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SUNY ESF and Syracuse University Convene Food Justice and Sustainable Agriculture Thought Leaders

June 5, 2024 – Syracuse, N.Y. – This year’s annual joint conference of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS) and the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) will take place in Syracuse, NY, from June 5-8 with a virtual conference taking place on Monday, June 3. Syracuse University’s Falk College Food Studies Program, alongside the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) will co-host the conference, which will span both of their campuses. Over 420 academics, practitioners, activists, chefs, farmers, publishers, and graduate students will attend the conference, with many traveling from across the U.S. and internationally to present their research and findings.

This year’s conference theme is “Right to Food—Food as Commons,” with session topics focusing on the need for global cooperation in addressing issues of food equity and justice, sustainable agriculture, and food as a human right.

This year’s conference will feature two keynote speakers. The first is Michael Fakhri, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and a professor at the University of Oregon School of Law. Fakhri, who will speak on Thursday, June 6, is a faculty member of UO Law’s Environmental and Natural Resource Law Center, where he co-leads the Food Resiliency Project. His research focuses on the right to food and agroecology. His presentation will explore ways that the right to food is being used as part of social movements and political campaigns working to transform food systems all over the world, and increasingly in the US.

On Friday, June 7, Leah Penniman will discuss why community self-determination and solidarity are foundational to the land and food sovereignty movement. Penniman, a Black Kreyòl farmer, author (Farming While Black, Black Earth Wisdom), and food justice activist, established Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY, in 2010. As Co-Executive Director and Farm Director, she works to carry out Soul Fire’s mission to end racism in the food system through food sovereignty programs. Her work has received national media coverage and was featured in the recent documentary on regenerative farming titled Common Ground.

Also being featured at the conference is renowned Chef Joseph Yoon, a leader in the growing field of entomophagy, the practice of eating edible insects. During a three-hour workshop, Yoon will educate attendees on the potential of Insect Agriculture to address food security, climate change, nutrition, and sustainability challenges. He will also prepare a tasting menu where attendees will explore the exciting, innovative, and delicious world of edible insects.

The opening day of the conference (June 5) will offer a variety of field trip opportunities that showcase farms, processing facilities, and ecological corridors in the Finger Lakes region.

Additional information and registration can be found on the conference website. For questions, press inquiries, or photos, please contact Kristin Sheehan at or (646) 421 0291.

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.

About The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS) is a professional organization that provides an international forum to engage in the cross-disciplinary study of food, agriculture, and health, as well as an opportunity for examining the values that underlie various visions of food and agricultural systems. From a base of philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists, AFHVS has grown to include scientists, scholars, and practitioners in areas ranging from agricultural production and social science to nutrition policy and the humanities. AFHVS encourages participation by the growing community of researchers and professionals exploring alternative visions of the food system from numerous perspectives and approaches, including local and regional food systems; alternative food movements; agricultural and food policies, agricultural sustainability, food justice, issues of local and global food security, and food sovereignty. The organization publishes the journal, Agriculture and Human Values.

About The Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) was founded in 1985, with the goal of promoting the interdisciplinary study of food and society. It has continued that mission by holding annual meetings and working with Routledge Publishing, the organization produces the quarterly journal, Food, Culture, and Society. Members explore the complex relationships among food, culture, and society from numerous disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as in the world of food beyond the academy. ASFS encourages vigorous debate on a wide range of topics, such as cross-cultural perspectives on eating behaviors, gender and the food system, recipes, cookbooks, and menu as texts, politics of the family meal, malnutrition, hunger, and food security, comparative food history, and the political economy of the global food system.