On a recent 3-hour road trip, my daughter introduced me to a new podcast series called Pod Save the People with DeRay. In one episode, called “Historic Wins,” the presenters highlight the discrimination against black farmers in the mid-South region. So much so that, today, roughly 2% of the nation’s farmers are black, down from about 14% in the 1920s. I was stunned by this information and by how naive I had been in failing to notice such injustice.
In a recent lawsuit against Stine Seed Co., black farmers in Mississippi claimed they were deliberately sold defective seeds (see article here). Furthermore, there have been several cases against the USDA, claiming that the USDA denied minority groups access to loans, capital and resources for their farms (read more here).
As the author Zig Ziglar once wrote, “The first step in recognizing a problem is to recognize that it does exist.” Acknowledging that there is discrimination at all levels of the food system should be the first step in taking steps to eliminate it. We can achieve this by:
- Asking our lawmakers to support efforts to help indigenous, minority and/or women farmers and ensuring that all have access to the same resources. Check out sustainableagriculture.net for more information and to learn what you can do;
- Asking our lawmakers to ensure fair and safe working conditions for people who work on farms, in restaurants and other food processing facilities;
- Making a concerted effort to purchase products from indigenous, minority, and/or women farmers and producers.
We cannot have a sustainable food system without a fairness and equality for all those involved in the food system.
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A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine
by Edward Lee
My teenage daughters and I always argue about cultural appropriation. What they see as cultural appropriation I see as someone’s desire to incorporate another culture into theirs because they admire it. I view the relationship as a positive one (as long as the person acknowledges that he or she is taking elements from another culture and not claiming it as their own). This is the theme that Edward Lee explores in his book, Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting Pot Cuisine.
The book is in equal parts a culinary history of the immigrant experience in America, a memoir, and a cookbook. In it, Lee travels to different parts of America to discover how immigrants have adapted their cuisine to their new land. As Lee writes, “The story of American food is one of transformation. Any international cuisine changes once it lands on the shores of America.” (p.5). Each chapter in Lee’s book is a different destination with a different cuisine. And at the end of each journey, Lee provides us with recipes inspired by that cuisine.
As Lee writes in his epilogue, “Our food reflects who we are as a people. And if my small journey is any indication of where we are as a culinary nation, then we are living through an incredible time in a beautiful place.” (p.309). America would not be where it is today were it not for the wealth of knowledge, experiences and cultures of the many different people who made this country theirs. Lee does a great job of highlighting these and encouraging us to embrace them!
Articles of Interest:
- This is a great piece on how we can begin to work justice in the food system. READ ARTICLE
- There’s a case to be made for re-introducing Home Ec classes in school – it makes kids healthier. READ ARTICLE
- More information is always better than less and consumers have a right to know what it in their food. READ ARTICLE
- A little late…but better than never. The government is finally recognizing the dangers of pesticides, and taking the necessary steps to mitigate some of damage. READ ARTICLE
- I agree with the author of this article that it’s time to ban plastic straws, except for people with disabilities who need them. READ ARTICLE