Antioch College Joins the March for Fair Food

Thoughts from the March in Support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Guest writer Tyler Clapsaddle is an avid participant with Antioch College Food Committee, a first year student, a lover of soil, a and music maker. He is from the sleepy city of Salem, Oregon. His favorite vegetable is the beet, although he is partial to yams. 

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Last Sunday, on March 6, five Antioch students (myself among them) traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for a march in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ boycott on Wendy’s. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers represents a powerful force within the national food justice movement. Based in Immokalee, Florida, the CIW has vigorously fought for workers’ wages and rights, the prevention of sexual harassment in agricultural fields, and against the rampant human-trafficking in agricultural labor. Their Fair Food Program has been largely successful; 14 corporations have signed on, including Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Sodexo, and Walmart. By taking part in the program, these participating vegetable buyers pay a small premium on their vegetables, generating better wages and conditions for the workers picking the very same vegetables. Wendy’s is currently the only major fast-food chain to not participate in the program, and currently refuses to even meet with Coalition representatives.

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Photo by Tyler Clapsaddle ’19

I first learned of the CIW and their work through the documentary Food Chains (2015). The film streams on Netflix and wonderfully captures the dedication of the organization. After Ruben Castilla Herrera spoke at the Antioch College Food Committee’s Food Justice Symposium, a couple students scrambled furiously to find transportation. Henry Williams ‘18 volunteered, and drove myself, Samuel Eagleburger ‘19, Lauren Gjessing ‘17, and Myrcka del Rio ‘17 to Goodale Park, where the march was set to begin. After parking and beginning our walk to the park, we could see the hundreds of people gathering, signs in hand, near a large truck donned with “Boycott Wendy’s” flags and banner that read “Wendy’s– JOIN THE FAIR FOOD PROGRAM”. Passerby stopped us on our way (the sign we were carrying pointed us out as supporters) and questioned us about why anyone would ever boycott Wendy’s.

There, in Goodale Park, an unexpected atmosphere manifested. I was struck by how communal this cause was– how the CIW did not use anger as their primary fuel for their mission, but instead used a celebration of their workers in order to bring awareness, along with efficient organizing and an appeal to morals. Whether or not this works for every campaign, the group dynamic among the 300-some protesters was open, inviting, and friendly. This continued even when we stared through the windows of the Wendy’s on N High and E 18th at the customers munching on burgers dripping with exploitation.

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Photo by Tyler Clapsaddle 

The highlight of my experience came when I saw Henry Williams ‘18, enter the Wendy’s we were circled around, only to come out a minute later absolutely furious. The pamphlets he kindly distributed among customers were thrown away immediately by the manager, and Henry was asked to leave. It made me wonder what the typical American thinks about political action and protesting.“I think protesting is an incredibly effective tool because it forces people to look at in justice in the face and not be able to conveniently turn a blind eye,” says Sam Eagleburger ‘19 on the use of protesting for justice. Although an Antioch student is not the typical American, I agree with Sam. The employees and customers at Wendy’s were made uncomfortable, were put on the spot, and were pushed to re-examine their conceptions about their food. Whether they kept their mind open to change is entirely up to them. I wonder how to bring change in the most apathetic of minds.

The march ended in a park. Bagels and hot chocolate was served. A rapper by the name Olemeca performed, and then a political theater art piece was performed in which Wendy’s was wed to Mr. Exploitation. That was as beautiful as it sounds.

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Photo by Tyler Clapsaddle

The CIW’s aim is fairness and justice in food production. It seems simple, but the current system treats migrant workers as expendable and exploitable without regard to their humanity. The CIW’s efforts are a model example of workers standing up for their rights, but Wendy’s slows down the progress toward food justice for conventional agricultural field workers. But whether or not the Wendy’s higher-ups finally decide to meet with the CIW and sign the Fair Food Agreement it is not simply up to Wendy’s. No, I am of the firm belief that Wendy’s will steer toward justice and moral treatment of workers if and only if the CIW receives overwhelming support. We, consumers, have power over large corporations only through organizing in large numbers. If you are interested in organizing further programming in support of CIW, please contact the Antioch College Food Committee at foodcommittee@antiochcollege.org.

