Mission—to promote an understanding of the power of food to connect individuals to past, place, and other people.
Dr. Lucy Long
The Center for Food and Culture was founded in 2007 by Lucy M. Long, Ph.D., a folklorist, musician, mother, cook, and consumer of most things edible. She began studying food in 1980 in relation to work on Asian immigrant communities in the US and has continued looking at food from many perspectives. When she began teaching in the mid 1980s the field of foodways was not recognized as a serious academic subject, so she explored and taught about food in the context of other disciplines– folklore, anthropology, popular culture, American culture studies, international studies, tourism, even ethnomusicology.
Long also worked in museums and libraries doing exhibit research and design, educational programming, archiving, and interpretative presenting. Food was a common theme throughout much of this work. Long’s multidisciplinary scholarly background (folklore, anthropology, philosophy, music, ethnomusicology, sociolinguistics, oral history, museum studies) and her involvement in both academia and public sector work made her familiar with a wide range of approaches to understanding food. It also made her aware of the multiple issues surrounding it, and the ways in which those issues are intertwined and complex.
As a scholar and an activist, Long observed that individuals and organizations oftentimes worked in isolation and could benefit from increased intercommunication. She also noticed that cultural perspectives on the meanings of food tended to be ignored or misunderstood by those concerned with changing the contemporary food system or improving our personal eating habits. Since meaning is the basis for action, Long felt that dialogues among scholars, chefs, nutritionists, farmers, green market advocates, and others concerned with food and foodways are necessary to create positive and sustainable change. The Center for Food and Culture was established to bring together resources, organizations, and individuals involved in food research, study, appreciation, activism, production, and consumption in recognition that food connects us all.