Spence students, faculty and alumnae welcomed Alison Cayne ’90, the final Perspectives Plus speaker of this year, who led a conversation about our food system and what we can do to make it better.
Alison Cayne ’90, a Spence alumna and owner of Haven’s Kitchen, a recreational cooking school, cafe and event space in Manhattan, returned to the School to deliver the last Perspectives Plus of the year. Her talk, entitled “Food for Thought,” explored all aspects of the food system in the United States, from the soil it grows in, to the laborers who farm it, to its transportation across the country and world, and ultimately to its consumption. According to Cayne, America has established an unsustainable system. As an “accidental activist,” she encouraged awareness, mindfulness and thoughtfulness in an attempt to improve any or all parts of it.
“Our current food system is not working,” Cayne said. “At any point, we can try to make it better,” and by doing so the entire system would benefit. She cited examples such as toxins, water issues, pollution, the survival of local businesses, minimum wage versus living wage, and overall health and nutrition as important aspects of the system to consider. She also offered practical advice for individuals interested in helping to change these realities, including purchasing power (considering carefully where we choose to spend our money) and voting power.
Prior to opening Haven’s Kitchen, Cayne began working towards her master’s degree at New York University’s Food Studies program. She worked with GrowNYC, educating school groups and visitors about the importance of regional ingredients and farming practices. In addition to raising her five children, Cayne currently works and teaches at Haven’s Kitchen, while also continuing her studies at NYU. She is on the boards of The Food and Environmental Reporting Network, Just Food and Edible Schoolyard NYC. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.
Perspectives Plus is a series of informative talks by members of The Spence School community. Our speakers generously share their expertise and insights with parents, faculty, administrators and students. With a focus on a range of stimulating topics, Perspectives Plus offers an opportunity to share with one another the richness of resources within our community. Come, listen, converse and be a part of what makes Spence a place of ideas fueled by a community of learners of all ages.