Health Department publishing Southeast Area Farmers’ Market Newsletter

Beginning in June, the Kent County Health Department began publishing a monthly newsletter for distribution at the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market. Pick up your copy next time you shop at the market: Friday Night Farm Stand,  3 – 7 p.m. at Garfield Park, Burton & Madison SE, or the Main Market, Saturdays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gerald R Ford School, Madison & Franklin SE.

SEAFM 20Newletter 20July 202013pdf_Page_1

SEAFM 20Newletter 20July 202013pdf_Page_2

Rapid Growth publishes Farmers’ Market story

do good

Southeast Area Farmers’ Market offers a bountiful summer

Reposted from Rapid Growth Media

There are a lot of goodies in store for fresh food fans at the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market, which kicked off its 2013 season on Saturday, June 1 at Gerald R. Ford Middle School (851 Madison Ave. SE) in Grand Rapids. The Saturday market will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the first week of November.

Beginning June 7, a Friday Farm Stand Market will take place, on a smaller scale, from 3 – 7 p.m. at Garfield Park, located between 1558 Madison Ave. SE and 2799 Madison Ave. SE.

Then, on June 22, the market will host its official Grand Opening Celebration with special activities and music — and an even greater selection of fresh, locally grown, chemical-free produce.

Our Kitchen Table
 (OKT), located at 8 Jefferson SE, Grand Rapids inside The Bloom Collective, manages the market, and there is even more in store for the rest of the summer and into fall. Market partners Kent County Health Department and Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council will host additional market activities throughout the season.

Mark your calendars: Here’s the lineup of OKT-sponsored events, all of which take place from noon to 2 p.m. at the Saturday market:

–       June 7, Weekly Walking Club kicks off
–       June 29, Healthy cooking demo with a local chef
–       July 6, Urban Foraging Workshop. Learn about local edible “weeds”
–       July 27, Healthy Cooking demo with a local chef
–       August 3, Make Your Own Hypo-allergenic Soap Workshop
–       August 24, Healthy Cooking demo with a local chef
–       August 31, Healthy Cooking demo with a local chef
–       September 7, Art at the Market
–       September 28, Healthy cooking demo with a local chef
–       October 12, Greens Cook-off and Fried Green Tomato Festival
–       October 26, Food Day Activities and Healthy Cooking demo with a local chef

Our Kitchen Table is a nonprofit, grassroots community activist organization working for environmental justice and food security in Grand Rapids area urban communities. OKT’s Food Diversity Program is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Get involved:

– Visit Our Kitchen Table’s website.
– Grow a Garden.
– Go to the Farmers’ Market!

OKT subject of Rapidian feature story

How to grow food successfully: it can’t be that hard!

Reposted from The Rapidian
by Heather Hughesian (heatherhughesian) on Tuesday Jun 4th, 2013 08:20am in OPINION

“When I decided to attend OKT’s “How to Plan Your Food Garden” intro class I didn’t think I’d learn much new information. I hoped for a refresher and a few new facts, but instead I was served a giant plate of fresh know-how.”

The trick to successful food gardening is simple, and Our Kitchen Table is ready to share it.

I navigate life by the motto, “It can’t be that hard!” Roast coffee? “It can’t be that hard!” Rewire the electrical? “It can’t be that hard!” Build a deck? “It can’t be that hard!

For safety purposes I like to keep this golden motto locked inside my iron-hard head which more often than not, dishes out difficult situations rather than deli spears. Food gardening is no exception.

“It can’t be that hard!”

Well, yes, it can.

Despite my brain’s unparalleled ability to simplify every task, there’s quite a bit of skill and education involved in growing things successfully. The beginning of the season is always exciting. Your starter plants look verdantly full of potential. You plop them in some pots, or in any neglected space in your yard and let them do their job. As the season treads on weeds begin hosting family reunions in your soil, pests begin mistaking your garden for Old Country Buffet, and for some unknown reason your tomato plant looks more like a pygmy leopard than anything that will ever feed you. It can’t be that hard?

Soil type, acidity, drainage, sun exposure, nutrient balance, heavy metal contamination, hardiness zones… You actually need to know these things. And unfortunately, like tweens, plants have friends and frenemies. Beans and onions won’t even speak to each other. Too bad you assumed they were besties. Finish your Claussen and pout.

