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Regarding the post about rising quinoa prices, can explain the racism and appropriation? I understand the issues surrounding a growing demand for any type of food but what makes this more than just another food fad? (Don't take this as argumentative. I just want to be informed and you are always spot on with your posts). Thanks!


navigatethestream:

seekingwillow:

anddeathsmiled:

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navigatethestream:

i’m going to open this with a story.

when i first moved into on campus housing at Hampshire college i had a Peruvian roommate. upon learning that i’m a vegan she one day said to me “at least you’re not the kind to eat quinoia”. she then went on to explain to me that quinoa is a staple in the diets of peruvian peoples because of its nutritional benefits, such as high protein, high fiber, low calories, ect. but because the demand for quinoa in the united states has skyrocketed, people in Peru and other places where quinoa is an indigenous crop are no longer able to afford it. this means they have to shift their diets to what’s immediately available in order to survive the quinoa outsourcing boom, such as an increase in meat consumption to supplement the protein they would have gotten from quinoa in order to survive. this shift in how peruvians and other people access food in order to survive is causing a spike in diabetes, obesity, and other health problems that weren’t as significant before the quinoa boom. from a health and food justice standpoint, the quinoa boom is causing health disparities in people who had otherwise been able to survive for years. 

interestingly enough, she was telling this to someone who had never eaten quinoa in her life, and quite honestly didn’t know what the fuck it was until she explained it. 

there’s a lot of issues with what i’m going to call white supremacist food culture, the ways in which U.S commits food imperialism when we imports good as part of the “supply and demand model” in order to satisfy the dietary needs of a few at the expense of many

like lets be real about something 

the U.S isn’t buying quinoa in bulk and then distributing it in the hood for free. its not hitting the shelves of grocery stores located in food deserts in droves. 

its going into whole foods, small boutique health food stores, stores where the assumed consumer is white, upper class, and labelled “health conscious”. stores that are not located in places populated by people of color, whether its urban, suburban, or rural. its going into the stores where white people live and white people shop. 

there’s actually a really good essay in the anthology cultivating food justice about how one of the problems with food justice and health consumer culture is that the “conscious consumer” is assumed to be white and the “unconscious consumer” is assumed to be a person of color. and when food justice operates under the assumption that “unconscious consumers” are merely people who don’t know what’s good for them and have to be told what’s good for them then its located in white saviourism. it doesn’t address the issue of access as it relates to class, race, mobility, proximity and continues to perpetuate a power imbalance where white people are posited as the authoritative source on health  

now why is it racism and appropriation? 

the lack of tangible fair trade agreements that benefit the producer moreso than the consumer- i personally believe that fair trade can never exist within the context of a capitalist framework. current fair trade rhetorics, to be frank, are an emotional remedy for the guilt ridden conscious consumer moreso then they are a real solution to transnational trade and consumption. no matter how much people in the U.S pay for something labelled “fair trade” you are still getting it for relatively cheap in comparison to what its actually worth, because you’re importing from places that don’t have the same philosophy about labor that we do, where labor is thought to be theoretically “cheaper”. and chances are you are probably paying more for the luxury of a brand to say its “fair trade” than you are an actual, equitable exchange. in order for fair trade to truly exist there has to be complete autonomy over the means of production so that producers can play a larger role in their own economic development. essentially, the people who produce quinoa are probably not profiting off it as much as U.S companies who import it are

long term environmental consequences- the U.S has a nasty habit of overconsuming/over-importing foods labelled “exotic” by virtue of not being indigenous to Eurocentric agricultures or food cultures. this places pressure on countries of production to deplete their own natural resources in order to keep up with with the demand, such as destroying rainforests in order to make more room for more crops. especially since its not advisable to crop the same crops in the same patch of dirt over and over again. so we are playing a role in the destruction of the environment abroad, especially in countries of color who have already gone through the environmental destruction associated with European imperialism. U.S import culture fosters another form of environmental racism all on its own 


the “its not healthy or worth eating until white people eat it” gotcha of food appropriation. at the same time white supremacy loves to tell people of color that our foods are not healthy, nasty, smell bad, ect it also loves to appropriate our foods and take credit for making them more palatable to the taste buds of white people. and out of this a repackaged food culture arrives, where the representations of that food culture make whiteness the referent, the default. and where the profiteers are white. white people probably make more money off selling non-white recipes, cookbooks, ingredients/food staples ect than the actual people of color from that cultural context ever will 

the best way to see this illustrated is to go to a book store and pick up a cookbook that advertises a non-western, non-white food culture written by a white person. the emphasis will often be on rehashing recipes from that culture to make them “healthier”, i.e fat free, low in sugar, carbs, high in protein, whatever is the hot new stay healthy/stay lean diet tip of the day. this assumes that prior to white adaption and appropriation, these foods are “unhealthy” relating the health of a food culture to Eurocentric values of what it means to consume “healthy” food/”unhealthy” foods. 

