Food for Thought: what I am thinking about food and Ferguson

Food writers are prolific souls, covering neighborhoods and cities, calling out trends, holding up individual chefs and recipes, telling stories and giving advice. But too often these same gifted writers tiptoe around broader political realities, unwilling to connect the dots for fear of alienating readers.

When the Ferguson Grand Jury decision was handed down on Monday, I noticed a disconcerting radio silence from otherwise loquacious food writers, bloggers, and critics nationally and locally. We’re talking virtual crickets on Twitter and elsewhere for most of the folks I follow, and generally love reading.

Particularly disappointing, white food writers and bloggers, people who are building their careers off of the food that other people make – and that most often people of color make – seemed to have nothing of relevance or interest to say about the injustice of Ferguson.

To those who would respond that this is simply not our issue, I would say that food, gentrification, racism and policing are deeply entwined, and it is our jobs to tell those stories and connect those dots.

For too long food writers and food event planners have operated under the assumption that the cuisines of the world are some kind of Trojan Horse that will get folks to care about other people and places. In fact, it has led to greater appropriation, displacement, and exotification. I feel as though it is time to change our strategy and be far more direct. There’s a whole lot more truth left to tell.

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4 thoughts on “Food for Thought: what I am thinking about food and Ferguson

  1. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years: everyone has opinions. I am sure these food writers have thoughts and feelings about what happened, just like everyone else. That doesn’t mean they feel the need to put it out there in the blogosphere. And, it also doesn’t mean that it’s any more credible or justified than any other person’s.

    • I see that point, but mine is that food is connected to everything: race, immigration, environment and ecology, legislation of all sorts and etc. and i personally think food writers need to start making these connections more explicitly. But that’s my personal take, on my personal blog.

      • Food is part of culture and that’s an important viewpoint, I don’t disagree with that. I just get nervous when I see writers like Frank Bruni penning articles authoritatively on things I am fairly certain on which he has no expertise. Don’t get me wrong, I like having alternative viewpoints voiced. I am hesitant, however, to open the gates to more of the same.

      • Totally get what you’re saying, but I think food writers do get these connections and don’t talk about them. These are brilliant people. We’ll have to agree to disagree, I think!

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