Issues & Ales: Food


Make plans now to attend Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM’s next Issues & Ales event Thursday, Jan. 24 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at Rogue Tavern for food, fun and a panel discussion facilitated by WBHM's General Manager Scott Hanley and News Director Tanya Ott on food, the food industry, and food culture, brought to you by WBHM’s Junior Advisors.

Everyone needs it. Some don’t have enough of it. It has an impact on families, economies, and business. It has a cult following. And it is the subject of the next WBHM Junior Advisors event: "Issues & Ales: Food."

  • What are food deserts and how can they be made green again?
  • How has the locavore movement impacted our community?
  • How does food affect our local and regional economies?
  • Why should you care?

The event is Thursday, January 24, at 5:30 p.m. at Rogue Tavern (2312 2nd Avenue North). We’re inviting WBHM listeners, professionals in food-related industries, and others to come to Rogue Tavern, grab themselves a drink or food (if they like), then discuss locavorism, food deserts, and the economic impact of food in the greater Birmingham area. Our panelists for the evening include:

Jen Barnett

Jen Barnett – Jen, a Birmingham native, founded Freshfully with partner Sam Brasseale as a way to make more local food moreaccessible to more people. Jen's interest in local food began when she created a study on the Economics of Obesity at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. She saw eating locally as a solution to the nation's (and her own) rising rates of obesity and diabetes. Still, she wasn't sure how to find food from local farmers. Together, she and Sam created Freshfully, a site where they could meet local farmers and list their foods for sale online. The site has since grown into Freshfully Market in the fast-growing neighborhood of Avondale.


Shaun Chavis

Shaun Chavis – Fueled by a passion for producing news and great stories about food for any platform – print, tv, and online media – Shaun has logged 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a foods editor for Oxmoor House, Shaun works on Cooking Light and Weight Watchers cookbooks. In her last job as the diet editor for Health magazine, she wrote an award-winning blog for Health.com and researched The Carb Lover's Diet, a New York Times bestseller. Her writing has appeared in Health, on eGullet, and in Cornbread Nation 4: The Best of Southern Food Writing. Shaun has a M.A. in Gastronomy and a culinary arts certificate from Boston University. She has also studied food policy and agriculture at Tufts University and is a member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Keecha Harris

Keecha Harris – As the owner of a public health consulting firm based in Birmingham, Keecha has facilitated evaluations of federally and privately funded community development, food systems and child wellness efforts across the country. She has evaluated the Champions for Healthy Kids Program for General Mills and the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics Foundations, among others. She is currently facilitating a Learning Series on Impact Investments and Sustainability for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work awardees and community partners. Keecha is a former Food and Society Community Fellow and was recognized by the Birmingham Business Journal as one of its 2010 Top 40 Under 40. She has served on advisory boards for the Glynwood Center Harvest Awards, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Food and Community Fellows Program, the Alys Stephens Center for Performing Arts, and the Girls Inc. Body + Mind Initiative.

Cathy Crenshaw

Catherine Sloss Jones – Cathy serves as president and CEO of Sloss Real Estate Company, Inc., a commercial real estate firm in Birmingham focusing on urban development and revitalization of the city center. She and her company have made a commitment to redevelop historic buildings, construct new buildings that honor their surroundings, and provide planning services throughout the region. Cathy created and manages the Pepper Place Farmers’ Market, a nationally-recognized public market, and has been on the Farmers’ Market Advisory Board of the Ford Foundation. After returning to Birmingham from graduate studies at Harvard University, Cathy COMBINED her knowledge of mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods with her interest in developing locally-based food sources, the revitalization of urban neighborhoods and the overall health of the community.

Ama Shambulia

Ama Shambulia – Committed to holistic lifestyle principles for over a thirty year career, Ama has explored many venues of health and wellness from the Culinary Arts to Yoga. A trained Natural Foods Chef and Master Gardener, she has combined the two passions to become an educator and advocate for wellness as the Program Director of the West End Community Gardens (WE Gardens) in Birmingham. Through WE Gardens, Ama has implemented educational sessions and events on gardening and health, such as The Summer ‘Soul’stice Sun Fun Garden Party and The Annual Collard Green Cook-Off & Wellness Expo, created the Community “Unity” Plot/Produce Gifting Program for seniors, and started a paid internship program for western area youth. She has also grown community farm stands in the West End community and throughout Greater Birmingham and been instrumental in the formulation of the WE Garden Community Garden Resource Team towards expanding gardening spaces throughout Birmingham. Ama is currently enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Health Coach. She is also a Founding Member the Birmingham Jefferson Food Policy Council and a Pepper Place Farmers Market Board Member.

Jason Wilson

Jason Wilson – A fifth generation Gadsden native, Jason founded Back Forty Beer Company in 2009 to promote a broader appreciation for hand crafted beer in Alabama. Wilson lives and works in Gadsden where he serves as president of one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the South. Wilson also serves as president of the Alabama Brewers Guild and is a charter member of The Front Porch Revival, an Alabama non-profit focused on education and guidance for developing artists. Back Forty’s passion for Southern culture has led to partnerships with the Hampstead Institute, Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, Owls Hollow Farm and award-winning chefs from around the country. The brewery’s Southern approach to craft beer and food has been featured in Food & Wine, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, and Business Alabama magazines. Back Forty currently contracts over 250 bee hives from local apiaries for production of the wildflower honey used in their award-winning Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale, and this year Back Forty will plant their first 40 acres of winter barley as part of a recently launched initiative to produce and package a craft beer made entirely with Alabama-grown ingredients.

The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with comments from our speakers, then a guided conversation between the speakers and attendees. Issues & Ales is part of the outreach effort of Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM, a listener-supported service of UAB and the station where you can listen – and be heard.