Lucky for us frustrated city folk parading as farmers Our Kitchen Table (OKT) wants to help. Our Kitchen Table works primarily with lower income families with children six and under in Baxter, Eastown, Garfield Park, and Southtown. If you don’t meet this target there are still ways you can be involved in their programming. OKT wants to give community members the tools they need to grow food successfully. Their gardening program begins with garden planning classes, then supplies a raised bed, seedlings, compost, and a garden coach to ensure your tomato plant actually feeds you instead of Animorphing.

Lisa Oliver-King, executive director of OKT, sees food justice and community health through a wider scope, regularly joining forces with other community advocates. This is why OKT programming promotes issues like respecting the environment, sustainability, physical activity, community bonding, healthcare, education, female empowerment, and environmental racism.

Some of the free classes they have offered include home beer brewing, fruit winemaking, bicycle tour of fruit and nut trees, preserving/canning, urban foraging, and composting. They also operate the Southeast Area Farmers Market at Gerald R. Ford Middle and Garfield Park which not only accepts EBT, Summer EBT, WIC, Project Fresh, honors Double Up Food Bucks, but will also serve as a site where community members can complete the online DHS application, MI Bridges, for foodassistance. This big picture vision hopes to improve wellness in the community through a systemic change in the way we produce and access food locally. This much needed transformation can’t happen unless we get involved, and the ladies at OKT are ready and eager to educate and empower us.

I’ve been gardening for five years. The success of my efforts may be debatable, but nonetheless my knowledge has grown every year and I always have produce to eat. When I decided to attend OKT’s “How to Plan Your Food Garden” intro class I didn’t think I’d learn much new information. I hoped for a refresher and a few new facts, but instead I was served a giant plate of fresh know-how. Much like us wannabe city farmers, gardening resources have a tendency to put the plow before the workhorse. I have no room to judge. If my mom had been more concerned with naming me fittingly rather than passing on her middle name legacy I would be Heather Haphazard Hughesian. But my middle name is Anne, which means maybe my destiny isn’t bound to excessive haste.

The value in OKT’s programming is that it’s very deliberate. Healthy plants come from healthy soil, and healthy people eat food from healthy plants. I now understand the value of cooling your jets and starting from point one, because if you don’t you’ll create much more work for yourself in the long run. Healthy plants are much easier to grow and maintain. Having a successful garden is as simple as taking a little time to learn from those experienced growing in this environment, on this land, and starting from the ground and with help working your way up. That’s it.

I can now say with certainty, it’s not that hard.

This entry was posted on June 4, 2013, in Press.

Rapid Growth covers LaDonna Redmond’s upcoming appearance at OKT convening

Reposted from Rapid Growth

… do good

Food justice activist LaDonna Redmond tells it like it is

“Food justice is not just about nutrition,” says LaDonna Redmond. “It’s about dignity, and it’s about being visible.”

On Saturday, April 27, the nationally renowned food justice activist and TEDx-featured speaker will present ‘Historical Trauma and Food Justice’ from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sherman Street Church, 1000 Sherman SE, Grand Rapids. Lunch will be provided. (See how to RSVP, below.)

“We have a food system that has largely been built on the backs of people who don’t have a lot of rights and access to our public policy infrastructure,” says Redmond. “We need to collectively better understand the inequities in the food system, and make sure we include people who have faced these inequities in finding solutions.”

Converting vacant city lots to urban farm sites is a great start. But, Redmond says, “I live in a community where I can get a semi-automatic weapon quicker than I can get a tomato. The public health issue of violence is connected to the public health issue of chronic, diet-related diseases. In my community, it is about living or dying. You can die by the gun or from the lack of proper food.”

Redmond says that the food justice movement is really about the narratives of people of color and beginning to understand that the stories that we tell ourselves in the food movement are as important as the stories that we’ve left out.

“We must include in this the narrative of modern slavery,” she says. “Our food system today is still based on the exploitation of the labor of immigrants in this country. While we are talking about access to free-range chickens and grass-fed beef, we need to also be talking about immigration reform and fair wages for those farm workers, but, the people who serve us, who fix our food, should be paid fairly.”

