‘Grand Rapids Food’ author stirs voices on local food scene


Lisa Rose Starner. Photo by Adam Bird

Local food advocate, urban farmer, herbalist and author Lisa Rose Starner will lead a community conversation about our food system, environment, economy and the relationships we have with each other on Thursday night at the Main Library in downtown Grand Rapids.

Starner recently published the book, “Grand Rapids Food: A Culinary Revolution,” which examines the booming food movement in Grand Rapids and the individuals making it happen.

Starner writes in the book’s first chapter, “Grand Rapids citizens are choosing local food for a multitude of reasons — for health, for a stronger economy, for social justice.”

She has invited representatives from City Farmers, Our Kitchen Table, ACCESS & Temple Emanuel’s Food Pantry, Fulton Street Farmers Market and Bartertown Diner, as well as pastry entrepreneur Aliyah French — all included in the book — to discuss these reasons and innovations developing out of the local food movement.

The discussion starts at 7 p.m. at the library, at 111 Library St. NE.

Local food movement

Starner said that after growing up in West Michigan, she moved away briefly to the West Coast and then returned in 2001, just in time to catch the beginning stages of the local food movement in Grand Rapids.

“I’ve really been able to witness the growth in the entire farm-to-table movement, not just restaurants purchasing local food for their menus, while that is a really big part of it, but really all aspects of the food system — community gardens, food pantries.”

“Urban audience”

Starner hopes that the panel discussion will provide vibrant conversation and serve as inspiration for others to take their own steps in the urban food movement, whether it’s through starting a community garden or opening an urban farming business.

“I designed something specific for the Grand Rapids Public Library to bring in an urban audience that really is interested in local people cultivating change in the urban city, particularly urban farming, social justice, innovative restaurant concepts, like Bartertown Restaurant,” Starner said.

“How do we talk about urban food systems?” she added. “What could that look like? What are the opportunities in urban agriculture? In growing young entrepreneurs? What resources do we have in our community that make us unique here in the city of Grand Rapids?”

GR Reads

The panel discussion is part of the GR Reads, an adult summer reading program organized by the library and in its fourth year.

Librarians select ten books around a theme and create programs that relate to the books.

Starner's program is related to the book “The Dirty Life”, one of the 2013 selected books.

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