BFI News

Introducing “Pathways: Profiles of Local Food Systems Changemakers”

In a series of video interviews and Q&As with food system professionals, BFI’s student staff gives a glimpse into some of the unseen corners of the food industry.

May 8, 2024

By Melissa Cervantes, Isabel Martin, and Olivia Rounsaville

Catherine Van Dyke leads the BFI team walks through SF Market.

Over the course of the last academic year, we have interviewed professionals across the food system, out of a desire to introduce students to career paths and opportunities in traditionally unseen areas of the industry. The initial interview with Catherine was our first glimpse behind the curtain into how the food system really functions — and how we can all play a variety of roles in transforming the food system into one based on equity and sustainability. 

We have had the great opportunity to learn so much from our talks with these amazing, trailblazing professionals. Catherine Van Dyke showed us how passion for agriculture and values based supply chains can turn into a career connecting farmers with communities. Ian-Hero Serrano’s position in product innovation at Straus Creamery exhibited how creativity and science come together in food production. Straus’s Joseph Button gave us insight on the potential power of companies and consumers to incentivize sustainable farming practices. Dianna Dar, CEO of Cult Crackers, expressed the importance of kindness and community when building a small business. ab banks showed us how People’s Programs leverages community resources to achieve food sovereignty. 

Olivia Rounsaville and Isabel Martin interview Dianna Dar at her bakery in the Berkeley Kitchens.

Isabel Martin and Melissa Cervantes interview ab banks on the Oxford Tract.

Many of these changemakers are Berkeley alumni. They represent backgrounds in biology, marketing, public policy, and economics. Their paths to their current jobs in the food system weren’t linear. These interviews highlight some of the pivotal moments that developed their professional careers. 

As you watch the videos or read the stories in “Pathways,”, you will hear advice from professionals who are actively working towards advancing a more equitable food system, grounded in organic agricultural practices and community connection. We hope you take this opportunity to grow your network and envision a career in food systems. Whether you are studying food systems, thinking about pursuing a career in the industry, or are simply interested in learning more about local food businesses, there is much to learn from these professionals. 

“Pathways: Profiles of Local Food Systems Changemakers” is a project of BFI’s Food Systems Career Development Program, funded in part by the USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP). Aligned with TOPP, BFI focuses on workforce development in the areas of values-based supply chains and technical assistance for farmers in the organic industry.