A long-time community activist, Redmond has successfully worked to get Chicago Public Schools to evaluate junk food, launched urban agriculture projects, started a community grocery store, and worked on federal farm policy to expand access to healthy food in low-income communities.

In early April 2013, she launched the Campaign for Food Justice Now (CFJN), a membership-based organization that will use a race, class, and gender analysis to promote food and agricultural system reforms, and advocate for the adoption of right-to-food policies in the U.S.

Get involved:

– Attend Redmond’s presentation at Sherman Street Church — RSVP here or call (616) 206-3641.
– Watch Redmond’s TEDx presentation on Food Justice.
– Visit the Campaign for Food Justice Now’s website.
– Visit Our Kitchen Table’s website to learn more about food justice.

Sources: Stelle Slootmaker, Our Kitchen Table; LaDonna Redmond, TEDx presentation
Writer: Victoria Mullen, Do Good Editor

Images: Courtesy of Our Kitchen Table and LaDonna Redmond

Lila Cabbil to develop manual for Southeast Area Farmers’ Market

SEAFM 1-11-13 (2)

In 2012, Lila Cabbill (left) facilitated a local community dialogue with OKT and renowned chef and food justice activist, Bryant Terry (right front).


As Our Kitchen Table heads into its third year of managing the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market, the management team is looking at ways to make the market sustainable, with the ultimate goal of turning over the market to community. One tool is the development of a market manual. OKT is engaging Lila Cabbil, facilitator and president emeritus of the Rosa Parks Institute, to develop this manual.


In addition to outlining operations protocols, staff job descriptions and budget items, Cabbil will develop guidelines for developing staff skills and community events through the lenses of food justice, public health and empowering women of color.


“Mrs. Cabbil will help us define what needs to be taken into consideration when trying to create a neighborhood market that neighbors walk to. She will help us explore  how we can present the market in different forms, for example, as a farm stand one day a week or as a house-call market,” says Lisa Oliver-King, executive director of OKT. “We hope to create a new model that better serves the needs of the community. Mrs. Cabbil will help us develop this model.”


In 2011 and 2012, Mrs. Cabbill worked with Our Kitchen Table staff on team building and with the farmers’ market partners.Prior to her facilitation work, Mrs. Cabbill worked alongside Rosa Parks for decades. She is also author of the book Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work.  

New York Times article giddy over downtown GR market

Reposted from

Yesterday, the New York Times published a story about the market in downtown Grand Rapids, which is currently under construction.

The NYTs piece does what most local news coverage has done with this story so far, presented it as a wonderful thing. The Times piece talks about public/private partnerships, the benevolence of local philanthropists, the growing local food interest and how the market is one piece in the ongoing development of downtown Grand Rapids.

The only sources cited in the article are David Frey, a member of Grand Action, the entity that made the proposal; a representative from Rockford Construction, which is the primary construction company on this project; and the person who was hired to manage the market.

Excluded from the article are voices and perspectives that see this project through a much different lens.

For example, Our Kitchen Table, a local grassroots group working on food justice, had this to say about the New York Times article:

While it’s nice to see Grand Rapids receive national recognition, access to fresh, nutritious food in Grand Rapids’ neighborhoods remains a privilege reserved for those who can afford higher prices and transportation outside of the city’s food desserts. Our Kitchen Table works to address this injustice through food gardening programs and the Southeast Area Farmers’ Market. However, as government policies do not favor the small farmer, we have a hard time finding vendors who can afford the small returns our market brings them. In addition, existing philanthropic efforts to feed the hungry more often fill bellies with low-nutrient, high sugar, processed foods that only exacerbate medical issues caused by malnutrition: obesity, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and behavioral problems. While food industry donors get write offs, lower income families are written off. Furthermore, we do not believe the new Downtown Market will do anything to improve access to healthy foods for the Grand Rapids families who need it most.

Such a statement speaks to why this blog have been critical of the proposal from the beginning. We pointed out in an April 2010 article that the project was not just a farmers market, but a larger food complex that will serve an upscale population. InMay of 2010, we posted a second article that provided a summary from a meeting where area residents and food activists raised questions about the proposal, stating that many who live in the Heartside area and south and south east of the market site were not included in any discussions about the project.

