As a subscriber to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with a mother who finds its necessary to cut out every news article that aligns with my interest, I was first introduced to Alice Julier when the Post-Gazette ran a feature piece on her Chatham University début as Program Director and Associate Professor of Food Studies. After saving the article for some time, perhaps because of Alice’s innovation, laid-back personality, or passion for education and food, the début clipping surfaced again when it came to college decision time. I re-read that article once more and made a better connection to the missions of the Eden Hall campus and local Pittsburgh initiatives now that I would attend Chatham University in the Fall of 2012 as a student myself.
Fast forward and I am attending Chatham’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship Business Leaders Breakfast Series titled “The Business of Food: Accessibility, Affordability, and Capacity Building.” Walking into the event, I hold the door open for a woman who thanks me in the process; I have no idea who she is, but instantly recognize her face. As I take my seat for the program to start, the woman strolls to the speaker’s panel and places a name tag on her jacket that reads she is, indeed, Alice Julier. The pieces just clicked right then and there, and I was ready to hear what she had to say.
By approaching the topic of food with an instinctual, academic way, Alice made sure to highlight the ways in which food systems were conversations, movements, justices, and career paths, all valued in many ways. For example, through her own work in the 1990s, she uncovered the value domestic life concerning food in relation to the larger world.
Alice came to find inequalities in within the food system as well, nothing that more women were opting to write recipes, rather than be the head chef in the kitchen or run their own restaurants. Throughout the process of writing her dissertation, and then book about food, however, she ran into colleagues asking, “How is your cookbook going?”
With the firm belief that the food system is something that can work a lot better, though, in terms of inequality, sustainability, and the environment, her dedication, in addition to her students’ involvement has shown further progression in the way the world functions, even if that progress is just here at Chatham University for now.
“What happened somewhere along the line is that food exploded as a topic. Now here we are, it is everywhere,” said Alice.