To the casual viewer, the joys of harvesting vegetables and hip hop may seem like an unusual pairing. One view of Appetite For Change’s “Grow Food” will put that notion to rest.
Hitting the sweet spot between “incredibly inspiring” and “ridiculously catchy”, “Grow Food” was was directed by Chancellor Tha Beast in collaboration with Beats & Rhymes, and features volunteers and students involved with Appetite for Change, a North Minneapolis “community-led organization that strengthens families, creates economic prosperity, and encourages healthy living.”
As a Program Fellow for Food Recovery Network, fan of hip hop, and amateur gardener, I was blown away by this video. Curious about its development (and the genius behind it), I immediately reached out to Appetite’s Development and Communications Manager, Molly Cherland.
According to Cherland, the video was the final project of their Summer 2016 Youth Employment & Training Program, which develops student’s knowledge about urban farming knowledge, encouraging employment readiness skills in the process.
“The youth in our program wanted to share their message - the importance of actively choosing healthy foods - with their peers in a fun, accessible music format,” explains Cherland.
The foundation of hip hop lies in social justice, pride in one’s community, and the detailing of inequality in the artist’s surroundings. Naturally, this genre is fertile ground for the topic of food deserts: geographic regions where the community lack access to grocery stores due to a number of factors, including transportation, low-incomes, and the absence of grocery stores within walking distances. However, communities across the country are developing grassroots solutions to increase access to healthy food within food deserts. Detroit, Chicago, NYC, DC, and Tucson are just a few examples of communities that are developing urban space for community gardening.
What makes “Grow Food” stand out from its contemporaries is that not only is their message relevant, but it’s a great song. In spite of their age, the volunteers in the video are incredibly talented (read: they can spit bars). During the age of Top-40 mumble rap, “Grow Food” is a breath of fresh air. Consequently, people are taking notice. They’ve been featured on VH1’s blog, as well as given a shout-out on Nick Cannon’s Instagram.
“It's been thrilling to see our video gain momentum!” says Cherland. “We're a very small staff, so there's a definite sense of camaraderie and shared success with the video going viral. Keeping up with the media has been a bit of challenge, but it's such an exciting time that we're working hard to share our message as widely as possible.”
-- Brandon Denney, Program Fellow