The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities

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A pioneering urban farmer and MacArthur “Genius Award” winner points the way to building a new food system that can feed—and heal—broken communities. The son of a sharecropper, Will Allen had no intention of ever becoming a farmer himself. But after years in professional basketball and as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, Allen cashed in his retirement fund for a two-acre plot a half mile away from Milwaukee’s largest public housing project. The area was a food desert with only convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to serve the needs of local residents. In the face of financial challenges and daunting odds, Allen built the country’s preeminent urban farm—a food and educational center that now produces enough vegetables and fish year-round to feed thousands of people. Employing young people from the neighboring housing project and community, Growing Power has sought to prove that local food systems can help troubled youths, dismantle racism, create jobs, bring urban and rural communities closer together, and improve public health. Today, Allen’s organization helps develop community food systems across the country. An eco-classic in the making, The Good Food Revolution is the story of Will’s personal journey, the lives he has touched, and a grassroots movement that is changing the way our nation eats.
Curriculet Details
72 Questions
79 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in eleventh and twelfth grades, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining the Great Migration, rhetorical appeals, and the Toulmin Model of Argument. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about innovations in farming and the creation of natural fertilizer through vermicomposting. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of structure of argument, persuasion, and appeals. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Foreword by Eric Schlosser

Eric Schlosser is a well-known investigative journalist and author. In his text Fast Food Nation, he sheds light on the many different components of the fast food industry and how it helps to shape the cultural identity of a nation. 
Eric Schlosser reported on the marketing techniques of fast food chains in Fast Food Nation. He purports that fast food companies target specific demographics in order to increase sales with a total disregard to the impact on that demographic. A prime example of this is the use of toys to sell fast food to children.  


The first four sections of the text are an overall introduction to the author's story. In the remaining three sections, he reviews his life in more detail.  
Based on the author's statements and the annotation about sharecropping, why does the author claim sharecropping was "like slavery under another name"? 
Sharecropping developed in the southern United States after the Reconstruction period. Please click on the link below and scroll down to the section titled "Rise of the Sharecropping System" to learn more about sharecropping in the United States.  (This annotation contains a link)


Maya Angelou means you cannot cleave yourself from your cultural heritage. The author contends that agriculture is a part of the African American history and culture that is often denied by contemporary African Americans. He embraces his heritage and is an "urban farmer." 
The highlighted passage implies ALL of the following about the status of farmers in the modern African American identity EXCEPT 
As you read the text, we are going to use the Toulmin Model of Argument to breakdown and analyze the structure and validity of the author's claims. Click on the link below to view a brief video overview of the Toulmin Model.  (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the preceding pages, what is the "revolution" the author hopes will occur in America's food system? 


What do the contents of the author's car imply about his eating habits while he worked for Procter & Gamble? 
The location of the greenhouses was very important to the author. One of his central claims is that urban dwellers have fewer choices (if any) to eat healthy. His plan was to develop an urban farm and provide the urban inner cities surrounding his farm with low cost, fresh fruits and vegetables.  
Which of the following statements is grounds to support the author's assertion that "the farm was kept alive by my own passion"? 
Remember that these initial sections or chapters are an introduction to the author's journey. He emphasizes certain elements of his journey such as, "the city would lose its last parcel of land zoned for agricultural use" if he did not successfully purchase the land, as grounds to support his claim that urban areas are devoid of any agricultural connection. 
Why do you think the city recommended the author obtain a loan from "Firstar Bank, one of the few local banks that operated in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color"? What does this imply about revitalizing and rebuilding in a low-income urban setting? Use verifiable data and information from external sources to support your response.  
When the city hall decided to allow the author, rather than a church, to develop the land, their reasoning was that the farm would be as purposeful as prayer and religion. Throughout the text, the author alludes to how farming can help to instill and develop values and ethics in impressionable young people.  

