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On January 19, 2021 the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) partnered with the Board of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardners Association (TOFGA) to present a session on anti-oppression and anti-racism at the TOFGA annual conference. The session was presented by the National Conference on Community and Justice and was very well received by participants.

A shout out thank you to members of the Texas Center for Local Food anti-racism cohort 1 who continue to work to create an anti-racist food system in Texas, Skyra, Alejandra, Jules, and Adam. These individuals are taking personal risks to share their experiences and help us all learn.

Frankie Bayne, TOFGA Operations and Membership Manager, had this to say:

“The NCCJ training was one of the best attended sessions of the TOFGA annual conference. I had many attendees write or call afterward to express their gratitude and share how powerful the session was for them. For me, hearing the panelists’ share their personal stories about ways in which they are working to dismantle racism in their communities and spheres of influence was inspiring and gave me a lot to reflect upon in my own life and work in food and farming.” 

If you are interested in participating in education to create an anti-racist food system in Texas, please complete this form to express your interest.

Here’s a developing list of resources related to creating virtual farm tours and other farm events.

Virtual Farm & Food Experiences webinar. Univ of Vermont and International Workshop on AgriTourism. Visit the latter for more webinars. Sponsored by Yonder, a new agritourism and farm stay platform. Also see the resources from the webinar: Eleanor Leger, Eden Specialty Ciders, Vermont, USA and Caroline Millar, Balkello Farm and Go Rural, Dundee, Scotland.

Pony Power Therapies in New Jersey. Webinar recording of farm tour.

This is our list of our bests for 2020.. we begin this blog post on Dec 7 and will add to it as we approach year end..

Best Report: The Food system: Concentration & Its Impacts by a respected group of authors including our own Douglas Constance from Sam Houston State University. Report presentation video.

Best Books we read: Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. Gratitude to the National Good Food Leadership Network book club for including this book. Grain by Grain, another winner by Elizabeth Carlisle with Bob Quinn takes the reader through the long process to establish sound, durable businesses based on values of nutrition and retention of footways that are good for people and planet.

Best Virtual Conference: Mission Capital Data Institute Conference. The combination of pre-recorded 15m sessions coupled with 45m live sessions was a lively experience. This is one of the few conferences where I went back and viewed recordings of sessions I’d missed. The main benefit was the relevant topics including How to Make An Infographic and How to Use Pivot Tables in Excel. The agenda was laid out clearly and it was pretty easy find sessions. I found myself rushing a bit from session to session – not that different from in person life. -SB

Best New Way to Think About Food System VisionFood System Vision Prize Themes from OpenIDEO When we look at our work from different perspectives, we see more open doors to creating the new food system we want. (1) Traditional Wisdom & Practices (2) Community-informed Policy (3) Hyper-localization (4) Human-first Technology.

Best Indicators of a Shift in Academic Thinking About Food Systems – National Academy of Sciences workshop “Healthy People, Healthy Planet: Building a More Sustainable, Resilient, Equitable, and Nourishing Food System – A Workshop“, July 2020. The introduction by Dr. Patrick Stover, Dean Texas A&M AgriLife describes changed expectations of our food systems shifting to a more systemic analysis focused on long term health and environmental impact. Dr. Stover draws on the 2015 report, “A Framework For Assessing Impacts of the Food System” as the basis for this shift in expectations. Dr. Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists walks through one example (among many) of COVID-19 among meat packing plant workers to demonstrate that scientists cannot legitimately address food as system without considering work welfare. Watch the videos here. Stover Salvador

Best New Government Resource – The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Transportation and Marketing Program webinars and resource listings during COVID-19 have been excellent resources, highlighting outstanding COVID responses for us all to leverage across the nation. The website design highlights sharing of the multitude of local food resources offered and gathered by this critical front line agency.

Local Food As Economic DevelopmentWorking Landscapes video. Food processing for schools and rural communities in Warren County, North Carolina. Worth a watch for economic development professionals! they used in depth participatory process called “Community Voice“.


by Kacey Hansen, MPH, Program Manager, UT Dell Medical School, Dept. of Population Health, Division of Community Engagement and Health Equity

This is part of a series of posts from participants in the Texas Local Food Anti-Racism training by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Together we are creating an anti-racist food system in Texas.

It was the start of day two of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) Anti-racism Training.  After a brief review of the previous day, zoom breakout rooms launched. I can still picture it…9 squares with nine smiles on nine BIPOC (black/indigenous/people of color) faces in one zoom room.   