yet what is considered “healthy” or necessary for a culture to survive is not going to be the same across the board. “health” is relative concept influenced by a lot of shit. and white supremacy functions to set the proverbial standard of concepts that are relative 

additionally this framing conveniently ignores the impact of European colonialism & white supremacy have on POC food cultures. a few days ago i reblogged a post where whole foods was selling collard greens, a staple vegetable in many blackamerican soul food traditions. the advertisement stated “it doesn’t take bacon to make these greens taste great”. 

well whole foods is right, you don’t have to add bacon to collard greens in order to make it taste great. especially if its not your preference

but that conveniently ignores the context by which collard greens arose as a coveted dish in the first place. they’re part of blackamerican soul food cultures, which originate out of slavery. slaves didn’t have access to what some might think of as “healthy” food. being fed during slavery was a luxury that came few and far in between. and when slaves were fed they were fed what was left of the masters meal, the throwaways. so emerges a food culture as of a method of survival, a food culture that suited the needs of people who were being physically exploited for labor and unsure of when they were going to see their next meal. dietary preference or selectivity doesn’t exist when you’re fighting to survive. 

food appropriation by white supremacist food cultures is nothing new. people who benefit from white supremacy have been either taking by force or underpaying for their “exotic” dishes, ingredients, recipes. neither is the dialogue about the appropriation of food from marginalized peoples is. the only thing that’s quite new about is in the academic discourse and scholarship that has risen out of food justice. but then to me that narrows the scope as to what is considered scholarship, who is an authoritative source, who defines such limitations

i mean whether i’ve read about it in an article or my grandma calls me on the phone one day to tell me she can no longer afford collard greens because their in high demand at the whole foods clear across town

either way i’ve learned the same lesson 

So I’m asking this because I don’t fully understand and I genuinely want to know. Does this mean I need to stop eating quinoa & collard greens? I genuinely do like quinoa & greens. I usually get my greens from Safeway, because I live in an area with a majority Black & African American population, and they carry them there and cheaply at that.

In short… what do we actually DO about all of this?

I think the example about collards was an exaggeration - currently there are no folks being screwed by our eating collard greens. However, there are folks, due to our new found love for quinoa, who are unable to eat their own local food. It would be like if…if…folks in Florida were unable to buy oranges because everyone in another country was suddenly into it. On the one hand, quinoa is delicious, but otoh, I feel like i’m eating it by stealing it from the mouths of Peruvian families.  We’re not eating grains at all right now, but even if I were, I think I, personally, am done with quinoa. 

___

If you are not in the culture, how do you KNOW, who and HOW they’re getting screwed over via collard greens? You don’t even know collard greens isn’t the first AfricanAmerican/BlackAmericas thing to be co-opted and gentrified and made more expensive. There’s ox-tail, rice (from a few years ago and hasn’t gone down and not ‘necessarily that - Uncle Ben’s- stuff’ and more.

Sometimes the screwing over is indigenous peoples, primarily farmers and producers in other countries. Sometimes, it’s local PoC elders and families who can’t eat their traditional foods which used to be called ‘poor foods’ and all that’s left for them is cheap processed food - then they get treated like they don’t know how to eat healthily and NOT like what they could afford that they knew how to cook as part of a healthy meal that met all their nutrition requirements - isn’t affordable anymore.

A personal example?

My local supermarket closed down. It also used to deliver. What’s left for me is PeaPod. PeaPod is convinced that ginger is not something you sell loose for .55c a pound. But that it must come in a sealed plastic veggie box, $2 for 2 small pieces and be labeled organic. Ginger is not a ‘regular’ grocery item to them, for things like tea and health as well as marinades and spicing things up - it’s an ‘exotic addition’. It’s ‘gentrified’. It has to have a certain label on it and be presented in a certain way. As do plantains, avocados, and heaven forbid any vegetable that doesn’t have an english name or regular ‘non immigrant’ use.

Culturally and nutrition/diet-wise, I am screwed over. Because the foods I can eat and the foods that signal culture and home, tradition and history to me are ‘novel one dinner knock-off, or party items’. And are priced accordingly.

reblogging for much needed commentary.

thank you seekingwillow for responding to anddeathsmiled. there’s a severe amount of anti-blackness in anddeathsmiled calling my example of collard greens an exaggeration because of the very real way it dismisses the cultural appropriation white people have committed to African American/Blackamerican food cultures. 

if you’re going to claim to care about food justice, you have to care about how ALL instances of food cultural appropriation by white folks in the U.S are harming POC at home and abroad. you don’t get to pick and choose which ones are actually causing “harm”, especially when you’re not apart of that specific cultural context. 





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