Trial by Fire

What does the highlighted statement imply about farming as a profession? 
Karen Parker plays an integral role in the author's success. She also exemplifies and is grounds for one of the author's claims: farming can help to save a person from an otherwise uncertain fate.  
Why does Karen elect to leave a higher paying job to work for the author? 
DeShawn's story is incorporated into the text for many reasons: it illustrates the family dynamic within the inner city (due to poverty, a lack of two parent homes, young motherhood), it gives you some exposition about how DeShawn became disfigured, and illustrates what the author is trying to help combat with his agricultural programs.  
Based on the highlighted passage and Karen's initial reaction to the emergency workers, what is implied about DeShawn's appearance? 
The story of Deshawn's injury also illustrates the ability for people to persevere.  
According to the author, what does the cactus symbolize? 
In addition to grounds, the author uses different appeals in order to convince the audience (you) that he is correct. The parable about the sparrow is a prime example of pathos because it appeals to your emotions. You feel supportive of the little bird because it choses to take on a small part of a larger task. View the video clip below to review the difference between the three rhetorical appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos.  (This annotation contains a video)
The author's anecdotes about past due bills and other financial struggles he endured are examples of _________ to support the claim that the farm was a labor of love and not a means of financial gain.  
The author stresses the importance of the relationships he develops while trying to begin his farmstead business. It is these relationships that will facilitate a change in the community than by simply providing healthy options to eat.  
The author contends that African American people did not buy his fruits and vegetables because of "internal racism." What does he mean by this term? How does this idea help to develop or illustrate another of the author's claims that African Americans have denied their cultural agricultural heritage? Use textual evidence to support your argument. 
By conceding that some of his produce was not organic in the beginning, Will provides a rebuttal to critics who chastise Will for his use of "less healthy" produce. He contends that it was a necessary step to provide "access to fresh apples" to a community that never had them.  
Quiz #1 

Homework #14

"Black Flight" is a reference to the Great Migration after the Reconstruction Era in the southern United States. Click on the link below and read the brief overview of the Great Migration.  (This annotation contains a link)
Spirituals were songs sung by African Americans to express and teach their religious beliefs. They were also utilized to express disdain for their cultural conditions (slavery, sharecropping, poverty, racism). The spiritual referred to here is titled, "There is a Balm in Gilead." Click on the link below to hear it sung by Paul Robeson, an African American singer and actor who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement.  (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the author's description of Rosa Bell, what does he mean when he says that her family was "capably poor"? 
There are myriad of factors that led to the Great Migration of African Americans from the South. The author makes it clear that for his family, it was a lack of reliable work to produce income. This illustrates the unpredictability of the agricultural industry and sets a precedent for how the African American farmer is treated throughout the twentieth century. 
The highlighted excerpt is grounds to support which of the following claims? 
"The Virtue of Making Do" is another lesson that may be learned through farming. These anecdotes about the author's family appeal to the audience's pathos. 

Homework #15

The author explains that he sold food "by necessity" when he was a boy. You can infer ALL of the following about the author's character based on this anecdote EXCEPT 
President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway system changed the face of America by creating a network of national highway. It allowed for more travel and to expand communities beyond the scope of waterways and fertile land. Click on the link below to see maps that illustrate the increase in population density as a result of the highway development.  (This annotation contains a link)
According to the author, what is a cause of "white flight"? 
Based on the details about the author's father's illiteracy and his expansive knowledge about hunting, fishing, and farming, you can make the warrant that learning is not confined to a classroom and education is a relative term. A warrant is the inference you can make based on the claim and grounds provided. The image below provides an additional example of a warrant in an argument.  (This annotation contains an image)
How did the author's childhood influence the vision he had for the urban farm? Use textual evidence to support your response.  
In order to teach his sons how to be hardworking and reap the benefits of their labor, he practiced what he preached. This is an example of an appeal to logos.  
What is ironic about the author's dreams of becoming a professional athlete? 

Homework #16

Click on the link below to read an article written in July 2013 titled "Revisiting the Moynihan Report."  (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the author's account of his childhood, what does he imply about himself as a child? 
To some extent, the author's childhood revolved around the natural world. Do you think this makes his point of view at all slanted or biased? Or do you think his childhood afforded him the opportunity to appreciate the natural world in a way that a middle class suburban child could not? 
Though some may believe the author is biased because of his upbringing, the highlighted passage provides a __________ to that critique. It demonstrates how as a young man, his upbringing did not make him more inclined to be a proponent for social and environmental reform.  
The author's anecdote about his first girlfriend who was white is important because it is his first real dose of prejudice in his life.  
How does Bob's role in the author's life influence his later goals and aspirations? 
The author continues to provide grounds to illustrate his claim that agriculture teaches children values and morals.  

