By Heather Pearson
When I sat down with organizers Dr. Anne DeLessio-Parson and Sophia Brownstein to learn more about their upcoming event ‘Eating for Liberation,’ Dr. DeLessio-Parson set out tortilla chips, rice and beans for us to share.
“Food invites us into conversation every time we sit down to share the table,” stated the Eating for Liberation website. “Through intentional, authentic dialogue that bridges life experiences, we can co-create new ideas for action.”
This conversation bridging food and social justice is exactly what Eating for Liberation hopes to start. To do so, the event invites participants to share in a four-course plant-based meal on March 10. The menu is inspired by bell hook’s “All About Love,” and will take place at the Salem Convention Center.
Food justice advocates Salimatu Amabebe and Dr. A Breeze Harper will speak at the event. Amabebe is a renowned artist and vegan chef who hosts Black Feast, a Portland monthly dinner series celebrating black artists and writers. Dr. A Breeze Harper is an academic and activist tackling issues of “ethical consumption, the food system, and diversity,” and is founder of the Sistah Vegan Project, which “serves as a supportive connection point for people of color (and others) interested in plant-based diets, social justice, anti-racism, [and] feminism,” among other topics.
“Some people have called [Dr. A Breeze Harper] one of the most famous vegans of our time,” said Dr. DeLessio-Parson, describing what a privilege it is to have her speak. “She challenges whiteness in vegan spaces and animal rights spaces.”
Before the meal, individuals will be paired with a theme (i.e., community gardens, veganism on a budget, activism, or prison abolitionism) which they will explore alongside other participants in-person and/or online. Then they will join in on the meal on March 10. Afterwards, they are asked to write three letters and create one art piece about their experience. These post-event activities allow participants to take what they learn from the meal and create something from it which they can share beyond that space.
How do food and equity work connect? “As we nourish our bodies, we nourish our minds, cultivating the strength and resilience needed to be more engaged and caring members of our communities,” writes Dr. DeLessio-Parson. Recognizing the personal as political, she explains, food choices and personal food philosophies can be politically radical.
The event is open to anyone interested in peace and justice, and artists and writers are especially encouraged to apply. The organizers stress that they “hope to find a balance of folks from different backgrounds and at different life stages for each theme,” and that groups are welcome. Participants are not required to be vegetarian or vegan, though conversation will discuss vegan philosophy. The event is free.
Those interested can find the application at www.eatingforliberation.com.