#boycottwendys

Sources:

http://www.ciw-online.org/

http://www.fairfoodprogram.org/

Guest Writer Tyler Clapsaddle  

 

Restaurant Adventure Part 1: Yung’s Cafe

Too Tender is the Truth About Pork Stir Fry… 

On Wednesday, March 3rd Antioch College Community Life rallied a van full of hungry students to go on an outing to Yung’s Cafe, a Vietnamese Restaurant. Jennifer Berman, Associate Director of Restorative Justice, spearheaded the operation and staff members Elecia Harvey-Spain, Kerry Hooks, and Jessica Martinez were also in attendance. The restaurant was located in the middle of nowhere with a bright paint job, restrooms outside, and a neon OPEN sign.

“I thoroughly enjoy the amount of food sharing happening.” -Lee Yoyoh

” 5 Stars! A bit of a hole in the wall! I had the Stir Fried Pork and damn, those serving sizes are seriously huge. The little side dishes of pickled veggies are cute and family style. The servings were easily 2-3 meals in one, if you can practice self control. We went as a party of 15 and the waitress was very accommodating and kind. She kept our glasses full and the food was hot! What a great time! We all tried each others dishes and everyone was very happy. I would recommend it to anyone, especially if you are a fan of spicy food.” -A Yelp Review by Angelina Rodriguez

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I did not take this photo. I found it on google.

“It was a great way to relieve stress, eat great food, and have fun getting to know new people.” -Sylvia Newman ’16

“Yungs has great japchae and bulgogi and i had a great time dining with a different group of people than i normally eat with. Sharing a meal and eating until you might pass out is a great time to bond!” -Greta Treistman ’17

“Dinner at Yong’s was the best community experience I’ve had at Antioch since before I went on my first co-op, from eating delicious steaming food together to having to huddle like penguins until we figured out how to work the heat in the college van.” -Jane Foreman ’17

“Although I have been to Yung’s several times, I don’t think it has ever tasted this good to me. Maybe it was the japjae; maybe it was the overwhelmingly good pork fry that Angelina let me taste, and then take home. But I think it was the wonderful people who were there with me. Food shared with others fills me up in more ways than one. I am so grateful to eat in the company of friends, the laughter, the jokes, the kindness nourish and comfort me.” -Kijin Higashibaba ’16

…Nothing seems to bring out the Antioch love and camaraderie like a good bowl of noodles.

Angelina Rodriguez and friends

 

Peeling Oranges: Disability

This morning I read a blog post from crippledscholar titled When Accessibly Gets Labeled Wasteful. I have noticed this tweet from Nathalie Gordon gaining a ton of momentum on various social media sites, and apparently it has caused Whole Foods do drop the product and The Huffington Post to get on board in the shaming frenzy.
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Serious twitter fame happening…
This is another flaw of the Local Food Movement. The discourse doesn’t account for the elderly or disabled when imagining a food future that is “back to the roots”, Utopian in nature, with everyone doing their own small scale farming. The foods available at farmers markets, not only demand more time and cooking skills, luxuries only afforded to some, but they demand dexterity. One must cut or peel vegetables and fruits. And forget about the butchering skills necessary if you are to farm your own animals or take part in heard shares. Breaking down a chicken is a task! Foods are heavier in their whole form as well, carrying vegetables a distance might be impossible for some, extremely difficult for others.
You would probably buy foods with the most meal-like qualities, the highest caloric punch, instead of vegetables which are chiefly comprised of vitamins and lower nutritional density (less calories, more water, lower fullness factor if consumed on their own). If you had to choose only what you could carry, you would most likely choose quick meals and packaged foods.
I don’t think this exclusion is purposeful. We imagine that with good intention, everyone would be taken care of… However, we live in a culture that shames disabled people. We shame anyone with lower access. Shaming laziness, honestly, is often classist already.
I am also thinking about the Antioch Kitchens and our recent shift away from using disposable to-go containers. This shift is one that I fully support, as I believe our budget should be utilized for purchasing high quality foods, and not endless amounts of disposable cups, lids, and containers. But I’m also thinking about how disposables probably make dining easier for students that suffer from anxiety, and some of the missing dishware may be accounted for in this way as well. Luckily our school is so small and intimate that The Kitchen staff are eager to help accommodate student needs when voiced.
Ultimately, I am left with more questions about making food more accessible to all and what that looks like.
Angelina Rodriguez

Symposium Spotlight: Lisa Hamler-Fugitt

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Lisa Hamler-Fugitt delivers a speech.