Homework #17

The author includes several anecdotes about prejudice he and another African American athlete experienced while attending college. What is the author trying to convey about American culture? 
Click the link below to view the trailer for the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.  (This annotation contains a video)
What can you infer about Cyndy's parents based on the highlighted excerpt? 
Both sets of parents did not express approval about the author's marriage. This is partially due to latent prejudices but it was also due to the societal attitudes about mixed race marriages. Remember it wasn't until 1967 that the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage. Click on the link below to read a news article about that decision and its implication on current issues about the status of marriage.  (This annotation contains a link)
Compare and contrast the author's attitude about basketball and farming. Which experience was he able to integrate into his family and life more? Why? Use textual evidence to support your response.  
Though his experience with playing college basketball was not as rewarding as he had hoped, it did give him a chance to work with a group of people to effect change. This is a lesson he will use later in life to help establish a successful urban farm.  
The author concedes that basketball did not allow him to "be a master of my own fate," but instead made him "subject to the whims of other men." Why does he include this anecdote in the text about urban farming? 
Through a difficult period in his life, the author is reminded of what he learned farming: you can only "control your preparation, learn from your mistakes, and accept the losses." This advice is additional grounds for the claim that agriculture helps to instill values and virtues in society.  

Homework #18

Though Belgian agriculture has changed significantly since the 1970s, agriculture is still a part of Belgian culture. Below is an image of Belgian landscape.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does the author believe that farming "no longer felt like slave's work"? 
The author's wife explains that her mother was not so much prejudice but ignorant and lacked exposure to different races. How does exposure and understanding play an essential role in the author's urban farming goals? 
As you read, the author develops an additional claim about farming and organic farming: it helps to prevent diseases caused by "modern" farming techniques. The author contends that we do not know some of the ramifications of the technological advancements made in farming over the past thirty years, and as a result may be doing more damage than good. This is similar to the author's experience with radiation treatment for ringworm as a child.  
Based on the author's attitude towards his farm, which term accurate describes him? 
The highlighted statement is important because it responds to rebuttals that may claim the author believes that the setbacks he faces are a result of his race. By acknowledging other factors, the author gives authority to his claims. 
What does the author believe was the source of distrust between he and the other farmers? 
Please click the link below to read a more in-depth account of "Forty Acres and a Mule" order and its initial impact on the South.  (This annotation contains a link)
According to the author, he claims that small African American farmers face which two hurdles in the American agricultural system? 
Based on the author's claims and grounds about prejudice against the small African American farmer, you can make the warrant that the federal agency was able to continue this practice because of the political party in power. Why would this benefit Ronald Reagan, a Republican president and his policies? Click on the link below to read President Reagan's address to the nation about his agricultural policy in 1985.  (This annotation contains a link)
Which term accurately describes the impact the author's cancer surgery had on his urban farming goals? 
What qualities do Karen, the author, and other farmers have in common? 
What does the author imply about careers that are more sedentary than farming? 
Quiz #2: 

Homework #20

The author provides several examples to illustrate how his business was successful but not without diligence and the ability to overcome obstacles. By employing pathos, the author appeals to the audience's sympathy and empathy; you can relate to the reality of his situation because he does not present his story as a fairytale of success.  
Based on the author's evidence in the highlighted passage and in previous chapters, which warrant is true? 
As you continue to read, notice how the author constantly thinks about the people he deals with directly. This is something that only a small farmer is able to do. The community is the catalyst for the author's grander ideas and aspirations.  
Heifer International is an interesting organization. For more information about its mission and how contributions serve global communities, click on the link below.  (This annotation contains a link)
Click on the link below to see an informative video about "vermicomposting."  (This annotation contains a link)
The idea of vermicomposting is grounds for which of the author's secondary claims? 
The author's experiment with worms illustrates his philosophy that you can control the way you prepare, but you cannot control mother nature.  
What does the metaphor "black gold" imply? 
DeShawn believed that being in the greenhouses helped to get his "mind at peace." What does this imply about the mood of the farm and greenhouses? 
Foodshare is still in existence. Click on the link below for more information about the organization and the innovative techniques they use for urban farming.  (This annotation contains a link)
The author admits that the fish barrel project "connected" he and his father, but what is another reason he chose to incorporate this project into his greenhouses? 
What is the purpose of the author's anecdotes about the young men at the transitional vocational school?  
Though the author claims that many of the elements of his organization came together by chance, one can conclude that ALL of the following were factors in their inclusion EXCEPT 

