A clothesline clipped with notes of food memories.

Visitors jotted down their food memories and clipped them to a line at Radcliffe's Marketplace of Ideas.

Photos by Melissa Blackall/Radcliffe Institute

Campus & Community

Food and justice with a side of nostalgia

Radcliffe’s Marketplace of Ideas entwines memories of family and friendship with activism

3 min read

Food and justice were on the menu at Radcliffe’s Marketplace of Ideas, as were intimate memories of family, friendship, love, and loss, some  displayed for all to read.

My dear friend, Nan C. Freeman, was a martyr for the UFW [United Farm Workers]. She was killed by a truck while supporting farmworkers in Florida. When we were children, playmates with her brother and my sister, her mother would stop our play to call Nan and Nelson in for their milk, consumed between meals in their kosher home. The call to milk was the voice of love to me as a child.

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Making my first paella all by myself (or maybe with divine intervention from my Abuelita). (Spoiler alert: It was yummy!)

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Growing tomatoes on the patio — my daughter calls them garden snacks!

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My family had a farm a few miles SE of San Jose. I milked a cow for several years, fed the pigs & chickens, tended the vegetable garden. Made butter. My dad would once a year slaughter a pig—not my favorite memory.

Visitors’ handwritten memories, pinned to a clothesline, were a highlight of the Radcliffe Day event held Friday in the Sunken Garden. Nonprofits and food activist organizations offered information, buttons, and bananas. A steady crowd took leaflets and asked questions, including Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Harvard President Larry Bacow, and Radcliffe Medalist Dolores Huerta, a civil rights icon and the co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farmworkers of America.

A visitor clips a food memory to the line.
Posting a food memory.
Larry Bacow holds his food memory card.
Dolores Huerta and Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin are flanked by Fresh Truck's Raya Jackson (left) and Markiesha Duverneau.

Larry Bacow recalled his mother’s “Roll Cake,” which was served at his inauguration as president of Harvard. Dolores Huerta (center left) and Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin are flanked by Fresh Truck’s Raya Jackson (left) and Markiesha Duverneau.

The event resonated with Susan Hurwitz ’67 and her daughter-in-law Lindsay Rosenfeld, Harvard School of Public Health Sc.M. ’04, Sc.D. ’08.

“I was really drawn to this topic. It’s about living on our planet and the whole epidemic of obesity and why aren’t [people] getting the food that would improve their health.” said Hurwitz.

“I teach in this field, and I keep thinking of my students and wanting them to have a Marketplace of Ideas like this,” said Rosenfeld. “These are all pieces of the social determinants of good health.”

Lewis Counts, who attended with his wife, Constance Counts ’62 (“the last real Radcliffe diploma”), recalled his time as a food activist in the 1970s.

“Get a lot of concerned citizens doing small things and it adds up,” he said. “But somebody has to be up front, and that was Dolores [Huerta] and Cesar [Chavez].”

Organizations participating in the marketplace included Boston Area Gleaners; the Dolores Huerta Foundation; the Edible Schoolyard Project; the Food Project; Fresh Truck; the Food Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School; New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, an initiative of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; the US decent work program at Oxfam America; Rural & Migrant Ministry; and the Small Planet Institute.