Sapna Thottathil is currently a Senior Program Associate for the nation-wide Healthy Food in Health Care program of Health Care Without Harm and Physicians for Social Responsibility, where she is promoting large-scale sustainable food purchasing in health care institutions, and preparing for an active legislative year on antibiotics in animal agriculture. She joined the the WEN Board in December as the East Bay Events coordinator.
How long have you been a WEN member?
I’ve been a member since September 2012.
What do you like best about being part of WEN?
I respect how WEN fosters mentorship and networking opportunities for professional women in the environmental field. WEN works hard to create a support system for women, and also celebrates our valid and important achievements, which I believe is very important, given the many glass ceilings still left to reach. I look forward to WEN events, where women can share success stories, tips, and information about the environmental field and their lives. I hope to plan more events that revolve around sustainable food and agriculture.
Tell us more about yourself
I just received my PhD from UC-Berkeley in December 2012. I had been conducting ethnographic field work (with the help of a Fulbright fellowship) on organic farming movements in the state of Kerala (in India) for the past 6 years. Prior to that, I researched consumer attitudes around food miles, Fair Trade foods, and local foods, for my Masters degree from Oxford University. I’ve also worked for the EPA in Washington DC, and I am a recipient of the Udall Scholarship for Environmental Excellence.
What are some of your other activities?
I love browsing recipes and cooking! I think about food all the time. What to eat (and drink), what to make, the politics of it all, my vermicompost, etc. I’m obsessed with food. I also love hiking in our state and national parks, and identifying wildflowers and birds (although my West Coast taxonomic knowledge is not up to par with my East Coast knowledge – I was born and raised out East).
I’m an avid reader. I have too many books. And, I love maps.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
The impact and abuses of industrial agricultural production concern me – the labor violations, the use of toxic chemicals as pesticides, run-off in our watersheds, corporate control of seeds, the loss of biodiversity, the exploitation of animals, etc., all within the context of contentious free trade agreements and a changing climate. I’m an advocate of sustainable agriculture, which I believe can feed our world’s population, and can also be culturally-sensitive.