Homework #21

Augusta Savage's model of community arts centers illustrated how a person who was motivated to work with the community and inspire people to be their best, would effect change. Below is an image of one of Savage's sculptures.  (This annotation contains an image)
How did Hope's vision for Growing Power align with the author's aspirations and goals? Use textual evidence to support your response. 
Unlike other programs or organizations that encourage urban agricultural development, the author was also developing in the same area as the people he spoke out to. Because of this, he was able to identify the pitfalls and obstacles the people would face and provide solutions to surmount them.  
What quality does the author illustrate that an urban farmer must have? 
DeShawn is an important figure in the author's story for both personal and professional reasons. Could you be critical of his inclusion of DeShawn's story because it seems at times tangential?  
The author includes Karen's personal story to illustrate 
Karen's story illustrates another point the author is trying to make that people need second chances. You cannot simply judge someone based on their past or the environment they live in.  
The author states that "education would be an important part of our revenue stream." What other purpose do educational programs serve? 
The highlighted passage is grounds for the author's claim that inner-city and lower income urban areas have poorer diets and greater health risks because they are like islands that are isolated from healthier food choices. 
When the author admits that "providing access to healthy food was not a solution in itself," he is acknowledging the 
What characteristics do Jerry and the other individuals that are involved with Growing Power share? 
By promoting a more "sustainable and locally controlled food system" the author appeals to the audience's  
The author's reflections about the industrialization and development of the suburban and rural areas of his youth are meant to appeal to the readers' sense of nostalgia. It is another use of pathos.  
The author's fond memories of his mother reaffirm his belief that food  

Homework #22

The symbolism of Hope planting the cherry tree and her daughter's placentas is an important image. It illustrates how dedicated all the members of Growing Power are to the mission of the organization.  
In what ways does Erika's life mirror the author's? Use textual evidence to support your response.  
Similar to her father, Erika originally sought a life beyond agriculture, but her passions and her heritage were both the path to success for Erika.  
Laurell's experiences emphasizes the need for organizations that provide inner-city youth a safe-haven. This anecdote illustrates how this need is  
The author contends that "doing" is more effective than "showing." This mirrors the lessons his father taught he and his brothers growing up. His father demanded diligence from his sons and he was diligent. The author believes that children will eat better if they are apart of providing healthier food, not by simply telling them to eat better.  
Robert's motivation to eat organic supports the author's claim that  
Due to prejudice, Robert created produce stands throughout the poorest areas of the city. This illustrates how innovation may be derived from necessity. 
The author's development of different farming cooperatives implies that in order to succeed one needs  
In 2007, Dreamworks Studios released Bee Movie, an animated feature about the prejudice bees face and what would happen if the bees were all destroyed. Click on the link below to view the trailer for the film.  (This annotation contains a video)
How does the author utilize many of his personal anecdotes? 
Sharon and Larry's vision of revitalization of the community hinged on the use of community pride.  
Based on the text thus far, compare and contrast the effects of the introduction of smaller urban gardens and farms versus the introduction of chain food restaurants and smaller limited grocery establishments on the inner city. Use textual evidence to support your conclusions. 
"The process of improving people's lives can be painfully slow, much like the process of nature." This concession is important because it prevents critics from demanding a speedier timeline for change.  
What does DeShawn's story illustrate about the power of food? 
Determining a group's success based on their attention to soil fertility is a metaphor for life. A person needs a solid and nutrient rich foundation in order to have a chance to succeed. There are always exceptions to the rule, but we see too many instances where people spend so much time trying to overcome obstacles, that they simply stop trying to succeed.  
Below is an image of a compost pile's layers.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #24

