Food Relatives: Decolonizing and Indigenizing the Global Food System

Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2

10:00am – 5:00pm (PST)

Conference on Zoom (Friday) and in-person at UC Berkeley (Saturday).

To access April 1 (Day 1) event evaluations, click here.

To access April 2 (Day 2) event evaluations, click here.

*Video recording of Day 1 and Day 2 forthcoming

The term “Food Relatives” signals to the alternative and Indigenous food systems that view food as more than a commodity. As a generative category and notion, Food Relatives gives insight into how various actors can decolonize and indigenize their respective Food Systems by attuning to the more-than-human as part of economic, social, and political lives.

The conference’s main goal will be to connect scholars, community members, artists, and policy makers through varying critiques and discussions of three major systems of oppression in the global Food System: colonization, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism. In doing so, the Food Relatives conference will give focus on alternative food relations outside of Industrial agricultural practices in order to amplify existing decolonizing and indigenizing movements that may improve Food Systems across all Global Directions, such as Indigenous and Black stewardship, alternative food systems, and sustainable ecologies.

Questions for discussion at the Food Relatives conference may include:

  • How have Indigenous relationships with food and land changed in response to and as a result of colonization? 
  • How are discussions of Food Security, Food Justice, and Food Sovereignty valuing the more-than human? 
  • How do different disciplines tackle food system questions? What analyses are centered, or silenced, in these discussions? 
  • What can an improved relationship with food and non-humans look like? How may that impact human and non-human health? 
  • How have Indigenous and other historically marginalized peoples used food and land to resist colonization and exercise agency over their health, cultural practices, and social empowerment?

Registration for the
Food Relatives conference will be free to all participants and attendees.

This conference is organized by the Food Institute Graduate Council (FIGC) at Berkeley, and sponsored by the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI), the Graduate Assembly (GA), the Native American Studies center, the Latinx Research Center, and the Multicultural Community Center (MCC), the Big C Fund. Inquiries to FIGC can be made via:

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C.A.R.T Captioning will be provided. If you require any other accommodation (e.g. translation, etc.) for effective communication in order to fully participate in this virtual event, please contact Nathalie Muñoz ( at least 7–10 days in advance.

Conference Schedule            (All times in PST)

Day 1 Friday, April 1st
10:00am – 10:15am Introduction from FIGC Conference Committee
10:15am – 11:15am [Panel] Revitalizing Indigenous Food Systems
11:15am – 12:45pm Movie screening: The Ants and the Grasshopper
1:00pm – 2:00pm [Panel] Gendering Food Liberation
2:00pm – 2:45pm Movie Screening: Food as Resistance
3:00pm – 4:00pm [Panel] Transnational Food Politics
4:00pm – 5:00pm Keynote: Chairman Ron Goode, North Fork Mono Tribe
Day 2 Saturday, April 2nd
10:00am – 10:15am Land acknowledgement
10:15am – 11:15am [Panel] Stewarding Food Relations
11:30am – 12:30pm [Panel] Reconnecting with more-than-humans
12:45pm – 1:45pm [Panel] Reclaiming Filipinx Foodways in Healthcare
2:00pm – 3:00pm Keynote: Peter Nelson, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and
, UC Berkeley
4:00pm – 5:00pm Career Panel: Decolonizing and Demystifying Careers in Food Research 

Revitalizing Indigenous Food Systems

Friday, April 1st, 10:15 am – 11:15 am

Sierra Hampton is Chickasaw and has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and an MS from Lund University, Sweden. She is interested in Indigenous food and seed sovereignty and traditional food systems. As a UC Berkeley doctoral student, she combines agroecology and Indigenous knowledge to analyze challenges to Chickasaw food sovereignty and support food system revitalization.


Abran Lopez is a Central Coast Rx Council member and cultural fire practitioner with over 7 years of specialized skills in wildland firefighting and land restoration. Abran is also a member of the Tamien Nation, and a founding member of their Cultural Burn Program. He has given talks at various institutions advocating for Native stewardship practices and institutional reform to better serve and include Tribal communities in their decision-making processes. 