The project was approved despite the lack of public input and since then has been receiving millions of dollars in public funding. Is this what is meant is meant by public private partnership? The private sector benefits, while the public foots the bill?

We reported in a December 2011 article that the amount of public funds for this project are substantial. The Michigan Economic Growth Authority (public money) gave the project a $4.5 million grant, the DEQ (public money) gave a $1 million grant for demolishing the previous building on site and the DDA (public money) has also provided the project with over $1 million and is committing an additional $75,000 annually for the next 20 years.

Imagine if that kind of monetary commitment was given to groups like Our Kitchen Table, we might actually be able to eliminate malnourishment in Grand Rapids. Too bad that is not anywhere near the goal of the soon to be open downtown market.

In San Francisco, a secret project bears fruit

The Guerrilla Grafters are turning the city’s non-bearing public trees into an urban orchard — despite city regulations.

By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times

Re-posted from the LA Times

SAN FRANCISCO — All Tara Hui wanted to do was plant some pears and plums and cherries for the residents of her sunny, working-class neighborhood, a place with no grocery stores and limited access to fresh produce.

But officials in this arboreally challenged city, which rose from beneath a blanket of sand dunes, don’t allow fruit trees along San Francisco’s sidewalks, fearing the mess, the rodents and the lawsuits that might follow.

So when a nonprofit planted a purple-leaf plum in front of Hui’s Visitacion Valley bungalow 31/2 years ago — all flowers and no fruit, so it was on San Francisco’s list of sanctioned species — the soft-spoken 41-year-old got out her grafting knife.

“I tried to advocate for planting productive trees, making my neighborhood useful, so people could have free access to at least fruit,” she said. “I just wasn’t getting anywhere.”

Today, Hui is the force behind Guerrilla Grafters, a renegade band of idealistic produce lovers who attach fruit-growing branches to public trees in Bay Area cities (they are loath to specify exactly where for fear of reprisal).

Their handiwork currently is getting recognition in the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, as part of the U.S. exhibit called “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.” Closer to home, however, municipal officials have denounced the group’s efforts.

Even the urban agriculture movement is torn when it comes to the secretive splicers, outliers in a nascent push to bring orchards to America’s inner cities. While many applaud their civil disobedience, others fear a backlash against community farming efforts. And few believe their work will ever fill a fruit bowl.

Not that that really matters.

“It’s like the gardener’s version of graffiti,” said Claire Napawan, assistant professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis and a grafters sympathizer. “Even if there’s some question about its ability to produce enough food to make a difference … as an awareness piece, it’s a good idea.”


On a sunny day toward the end of summer, Hui was bent over an immature tree, searching for the tell-tale strip of electrical tape that would show where a fruit-producing branch had been spliced onto an ornamental plant.

The small stand of cherry trees had been transformed during the most recent grafting season, late winter to early spring, using a simple method that Hui described as being “like tongue and groove in carpentry.”

First a slit is made in the host tree. Then the alien branch is whittled into a pointed wedge. The grafter inserts the wedge and matches up the elements’ nutrient-transporting layers before securing the area with tape. The Guerrilla Grafters use electrical tape instead of grafting tape so they can color code their work for future reference.

“Once it heals, it connects,” Hui said. “Basically the branch becomes part of the tree.”

The group only grafts trees that are nominated by a steward in the neighborhood, who promises to maintain it and make sure that fruit is harvested and does not become a hazard. Trees also are grafted within species, fruit-bearing apple onto ornamental apple, for example.

If all goes well, in several years grafted branches will blossom and bear fruit. Of the 50 or so trees Guerrilla Grafters has transformed, Hui said, a few already have produced fruit, including an Asian pear whose location she would not disclose.

“Two months after we grafted it, it flowered, and we went back again and saw little pears on it,” she said. “Some passersby must have picked it and had it, which is the idea. There’s no ownership of these trees. There’s just stewardship.”

The Guerrilla Grafters are as cagey about attracting members as they are about safeguarding the group’s operations. There is a Facebook page, and prospective grafters “contact us for the most part,” Hui said. “It’s a little tricky. We just want to be careful.”

It was a lesson learned the hard way.

