Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Grub for Body and Soul: An Interview with Food Activists Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Grub for Body and Soul: An Interview with Food Activists Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry

Article excerpt

Every movement needs its revolutionaries and spokespersons, and in the growing crusade for a healthy, ethical, and "fair" food system, Bryant Terry and Anna Lappe happen to be both. Terry is a chef and founder of b-healthy! (Build Healthy Eating and Lifestyles to Help Youth)--a nonprofit group in New York that teaches low-income kids not only about nutrition, but also how to prepare healthy food themselves. Lappe is a writer, speaker, and co-founder (with her mother, Frances Moore Lappe) of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund. The latter supports grassroots efforts around the world that address the causes of hunger and poverty.

The two packed their passion and experience into Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, a practical book that explains why our food system is the way it is, but also what we can do to change it. And don't be surprised if, along the way, you pick up a few tips about cooking (pepper grinders are key) and music (Cesaria Evora is nice accompaniment to cinnamon-dusted sweet potato fries). Associate editor Molly Marsh spoke recently with the author-activists.

Sojourners: So why the name Grub? What is grab?

Bryant Terry: When Anna and I started working on this project, we had so many people tell us that healthy organic food is for wealthy baby boomers. That's a common misconception. We wanted people to understand that grub--healthy, local, sustainable food--is food that's accessible to everyone. It's something all people have a right to.

Anna Lappe: For us, it's not just about food that is organic or local. It's about making the connections between what we eat and whether it's produced in a sustainable and just way.

Sojourners: How did yon meet, and when did the idea for the book emerge?

Lappe: I had just moved to Brooklyn and was reading Future 500, a book that describes youth-led organizations around the country. I saw the description of Bryant and b-healthy! and thought, "I have to meet him." I found out Bryant was only six blocks away. We had coffee and started talking--we hit it off at that first meeting.

Sojourners: The book is structured very creatively, with information on food systems, menus, and music pairings. How did you decide on the different elements?

Lappe: It happened organically. We thought about what we would want in a book--what we like and what our friends would like. We liked the idea of adding music. Among his other talents, Bryant is a DJ; I'm always asking him for music ideas. So it made sense to include them.

Terry: The cookbook section came out of the grub parties--we've had four grub parties in New York and two in the Oakland, California, area. Activists, educators, and intellectuals came together to see how they could be more active as consumers and citizens to make changes. Music was a huge element to the parties. People also asked for cooking tips, so we thought it was important to include those.

The grub Web site ( will include tips for people to host their own grub parties, links to other groups doing this work, and ways to let us know about people's grub parties.

Sojourners: Grub describes the forces that actively keep us from eating healthy and in a sustainable way. How can we keep from being overwhelmed by what's happened to our food systems?

Lappe: That's why we have all the elements in Grub. We wanted to tell people what's happened to our food, but in the same book give people these really tangible things to do--to remind people that we do have the power. …

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