Chef and Activist Bryant Terry Speaks at OWU

Shouting out for local and organic foods.
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Bryant Terry: “It’s up to us as consumers and citizens to make changes happen.” (Photo by Mark Schmitter ’12)

On the afternoon of Monday, September 24, students walked the JAYwalk only to encounter locally grown vegetables, locally baked pies and breads, and locally made cheeses. As part of the Bite! Sagan National Colloquium, Ohio Wesleyan worked with Main Street Delaware to bring the farmers market to campus.

Never having been done before, this unique experience of bringing the people of Delaware together with students is exactly what the colloquium is all about. Many students didn’t even know that there was a farmers’ market twice a week right around the corner from the paths they tread every day. And it was an opportunity to learn and experience firsthand, the benefits of locally grown food.

Later that evening, chef/author/activist Bryant Terry came to talk about “Food Justice: At the Intersection of Food, Politics, Poverty, Public Health, and the Environment,” a rather unwieldy though comprehensive title about local and organic food and what it can mean to an individual and society at large. Incredibly personal and fun, his was more like a conversation than a lecture. He spoke of his history with food, singing the hymn his grandmother always sang when she was cooking.

He also talked about his rejection of labels such as vegan or vegetarian. Not that any one of them is bad, but “there is no one diet that is perfect for everyone. We’re all radically different,” he says. Because of this, he believes a nuanced, more complex approach to diet is critical. In his approach to food and the books that he writes, he says, he has four key things to keep in mind:

  1. Remembering and reviving your ancestors’ traditions
  2. Incorporating art
  3. Including the youth
  4. Using cooking as an organizing base-building tool

He continued to talk about the food system in America today, mentioning that despite how developed we are, we are at a higher risk for shorter life spans than we were a generation ago. With that in mind, it is clear that there is something wrong with the system. Terry believes that local and organic foods are the answer.

By starting with a personal transformation, he said, we can then contribute to a community transformation. It is up to us, as consumers and as citizens, to make the changes happen.

Bryant Terry is author of three books and founder b-healthy!, a food education organization for youth. He has also received several awards for his contributions to food culture and activism.

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