Food. A vital part of human stability and livelihood. It keeps us alive and functioning throughout the day/week/month/year. It’s that simple you get food (wither cooking, take out, fast food ect.) and you consume and you go on with your life. But do you think about food? I mean really think about it? Where it comes from, who it comes from, or how different communities view food? Food might be excisable to you 24/7 and it just appears. You buy it from a grocery store and you take it home or you go to McDonalds and buy a Big Mac and a Happy Meal for your kids and your set. But what about those communities where it’s not that simple. Where how they view food comes in to play in how they or the world view them socially. How just by being a person of color or a feminist, gay/lesbian/bi/transgender/pansexual/asexual has a lot to do with were and how you get your food and how it makes an impact on you.
Take being a person of color. One thing that being a person of color can have an impact on is food. Many communities of color (African American, Latino (Afro-Latino), Native American (black-natives) Asian & others that don’t fit into these categories) suffer from lack of food every day. In some communities all they have are McDonald’s and fast food + liquor stores & Walmart. They purposely don’t have grocery stores in these neighborhoods The lack of natural resources to grow food or just buy local food or even at least buy some fruits and vegetables from an actual grocery store is horrific. It’s a sad cycle though that goes round and round.
According to a study done on the website RaceForward.org “Report findings show that low-income people of color are most disproportionately, negatively impacted by: obesity, food security, “food deserts,” wage and hour violations, and lack of benefits. Yet, the movements for good food and labor rights do not typically work together towards food justice.” Now of course it doesn’t help when people like Nancy Pelosi the former House GOP took away Food Stamps from POC communities last year. According to Breibart.com this is some of what Pelosi said. “…For example, women were about twice as likely as men (23% vs. 12%) to have received food stamps at some point in their lives. Blacks are about twice as likely as whites to have used this benefit during their lives (31% vs. 15%). Among Hispanics, about 22% say they have collected food stamps.” “Minority women in particular are far more likely than their male counterparts to have used food stamps. About for-in-ten black women (39%) have gotten help compared with 21% of black men. The gender-race participation gap is also wide among Hispanics: 31% of Hispanic women but 14% of Hispanic men received assistance.” Said Pelosi. What a load of crock!
Then don’t even get me started with youth of color. They in a lot of cases grow up in these situations where all they know is fast-food & Walmart. Some youth only know concrete and buildings and have never been in the dirt in their lives or outside of their neighborhoods. For some though this a never ending battle but of course there is always those out trying to help the situation. A lot of youth are standing up and they are tired of having these situations happen to them and their families and want this cycle to end. One farmer is doing just that by helping youth of color reconnect with the land. Leah Penniman is a farmer/educator at Soul Fire Farm who posted on Facebook that she was having a one-week black & Latino immersion program on her New York farm which filled up in 24 hours. Penniman says the program is designed for young people of color “to ease them back into relationship with the land.” Her life is rooted in a commitment to fighting racism and discrimination what she calls “oppressive structures that misguide our food system.” Leah wants everyone regardless of class, color or creed to have access to fresh, healthful food and an understanding of how to grow their own.
I also watched a while ago a very interesting TED Talk on building community gardens in South Central LA. In the video Ron Finley talks about coming from South Central LA where there is an abundance of liquor stores, fast food places and not a community garden in site making it a food desert. So he decided to take the stretch of grass above his side walk and start planting and made a garden. He said a lady and her daughter came up one night admiring his garden due to the lack, of in other parts of the city. After a while he said the city got on his tail about planting there. So he moved to a local homeless shelter and had a great experience there. Finley said he is big on getting youth to start and work on gardens to help them stay out of trouble and sustain themselves and their families. “Make a shovel your weapon of choice.”
Then take being a feminist. Now I guess I would call myself a feminist because I care about women’s rights. I care that women and men have the same pay, hours of work that women can work or even an end to domestic violence but not just that racially too. Now in most conversations on feminism it will come from a white female. Not that that is a bad thing but what happens is race gets left out of the conversation when it comes to POC women. POC women have to deal with both racism and sexism usually at the same time. A job will tell a POC female that she can’t have the same pay as her male coworker and she can’t ware her hair in a ‘fro, brides, some type of Native American clothing or an Asian outfit because it goes against the “dress code.” So put food into the conversation and that’s a whole other thing.
Of course you have Michelle Obama who is really passionate about healthy food, fitness and gardening for the country. But what about the amount of female famers or chiefs. Or even take the way we are constantly told how to lose weight by eating less of it. But a lot of bloggers online have started to blog about their food experience from a feminist perspective. On the website MsMagazine.com a sista Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper who has been running the blog Sistah Vegan since 2006 talks about her blog and what drew her to write about food from a feminist perspective. She says that in 2005, she transitioned into afro-veganism because all the mainstream cookbooks approach veganism from a post-rasical perspective. Harper says that the books dealt with race, class and gender as if they had nothing to do with how a person came to their food choices. So she started writing from a vegan, black feminist perspective and that she always views food through the black, race and de-colonial feminism. Dr. Amie says that she understands that food can represent a whole culture’s ideologies around everything. Also she explains that to understand the structural oppression within the food system you must understand how structural sexism shapes one’s relationship within the food system from seed to plate. She gives the example of tomatoes coming from Mexico through NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the exploitation of indigenous Mexican women in the tomato fields. Harper also says food is important to her as it helps her to de-stress by drinking green smoothies & drinking green tea. You can purchase her book on Amazon Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak.
Now the LGBTQPA community. A lot of LGBTQ people are of color. Now in Alabama which is a farming state and has been for as long as America has been in existence has allowed for same-sex marriage and the first few people to get married have been black-lesbians. Yay! That is defiantly a win for this community but there is still a lot of hate and killings going on within the community. More and more trans-women of color are being killed or takin to jail due to walking down the street and because they are transgender they get looked at as drag queens or prostitutes. Then you have young LGBTQ who are killing themselves and suffering from the hate that is just everywhere from parents, religion, friends, school, and the media. Its hard out there for them but being twice as likely to experience hunger on top of all that is too much.
Featured on the website ThinkProgress.org an analysis from the Williams Institue, shows that LGBTQ people are more likely to struggle with hunger then the general population. They suffer from “food insecurity” contrary to stereotypes, where 29 percent of LGBTQ adults experienced a time when they could not feed themselves or their families. Also homosexuals are 1.3 times more likely to use food stamps, if they have children are 1.8 and if they are under the age 18 are 2.1 times more likely to receive food stamps. LGBTQ of color experience a similar inequity with 37% of black people, 55% of Native Americans, 78% of Native Hawaiians experience food insecurity compared with 23% of white males.
I came across this article written by a Queer Person of Color (QPOC) Toi Scott about the need for black and brown people of color having a say in the food movement. They say that although they’re making policies with what they think is helping the communities of color it’s widely done without the input of those people who live there. Toi says that POC need to start going back to the old ways as a community and cooking with each other, getting payed to grow food and starting black and brown owned co-ops. They say it may seem like a hard thing to do when most of this people are struggling but can be done as there are many people and organizations already doing it. Toi Scott says we already have the answers to our problems.
In the end food is a large issue that needs to be addressed socially, racially, and sexually to understand the viewpoints of other people. Food comes from love and the connection to Mother Earth a vital part of how food is look at.