CUESA Talk: Food Democracy 2020 | Civic Engagement Through Food

CUESA Talk: Food Democracy 2020 | Civic Engagement Through Food

Civic engagement is any action we take to make a difference in our community. In times when we feel overwhelmed by our political process, how can we use our collective energies and gathering places to galvanize the food movement for larger systems change? And how can we best nourish ourselves and our neighbors, while fighting for the causes we care about?

Eaters, voters, and good food advocates can shift the political culture in this country by going beyond voting with our forks to taking action in our communities.

Join CUESA and SPUR for a conversation with two community leaders who, through their work in food, have pounded the pavement, knocked on doors, driven policy change, and organized to help people claim their power. Learn from their first-hand experience overcoming challenges, and discover tangible ways you can get involved in 2020 and beyond.

In conversation:

Location: SHACK15, One Ferry Building, Suite 201, San Francisco

Reception featuring refreshments from CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (included with admission) to follow.

Food Democracy 2020

This event is part of CUESA’s Food Democracy 2020 series to galvanize our communities to get engaged locally, federally, and globally through food leading up to the 2020 election. Join us for future events in this series, including a community organizing workshop, a candidate forum, and a ballot breakdown!

A Note about Ticketing

CUESA acknowledges the many historical factors that have led to a wide range of inequities in the United States. This talk is an opportunity for us to all investigate the impacts these histories continue to have on access to fresh food and agricultural land. We invite you to consider San Francisco’s living wage ($20.58/hour or $42,806/year), as you purchase your ticket for the event.

No one will be turned away from the panel for lack of funds. Please email [email protected] and share a bit why are you are interested in a scholarship for this event.

This talk is co-presented with SPUR and is free to SPUR members. Please register under your SPUR membership name, as membership will be subject to verification. You can learn more about becoming a SPUR member at

Tickets are nonrefundable but may be transferable by contacting us.

About the Speakers

Nina F. Ichikawa graduated UC Berkeley with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (with a focus on agricultural trade and food policy), and went on to study sustainable agriculture policy at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan. As a Japanese Ministry of Education Graduate Fellow, she spent three years researching in rural and urban Japan, helping to establish an environmental publishing house in Tokyo, and working closely with the Japanese organic and biodynamic farming movements. She has published in Civil Eats, Grist, Mold, Al-Jazeera America, NBC Asian America, Amerasia Journal, Rafu Shimpo and the Nichi Bei Times. In 2009 she launched the Food and Agriculture section for Hyphen magazine. Her writings on Asian American farmers and retailers were published in Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (NYU Press: 2013). From 2009 to 2011 she joined the Obama administration’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative at the USDA and from 2011-2013, was a Food and Community Fellow for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, where she launched, the nation’s first food policy platform for Asian Americans and Pacific Islander voters. She is now the Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Institute.

Reem Assil is the chef/owner of Reem’s California, a nationally acclaimed restaurant inspired by her passion for Arab street corner bakeries and the vibrant communities that surround them. Her food is inspired by her Palestinian-Syrian upbringing and the connection to her family, heritage and community that Arab aromas, flavors and techniques evoke. Reem was named a James Beard Semifinalist in the Best Chef: West in 2018 and 2019, StarChefs 2019 Rising Star Restauranteur, Thrillist’s “2018 Chef of the Year,” San Francisco Magazine’s “2018 Chef of the Year,” and San Francisco Chronicle’s “2017 Rising Star Chef.” Reem’s California was also named one of Food & Wine’s “2018 Top 10 Restaurants of the Year,” SF Chronicle’s “Top 100,” and Mercury News’ “Bay Area 50 Best Restaurants.” Reem is a graduate of the competitive food business incubator program, La Cocina, entrepreneurship program Centro Community Partners, and Oakland-based business accelerator program ICA: Fund Good Jobs. Before dedicating herself to a culinary career, Reem worked for a decade as a community and labor organizer, and brings the spirit of social justice and activism to all her projects. Using the tool of food, Reem invokes the central virtue of her Arab culture- hospitality- to build strong, resilient and connected community. She combines her lifelong experience of fighting for justice and her nearly two decades of professional experience in nonprofits and the food industry to build towards her vision for a more socially and economically just world.

CUESA’s 2020 panel discussion series is generously sponsored by the glassybaby white light fund, which gives to organizations that provide hope and healing to people, animals, and the planet.

Tickets available via CUESA’s website.