Meet Oran

Oran Hesterman
Dr. Oran Hesterman, Ph. D., founder of the Fair Food Network.
Photograph © Douglas Elbinger 2010

DR. ORAN B. HESTERMAN is the president and CEO of Fair Food Network.

For fifteen years he co-led the Integrated Farming Systems and Food and Society Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, during which time the Foundation seeded the local food systems movement with over $200 million.

A native of Berkeley, California, and a former professor of agronomy at Michigan State University in East Lansing, he currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Q&A with Oran Hesterman

Q: What is Fair Food, the concept?
A: Fair Food is food grown in a way that is environmentally friendly, food that is healthy, and food that provides for the economic well being of everybody in the system, from production to processing to distribution. Everyone should have the right to healthy food, just as they should have the right to a good education for their children and access to adequate healthcare. More than 13 percent of Americans living in cities are considered “food insecure” which means they do not have access to adequate food for their families. Many of them live in what have been termed “food deserts,” areas in which access to fast foot and marginal food outlets (such as convenience stores, drug stores, and liquor stores) is much greater than access to a full-service grocery store.

Q: What is Fair Food, the book, about?
A: Fair Food, the book, is about the symptoms of our very broken food system, but more importantly, it lays out a vision for what a future food system could look like based on principles such as diversity, ecological integrity and economic viability for everybody in the food system. I think of it as a tool book, which provides people with the tools they need to engage actively in solving the many problems and bringing about a redesign of our food system so it’s healthy for our families and kids, it’s healthy for our environment, and healthy for our communities. For example, you will learn how to join the growing number of parents who are working with their local schools to bring healthier, locally-grown food to their childrens’ school cafeteria

Q: What makes Fair Food unique among the other books and documentaries that have come out in recent years on food issues?
A: So far in this fair food movement, we have seen a lot written about what the problems are. When people write about solutions, the suggestions are generally about eating local, eating organic. This book takes you far beyond that. It’s not that it’s unimportant to focus on what you’re doing in your kitchen, but it’s equally important to move beyond your refrigerator and engage as a fair food citizen. If we are going to redesign and shift our food system, it is going to happen not only because each of us are spending our food money differently, eating fair food at home, and supporting local farmers and regional agriculture, it’s also because we are working together to change public policy.

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