Furman’s Ken Kolb earns a James Beard Foundation Award nomination in Food Issues and Advocacy

Author, department chair and professor of Sociology at Furman University, Kenneth Kolb, has been nominated for the 2023 Media Award by the James Beard Foundation for his literary work entitled: Retail Inequality: Reframing the Food Desert Debate.

Kolb joins two others in the nominated category of Food Issues and Advocacy, as his 2021 University of California Press book investigates two predominantly Black neighborhoods in Greenville. Kolb’s book challenges the assumptions surrounding the lack of supply and demand that sends people elsewhere for food. It also attempts to define how people eat what is closest in proximity which influences their nutritional habits.

“Lack of access to healthy foods in under-resourced communities is a nationwide phenomenon, and Greenville is no exception,” said Kolb in a statement to the Greenville News. “So, while the book is about Southernside and West Greenville, it is also a story about America.”

Kolb’s work precedes recent changes in the food availability dynamic within Greenville’s city limits, but it confirms the research his award nominated book addresses attempts to define.

“A Grocery store will come to Southernside and West Greenville one day. However, I fear that by the time it does, the demographics will have changed so much that they will become unrecognizable to longtime residents,” Kolb said.

“The Whole Foods coming to Haine Sirrine is a clear example of that,” Kolb said. “The community asked for investment for decades. Now, after losing 85% of its Black population over the past 30 years, they’re getting a Whole Foods. It’s a victory of sorts, but also a cautionary tale.”

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Ken Kolb is a professor of sociology at Furman University.

Ken Kolb is a professor of sociology at Furman University.

The Food Issues and Advocacy category is determined by an author’s coverage of investigative journalism, food policy, deep dives and critical analysis of the changing social landscape surrounding food, according to the James Beard Foundation Award description.

This year’s Media Award winners will be announced during a ceremony held at Columbia College in Chicago on June 3.

Kolb will join Greenville’s Danya Lee-Márquez in Chicago at the awards ceremony. Lee-Márquez, chef of Comal 864, was nominated as a semifinalist for the James Beard Best Chef: Southeast for 2023 Award in January.

Past Greenville James Beard Foundation Award nominees for Best Chef: Southeast include Greg McPhee, owner of The Anchorage and Mr. Crisp; Jon Buck, executive chef of Husk Greenville; David Porras, co-owner of Oak Hill Café & Farm; and Adam Cooke, co-owner and executive chef of Topsoil Kitchen Market.

Kolb has been a professor with Furman University since 2008. Earlier in 2023, he was elected as a fellow at the Aspen Institute for Food Leaders.

– AJ Jackson covers the food & dining scene, along with arts, entertainment and more for The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail. Contact him by email at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @ajhappened.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Furman’s Ken Kolb earns the James Beard Award nomination in Food Issues