Mississippi has a rich culinary heritage stretching from the Gulf coast to the Delta that contributes to the unique identity of the state. A diverse agricultural history, ready access to game and fresh water fishing, and a thriving seafood industry combine with diverse ethnic origins, long-standing social traditions, and a broad spectrum of religious and cultural practices, to weave food deeply into the fabric of our culture. Yet, intertwined with this heritage are alarming health statistics that affect the lives of an increasing number of our citizens. Specifically, Mississippi continues to be the most obese state in the nation (USDA 2011). Despite consistently high obesity rates, Mississippi residents also exhibit increasing rates of food insecurity (Coleman-Jensen et al. 2012) or those individuals who have nutritionally inadequate diets and whose access to safe food is limited and uncertain. Such poor health statistics combine with ethical and cultural practices to create a complex and often paradoxical food environment within Mississippi.
To foster public dialogue on complicated food issues in Mississippi, the UMMC Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities (CBMH) in collaboration with the Mississippi Humanities Council has created a traveling panel exhibit focused on the intricate mosaic of food, health, and culture. The exhibit, titled Food: For Thought, For Life, explores 10 significant food-related topics, each topic developed by food scholars and activists from across the state and presented in a pair of stand-alone panels. The panels are displayed in Mississippi public and community college libraries on a subscription basis and rotate monthly. Additional handout materials, suggestions for speakers, and other resources accompany each panel pair to promote community engagement and encourage an in-depth examination of the ethics and culture of food.
Considerations for subscribing libraries:
Libraries that wish to subscribe to the Food: For Thought, For Life Panel Series must fill out the Memorandum of Agreement form and return it to the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the address provided on the form. By signing this agreement, each library agrees to participate in this series according to the responsibilities and duties outlined in the document. For further information, please contact Dr. Caroline Compretta.
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