Quirina Luna Geary is an enrolled citizen and Chairwoman of the Tamien Nation, the aboriginal tribe of Santa Clara Valley. She is a board member for the Advocates of Indigenous California Language Survival (AICLS) and studied linguistics at the University of California – Davis. She has been part of the larger California Indian Community where she was mentored by traditional cultural leaders for the past 30+ years and is dedicated to advancing community-based learning approaches that preserve traditional ceremonial practices and Indigenous ways of life.

Rosario Torres is the secretary for the Food Institute Graduate Council (FIGC) at UC Berkeley and is currently a PhD student in the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Rosario is also committed to collaborative and community-based research. She is an anthropologically trained archaeobotanist and is interested in the impact that California indigenous landscape stewardship practices had on past California ecosystems and the meaning and relevance of those practices to humans and non-humans living in California today.



Movie screening: The Ants and the Grasshopper

Friday, April 1st, 11:15 am – 12:45 pm

Raj Patel, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, film-maker and academic. He is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin. His acclaimed latest book, co-authored with Rupa Marya, is entitled Inflamed: Deep Medicine and The Anatomy of Injustice (2021).

Raj will discuss his first film, co-directed with Zak Piper and filmed over the course of a decade in Malawi and the United States, The Ants & The Grasshopper (2021) at 12:30pm.

Gendering Food Liberation

Friday, April 1st, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Gabi Kirk is a Ph.D. Candidate in Geography with a Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research at the University of California, Davis. Her dissertation project examines how Palestinian farmers use agro-ecology in projects of identity formation and struggles for sovereignty. She has published, solo and collaboratively, both academic and popular pieces, including in Jewish Currents, Historical Geography, Journal of Political Ecology, Society and Space, and PROTOCOLS.

PRESENTING: Cultivating Sustainable Sovereignty? Settler Colonialism and Fair-Trade Agriculture in Jenin, Palestine

Alejandra Zambrano, Ph.D., is the Dean of the School of Literature at Universidad de las Artes in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She studied at Wellesley College and The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned advanced degrees in Latin American Literature and also completed a portfolio in Nonprofit Studies. She is interested in Latin American literatures and cultures, focusing her research on community-based arts pedagogies, the representation of Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Andean literature, and the history of Ecuadorian children’s Literature.

CO-PRESENTING: La Tonga de Olivia: A Participatory Ethnographic Short Film in Ecuador

Pilar Egüez Guevara, Ph.D., is an Ecuadorian cultural anthropologist, writer and filmmaker, who specializes in food, culture, conflict and health. She is co-founder and director of Comidas que Curan, an independent food education and media company that blends ethnography and film to document and teach about food traditions and transformations in Ecuador and Latin America. She is director and producer of Raspando Coco, an award-winning documentary about the culinary and medicinal traditions of Afro-Ecuadorians. 

CO-PRESENTING: La Tonga de Olivia: A Participatory Ethnographic Short Film in Ecuador

Tabitha Robin, Ph.D., is a mixed ancestry Swampy Cree and Métis researcher, educator, and writer. She is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. She spends much of her time learning about traditional Cree food practices.

PRESENTING: Protecting Indigenous Women and Two-spirit peoples as Food System Revitalization

Nina Sokolov is a PhD candidate in the Integrative Biology department at the University of California, Berkeley. Nina is a disease ecologist and entomologist whose research interests revolve around the viruses that infect bees. Specifically, her dissertation focuses on the spillover of viruses between managed honeybees and native wild bees in California, and the role of crop pollination in disease emergence. She is passionate about balancing the needs of both agriculture and conservation to design sustainable, agro-ecological based food systems.

Movie Screening: Food as Resistance, Food stories from Tlaxcala

Friday, April 1st, 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm

Keitlyn Alcantara, Ph.D., is an Anthropological Bioarcheologist in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. Melding bioarcheological dietary isotope analyses and ethnographic interviews, her current research contextualizes food sovereignty movements in Late Postclassic and contemporary Tlaxcala, Mexico. As a Mexican-American, she is also interested in the ways food is tied to memory and homeland among Latinx immigrants in the United States, and working to develop embodied pedagogies of decolonization.


D. Romo (they/them) is a first-generation Xicanx Ph.D Candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education   from Syracuse University. Their scholarship is informed by Indigenous pedagogies of land and relationally to address the relationship between universities and their surrounding community. Romo is currently a part of Imagining America Leading and Learning Initiative (LLI) research team to address institutional and campus culture challenges/barriers that constraint community engagement, public scholarship, and activist scholarship among graduate students.

