Food activist Jill Richardson visits Lawrence

Rebecca Carvalho and Erik Wyse

Lawrence University welcomed
“Recipe for America” author and food
activist Jill Richardson Thursday,
Oct. 1. Richardson, supported by
Green Roots and the Mojmir Povolny
Lectureship in International Studies,
presented on “The Global Food
Crisis” in the Wriston Art Center
Richardson’s visit began with her
lecture on food and agriculture policy
in Science Hall. Accompanied by
Assistant Professor of Government
Jason Brozek, Richardson discussed
sustainable agriculture and criticized
dependence on pesticides, fertilizers
and genetically modified organisms.
Additionally, Richardson discussed
the World Bank’s environmentally
friendly initiative,
the International Assessment of
Agricultural Knowledge, Science and
Technology for Development, a project
developed to reduce hunger and
improve rural livelihoods.
Richardson also stressed the
importance of eating locally, a habit
which benefits local economies and
improves the relationship between
producer and consumer.
Following the lecture, Richardson
had lunch with students in the
Warch Campus Center, where she
had a chance to learn more about
Bon Appétit’s food service program.
Bon Appétit markets its services
as “sustainable,” using a term that is
sometimes misunderstood.
“Sustainable agriculture is the
ability to produce food without compromising
other generations,” said
Richardson also mentioned a
number of actions that people can
take to help create a sustainable
food system. She said that there are
“little things you can do in your life.
One option is to get more politically
involved, get to know the bills that
are going to be passed.”
“The Bon Appétit program isn’t
perfect – the local, antibiotic-free
chicken they buy is still from a factory
farm – but it’s moving in the
right direction as fast as it can,” she
said on her blog, “La Vida Locavore.”
Bon Appétit would ideally
like to respond to criticism like
Richardson’s, and in the process
become a part of the Lawrence community,
said Julie Severance, Bon
Appétit’s food service manager.
When asked about Bon Appétit’s role
at Lawrence stated, “We are excited
to be here. We are here for the students.”
Severance went on to emphasize
that Bon Appétit welcomes feedback,
and will respond to comments and
suggestions sent their way. A major
goal of Bon Appétit, said Severance,
is to improve the well being of the
Lawrence student body through
quality foods.
During the afternoon, Richardson
visited Lawrence’s sustainable garden,
SLUG. She commented on finding
freshness in the garden, and also
on how the food is purchased and
served by Bon Appétit at meals.
Richardson, who worked for the
health care system prior to writing
“Recipe for America,” became interested
in sustainable agriculture after
realizing that common diseases were
often preventable through balanced
food habits.
She also realized that everyone
does not have access to fresh produce.
Her activism improved her own
eating habits, and brought about her
environmental responsibilities.
Published in July of 2009,
Richardson’s book, titled “Recipe for
America: Why Our Food System is
Broken and What We Can Do to
Fix It,” details how the food market
is run by huge corporate farms
that offer consumers unhealthy food
options. Richardson says in her book
that local, sustainable – and often
grassroots – movements are the
only solution to America’s food crisis.
Though Bon Appétit is a large-scale company serving more than 400 institutions across 28 states, it still purchases mostly local foods, with 85 percent of its meats, vegetables and other products coming from within a 150-mile radius.
Richardson gives daily information for people interested in eating sustainably on her blog, “La Vida Locavore,” available at