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Steve Chaplin
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MacArthur Fellow and urban farmer Will Allen to highlight food science conference with public keynote

May 26, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- If you eat to influence a healthy lifestyle or a sustainable planet and haven't yet heard of Will Allen, then Indiana University's Anthropology Department has something to put on your plate the evening of June 3.

Will Allen

Urban farmer Will Allen, a 2008 MacArthur Fellow and the founder and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Growing Power, Inc., will provide the public keynote address June 3 for the "Food In Bloom" conference being held June 2-5 at IU Bloomington.

On the heels of two White House appearances in as many months, including one with First Lady Michelle Obama to unveil her "Let's Move" initiative combating childhood obesity, and fresh from inclusion earlier this month on Time magazine's list of the "100 most influential people in the world," Allen will be in town to deliver the keynote address for the internationally-flavored "Food In Bloom" conference at IU Bloomington. His appearance is the only portion of the conference that is free and open to the public.

Allen, a 2008 MacArthur Fellow and self-described urban agriculturalist from Milwaukee, speaks to a holistic farming model made for an urban setting that succeeds through components like refined food distribution systems, compost-heated greenhouses, raised bed food growing and, in some cases, livestock production. He appears as the keynote at "Food In Bloom: Cross Pollination and Cultivation of Food Systems, Cultures and Methods," a conference being held June 2-5 at IU.

The conference represents something of a coup for the Anthropology of Food Program of IU's Anthropology Department as "Food In Bloom" will be the 12th annual joint annual meeting of three organizations: the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), and the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN). About 400 food scientists from around the world are expected to attend, according to Richard Wilk, an IU anthropology professor and director of the Anthropology of Food Program. It is the first time IU has hosted the joint meeting.

"We are extremely excited to not only be hosting this gathering of three of the leading organizations related to food and society, but also to have an inspirational leader like Will Allen speaking in support of the conference," Wilk said. "We are sure Will's message will be extremely relevant not only to our conference attendees, but also to the Bloomington community."

Allen will speak from 6-7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 3, in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union, as the headliner over four days of food science presentations and organizational meetings, tours of farms and food-related businesses, and even a few cooking classes and food foraging opportunities for conference goers.

With research presentation titles ranging from "Chasing the Mango: Food as Sexual Metaphor in Belizean Pop Culture" to "Public Displays of Affection: Mothers and Requests for Junk Food from Children" and "The Marriage of Big Green and Big Food: A Case Study of Sustainable Seafood," Wilk confirmed the conference was designed to cover a broad spectrum of topics intended to create a "robust cross pollination of disciplines, theories and methods."

"In parallel with the spectrum of topics will be a healthy mix of presentations, panels, roundtables, poster presentations, excursions, dining experiences and invigorating conversation," he said.

To learn more about the conference and Will Allen, visit To speak with Wilk, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or