Transnational Food Politics

Friday, April 1st, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Vien T.T. Dinh is a Ph.D. student at the Kyoto University, Division of Natural Resource Economics where she works on the project on Vietnamese migrants’ dietary acculturation in Japan. With a background in Environmental Economics and Management, Vien has been actively involved in various community projects related to multicultural cohabitation, urban gardens, and ethnic cooking classes around Kyoto, Japan. Her research interests are traditional cuisine and its nutrient and psychological values, and practices of farmers and rural people.

PRESENTING: Normalizing culinary practices among Vietnamese permanent residents in Japan

Meet Bharatbhai Sanariya is a student of food science from India who has interest in chain of food supply and currently pursuing a master’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science at Montclair State University. Meet’s future goal is to explore food subjects on a global level and start businesses in this field.

CO-PRESENTING: What is happening to transnational Indian food practices in the US now and in the future?


Alyssa Smolen is a Montclair State University graduate with a degree in dietetics and minor in journalism. Currently, she is a Montclair State University graduate assistant obtaining her Master of Science in nutrition and food science. During her undergraduate education, Alyssa served as the Member Publications Coordinator and Secretary for the Montclair State Dietetics Organization. In addition, she has numerous articles published on Montclair’s student-run paper, The Montclarion. Alyssa has presented work at the Food Nutrition Conference Expo about the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program. Her dietetic areas of interest include low-income nutrition, community nutrition and pediatric nutrition.

CO-PRESENTING: What is happening to transnational Indian food practices in the US now and in the future?


Rachel Thomas Tharmabalan, Ph.D., is a Lecturer at the School of Hospitality and Service Management of Sunway University. She holds a PhD in Ethnic Studies from The National University of Malaysia. Her research interests revolve around nutrition and well-being, sustainable development, and the revitalisation of traditional food. She is currently working on a project to document and characterize the nutritional, culinary, and medicinal properties of wild edible plants utilized by marginalized ethnic minorities in Southeast Asia.

PRESENTING: Transecting an innovative Food Sovereignty Model: Southeast Asia as a Mirror for North America

Maria Deloso (she/her) is the Food Institute Graduate Council budget coordinator and a full-time MBA student at UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business pursuing food marketing. Her interests lie in exploring the institutions that shape our food cultures and learning about pathways to build a better food system for all. Before graduate school, Maria’s experiences include supporting US grocery retail launches of new berry products, running marketing initiatives for cafeterias across the US, and exploring food and identity through a queer Asian gardening group.


Keynote: Chairman Ron Goode, North Fork Mono Tribe

Friday, April 1st, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The Honorable Ron W. Goode is the Tribal Chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe. He is a Veteran of the United States Army; a Life Member of the Sierra Mono Museum and of the United States Judo Federation. Ron is a retired Community College Prof. in Ethnic Studies. Ron was inducted in the Clovis Hall of Fame for his work in Education and Community Service in 2002. In 2022 Ron was honored by the Society of California Archaeology for the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Cultural Preservation.




Stewarding Food Relations

Saturday, April 2nd, 10:15 am – 11:15 am

Albie Miles, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems at the University of Hawai’i, West O’ahu. Miles received his doctoral degree from UC Berkeley in 2013. His natural science research explores the relationship between farming system biodiversity and the provisioning of ecosystem services to and from agriculture. His social science research examines the socio-economic and political obstacles to achieving ecologically sustainable and socially just food and farming systems.

CO-PRESENTING: Decolonizing Food Systems Science Higher Education Pathways: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Agroecology

Daniel Lipe, Ph.D., currently works as a Research Specialist at the University of Hawai’i, West O’ahu, within the Sustainable Community Food Systems Bachelors of Applied Science (SCFS-BAS) degree program. His research explores the intersections between Indigenous and Western sciences, identifying relational accountability in resource management. Lipe has worked for over 25 years in higher education, building Indigenous and underrepresented STEM programs. Lipe received his Ph.D. in Science Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

CO-PRESENTING: Decolonizing Food Systems Science Higher Education Pathways: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Agroecology

Noa Kekuewa Lincoln is a Native Hawaiian farmer, researcher, educator, and advocate. His position on Indigenous Crops and Cropping Systems at the University of Hawaii is situated at the intersection of ecology, sociology, and agronomy.