On Feb. 18, a grafting project was announced on Facebook: “Hayes Valley Farm today at 1pm — Laguna b/w Fell and Oak.” Two days later, the website said that “all the viable grafts on those trees were gone. …The trees were so severely pruned, they even look kind of sad.”

The group suspected city gardeners were behind the “vandalism” and beseeched them to be kinder in the future: “Whether or not you agree with what we do,” the post said, “please trust that we care about those street trees as much as, if not more then you do.… We respect your hard work, please allow greater participation in caring for our public space.”

Carla Short, San Francisco’s urban forester, said that no one in the Department of Public Works had “formally” removed any of the guerrilla efforts performed by the group of 30 or so grafters.

If the city’s tree crews come upon a grafting, they have been instructed to report it to her, and “we’ll take it on a case-by-case basis.” Street trees are allowed by permit only, and the city will not grant a permit for an apple, plum, pear or any other fruit producer.

“We really support growing fruit trees in the right places,” Short said. But “we don’t want people to get hurt, and we don’t want to damage our already vulnerable street trees.”


Community gardens have prospered for decades on vacant lots in cities around the country. But urban orchards — which require a greater investment, particularly in time — have only begun to catch on in recent years.

That commitment is part of the allure to the many romantics in the urban orchard movement. If a tomato plant is a summer fling, they figure, then a fruit tree is more like a marriage.

“You can have a relationship over time with a tree,” said Lisa Gross, founder of the Boston Tree Party, which has planted 110 apple trees in civic spaces over the last year and a half and is planning its first harvest celebration in 2015. “We all love tomatoes, but you put it in and pull it out at the end of the season.”

Most urban orchards are created with at least some municipal cooperation. The Philadelphia Orchard Project, launched in 2007, has planted 449 fruit trees in partnership with the city water department. The Beacon Food Forest, which will break ground later this month, was developed on seven downtown acres owned by Seattle Public Utilities.

And Fallen Fruit, an art collective, has plans to create Los Angeles County’s first “public fruit park” — 100 trees planted in and around Del Aire Park near Hawthorne. Like the Guerrilla Grafters, the folks at Fallen Fruit say future harvests would be there for anyone who wanted them.

Ornamental street trees that are not bearing fruit “should be abolished,” said David Burns, who co-founded Fallen Fruit and is working on the park project with the L.A. County Arts Commission. “That should be just not legal.”

In a South of Market conference room, four members of the Guerrilla Grafters hunched over their laptops, working on the next phase of their sweetly subversive project.

Using data available online, they hope to pinpoint every one of the approximately 103,000 street trees in San Francisco that might be turned into a fruit producer. They also plan to map every grafted tree to aid in care, future harvesting and research into which species work best in the city’s varied microclimates.

The prototype maps look like abstract watercolors, and the database lists each tree’s location by latitude and longitude, as well as its scientific and common names. For a select few, there is a notation about what was grafted on and when.

After a decade working in high-tech, software developer Jesse Bounds, 35, took a year off and traveled the world with his wife. They volunteered on a vineyard in Italy, helped create water filters and stoves for South American villagers and lent a hand to Elephant Human Relations Aid in Namibia.

To Bounds, who has also grafted with the guerrilla group, the database is “software development work with a clear connection to the real world.”

Hui also was trained as a computer scientist, but left the industry years ago to dedicate herself to the causes that she said matter: social justice, sustainability and community.

Her day job is with a nonprofit organization called Kids in Parks, where she teaches outdoor science classes to middle-schoolers on a part-time basis. With the help of a friend, she designed and built the Poo Garden, a prototype composting toilet that, when full, becomes a planter.

Hui said she works hard “to be less dependent on money.” She barters and trades with friends. She keeps backyard chickens and eats from her home vegetable garden.

She dreams of cities filled with fruit trees.

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

Is Alzheimers Caused By Too Much Sugar?

How the American Diet Is as Bad for Our Brains as Our Bodies

“Yet another reason to load up on fruit and veggies [13]—and work to wrest federal farm policy (which encourages the production of cheap sweeteners and fats [12])—from the grip of agribusiness
 [14].September 14, 2012  |

The following article first appeared in Mother Jones [3].

Egged on by massive food-industry marketing budgets [5], Americans eat a lot of sugary foods. We know the habit is quite probably wrecking our bodies [6], triggering high rates of overweight and diabetes. Is it also wrecking our brains?

