Author visits Valley for book on food solutions

Staff report

A new book about cities that are creating new food-distribution systems includes a chapter on the Youngstown-Warren area.

“Food Town USA: Seven Unlikely Cities that are Changing the Way We Eat” looks at communities that are being forced to revitalize the way they raise and feed their inner-city populace.

It was written by Mark Winne, a food-system expert, who visited Youngstown and Warren plus six other cities: Bethlehem, Pa.; Sitka, Alaska; Alexandria, La.; Boise, Idaho; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Portland, Maine.

Each community faces unique challenges – ranging from poverty to opioid abuse to climate change to inaccessibility by road – and is finding ways to overcome them.

The 232-page hardback book ($28) will be published by Island Press on Oct. 1. For information, go to

The author is the former executive director of the Hartford, Conn., Food System, a private nonprofit agency that tackles food and hunger issues.

In a press release, he talked about what the seven cities have in common.

“The common denominators link not just these cities, but also the big foodie cities I avoided,” said Winne. “Food is always part of local identity and quality of life. It is often key to economic development. And in some cases, it is vital to the recovery of cities that have been hurt by recessions and the disappearance of manufacturing. In the communities I visited, people grasped these connections. They saw the big picture, from seed to table.

“Every city had a farmers market, farm-to-table restaurants, brewpubs, locally owned coffee shops, food pantries, food banks, and food co-ops. There were nonprofits and government programs to support new business and to provide access to locally grown food for lower-income residents.”

For the Youngstown chapter, Winne recaps the city’s post-industrial landscape, including the loss of the GM Lordstown plant this year, and shares the thoughts of several community organizers and business people.

These include Bethany and Corey Maizel, owners of Avant Gardens mushroom farm in Youngstown; Dionne and Daniel Dowdy of United Returning Citizens; Rev. Gayle Carinella of St. John’s Episcopal Church; Cassandra Clevenger of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership; Sarah Lowry of Healthy Community Partnership; and Tom Herrick of Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp.