Women's History Month - Women in Agriculture #7 - Miah Ulysse
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
Miah Ulysse is a unique woman in agriculture with an international flavor. Her Father, Haitian, moved to the U.S when he was a teenager and later in life met her Mother, a 1/2 French, German, Swedish, Norwegian woman. Miah and her family moved around the Twin Cities, experiencing life in the suburbs, the city and rural Minnesota. Which gave her a magnified view of the food landscape. However, when she lived in East Bethel with her maternal Grandmother it was an opportunity to learn more about nature. Enjoying her grandmother's 10 acres of rhubarb, grapevines and fruit trees. Growing up she really got to see the parallels between the city, suburbs and rural landscapes in Minnesota with the with church food drives, WIC, EBT, CEAP, transportation and convenient stores. All of these things gave her an understanding of the ways in which communities have access to food and transportation.
For Miah, it was watching episodes of the original Iron Chef and Copped that initially inspired her to be a chef. The similarities between the random food box challenge on the show and creating a great tasting meal to the random food box you get at the food shelf helped her find ways to creating delicious meals that did not feel boring or made to feel food insecure. She also began to incorporate her experiences from her grandmother's home and she began to plant seeds in the backyard at her parents home. Plants have been growing inside of her all of her life and invited her to learn more on an academic level.
Wanting to release that chef within her, Miah applied to the University of Minnesota to become a food chemist in their food science program. However, that program was not ethnically vibing so she switched to the food systems major so that she could graduate on time. Throughout her undergraduate studies she was really seeing food in different settings, applying for jobs and as a women in the industry, not getting selected for interviews. It took an elder from her community, Michael Chaney, to pull her into the non-profit work first taking a role with Loafs & Fishes and later a part-time role doing policy and coalition work for Appetite for Change to realize something else that also needed her attention. She began to understand the food system in more depth and understanding that sometimes creating new systems in non-profit work we tend to create the same systems that we are wanting to dismantle. She played an integral role into shaping and bring life to the farm bill and creating a meaningful food justice summit with more brave spaces for BIPOC participants of such a major conference that does provide some relationship building groundwork for how the local food system can be reimagined.
Miah wants us to learn the following from her experiences:
It is real important to grow food AND participate in food policy. Most importantly do a policy analysis and read the actual text in these documents.
Understand the power of the dollar and consumer choice. Spending money with businesses actually that have your best interests in mind.
Have people around that want to mentor relationships with plants and show how our souls connects to growing food.
We salute Miah Ulysse, a woman in agricultural history during this lovely month of March!
~Photo above taken by, Michael Haug~