Q&A: Oran Hesterman/Fair Food; Leila Conners/Urban Roots

Written on November 16th, 2011



Aired 11/13/11

Some bad news:

In 2008 more than 50% of all US harvested cropland grew only two crops – corn and soybeans and more than 40% of the food calories consumed worldwide came from just three crops: wheat, corn and rice.

30% of Detroit residents receive food stamps, but 92% of Detroit’s food stamp retailers offer few or no fresh fruit or vegetables.

The average plate of food eaten in our homes or restaurants travels 1,500 miles from where the food is grown. Our food system consumes 10.3 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1.4 calories of food energy.”

And some good news:

There are now 8000 farm to school programs across the US. Eight years ago there were only 4. There are now 6000 farmers’ markets in the US three times as many as in 1995. 330 hospitals in the US and Canada have pledged to purchase food that is grown according to Fair Food principles.

In recent years a number of books and films have documented the dangers of our current food system, and a number of those have been featured on Free forum. Just as you can’t alter the course of climate change by simply switching to efficient light bulbs, today’s guests believe that you can’t fix the broken food system by simply growing a backyard garden. It requires redesigning our food system.

My first guest, ORAN HESTERMAN has a new book FAIR FOOD, a guide to changing not only what we eat, but how our food is grown, packaged, delivered, marketed and sold. Hesterman opens the book talking about Detroit, Michigan, an unlikely beacon of hope in the fight for fair food.

Prior to starting the Fair Food Network, where he is President & CEO, ORAN HESTERMAN was the inaugural president of Fair Food Foundation, leading their sustainable food systems programs. Before that, he researched and taught in the crop and soil sciences department at Michigan State University in East Lansing, and for more than 15 years he co-led the Integrated Farming Systems and Food and Society Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, during which time the Foundation seeded the local food systems movement with over $200 million. FAIR FOOD is his first book.

My second guest LEILA CONNERS, a founder of Tree Media in Santa Monica, is a producer of URBAN ROOTS, a documentary on the food revolution taking place in Detroit. Directed by Detroit-native Mark McInnis the film tells the powerful story of a group of dedicated Detroiters working tirelessly to fulfill their vision for locally-grown, sustainably farmed food in a city where people — as in much of the county — have found themselves cut off from real food and limited to lifeless offerings of fast food chains, mini-marts, and grocery stores stocked with processed food from thousands of miles away.

LEILA CONNERS is Founder and President of Tree Media Group. Conners is director, producer, and writer on THE 11TH HOUR, as well as the short films “Global Warning” and “Water Planet” (all with Leonardo DiCaprio). She was Associate Editor at New Perspectives Quarterly and Global Viewpoint, focusing on international politics and social issues. She is producer of URBAN ROOTS.

fairfoodbook.org, fairfoodnetwork.org, urbanrootsamerica.com, treemedia.com


Written on August 19th, 2011


Dave Mooney explains how his team’s cancer vaccine can train one’s immune system to target specific cancer cells, and describes the use of novel hydrogels in drug delivery and tissue regeneration.

Chris Gemmiti, discusses translation of these hydrogels
from bench-to-bedside. 


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SAT 2/27
(1) CORNEL WEST, Living Out Loud

Wings of Life-endangered pollinators



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Always Controversial Cornel West Disses Obama, Survives Cancer and Almost Spent His Life in Prison

Written on December 18th, 2009
Cornel West dishes on his new memoirs and Obama’s clique of ‘recycled neo-liberals and recycled neo-Clintonites.’

December 18, 2009  |  [Editor’s Note: The following is a transcript of a recent interview with Cornel West by radio host Terrence McNally on KPFK’s Free Forum program.]

“The capacity to produce social chaos is the last resort of desperate people. You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people, if you don’t serve the people.

There’s music in those words as well as pain, wisdom and honesty. Those are the words of Cornel West, who has just written a memoir, “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.” In it, he writes, “Until now, I’ve never taken the time to focus on the inner dynamics of my soul.”

Educator and philosopher Dr. Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. West has won numerous awards, including the American Book Award, and has received more than 20 honorary degrees. He’s produced three CDs of music and spoken word, offers weekly commentary on The Tavis Smiley Show, and is the author of several books, including Race Matters, Democracy Matters, and Hope on a Tightrope.

Continue reading “Always Controversial Cornel West Disses Obama, Survives Cancer and Almost Spent His Life in Prison”

Muslim Refusenik

Written on April 8th, 2005

Irshad Manji, author of ‘The Trouble with Islam Today,’ discusses the closemindedness and literalism of present-day Islam and her path to free thinking.

 April 8, 2005  |  This interview originally aired on Free Forum with Terrence McNally on Los Angeles’ KPFK radio.

At a moment when America is at war in a Muslim country due in part to the electoral muscle of the Christian Right, I agree with those who speak of a clash of civilizations. But I don’t see Jews and Christians versus Muslims. I see fundamentalist, pre-scientific, pre-enlightenment Jews, Christians and Muslims versus Jews, Christians, Muslims and non-believers who, in their search for meaning, ask questions and question answers.

In her controversial best-seller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Irshad Manji, a spike-haired, lesbian Canadian who looks younger than her 36 years, challenges fellow Muslims to revive a lost tradition of free inquiry within Islam. The book has been published internationally, including in Pakistan, and Urdu and Arabic translations can be downloaded free of charge from her web site (www.muslim-refusenik.com.

Her earlier book, Risking Utopia: On the Edge of a New Democracy, called on young people to re-define democracy through new technologies and social networks. Manji produced and hosted “Queer Television” on Toronto’s Citytv, the first program on commercial airwaves to explore the lives of gay and lesbian people. She currently hosts “Big Ideas” in Toronto, featuring innovative thinkers from around the world.

Oprah Winfrey recently honored Irshad with the first annual Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction.” Ms. magazine has selected her as a “Feminist for the 21st Century.” Maclean’s, Canada’s national news magazine, named her one of ten “Canadians Who Make a Difference,” and in June, she received the Simon Wiesenthal Award of Valor.

Continue reading “Muslim Refusenik”

Al Franken’s Nutritional Candy

Written on February 11th, 2005
Al Franken has aimed his rapier wit and truth-telling compulsion at a growing Air America audience, coating the bitter pill of the issues of the day with a candy shell.

February 11, 2005  |   This interview originally aired on Free Forum with Terrence McNally on Los Angeles’ KPFK radio.

After a wonderful career on Saturday Night Live and then debunking right-wing propaganda in his best-selling books and Grammy-winning audio books, Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them and Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken has taken the fight to America’s airwaves on Air America. With co-host Katherine Lanpher, Franken offers three hours a day of commentary and comedy, as well as substantive interviews – last week’s guests included FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmunds, former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman, The Innocence Project’s Barry Scheck, David Brock, author of The Republican Noise Machine, and Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse.

The fastest growing network in radio history, Air America is now on in 50 markets, including seven of the top 10, and doing very well against Rush, Hannity and the rest of the rabid right.

And while Franken isn’t yet running for senator of Minnesota, could a leap into politics be too far in the future?

Welcome, Al Franken, to KPFK and Free Forum.

Continue reading “Al Franken’s Nutritional Candy”