Lisa Hamler-Fugit is the executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, an organization which was formed in 1995. The organization assists Ohio’s 12 Feeding America Foodbanks in providing food and other resources to the community.

Lisa demonstrates her drive to support poor, working class families in her article defending Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Her voice is powerful as she practices fierce advocacy in her work and denounces House Bill 394, an unemployment bill that greatly limits the benefits available to the unemployed and access to unemployment insurance compensation. She isn’t afraid to take a stand. The Center for Community Solutions did a series of interviews of influential people involved in government and hers can be found here.  She tackles incredibly complicated issues within this interview and it is a great watch for anyone that is interested in the root issues within our food system, and ultimately, ending hunger.

She is dedicated to fighting hunger by bolstering careful legislation that supports the poor and emergency food assistance programs by utilizing government programs and surplus agricultural goods. She is an out-of-the-box thinker and fierce fighter.

“Lisa has served as executive director of the association since 2001. Lisa has researched, written, and secured over $200 million in grants from local, state, and national government sources and private foundations. As an organizer, she has worked to mobilize individuals and organizations around statewide campaigns and regional grassroots coalitions. As a trainer, she has worked with thousands of individuals and organizations on public policy issues, presented at numerous conferences and workshops, and authored more than a dozen publications to assist advocates. Previously, Lisa worked as the public policy director and statewide food and nutrition program coordinator for the Ohio Hunger Task Force.” – Ohio Association of Foodbanks 

Sara Brooks, a recent graduate and the previous Food Service Coordinator and Isaac DeLamatre, pioneers of the Antioch College Food system saw her speak and humbly open with,”You’re not gonna like what I have to say…” They immediately knew they wanted her to come speak at Antioch College. We need to hear from people that are saying something unique, something brave, because things aren’t working this way. We aren’t doing all that we can do, or we aren’t doing it right.

Sara Brooks explains,”I wanted her to come cause I think shes doing good work, she tells it like it is. Shes saying stuff the other local food movement people aren’t saying, shes making the discussion about larger systematic food issues and poverty, rather than just being like: we need to make poor people like healthy foods!?”

I was incredibly excited to hear from her, as I have a lot of problems with this poor shaming rhetoric that is so pervasive in the Real Food Movement. She uncovers the real issue of poverty and access. She delivered her speech with precision and data and facts but also an incredible amount of passion. Her words were a call to action, not merely introspection and reflection.

I was grateful to have her at The Food Symposium at Antioch College and I can’t wait to have her back again in the future.

-Angelina Rodriguez

On OEFFA, Organic Eggs, and Class

A few weeks ago I attended an OEFFA Conference that hosted speakers from every layer of the food system. Farmers, producers, distributors, investors, businesses, educators, chefs, nonprofit organizers, coalitions, and affiliates of all kinds. 100 workshops were offered with two keynote speakers. Keynote speaker Lindsay Lusher Shute explained that the top barriers for young farmers are access to land and capital. Her coalition strives to boost a campaign with the aim of alleviating the expectation that farmers will repay student loans, as growing is a public service, just like doctoring or teaching. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to engage with these people and these speakers but I can’t help but share my critique as well.

I believe that those that farm or those that aspire to farm should understand the pervasiveness of poverty but I continuously here class shaming rhetoric at every turn. Sometimes it’s internalized classism, sometimes it’s something else. I am sick of those that target the poor and blame them for their position within the social caste system. I hear comments like, “we just need to get the poor to want healthy food” or “everyone has time to cook at home” or “they should be willing to pay extra for the quality product, it’s just a couple cents more for organic eggs.”

This argument is tired. Choice is a sliding scale. What appears to be a healthy choice looks totally different, depending upon your social position and your access. I used to work at a literacy center, teaching adults to read and they chose foods from the grocery store based on the ads on television and the pictures on the boxes. Growing up I thought Lean Pockets were better for you than regular hot pockets, or that the backed potato was better than the fries at Wendy’s. People stay trapped in the cycle of poverty because they are denied access to information and stable resources. Above all, they are conditioned to accept poverty. Health and nutrition education is intentionally denied in these communities because poor health is more profitable. Without access, you cannot organize and without organization, you cannot make demands and see them to fruition.

