Food as healing is the ongoing study and practice of using food as a medium for healing by reclaiming ancestral based traditions, customs and rituals. Food As Healing is not a consulting agency. Food As Healing is a social movement to center the lived experiences of our collective ancestors and especially for those of us in the global majority. Our Earth and spirit based traditions, our creation stories, belief systems and cosmologies are critical for maintaining our identities, sense of belonging, health and wholeness. Decolonization and healing from internalized oppression are central to this movement. All people are welcome with respect to the aforementioned principles.
Co-Founder, Shane Bernardo
Community Organizer, Facilitator and Trainer
Shane Bernardo grew up working in his family's grocery store on the west side of Detroit, Michigan. For over 13 years, Shane's family helped cultivate a nourishing environment for the South East Asian, West African and Afro-Caribbean cultures through culturally relevant foods, recipes, stories and traditions. Through these shared food staples and customs, Shane developed a heightened awareness of shared social, economic, political and historical conditions that his family had in common with others within a geographically, racially, ethnically and culturally stratified community.
Shane is also a long-life Detroit resident active within the grassroots food justice movement in Detroit. He has been a facilitator for Uprooting Racism Planting Justice, outreach coordinator for Earthworks Urban Farm, racial equity committee member for the Michigan Farmers Market Association, and the Local Food Systems Coordinator for the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. Shane has also been awarded fellowships with the Center for Whole Communities, Environmental Leadership Program, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the Detroit Equity Action Lab, and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Shane is a food justice organizer and anti-oppression facilitator that focuses on issues that lie at the intersections of food, health, healing and spirituality.
“In the multiple settings I've seen Shane operating in that revolve around food systems change -- whether serving as a guest or acting as the facilitator of a panel of speakers for diverse audiences, leading workshops for community activists, hosting the Michigan Good Food Summit for over 500 attendees, interacting with urban farm volunteers and curious neighbors, or participating in a meeting with researchers and food system leaders -- he has always managed to infuse both joyful exuberance and sobering reflections into each conversation. He sees things many of us miss, whether it's the transformative potential of grassroots efforts to take back ownership over a small part of our food system, or the beauty and meaning that lies behind many of our daily food practices, as well as the commonly forgotten hands that keep food on so many of our plates while struggling to do the same for their own families. Whether as a speaker, a writer, a teacher or mentor, Shane has a unique ability to help us all understand our food system and our place in it in new ways.”
Urban and Regional Planning Faculty
University of Michigan, Sustainable Food Systems Initiative
“The challenge of creating justice, equity, joy, prosperity and sustainability requires that we become shapers of the future who operate from both our heads and our hearts. Shane Bernardo has achieved that balance. We are blessed to have him as a visionary healer and steward of the future. “
Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
“Shane visited my Introduction to Sustainable Food Systems course. He brought an informative, researched, and deeply personal presentation that led to a rich and thoughtful discussion. He was able to draw students out and help them examine their own long-held attitudes about and relationships with food. He handled questions with love and gently guided the class through emotionally-charged territory. It was a critical growth point for all of us.”
Director for Sustainable Food Systems and Instructor,
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
“Shane’s brilliance as an organizer is that he leads with his heart, all the while staying firmly grounded in his co-mingled experience as a city kid growing up in Detroit and the son of immigrant parents struggling to hang on to their cultural traditions and agrarian roots. Shane is a masterful facilitator who creatively holds space for dialogue and political education by investing in the power of personal stories to unearth the intersectional nature of our experiences, sowing the seeds for deeper understanding as we build power to dismantle the injustices of a food system that leaves most of us hungry, under-nourished, diseased and disconnected from food’s healing properties for the body and the soul.”
Senior Director of Programs
“I first met Shane 6-7 years ago on a retreat we were co-hosting in Detroit. On Shane's home-ground, so to speak. Immediately, I was struck by the pace at which Shane moved and spoke. Deliberate and with deep intention. Every action, every step along a garden path, every word spoken in dialogue or in the telling of a story, every stroke of a knife as we carved spoons together under a tree that summer in Detroit - all of it was measured, intentional, and radically present. It's a presence that's all ground, all earth, all soil, all roots - all related and in relationship, and the brilliance and wisdom Shane offers flows right out of this rootedness. Witnessing Shane's personal commitment and experiencing the communal practices Shane facilitates, I've come to realize that it is not only trauma that we inherit through these ancestral roots and tendrils across time and space but also the embodied wisdom to heal ourselves, each other, even our ancestors, and this earth.”
Co-Director, Field & Network Development
Center for Whole Communities
“Shane Bernardo is an incredible, nurturing community organizer, educator, and activist from Detroit. I've had the honor to see Shane in action when he was a facilitator and lead mentor for many years of our Detroit Asian Youth (DAY) Project, a grassroots, volunteer-run teen mentoring program. Shane's work in organic urban farming (before it was "hip"), has changed the face of the food justice movement. His connection to our ancestral land of the Philippines and his ongoing quest to decolonize our minds is deeply inspiring to me, as a fellow second-generation Filipino American."
Emily P. Lawsin
Lecturer IV University of Michigan
“I recommend that any group or organization seeking to deepen their understanding of food justice reach out to work with Shane Bernardo. Shane is true to himself, rooted in history, and thoughtful about our responsibility to care for the land and for each other. An organizer and an educator, Shane approaches his work in a way that inspires both the head and the heart. Most importantly, he deeply respects the people with whom he works, always ensuring a spirit of gratitude lay at the foundation of his relationships. I call on Shane again and again as I consider him one of my most trusted partners in the work for social justice and towards liberation.”
Founder, Freedom Lifted
Former Executive Director, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership
“Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity on a few occasions to share the podium with Shane, to share our food justice and sustainability work in Detroit with community and university audiences. Shane's presentations were always insightful; they drew from years of personal and community-based experience. I have no doubt that participants learned a great deal from them.”
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Urban Studies and PlanningWayne State University
“Shane has been a fellow in the Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), a lecturer in my seminar "A Collaborative Study of Structural Racism," and will help lead our 4th DEAL Cohort. I look to him for expertise in thinking about anti-racism, colonization, and the importance of questioning frames and language. His work is grounded in wisdom, life experience, his ancestors and the earth itself. He is a leader in issues of food, justice and healing. “
Peter J. Hammer
Professor of Law & Director
Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights
Wayne State University Law School