(Photo: Mark Winne, prominent author and food activist, is coming to speak in Dallas)

By Julie Thibodeaux     

When it comes to the food industry, Mark Winne wants to give people something to chew on. The author and food activist will speak about the state of the U.S. community food system, food policy, and food security on Feb. 18th, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at KERA in Dallas. The event, hosted by Net Impact DFW, is free and open to the public.

Winne will discuss what he sees as the unchecked power of our national food industry. While big businesses are producing food faster and more efficiently, all is not well in the food landscape. Food insecurity plagues millions of Americans, obesity is at an all-time high in the U.S., and traditional food production methods are under the scrutiny of environmentalists and animal welfare activists. Winne says to change course and create a sustainable food system accessible to all, ordinary people must be engaged at every level.

“It’s not enough to be good food consumers, we also have to be good food citizens.”

The New Jersey native began his career as executive director at Hartford Food System, which serves low-income and elderly residents in the Hartford, Connecticut area. Since then, he’s written about food issues and society, starting with his first book, “Closing the Food Gap,” which explores the challenge of community organizing, told with candid and sometimes humorous examples.

 (Photo: Mark Winne)

For example, Winne recalls as a young man just out of college, starting his first community garden at the Natick Community Farm in Massachusetts with a colleague who had just graduated with a degree in agriculture. Neither of them had any real-life experience in farming.

“We worked in the field together that first year, he standing with a plant science textbook in his hand and I on my knees in the dirt trying to implement his instructions as he read them aloud.”

In his latest book, “Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners and Smart-Cookin’ Mamas,” Winne writes about the motley heros in what he calls the alternative food system. Winne showcases the inspiring people he’s met from across the country who are creating humane approaches to food, including the people who run the Happy Kitchen in Austin, a program that offers healthy cooking classes to low-income residents.

Winne touts a three-pronged solution to creating a sustainable food culture that benefits all socio-economic levels. First, he encourages people to return to gardening and cooking as a way to stay in touch with food at its most basic level. He also encourages people to support their local farming community and programs that help people become self-sufficient. Finally, he says we must stay involved in public policy.

“Get your hands in the dirt, get your veggies on the chopping block and get your voices down at City Hall.”

To register for the free event visit the event pageFor more information on Winne, go to markwinne.com

Note that the public is also invited to hear Mark Winne speak at these additional Dallas engagements: 

• Lecture and Book Talk. Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church in Dallas, Preston Road @ St. Andrews. Free.

• During the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Conference at the Mesquite Convention Center, 1700 Rodeo Dr.:

• Food Policy Workshop. Feb. 17 from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Cost is $50.

• Keynote Speech. Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $35. For more information, see tofga.org/2012_conference or contact Susie Marshall at [email protected] or 972-814-0928. 


Julie Thibodeaux is a Fort Worth-based writer covering environmental issues, green topics and sustainable living. Contact her at [email protected]..