That’s the disturbing conclusion emerging in a body of research linking Alzheimer’s disease to insulin resistance—which is in turn linked to excess sweetener consumption [7]. A blockbuster story [8] in the Sept. 3 issue of the UK magazine The New Scientist teases out the connections.

Scientists have known for a while that insulin regulates blood sugar, “giving the cue for muscles, liver and fat cells to extract sugar from the blood and either use it for energy or store it as fat,” New Scientist reports. Trouble begins when our muscle, fat, and liver cells stop responding properly to insulin—that is, they stop taking in glucose. This condition, known as insulin resistance and also pre-diabetes, causes the pancreas to produce excess amounts of insulin even as excess glucose builds up in the blood. Type 2 diabetes [9], in essence, is the chronic condition of excess blood glucose—its symptoms [9]include frequent bladder infections, kidney, and skin infections, fatigue, excess hunger, and  erectile dysfunction.

US Type 2 diabetes rates have tripled since 1980, New Scientist reports.

What’s emerging, the magazine shows, is that insulin “also regulates neurotransmitters, like acetylcholine, which are crucial for memory and learning.” That’s not all: “And it is important for the function and growth of blood vessels, which supply the brain with oxygen and glucose. As a result, reducing the level of insulin in the brain can immediately impair cognition.”

So when people develop insulin resistance, New Scientist reports, insulin spikes “begin to overwhelm the brain, which can’t constantly be on high alert,” And then bad things happen: “Either alongside the other changes associated with type 2 diabetes, or separately, the brain may then begin to turn down its insulin signalling, impairing your ability to think and form memories before leading to permanent neural damage”—and eventually, Alzheimer’s.

Chillingly, scientists have been able to induce these conditions in lab animals. At her lab at Brown, scientist Suzanne de la Monte blocked insulin inflow to the brains of mice—and essentially induced Alzheimer’s. When she examined their brains, here’s what she found, as described by New Scientist:

Areas associated with memory were studded with bright pink plaques, like rocks in a climbing wall, while many neurons, full to bursting point with a toxic protein, were collapsing and crumbling. As they disintegrated, they lost their shape and their connections with other neurons, teetering on the brink of death.

For a paper [8] published this year, Rutgers researchers got a similar result on rabbits with induced diabetes.

There’s also research tying brain dysfunction directly to excess sugar consumption. In a 2012study [10], UCLA scientists fed rats a heavy ration of fructose (which makes up roughly a half of both table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) and noted both insulin resistance and impaired brain function within six weeks. Interestingly, they found both insulin function and brain performance to improve in the sugar-fed rats when they were also fed omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, another quirk of the American diet, deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids,  [11]seems to make us more vulnerable to the onslaught of sweets.

Another facet of our diets, lots of cheap added fats [12], may also trigger insulin problems and brain dysfunction. New Scientist flags yet another recent study, this one from University of Washington researchers, finding that rats fed a high-fat diet for a year lost their ability to regulate insulin, developed diabetes, and showed signs of brain deterioration.

Altogether, the New Scientist story makes a powerful case that the standard American diet is as devastating for our brains as it is for our bodies. The situation is tragic:

In the US alone, 19 million people have now been diagnosed with the condition, while a further 79 million are considered “prediabetic”, showing some of the early signs of insulin resistance. If Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes do share a similar mechanism, levels of dementia may follow a similar trajectory as these people age.

Yet another reason to load up on fruit and veggies [13]—and work to wrest federal farm policy (which encourages the production of cheap sweeteners and fats [12])—from the grip of agribusiness [14].

MLive columnist dismisses anti-racism campaign and White Privilege

This is re-posted from

Earlier today, MLive columnist Matthew Davis posted a story headlined, White guilt, rather than racial justice, is on display in misdirected video.

The article is a reaction to a video created by the group, the Un-Fair Campaign. Davis states, “The video and its accompanying graphics are part of an effort to stamp out racism, apparently by confession that borders on self-flagellation. One of the graphics on the website has the picture of a blue-eyed, blonde woman upon whose skin is scribbled: “Is white skin really fair skin?”

