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Image of Jess Daniel

© Gilles Perrin http://www.gilles-perrin.com/

Jess Daniel
Founder, FoodLab Detroit

FoodLab Detroit is a network of socially and environmentally responsible food entrepreneurs. I work with business owners and people who are starting food-related businesses in the city to help them not just participate in a free, open market, but envision new ways to work together to contribute to [the] quality of life here in the city, and the well-being of residents—not just profit. We’re one of the only organizations that’s really pushing things like considering worker-owned cooperatives as a business model.

I started with African-American artists because it was like I was working with the African-American community. I was talking about the mental health needs, it’s like you have people getting more and more into culture they have more and more outlets in their lives and stuff. That’s what I really started was more like a preservation of African-American culture and I think we’ve kind of accomplished that and made our mark.

I soon realized that… all of the social-justice issues I was interested in were tied into the food system. So I became more and more interested in food and the way that food is a very tangible, beautiful, sexy way to talk about things that are difficult to talk about in other ways—things about race, racism; things about the way workers are treated; things about what we’re putting into our bodies and our health.

From June 18, 2012, interview