Making Peace with Food

By: Vanessa Marr  

As postsecondary Community Health and Nutrition Education programs continue to expand in the United States, instruction that focuses on cultural awareness across the curriculum remains, for the most part, a surface-level endeavor that "promotes diversity" through multicultural culinary exploration and case study; at worst, it is overlooked altogether. Assumptions and biases directed toward marginalized groups may be reinforced as hierarchical models of knowledge creation and circulation are recognized as standard practice. This interactive paper presentation demonstrates participatory frameworks and techniques (e.g., Photovoice, small-group discussion, digital storytelling) to critically examine what Hassel (2012) addresses as "the Eurocentric cultural grounding of nutritional sciences and nutrition education" formally taught in colleges and universities. With its roots deeply planted in womanist theory and embodied research, this pedagogical approach has strong implications for the development and promotion of culturally-responsive curricula and field experiences.

"Health and Nutrition Education", " Self-Sufficiency", " Ethics"
Food Policies, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Vanessa Marr

Dr. Vanessa Marr is a queer womanist mama, educator, artist, scholar, and activist. For the past ten years, she has worked alongside several urban agricultural organizations including the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Growing Hope in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Most recently she served as a Youth Research Facilitator for the Community Health Pipeline Project at Wayne State University, where she also teaches health and nutrition education. Her formal education includes a PhD in Communication Studies from Wayne State and a master's degree in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint. Her research interests include critical service-learning pedagogy, nutritional interventions for trauma, and theater-based approaches to multicultural health education. A trained Community Chef through Just Food in New York, she is the founding director of SoulSeed Kitchen, a food justice organization that promotes urban gardening, healthy cooking, and mindful communication in under-resourced neighborhoods. Whether it is through gathering stories or sharing plant-based recipes, Vanessa is committed to strengthening the Beloved Community, one meal at a time.