The Texas Center for Local Food took scholarship applications during the summer (2020) to provide a small cohort of Central Texans the opportunity to attend an anti-racism training.  The Center’s leadership understood that where food is grown, who grows it, stores, distributes, and prepares it is part of a larger and older story, which includes structural racism.  I come to my work as a public health researcher who has implemented several projects over my 20-year career, primarily centered on food – “go, slow and whoa” foods; fast and slow food; how food effects blood sugar; cancer prevention foods; food pantries, “food deserts”; and now drive-thru food pick-ups and produce delivery.  I am also a trained pastry chef and sit on the Austin/Travis County Food Policy Board. Significantly, I self-identify as Black/African American.

Like most of us, our office transitioned to virtual meeting spaces like Zoom and Teams in March due to the pandemic.  Every weekday from 8am – 5pm, for the past 6 months prior to the training, I had been in at least three meetings a day using this platform.  I am sure you are familiar with the drill: click a link; a room opens to people in squares; scroll to see who all attended; notice no one is smiling; aware that I may be the only black person attending (…that last part may not be part of your drill).   The training day started with the normal drill. I knew who all would be there, as it was day two, but this day was different.  I was in zoom exclusively with people of color.  Immediately, I felt like I belonged. I felt safe.  I did not want to leave the zoom room and the people in the other eight squares may have felt similarly, as the eight smiles emerged.

Maybe you do not “see” color and you believe all people are the same.  We talked about this and how nice it sounds, but how dismissive that phrase is. Why dismissive? …Others see my color and you probably do too.  By ignoring it, one dismisses the real experiences of people of color, experiences that are unique to those who do not benefit from the social construct, called race.  I am not treated the same as a person who is lighter skinned and/or identifies themselves as white.  

One other training topic was culture.  Attire, hair, speech, tone, volume, cleanliness, time, and food were included on the short list of things determined by one’s culture.  I, as an African-American woman, must think about this short list daily in order to traverse the “right” or later declared “white” culture.  As a person of color in a “white” culture, I experience micro-aggressions, like being told: 1) what foods cannot be heated in the microwave at work that are part of my culture, due to the smell, or 2) “I thought you were white”, when meeting in person after an initial phone conversation.  The intent with sharing my experiences during the training were not to shame people but to increase awareness or reveal blind spots.  If we say slavery is a “thing of the past”, but some still benefit from it, talking about those benefits and deficits, as well as the bias and privilege can change hearts and minds.  Those individual changes can improve the way we work, play, live and pray together.

Attending the Anti-Racism training was difficult for me.  It is hard talking about personal prejudice and racism. Equally, I felt vulnerable talking about how I navigate everyday life with people who do not share my experiences.  Though I contributed as a person of color, I witnessed newfound awareness and the start of changed minds.  These courageous conversations, whether one-on-one or group discussions are necessary.  If we narrow in on food, think about the type/quality, origin, quantity, and preparation methods you prefer.  Everyone needs food. Few grow it, but most buy it and many do not have enough of it.  Further, when we look at who is growing, packaging, distributing or selling food, a familiar story is revealed.  It is not an accident that white people in the US own more land, businesses, and capital when compared to people of color.  And I know those making the decisions around food do not look like those nine faces in those nine squares, sharing the same race or lived experiences around race as BIPOC in the United States.  We must do more than have conversations to achieve equity, but little will change if we do not start with the conversations.  One question I asked during the training, which I will continue to ask moving forward is, “Are those who are at the table, thinking about those who aren’t at the table and how their decisions as non-BIPOC will impact those who are BIPOC?”  Being anti-racist is not just not being racist; it is about dismantling racism in boardrooms, research labs, on farms and at your dinner table.  

These resources were kindly provided by the SNAP education staff at the Texas Department of Health & Human Services. We are grateful for their work.

  1. All farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers must be SNAP certified through USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)  before they can accept SNAP at their markets and/or to apply for the SNAP EBT equipment grant.  If a market needs to apply for certification, please have them apply with FNS online at https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/snap/SNAP-application-educational-notice.pdf or by calling 1-877-823-4369 and requesting a paper application. Once FNS receives a correct and completed application, it can take up to a week for FNS to process the application. FNS will contact the market directly once approved. After approval is received, the market can submit the SNAP EBT Equipment Request Form.
  2. There is an opportunity receive free wireless EBT equipment through September 30, 2021 or as funds are available. Funds are currently still available. See attached flyer for grant information. Applicants must be certified by the FNS to accept SNAP and submit a completed Equipment Request Form.  This form contains an “intent” statement so by signing the form, the market is agreeing to the program requirements; no other letter of intent is needed. If you have any questions about this grant, email EBTRetailerOps@hhsc.state.tx.us.

