This is first post in our NFRD Who's Who series, a series of interviews with the fantastic leaders who will be speaking at the National Food Recovery Dialogue on April 2-4. Stay tuned – we'll be sharing more interviews as we count down to the NFRD.
Christopher Bradshaw is the founder and executive director of Dreaming Out Loud, whose mission is to build an equitable food system, grow economic opportunity for marginalized people, and more resilient communities. Since their founding in 2014, they've worked with farmers markets to bring more than 250,000 pounds fresh produce to the food deserts of DC. We can't wait for Christopher to present his talk "From Rosewood to Real Time: Food Justice and Economic Justice In America" at the NFRD!
FRN: What are you looking forward to at the conference?
CB: I'm most looking forward to a conversation with the students and hearing about the work being done in food recovery; where the innovation is in the space and moving conversations forward. I think conversations help to frame circumstances and push folks to find ways of acting within their world. We are at a critical juncture; policy needs to move to open up resources to undergird individuals and communities with skills and supports eroded by a profit-over-people economic system. We need to shape a national vision of the food and economic system towards one that creates living wage jobs and moves towards a restorative, regenerative social justice narrative; beyond band-aids, to systemic, structural social revolution that has justice as its core value.
FRN: Why are you passionate about food recovery?
CB: I am passionate about creating a stronger, more just and sustainable food system because I think that so many broad issues of social justice intersect with the food system. From racial justice resulting from land loss, economic devastation, and displacement; to workers rights, living wages and income disparity; to repairing the wounds of mass incarceration and creating pathways for returning citizens. Just means justice; it means uncomfortable, but honest conversations bout restoring communities, transcending our politics, and building the world we envision through the lens of food.
FRN: What's your proudest accomplishment of your career?
CB: My proudest professional accomplishment is just making it through the darkness. It is hard starting an organization, stewarding it through growth, and moving it into a place where it hold true to its values; and meets community needs in ways that empower and facilitate agency. Maybe my proudest moment is yet to come, as I am excited for the day when I let go allow Dreaming Out Loud to go free.
FRN: Time for some fun. What's your spirit vegetable?
CB: My spirit vegetable is the pole bean. Random; I know. I just love the way that pole beans find a way to climb up from seemingly anywhere, or out of nowhere, guided by what I have no idea. Somehow, what seems like overnight, poles beans through some dogged strength reach further and further towards the sun to find a guiding strand of twine, or fencing, or a the limb of a tree. Whatever that force is that is guiding that pole bean is unseen, but it just knows that if it keeps trying it will find it's guiding support and grow to what it knows that it can be.