Which claim does the author support by providing evidence about farmer's suicide rates? 
The highlighted excerpt states the author's claim clearly and concisely. 
The author believes that urban and small, local farms are able to address ALL of the following issues EXCEPT 
The author provides additional grounds to support his claim that technological advancements in farming techniques do not equate with advancements in the overall public health. These techniques may actually be more harmful over the long term.  
The author's method of growing sprouts illustrates how innovation may result from  
Vertical farms and vertical gardens are becoming popular in small interior spaces as well. There was a company recently featured on Shark Tank on ABC that sold vertical gardens. Click on the link below to read a blog post titled "Shark Tank Success Stories: Urbio Wall Garden."  (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the author's agricultural techniques, which is an appropriate label to characterize him? 
The author's ambitious plans to grow tilapia on a large scale are only possible through a series of networks and relationships the author cultivated over time. None of these achievements occurred overnight.  
After reading the author's development of an aquaponics system, do you have any rebuttals to his claims? What are they and why? Use evidence to support your response.  
Do you agree that some of the author's motivation to decrease his dependence on "fossil fuel" and other sources is driven by an economic need? 
If you were a critic of the author's endeavors, which suggestion could you give him to lower his spending and deficits? 
Lulu's story is similar to DeShawn's in that it illustrates the obstacles people who live in the inner-city face due to poverty. The anecdote also serves a purpose in the author's argument. Review the elements of at the second triad of the Toulmin Model of Argument by reviewing the graphic below.  (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted passage is an example of which part of the author's argument? 
It is ironic that a profession that African Americans historically associated with negativity affords the author and his counterparts the ability to achieve positive goals.  
The author contends that "the lessons conveyed in farming are applicable to all other areas of life." You can use this statement to argue which of the following claims? 

Homework #25

To the author, President Obama's election symbolized 
Click on the link below to view a brief biography of George Washington Carver.  (This annotation contains a video)
A purpose of the author's trip to the South was  
Dorothy and Ray's stories are included in the text because they support the claim that healthy food choices may lead to a longer, healthier life. The two also demonstrate how a reliance on natural farming techniques can yield better benefits for both the farmer and consumer.  
At the turn of the century, Detroit symbolized hope and prosperity for the African Americans of the Great Migration. In a 2015 article, Forbes Magazine named Detroit as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. It is plagued by poverty and crime. This is an example of  
The author provides several examples of other people seeking to provide a better resource for inner-city communities. This provides backing for the warrant that inner-city communities need a greater influx of natural and healthier choices as opposed to cheaper and unhealthy options.  
According to Lila, if you would like things to change you must be  
The heat produced by the chickens is another innovation brought about by financial necessity. 
How does the author respond to the criticism that he is seeking environmentally sound means of production for his own financial gain? 
The author's experience with Kohl's illustrates how larger retail chains can work to facilitate the growth of urban and smaller farms.  
Though the author presents grounds why working with larger corporations may benefit the smaller farmer, what would be a converse argument? Use evidence to support your response.  
In a larger sense, a successful urban farm program will not simply provide healthy food for the community, but also a social support system of jobs and community service projects. These factors combined will help to revitalize a community. 
Jeremy's story is another example of how the author's journey into urban farming yields  
Alec's sentiments about wanting to do the "micro" instead of the "macro" symbolize the urban farm movement. It is about working in small areas to effect great change.  
In which ways is Jeremy similar to the small farmer? 
The Lynchburg Grows composting operation illustrates how a partnership with the city can be  
The author contends that planting a garden is the easy part, "you have to do the harder work of engaging the community" in order to maintain the garden and really see its effects flourish. Do you agree? 

Homework #26

When writing an argument, you may include different types of grounds to support your claims. Three types are authority, testimony, and statistics. Authority is an expert's belief on a topic. Testimony is a personal account. Statistics are quantified data about a topic.  
Damien's story is an example of which of following grounds? 
Damien's testimony about his experience working for the author appeals to the audience's emotions. We may sympathize with Damien's determination or desperation to work, or his desire to be independent and not be a financial burden his family.  
What do the author's observations as he drives around the city imply? 
The change the author envisions is not exclusive and geographically isolated. The proposed changes are universal and may be implemented anywhere.  
Which claim does DeShell's testimony support? 
The author explained that many of his innovations and positive effects of the Growing Power organization occurred accidentally. DeShawn's story supports this claim. The author did not intend on helping DeShawn to become a confident young man and chef, but as a result of his interactions at Growing Power he is.  
Do you believe the author's plans can be successful on a more widespread scale? Can they be successful where you live? Why or why not? Be sure to include personal testimony to support your claim.  
Quiz #3