food systems people move beyond seeing sustainability as a scientific problem and address the problem as a manageable part of their everyday lives. In the development of Dinner 2040 with her team Joan sought to make the food systems about the people directly affected by the food crisis. Though she believes there is no overnight solution, she does believe that the forum that Dinner 2040 provides begins the process of thinking about local solutions.
Cindy Gentry is the Food Systems coordinator at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. Growing up in a working class family, Cindy became aware of the food access crisis in the U.S. at a young age. Since then she has been involved in several social justice organizations to combat this issue including the Food Bank Association and the Community Food Security Coalition. She was also one of the first activists working to bring farmers’ markets to Maricopa County. Cindy’s work has focused on bringing an accessible local food economy to those in need. She continues to focus on the education of the public and programs to help the less fortunate have access to fresh local food.
Interview with J.D. Hill, co-founder of Recycled City
J.D. Hill is the co-founder of Recycled City LLC a business devoted to building a revolving relationship within the local food economy by limiting food waste. His business provides materials to create compost out of waste materials for residential customers and business. J.D.’s goals with his business are to inspire the community to participate in their local food economy, promote activism, focus on building farm land, and encourage a green economy in the Valley area. He is an ASU grad with degrees from the School of Sustainability and the W.P. Carey School of Business. This knowledge has shaped his view toward the ability of green businesses to flourish in the Phoenix area.
Interview with Natalie Morris, Adjunct Faculty - Sustainable Food Systems Program, Mesa Community College
Natalie Morris is an instructor at Mesa Community College School of Sustainability and a promoter of Local First Arizona. She uses her deep love of food that she developed at a young age to develop a career around food systems. Experiences both in culinary school and her travels abroad helped Natalie to develop a passion for local food systems and education. One of her biggest projects to achieve this goal was Truck Farm Arizona, a mobile farm focused on the experience, education, and message of hope to under privileged youth. This project helped to show the next generation the importance and possibilities of growing local produce. Natalie also took her positive attitude to help Good Food Finder, now merging with Local First Arizona, to help connect the community, farmers, and local businesses to create a local food economy that promotes sustainability. Natalie’s focus goes beyond the classroom as she seeks to educate her community, focus on sustainability on a day to day level, and actively seek to grow Arizona’s local food systems.
Sustainable Foods Systems/Café @ Rio Salado College
Michael Hodgins is the Director of Sustainable Foods Systems at the Café at Rio Salado College. His experience working within the kitchen at a young age gave him exposure to seasonal and local foods. This experience shaped Michael’s passion toward food as well as his approach to food economies. The primary focus for Michael over the past 10 years has been to connect local farmers to businesses in order to create the infrastructure for a working food economy. Education of the community has also become a priority so the growth of the local economy can continue to grow. Business within the food industry is a large part of the change that Michael focuses on addressing whether it be federal subsidies that prevent smaller business from purchasing local grown food or the competition small farms face from national conglomerates. His perspectives focus on changing how we view all aspects of the food industry.
Jayson Matthews is the Director of Enduring Hunger for Valley of the Sun United Way. Growing up in poverty has given Jayson a unique perspective that focuses on less fortunate communities. His emphasis has been giving those who are most financially challenged access to fresh, local food. Coordinating support and funds to end hunger within Maricopa County has been a challenge but it has developed Jayson’s abilities to orient his goals while still being grounded in the community. One of his biggest concerns for this project is food insecurity, or the inability to have access to food. It is message that has been stigmatized that has prevented many from fighting poverty. His organization seeks to remedy this problem through a support network so that those who are struggling have a place to get food. This way these members can make better decisions for themselves and their families.
Interview with Ashley Schimke, Farm to School Specialist for Arizona Department of Education
Ashley Schimke is the Farm to School Specialist for the Arizona Department of Education. Her experience working in the Phoenix community gave her an introduction to the struggles of the less fortunate within the Valley. Working with the Arizona Department of Education Ashley had the opportunity to bridge the gap between the education system and local producers. She seeks to give students the nutrition to focus and learn as well as the education to make healthy choices. Understanding food systems become more of an experience for students, which promotes a continual interest. Her work engages the next generation in an effort to change how they understand their environment and their food.
Bob McClendon is the owner of McClendon Select Farm. He started engaging with his local food economy through farmer’s markets then later engaged with local chefs. The organic movement that Bob has been a part of has reached not only personal customers but businesses as well. Though he has such as range of customers, Bob continues to be directly involved with the farming process. The true passion that Bob has toward the local food movement drives him to inspire others with his story so that others feel more connected to their food and community.
Interview with Mr. Arnott Duncan, owner of Duncan Family Farms, Inc.
Arnott Duncan is the owner of Duncan Family Farms. Farming runs in Arnott’s veins. He is a third generation farmer who has developed a deep connect to his local economy. However, interacting with Arizona food systems is not his only goal. Arnott also is actively engaged with educating the community about local produce. His farm provided U-Pick opportunities to the local community to provide people with in engaging experience toward food. The many years Arnott spent in the food industry has taught him that food, family, and community change the way we think but what we choose to do with that makes the difference in how we shape the world.