Here’s the flyer!

SNAP equipment grant flyer for Texas farms & farmers markets.
For more information, email  EBTRetailerOps@hhsc.state.tx.us

by Holly Park

This is part of a series of posts from participants in the Texas Local Food Anti-Racism training by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Together we are creating an anti-racist food system in Texas.

Racism. I wrote it. You read it. It is a nasty reality that we live with but to fix it we can’t be afraid to talk about it. So say it again. Racism.

The National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) Anti-Racism training sponsored by the Texas Center for Local Food was an invaluable opportunity to start tough conversations, and learn how to continue them productively. Our trainers at the NCCJ sessions guided us towards truths I have a hard time seeing as a white person benefiting from the systemically racist culture and systems that currently rule America. Equally as important, this training also gave us the toolkit we need to further explore our own privilege (white and POC) and to productively combat the pervasive and thriving white supremacy in the world.

At the very beginning of the training, the leaders clearly defined rules to ensure everyone felt comfortable and understood how to be respectful of each other. In a safe place, for everyone from every background, we discussed what racism is and what it means. We covered some of the historical roots of racism, what exactly systemic racism looks like, the real world impact of racist policies, and some lived experiences of racism. We separated into a POC identifying group and a white identifying group to discuss any feelings and thoughts we had but weren’t comfortable sharing with the larger group. We also discussed why it was important to separate and give that space to everyone. Even though we are in this together and racism affects everyone, it does not affect us equally or in the same ways. Most importantly there were no stupid questions, no shaming, and no judgement. Best of all we were given resources to continue education ourselves and advocating for equitability. 

My most treasured takeaways from the training are things I wish I could share with everyone on the planet. They are concepts that seem so simple, but when patiently explained to me, mean so much.

  • Impact and intent are two (sometimes very) different things
    • What you say and what you mean are not always the same thing, even if you don’t know it. In the context of someone else’s life the words you choose will hit someone else in a way you may not intend, but is still very real. For example, you may think telling someone you are “colorblind” will signal to them you do not feel racist. However, you are signaling you would rather not think about race or racism. And while that may be easy for you, it is not a choice for many. “Colorblindness” erases the history of inequitable race relations as well as people’s current lived experience. So while you may intend to be “colorblind” as a way to not be racist, the real impact is you are perpetuating racist attitudes and propping up systemic racism by ignoring the problem or glossing over it. Just remember, not meaning to hurt someone doesn’t make the pain go away. 
  • What you don’t know can hurt you and the people around you
    • Continuing with the example of “colorblindness”, you may not know that it is a dog whistle for racism. But saying it, even if you want to use it in a different way, is still racist. You may not know better, but that doesn’t mean it won’t hurt someone. Another example is a company policy about acceptable hair styles. Policies about “professional hair” can discriminate against anyone with non-white hair. If an African-American woman wants to work in an office, she may not feel comfortable, or worse may not be hired, if she has Afro-textured hair and chooses to wear it naturally or in braids. While you may think a policy is about good hygiene and a neat appearance, not recognizing how ethno-centric and exclusive the policy is doesn’t change the damage it does.
  • It’s not anyone else’s job to educate you
    • You may still not understand why “colorblindness” or specific dress codes are racist and hurtful. Google it. It is not the job of any POC you may know or meet, not anyone’s job, to ensure you understand. Racism is a stressful and emotional topic. It can literally be life or death for some people. There are lots of public resources like websites, podcasts, books, articles, and more where people have chosen to speak up about systemic racism, personal lived experiences, and everything in between. As a human being it is on you to walk your own journey of compassion, empathy, and understanding. I encourage you to educate yourself for your piece of mind, for your own personal growth, for the people around you, and for the people you don’t know that are being hurt and killed by racism every single day. 

We were asked towards the end of the training to imagine what the world would be like if there was no more racism. What the exercise highlighted is that not only is that world beautiful, it doesn’t have to be fictional. How do we stop racism? We talk about it.