Author of Good Food Revolution shares his story

By Sara Bertsch Lifestyles Editor

  After a three-way tie on which book to choose for the 2014-2015 school year’s Common Read, The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen was selected as this year’s common read book.

At the unveiling last semester, Tim Nichols, dean of the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College, said that the book should raise academic challenge and encourage students to embrace diversity.

“The fact that it [The Good Food Revolution] had a very compelling message and who was available to tell the story was certainly part of our factor,” Nichols said.

This year, there was a large amount of nominations for the common read, so choosing one book became quite the challenge before settling on The Good Food Revolution. The author, Will Allen had a large part in why the committee chose this book.

“Allen did a lot of things before landing in his work with urban agriculture. And we thought that those aspects of the story, along with just the widely respected nature of his work made him an especially exciting figure to feature as part of the common read,” Nichols said.

Allen has a background that is not typical for most best-selling authors. He spent years in professional basketball and was an executive for KFC and Procter & Gamble.

He never planned to become a farmer but he purchased a two-acre plot outside of Milwaukee. The area is described as a “food desert with only convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to serve the needs of locals” according to the book’s abstract.

“I think that the author Will Allen is very progressive and inspiring figure who has a compelling story to tell about his work with growing power and The Good Food Revolution. I think that the way that Allen has found has passion in a way that is making such a positive difference for his community really makes him a great role model,” Nichols said.

The book is about Allen’s journey in changing the way our nation eats. He founded Growing Power Inc., which is a food center in Milwaukee, Wis., that focuses on the farm and community. The company promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their  economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times according to their website,

Allen gives readers his experience of a man whose family became part of the last century’s great migration of African Americans out of the South and his struggle and successes of moving from a corporate world to the world of a small farmer.

With this book, Allen has seen lots of success. In May 2010, Time magazine named him to the “Time 100 World’s Most Influential People.” He was also invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama in launching her program “Let’s Move!” regarding the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Allen will be coming to campus on Oct. 27 and will speak in the Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.

“We’re thrilled to have him coming to campus,” Nichols said.

So far, the book has proved successful among faculty and students.

 “I’ve just had the chance in my own classes to engage students in online conversations so far, but they’ve been really responding to the questions very thoughtfully,” Nichols said. “I’ve had a number of faculty indicate that they’re especially excited about the book.”

The Common Read Campus Kickoff will be Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Volstorff Ballroom. There are also several upcoming events including the showing of a film, student panels and several speeches.