Ohio Wesleyan to ‘Bite!’ into Food Issues During 2012 Sagan National Colloquium

DELAWARE, OH – Ohio Wesleyan University’s 2012 Sagan National Colloquium will nourish the mind with “Bite! Examining the Mutually Transformative Relationship Between People and Food.”

This year’s colloquium will begin Sept. 13 with a panel discussion of Ohio Wesleyan experts and include a fall semester lineup of guest speakers ranging from a world-renowned public health nutrition expert and an eco-chef to an alternative farmer and the founder of Sustainable Harvest International. On Sept. 24, the colloquium will include a Main Street Delaware Farmers’ Market from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the university campus.

“Bite! will allow us to explore how we interact with, change, and are changed by food,” said Christopher L. Fink, Ph.D., chair of the Ohio Wesleyan Department of Health & Human Kinetics and director of this year’s colloquium. Fink’s research and academic interests include behavior changes in nutrition and health, as well as the relationship between the Mediterranean lifestyle and health behavior.

“Just as each bite of food transforms the eater and the eaten, the relationship between people and food has also been demonstrated to be both transformative and reciprocal,” Fink said. “Because there is such a strong association between dietary behaviors and many costly chronic diseases, food has become a major area of emphasis in a wide range of current initiatives, from the ‘Let’s Move’ program launched by first lady Michelle Obama to the recent United Nations high-level meeting of the General Assembly on non-communicable disease prevention. … This focus has developed as an estimated 60 percent of global mortality has been attributed to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

Unless otherwise noted, all colloquium presentations will be held in the Benes Rooms of Ohio Wesleyan’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware. All are free and open to the public. Many of the presentations will be streamed online. Click here for the latest streaming schedule.

  • 7 p.m. Sept. 13 – “Why is Food Important?,” an Ohio Wesleyan panel discussion featuring OWU faculty members Mary T. Howard, Ph.D., professor of sociology/anthropology; Shari Stone-Mediatore, Ph.D., professor of philosophy; David M. Walker, Ph.D., assistant professor of geology/geography; and Christopher Wolverton, Ph.D., associate professor of botany/microbiology.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 17 – “Sustainable Farming for Food Security” by Florence Reed, president and founder of Sustainable Harvest International. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to working with rural Central American communities to implement sustainable land-use practices.
  • 7 p.m. Sept. 24 – “Food Justice: At the Intersection of Food, Politics, Poverty, Public Health, and the Environment” by Bryant Terry, eco-chef, food justice activist, and author of “The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus” and “Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine.” For the past decade, Terry has worked to build a more just and sustainable food system, using cooking to illuminate the intersections among poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity.
  • 4 p.m. Sept. 26 – “Cuba Embraces Agro-Ecology” by Sinan Koont, Ph.D., in Phillips Auditorium, 50 S. Henry St., Delaware. Koont, associate professor of economics at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, has spent several years researching urban agriculture in Cuba. He is the author of “Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Cuba,” which examines the evolution of Cuban agriculture from industrialized farming to organic, sustainable urban farming.
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 1 – “Constitution of Childhood and Youth in Fast Food Eating Out Culture: Global-Local Dynamics in India” by Anjali Bhatia, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi, India. Bhatia’s areas of interest include the sociology of food, sociology of family, and sociology of everyday life. She will discuss how the fast-food culture among youth requires people to think about a reconfiguration of the family and ensuing tensions in global-local contexts.
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 4 – “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” by Joel Salatin, third-generation alternative farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Salatin’s farm serves more than 3,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants with salad-bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, and more. He is the author of “Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World” and has been featured prominently in such documentaries as “Food, Inc.” and “FRESH.” Salatin also writes extensively for magazines such as “American Agriculturalist.”
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 8 – Farming and the impact of corporate agriculture by Kelly Klein, production research scientist for Monsanto Co.’s Monsanto Vegetables in Boise, Idaho. Klein’s research focuses on improving seed production and seed quality, and his main research interests involve agronomic practices such as row spacing and seed handling and drying.
  • 7 p.m. Oct. 10 – “Making Local Work in Ohio: Production, Promotion, and Entrepreneurship in the Local Food System,” a panel discussion featuring Jeni Briton Bauer, owner and founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams; Warren Taylor, owner and founder of Snowville Creamery; Michael Jones, executive director and co-founder of Local Matters; and others.
  • 4 p.m. Oct. 30 – Art and food discussion by Abram Kaplan, Ph.D., associate professor environmental studies at Denison University. Kaplan’s research spans a variety of areas connected by the question, “How can we best relate to our environment?” He has created an art installation titled “Fine Grain: Visual Immersion in the American Food System,” which will be displayed on campus during his visit. The installation includes a series of reclaimed barn windows with different “views” imposed on them and a 14-foot-tall three-dimensional silo.
  • 7 p.m. Nov. 1 – “Kurdish Roots: The Role of Food in Keeping Cultural Traditions Alive When a Nation Has No Country to Call Its Own” by Avesta Saaty, classically trained chef, restaurateur, and entrepreneur. Saaty owned and operated Avesta Eclectic Cuisine in downtown Delaware before moving to Nebraska. There, she created Avesta Cuisine, a private company concentrating on local foods and restaurant-quality catered food. Now back in Ohio, Saaty works as a consultant with local restaurants and chefs.
  • 4 p.m. Nov. 2 – “The Future’s In the Dirt: Digging Into Regional Food Systems and Their Potential to Restore Economies, Communities, Environment, and Health” by Ben Hewitt, in Phillips Auditorium, 50 S. Henry St., Delaware. Hewitt is the author of “Making Supper Safe: One Man’s Quest to Learn the Truth About Food Safety” and “The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food.” He runs a small-scale, diversified hill farm in northern Vermont and lives with his family in a self-built home powered by a windmill and solar photovoltaic panels.
  • 3 p.m. Nov. 6 – “Diet and Health: A Progress Report” by Walter Willett, M.D., chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University and the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition. Willett is the author of “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating,” and he is a principal investigator on the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest, long-term studies examining the effects of diet on health.
  • 7 p.m. Nov. 14 – Food, pop culture, and the American identity by Fabio Parasecoli, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator food studies at The New School for Public Engagement in New York. Parasecoli’s research focuses on the intersections of food, media, and politics. His current work examines food and masculinity in movies and the sociopolitical aspects of food, international trade, and intellectual property. He also is involved in international food studies, including serving as program adviser at Gustolab, a center for food and culture in Rome, Italy.

Each year, Ohio Wesleyan’s Sagan National Colloquium addresses an issue of international importance. It is funded through an endowment from the late Margaret (Pickett) Sagan and the late John Sagan, both members of the OWU Class of 1948. Past Colloquium speakers have included social activist Gloria Steinem, authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Kurt Vonnegut, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, and former President Gerald Ford.


Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 47 states and 57 countries. Ohio Wesleyan was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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