Over the past 40 years, millions of farmers, dieticians, and community leaders have supported a revolutionary vision for food, one that better supports the health of our bodies, our communities and our ecosystems. In many parts of the country the progress is visible and truly remarkable. These successes, however, haven’t always translated well across racial and ethnic lines. The reasons are many and complex, but what is clearly underappreciated is the diversity of visions; not everyone seeks a food system of green salads and deli items from Whole Foods Market.
Just and healthy foods can be sautéed in a wok in the back of an Asian market, or wrapped in a tortilla at a street stand, or even fried with bacon grease in a grandmother’s kitchen. Just and healthy foods can emanate from one’s backyard and kitchen, or they can be purchased at locations as diverse as farmers markets and corporate cafeterias. Food is not just a vehicle for the delivery of nutrients and calories; it is a source of pleasure and family ties and community building. Food is mystifyingly intertwined with culture, family, faith and tradition.
It goes without saying that our Scandinavian brethren here in Minnesota can’t possibly be eating lutefisk because of the taste. Each fellow has provided their own perspective on the influence of culture on food. Culture has often been perceived as a barrier to better eating and best to be ignored. It’s more appropriate to consider culture – when respected and embraced – as a powerful driver for just and healthy foods. Below are brief stories of people doing just that. Enjoy!