PRESENTING: What is Indigenous agriculture?

Destiny C. Rivera currently serves as an Information & Access Services Librarian at Menlo College in Atherton, CA. Born in Santa Maria, California, Destiny grew up in Maui, Hawai’i and is now based in Palo Alto, CA. Destiny has a passion for social justice and seeks to center her practice of librarianship in anti-racist, queer, and decolonial pedagogies. Destiny has worked to found the Ocean Beach Seed Library and Centro Seed Library and was recently appointed to serve on the American Library Association’s (ALA) Sustainability Committee.

CO-PRESENTING: Seeing Seeds as Relatives: Seed Libraries as Liberatory Spaces for Indigenous Foodways

Belinda Ramírez, Ph.D., (they/them) received their doctoral degree in sociocultural anthropology from the University of California San Diego and now teach incoming undergraduates in Stanford University’s Civic, Liberal, and Global (COLLEGE) Program. Belinda’s research deals with the social, political, and economic dimensions of urban agriculture and food and sustainability movements. Looking to the future, they are excited to contribute to the transformation of the global food system through agricultural education efforts.

CO-PRESENTING: Seeing Seeds as Relatives: Seed Libraries as Liberatory Spaces for Indigenous Foodways

Nani Conklin is a first year student in the Master of Public Health program, concentrating in Public Health Nutrition. She is from Honolulu, Hawai’i, though has also lived in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. for school and work. Nani is especially interested in Indigenous food systems and traditional environmental/agricultural knowledge in Hawai’i and using traditional Hawaiian diets and cultural practices to improve health outcomes. Prior to graduate school, she volunteered as a school nutrition educator and worked to address food insecurity through community food recovery and food shares with people experiencing houselessness.

Reconnecting with more-than-humans

Saturday, April 2nd, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Rita Valencia, Ph.D., is an activist scholar born and raised in the Mesoamerican highlands of Mexico City. Moving across disciplines (literature, agroecology, anthropology, and political organizing), she sits uncomfortably in the existing boundaries that divide ways of learning, knowing and feeling. She has studied and worked in India, England and since returning to Mexico in 2010 has worked with and for indigenous communities in different capacities in Chiapas, Oaxaca and the Cauca region in Colombia.

PRESENTING: Native Bees to Re-exist: Un-wiring our links with the threads that weave the web of life of our territories

Wendy Olvera is a first-generation undergraduate student in the Environmental Studies and Biology Department at UC Santa Cruz. Wendy is a self-taught artist who works with ceramics and other mixed media. She is a member of the Merrill Pottery Co-Op and the Student Health and Outreach Promotional Center where she is able to be engaged with and help build diverse community spaces on campus. She is motivated to create and engage with the arts as a way of reimagining and visualizing new concepts in the world.

CO-PRESENTING: The associated insect community of C. pepo

Edith M. Gonzales is a first-generation PhD student in the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on both habitat management and intersections between cultural processes and approaches to farming and food in urban agriculture. Connecting the arts and science is a motivating factor to help communicate ecological science in a way that is creative and allows for experiential and visceral experiences.

CO-PRESENTING: The associated insect community of C. pepo

Marcela Cely-Santos, Ph.D., is a biologist and agroecologist from Colombia interested in the construction of sustainable and fair food systems, and in their implications for biodiversity conservation. She received a PhD degree in environmental studies from the University of California in Santa Cruz and is part of the Philpott lab.

PRESENTING: “There is plenty for everyone”: A multispecies exploration through the lenses of an edible vine in Anolaima, Colombia

Sara Herrejon Chavez is a first-year P.hD student in the integrative biology department at UC Berkeley. She is interested in studying disease ecology as it relates to keystone pollinators, such as bees. Her dissertation project will focus on furthering our understanding of disease dynamics between pollinator networks, specifically between wild and domestic bee populations used for agriculture. She graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies, Biology, and Sustainability.


Reclaiming Filipinx Foodways in Healthcare

Saturday, April 2nd, 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm

Marycon Jiro, M.S., is a 3rd year medical student at UCSF School of Medicine. She is also a part of the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME-US). Driven by her passion in addressing systemic health inequities faced by disenfranchised communities, especially her Filipino-American community, her research at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health focused on understanding the knowledge, attitudes, barriers, and practices of the San Francisco Bay Area Filipino-American community in terms of eye care.

David Pack, B.S., (he/him) is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Nutritional Science- Physiology and Metabolism & Molecular Environmental Biology. His interests include the intersection between food, culture, nutrition, and medicine. David is driven by his passions for the culinary and medical fields. He is a strong proponent of the mantra “Food as medicine” and is actively involved in research to explore culturally sensitive and tailored approaches to reducing adverse health outcomes in the Filipinx community.

Aileen Suzara, MPH, (she/her/siya) is a culinary educator, good food advocate, and mother who interweaves her love of food, ecological justice, and collective wellbeing. The daughter of migrant healthcare workers, Suzara reclaims narratives of “food as medicine” to center cultural foodways that uplift identity, place, and belonging. She launched Sariwa (“Fresh” in Filipino) as a platform to recover and celebrate healing ancestral foods. She is a Fellow with the Castanea Fellowship, and was recognized as a Bon Appetit Healthyish Honoree.

Jessa Culver is a second year medical student and masters student in UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. She has worked with the school community to create a collective cookbook and with parents in forming a parent-led task force to oversee the school’s food ecosystem. Now in medical school, Jessa is interested in centering themes of food justice within clinic walls. Last year, she partnered with Aileen, Marycon, and David to launch Ang Ating Pagkain, a conversation that aimed to re-frame how healthcare spaces talk about food with Filipino patients.


Keynote: Peter Nelson, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Saturday, April 2nd, 2:00pm – 3:00 pm

Peter Nelson, Ph.D., (Coast Miwok and tribal citizen of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria) is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, and works at the intersection of anthropological archaeology, Indigenous environmental studies, and Native American Studies in collaboration with tribal nations and Indigenous peoples in California and abroad. His research addresses cultural heritage preservation, settler colonialism, climate change, and Indigenous stewardship and land management.

Career Panel: Decolonizing and Demystifying Careers in Food Research

Saturday, April 2nd, 4:00pm – 5:00 pm

A photo of Elizabeth Hoover on a farm holding a basket of greensElizabeth Hoover, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on Native American environmental health and food sovereignty movements, and has published articles about food sovereignty, environmental reproductive justice in Native American communities, the cultural impact of fish advisories on Native communities, tribal citizen science, and health social movements. Elizabeth is also the author of The River is In Us; Fighting Toxins in a Mohawk Community, (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) and From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds;’ Indigenizing the Local Food Movement (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming) and also co-edited, with Devon Mihesuah, Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019).

Brittani R. Orona (she/her) is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northwestern California. She is an incoming Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University (Fall 2022) and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at UC Davis in Native American Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Human Rights (Spring 2022). Brittani’s work focuses on Indigenous environmental justice, advocacy, and the history of fisheries restoration on the Klamath River Basin.

Headshot of Taiyo Scanlon-KimuraTaiyo Scanlon-Kimura, B.S., is the Strategy Manager at the Berkeley Food Network. From rural communities in Japan to historically disenfranchised college students in Ohio to good food champions across California, Taiyo has had the privilege to work with aspiring and inspiring change makers. He is a proud alumnus of Oberlin College and the Fulbright US Student Program, and regularly mentors folks in both networks.

Sara Moncada (Yaqui), M.A., is a Native educator, dancer, filmmaker, author and cultural arts advocate. She is CEO of The Cultural Conservancy, a native-led non-profit working in Indigenous rights and revitalization projects, is co-founder of Wise Women Circles, a women-owned media company. She presents internationally on Native American arts and culture and is co-author of the book The Dance of Caring, a book exploring Native American Hoop Dance as a model for wellness. She is producer of the upcoming film project Finding Compás; and is producer of The Cultural Conservancy’s The Native Seed Pod, a new podcast series that explores and celebrates traditional seeds, Native Foodways and Traditional Ecological Knowledge.

Headshot of Kevin TuokKevin Tuok (he/him) is a fourth-year, first-gen Cambodian-American undergraduate student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is currently studying Molecular & Cellular Biology with a minor in Data Science. He has been with BFI for over two years, now serving as the UC Global Food Initiative Undergraduate Fellow and as the undergraduate representative on BFI’s executive committee. He is passionate about sustainability and promoting the health of those around him, and plans to pursue a career in research and public health.