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Exploring America’s Breadbasket

Professors Lanae Joubert '98 MS, '01 BS from Health and Human Performance and Loganne Glendening '14 BS, '16 MS from Hospitality Management explored food systems in California last spring in preparation for a new experiential course they will lead in the Bay Area in 2024.

“We marched all over the place meeting individuals within several community food systems. In San Francisco we experienced farmers markets, urban farms, educational gardens, Japantown, Little Italy and Chinatown,” said Joubert. “We sat down with many members of a non-profit agency in Oakland to discuss their work in supporting  disadvantaged individuals who want to become more involved in the food system. One example is a chef who teaches previously incarcerated individuals how to cook to eventually become chefs themselves.” In Sacramento, Davis and Capay Valley, they spoke with vendors at the longstanding Davis Saturday Market, the chef of a farm-to-table restaurant and to students running  the 23-acre farm at the University of California-Davis.

In the Salinas Valley they met with an agency that supports farm workers to enable them to become farm owners over the course of four years. “We toured their farms, spoke with a few of their clients and sampled some of their amazing products. We also met with retail food businesses, such as a mushroom specialist, and learned about their indoor growing facility,” Joubert said.

Collaboration with new Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences faculty member Jelili Adebiyi is under way to help the pair design an interdisciplinary curriculum where students will compare food systems within the rural Marquette region to the drastically different food systems of the urban Bay Area.

The trip had both practical and philosophical implications. Glendening said it “had a grand impact on many of my views of food and politics. I think the biggest impact was being able to experience some of the sides of the food industry I discuss regularly but have never been confronted with from the opposite perspective.”

Abundant vegetables in diagonal displays in a store