Much of the kinship we feel to others and our environment is attached to the stories we see, hear, and share about food. Food traditions connect us to our past and what we hope our descendants will carry into the future. Stories and recipes are immortal, created by communities to preserve an identity and culture.
A problem occurs when the power of story is used as a way to marginalize some and empower others. Dominant stories and images surrounding farming, organic eating, slow living, plant-based eating, and sustainability have been positioned as predominantly white topics and white crusades against a broken food system. In reality, these are practices and ways of life that many black, indigenous, and people of color have been practicing for centuries, long before Whole Foods and Farmers Markets became trendy. As food stands at the intersection of culture, environment, and capitalism, we recognize that our broken food system is a reflection of generational systematic oppression with roots in colonization and slavery.
We know that silence is complicity to racism, so is co-opting time-honored traditions rooted in time and place. This leads to white-washing and erasure of important BIPOC narratives. As a local food company in a predominantly white region of the US, we are guilty of erasure and it’s something we are proactively trying to change. We do not want farmers, purveyors, or locavores of color to be viewed as a token or daring alternative to the romantic white fables crafted about local and sustainable food.
Some of the racist erasures that sneak their way into our local food world include the elevation of European cooking techniques, cuisines, restaurants, and chefs as the preeminent level of gastronomy; and romanticizing sourdough, openfire cooking, or foraging without homage or reverence to the many cultures that have relied on and developed these practices for millenia.
Taking these traditions and making them a white activity or cherry picking predominantly white foods and techniques while favoring select ingredients from marginalized groups shows that colonialism lives on in our food. In the ways we prepare, cook, and consume, food mirrors white power in economics and politics.
In our storytelling, we commit to being consciously aware of not profiting at the expense of BIPOC perspectives and histories. We commit to sharing the history of food and recipes from many angles and perspectives and to continue listening, learning, and unlearning so that we may actively dismantle systematic racism together. We must rewrite the untruthful narratives around food and maintain a posture of expansiveness and inclusivity to ensure no one’s story is left out. We hope that by starting here, we will begin to heal our relationships with one another, to society, and to our planet.
Kelly + Ashley