Investing in your health by doing ten minutes of yoga, cooking at home, or buying organic eggs isn’t feasible for people that don’t invest. Investment is a rich man’s game and it doesn’t belong to us.
Honestly, fuck your organic eggs.

Angelina Rodriguez

Upcoming Conference Opportunity

Greetings from the ACFC!

FOCUS conference is April 8th and 9th! It is located about 4 miles from our campus and it’s only $25. the conference targets women, minorities, and small scale farmers. I think it could be a great compliment to the OEFFA conference we attended recently. Hopefully it will offer perspectives and ideas that broaden the conversations we encountered at OEFFA, and sometimes contrast them. This is a great opportunity to learn some new skills and do some networking.

I’m excited to attend and help to arrange carpools and seats in the van! Contact me if you want a seat. I’m also happy to assist and advocate for you in order to help you find funding at Antioch if you cannot afford to attend.

Email me personally or foodcommittee@antiochcollege.org to rsvp a spot in the van or get more information!

-Angelina Rodriguez

 

ACFC Field Trip: Pitstick Farm and Renergy

On a February 25th I accompanied Antioch College Food Committee, Chair Angelina Rodriguez ’18, Professor of Philosophy Lew Cassity, and Antioch Kitchen Chef Jared Precht on a snowy visit to the Pitstick pig farm in Fairborn to check out the green energy they produce from pig waste. On site we met up with the Green Environmental Coalition, Dawn Falleur and Pete Waltz, who helped plan the visit. Our tour guide Robert, who was one of only two employees at the plant, worked for a company called “Renergy.”

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(Above: Robert gives the group a tour.)

Renergy is a growing green energy company in Ohio. We visited a location in Fairborn and their headquarters are north of Columbus in Marengo. They lease the land from the Pitstick family with the stipulations that all pig waste from the farm is used to power the plant and that the farm uses the byproduct produced from the energy to fertilize their fields.

Robert sported an Ohio State baseball cap and a uniform that still had the company’s previous “Ringler Energy” logo threaded above the breast pocket. He included every detail as he took us on an intensive tour of the whole facility from inside the generator room to the 20 foot tall pool filled with byproduct sludge. Robert said he is “noseblind” to the distinct and lingering smell that followed us around the plant but he assured us that he always changes his clothes and takes a shower before going home to his wife. Overall, he was emphatic, passionate, and informative about the whole process, and answered a variety of questions ranging from suspicious to curious confidently during the tour.  

Essentially, the plant facilitates anaerobic digestion. Now I’m not entirely sure what that means but from what I picked up from the tour and my elementary background in chemistry, it is basically a three step process. Local towns and businesses pay Renergy to drop-off their different forms of waste (sometimes called cake) from sewage treatment plants, animal waste, and even bacon grease to the plant in semi-trucks. That waste is then put into a 24,000 gallon holding tank. From the holding tank, the waste is pumped into two giant silos where the actual “digestion” process occurs. Digestion occurs in about a month as tiny bacterium consume the organic components of the waste, which eventually lets off methane gas while the rest of the sludge is pumped into the byproduct pool. Then, somehow, that methane gas is harnessed and powers electric generators and voila, renewable energy. In fact, Robert says that in addition to powering the whole plant, pig farm, and the Pitstick family home, the remaining energy produced each hour from the methane gas is enough to power 350 homes. They sell this extra power back to the grid for revenue. 

Dennis, the other employee at the plant, explained that this method of green energy production was only created 20 years ago in Europe, and started functioning in the United States in about 2005. Thus, I have a feeling that the environmental consequences of this process may not be completely understood, but that may just be my cynical Antioch spirit talking. In any case, I feel extremely privileged to have seen such a new, potentially revolutionary, form of green energy which takes place only a few miles from Antioch’s campus. 

-Christopher Welter ’19

Christopher is a first year student at Antioch College, studies science, and writes for the Antioch Record. He often participates with The Antioch College Food Committee and Student Activists for Sustainability.