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Photo by Brian Addison.
Admittedly, when I first started writing about food on Longbeachize, it seemed out of place for an advocacy publication that revolved mainly around issues of livability and urban design.
However, I found myself consistently returning to the idea of food as sustenance, as community, and as form of connection. Food brings people together and, sadly, has become political by way of food deserts and limited accessibility; food is inherently connected to the ideas behind livability and new urbanism.
Of course, food isn’t always so dire; it can and does have the wonderful power to alter communities. Places like Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland, The Nest in Bellflower, Guelagetza in K-Town, Robert Earl’s BBQ in North Long Beach… These places have permitted food to act as a connector for their communities and with it, strengthened the backbone of small business and families.
And it is under this context as to why two Long Beach lovers—Tony Damico and Ryan Smolar of Long Beach Fresh—have decided to tackle food from all its angles, both gastronomical and political, for their inaugural food summit, Foodways, taking place May 24 through May 31.
The pair, activating multiple spaces throughout the city, will be inviting chefs and community members to discuss, analyze, and share ideas about some of the most pressing issues when it comes to food and the built environment, including ending hunger and hunger relief, reducing food waste, the Culture of Chefs, food accessibility and affordability, and food in the urban landscape.
“My greatest hope for this summit is that we can draw on local and regional expertise to innovate our local food system to the next level,” Damico said. “While Long Beach has stark inequities in food access and affordability, many are creatively filling the gaps.”
Damico and Smolar are looking for professionals and community members alike to pitch their ideas in these categories, encouraging submissions to be collaborative and innovative.
“We’ve been learning lots about regional food networks over the past few years while staying inspired by our local food systems stakeholders: our eaters, feeders, and seeders,” Damico said. “We want to once again bring folks together to have honest conversations about real food, celebrate and share our food histories as diverse communities, and look for ways to make healthy choices easier and more accessible together.”