Self-flagellation? Apparently, Davis doesn’t have the slightest idea about what White Privilege is. The people in this video are all making statements to point out the fact that White Privilege needs to be acknowledged if institutional racism is to be dismantled. In the article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, author Peggy McIntosh states:

White privilege is the unquestioned and unearned set of advantages, entitlements benefits and choices bestowed on people solely because they are white. Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.

The MLive columnist goes as far as to state that he is not even sure that White Privilege even exists. He then writes, “I have no idea how the video or the overall message is supposed to result in fundamental, systemic change towards racial justice.” If one does not acknowledge that White Privilege exists, it is hard to know how we could achieve systemic change. Dismantling racism necessitates that White people acknowledge that they have privilege.

Davis then affirms his position by noting that there are more dislikes than likes of thevideo on Youtube. Since when does justice, particularly racial justice, need to be validated by the majority? If that were the measuring stick, African Americans never would have won any civil rights in this country.

The MLive columnist then provides “his own message” that such a video should communicate, by citing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about people being judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. This quote is always used by racists who are either unaware of their own privilege or are in denial of it. Glenn Beck and company are always using this line from King, which is taken out of context. King yearned for the day when people could be judged purely on the content of their character, but he rightly points out in that speech (I have A Dream Speech) that racial injustice is too pervasive in this country.

Matthew Davis ends his column by including another video that was a response to the Un-fair Campaign. However, Davis fails to mention that the video was created by Right Wing talk show hosts in Minnesota that host a show entitled Late Debate with Jack Tomczak and Benjamin Kruse. The Late Debate show airs on AM 1130 in Minnesota, a station which also features Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and other voices that have a history of engaging in racist commentary, as is well documented in Rory O’Connors book Shock Jocks: Hate Speech & Talk Radio.

By posting this column MLive itself is dismissing or downplaying the role of White Privilege. Their decision to post a column by Matthew Davis is a blow to racial justice and an insult to the work of people who have truly been about the work of dismantling institutional racism. However, as we have noted before, this should not come as a surprise, especially when the MLive editor Paul Keep himself has failed to understand White Privilege and its role in perpetuating racism.

Here is the video that Davis dismisses and a link to the un-fair Campaign.

Grand Rapids Press covers South East Area Farmers’ Market opening day

Food grower Robert Tolbert, Jr. plans to bring his produce back to the South East Area Farmers’ Market this year. The market’s new season is set to start June 2.

Grand Rapids farm market returns Saturday with focus on ‘food justice’

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 11:33 AM

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – An annual effort to combat the “food deserts” of southeast Grand Rapids resumes Saturday. A new season for the South East Area Farmers’ Market is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Garfield Park, 2006 Jefferson St. SE.

A second weekly site will open 2-7 p.m. Fridays starting June 15 at Gerald R. Ford Middle School, 851 Madison Ave. SE.

About a handful of vendors are expected to sell chemical-free fruits and vegetables at each site, said Stelle Slootmaker, spokeswoman for the non-profit Our Kitchen Table, which will begin its second year of running the market in partnership with the Kent County Health Department and Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council.

“The goal is to bring the food into the neighborhoods that some have defined as ‘food deserts,’” she said. “We’re not about entrepreneurship or making profits. We’re about food justice.

“We believe food is a right, so we’re working to make that right accessible to the people of Grand Rapids. The industrial food system has let urban neighborhoods down.”

About 90 percent of the vendors are people who grow food in home gardens, and “we’re going to have a small start in June until our yard gardeners have some more produce growing,” Slootmaker said. The market tests the yards of home growers for lead and arsenic.

Farmers from Allendale, Sparta and Wayland also are expected to sell produce. The weekly vendor fee is $10.

More than 1,400 people visited the market last year. This year’s market will run at the Garfield site through Oct. 27, and at the Ford site until school resumes in September.

“We like the fact that we are a neighborhood-based market,” said Lisa Oliver-King, Our Kitchen Table’s executive director. “We’re smaller (than some other markets), which allows us to be more intimate with the customers.”

The market participates in WIC Project FRESH, Market FRESH and the Kent County WIC Pilot Project. Shoppers also can pay with cash, check, debit card or the Michigan Bridge Card. Customers using Bridge cards can take advantage of Double Up Food Bucks.

This entry was posted on June 2, 2012, in Press.