Voice and Visibility to Local Food Producers
Though residents of the
Pioneer Valley are frequently impacted by the work of local
farmers, the stories of those who produce our food are
not often heard. A group of Smith students recently set out
to change that.
Faces of local food producers:
Those who grow the food
we consume are usually not prominent in the public eye.
They work the soil on farms scattered about
the region’s rural lanes, and distribute
their food via wholesalers who face the customers.
But on Tuesday, May 12, the
faces and voices of those who grow our food in the Valley
will be on display during a one-night exhibition titled Food
Doesn’t Grow in Aisle 1:
Bridging the Gap Between You and Your Local Farmers. The
multimedia exhibition, which comprises photographs and audio
clips of local farmers, will be open to the public from 7
to 9 p.m. in the A.P.E. Gallery at 126 Main St. in downtown
Grow in Aisle 1 is the brainchild
of students in the course Anthropology of Food (ANT 342),
who seek to help people engage with the production of food
and better understand its origins.
“What the students have done with this exhibition
is make visible the people who are growing food in the Valley,” said
Suzanne Zhang-Gottschang, associate professor of anthropology,
who teaches Anthropology of Food. “Who are these farmers?
Why are they doing what they do? And what are their thoughts
on food policy? The students aimed to answer such questions.”
In compiling the exhibition
content the students asked a series of questions: Where
is food grown in the Pioneer Valley? Who are the local
farmers of Western Massachusetts and what are their histories?
What are the farmers’ opinions
of food and farming policies statewide and nationally? Can
the Pioneer Valley be sustained on local food?
“It’s been very gratifying watching the students
put this together,” said Gottschang. “They’re
very interested in food production in the Valley, and this
ties in well with the course material. This is what anthropology
does—reveals what is right in front of our noses that
we may be missing.”
Though Food Doesn’t
Grow in Aisle 1 will
be on display in Northampton for only one night, the students
have packaged the exhibition for availability at other galleries
and plan to produce a DVD version. Already, they have received
interest from Target:Hunger North Berkshire, a program affiliated
with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and Nuestras
Raices, a Holyoke organization that promotes economic, human
and community development.