When I decided to fully commit to the study of Food and Nutrition, what pushed my heart into this field was the fact that food was a common thread amongst all humans. This was important to me because I love humans. When restaurants are open and I’m not ordered to shelter-in-place, I make new friends every day because I love hearing new stories and different perspectives. When people tell me stories from trips, my first questions is “What was your favorite meal?” Most of the time their answer veers off from the flavors and smells of the food and they end up describing the experience; the strangers they met, the laughs they shared. Food is more than the flavors to me, and apparently to others as well. Food brings people together.
My senior dissertation explored the Slow Food Movement, a movement that began in Italy in the 1980’s due to a growing disconnect created by the fast-food industry between people and their culture. The SFM works to bring patience back to the way we prepare our food. I’m talking about the TLC that goes into recipes that have been passed down through generations, and the way we enjoy our food around tables with the story-telling and conversations that help us grow. I have sat at countless tables with strangers from all walks of life. I have heard their stories and shared their food. In between laughs and tears, we eat the same food. There’s nothing better than a dinner that ends in the early hours of the morning, with empty wine bottles and full stomachs.
I’m sad to say that food has always been, and will always be, political. As much as I believe that food should be a thread connecting all people, the food system in the United States has always been unjust in order to serve the white men who created it to function in favor of capitalism, not the Black people who are being punished in the process. The systemic racism in the United States has continuously pushed Black people into conditions that have caused damage to the thread by reducing their access to nutritious and affordable food. This drives them further and further from their culture and deprives them of a chance of sharing their stories with people through their food. This is just one way that Black lives are being unfairly treated.
Right now, people are protesting against the racism that has been institutionalized in the United States since its founding and to bring justice for the Black lives we’ve lost too early due to police brutality. Racism still exists in this country. On May 25th, George Floyd was murdered on camera by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota and since then the world has stood up and fought side-by-side with one another against these racial injustices. For those who haven’t been able to protest, social media has been a great tool in sharing information. One of the ways the media has encouraged people to do their part is via conversation. We must have those difficult and uncomfortable conversations with racist family members or friends who just don’t understand why “all lives matters” is….just….no.
Unfortunately, I cannot find a dining table large enough to host and engage with everyone in conversation about race. But I can make sure to consistently educate myself on the topic of race so that I will be well-equipped to engage in these conversations as the opportunity arises. Another way I will continue to practice anti-racism and allyship on this platform is through food. I will use my privilege to amplify black voices in a country that has muted them. I want to use my platform and make a constant effort to support Black-owned food businesses in the Bay Area and share them on here.
Helpful Links About Allyship and Anti-Racism: