As the story goes, Pepper Bowen and Liz Williams met through introduction by a colleague at a coffee shop. It was an experience that could only happen thanks to the single degree of separation that exists in New Orleans.
Pepper was an aspiring attorney with grandiose ideas of working in food law and shaping policy as a means of encouraging both environmental and food justice. That day, she was interviewing author, food lawyer, and adjunct professor Baylen Linnekin for a blog post. End of the interview, Pepper was picking his brain about making a living as a food lawyer. She knew that food law was a “thing”; problem was that there wasn’t a local outfit willing to hire her to do what she really wanted to do.
Baylen was meeting Liz at that coffee shop immediately after the interview with Pepper. He had worked with Liz on several projects for the Southern Food and Beverage museum and written an article for the Culinaria monograph. The monograph is a series that explores current and proposed food laws written by leaders in the field that was produced by Liz, President of the National Food and Beverage Foundation (NatFAB) and recovering lawyer.
Liz already had the idea that a policy center would help support the NatFAB mission of understanding and celebrating food, drink, and its related culture, but had no bandwidth to do it herself. Several great follow-up conversations around food, law, policy, and culture followed. And in early 2017 Culinaria was hatched!
It is now a year later and thank you for being a part of Culinaria’s inaugural year. Here are some of the things that were accomplished all in the noble quest of bringing food to the consciousness of people who eat!
- Happy hatch day!
- Participated in the SNAP Story Bank Project sponsored by Jesuit Social Research Institute. Shared with the producing Congressional Hunger Center Fellow the complications of incarceration on food security, discussed further in Loyola University Law School’s first Food Law Skills class.
- Became a member of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Steering Committee. NOLA FPAC is a broad-based coalition of organizations, businesses and individuals shaping public policy to improve equity, opportunity, and collaboration in our local food system
- Brought on interns for the summer to explore the ethics of mammal processing and ways to preserve the Coast by leveraging food sovereignty of federally recognized tribes.
- Culinaria Director Pepper Bowen was part of a Food Entrepreneurship panel at SoFAB’s Big Top Cake Competition.
- Started working with FPAC on getting political support for a national Urban Agriculture Bill introduced by Sen. Stabenow.
- Became Regional Sustainability Steering Committee member and hosted Green Drinks for LifeCity, a for-benefit company that makes social and environmental impact profitable for business. Green Drinks is a monthly networking happy hour that provides a relaxed atmosphere for businesses interested in environmentally and socially sustainable operations to connect.
- Produced the first annual Best of Bycatch event with support from the National Wildlife Federation aimed at encouraging consumption of Silverfin (i.e. Asian Carp), an invasive species with growing presence in Louisiana. Chef Jess from Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar and Grill was crowned Best of Bycatch and won the People’s Choice award.
- Began collaborating with WaterWorks, a socially conscious company dedicated to building resilience and reducing risk from flooding, pollution, and natural hazards.
- Produced Food for Thought, our first annual continuing legal education event. Topics included financing for coastal restoration projects, food labeling, restaurant workers’ rights, and ecofeminism as a way to understand the importance of environmental justice.
- Worked with the National Wildlife Federation and WaterWorks to produce the tailgate competition at Docville Farm for the first annual Cook-off for the Coast
- Presented a proposal for earth science experts to build an understanding of the impacts of municipal water quality on urban farming at Thriving Earth Exchange, branch of the American Geophysical Union intended to advance community science. Culinaria was accepted so look for more good things to come in 2018!