In Solid Ground’s Community Food Education (CFE) program, we truly love food – and we know that our volunteers do too!
Some magical aspects of food include the way it brings people together to share in others’ cultures, experience a taste of familiarity and comfort, and simply try something new. Unfortunately, not even something as nourishing and celebratory as food is free from racism and cultural appropriation.
What is cultural appropriation, anyway?
Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture adopts the cultural customs of a nondominant culture without understanding or respecting the original culture and context. Does it mean that you can’t eat panang curry unless you’re Thai? No, of course not.
Cultural appropriation of food can look like:
- Restaurants with a white front of house (host, waiter, etc.) and a Brown back of house (cooks, dishwashers, etc.).
- White chefs selling burritos, benefiting through financial and social capital, without any benefit to communities that contributed to the food culture in the first place.
- Having your childhood lunch ridiculed, then it instantly becomes trendy the moment a white chef decides it’s exotic and exciting.
- “Asian-inspired” menus at restaurants, or white bloggers posting “healthy soul food recipes.”
It goes beyond enjoying another culture’s food into the dominant (white) culture monetizing food that is not traditionally theirs and profiting off another’s culture. This is especially important because chefs and business owners of nondominant cultures often don’t have the access to do the same.
What does this look like at Solid Ground?
We believe that food work which ignores intersections of racism and culture can do more harm than good. We are by no means experts in this, and surely do our fair share of messing up on this journey of anti-racism in our work. In CFE, we as staff and AmeriCorps Service Members work to acknowledge and be transparent about where white supremacy shows up in our cooking and nutrition classes.
One way this might show up is when we alter a cultural food to add more vegetables or whole grains, and the dish winds up drastically different from the traditional dish in a way that can be offensive – especially when we call it a “healthy version” of whatever it is. This implies a racialized definition of health, which assumes that food from “white cultures” is automatically healthy, when traditional foods from cultures of color is automatically not.
Think of the ingredients used in Mexican food vs. French food; both have vegetables, meats, and saturated fat, and both can be made more or less healthy. But which culture’s food is seen as elevated, or refined? Which do we expect to shell out money for, and which do we automatically see as “junk” food?
It also might show up when a kid in a cooking class we’re teaching says, “Yuck, that looks WEIRD!” when we’re making Vietnamese spring rolls. Because this kind of language suggests that there is a normal when it comes to food (and that those spring rolls clearly don’t fit into that norm) – this can ‘other’ a whole culture. As staff and volunteers, we could suggest that spring rolls might taste different than what the kid is used to, but many students in the US and Vietnam love this food.
We remind our students of all ages, “Don’t yuck my yum,” because what is labeled ‘gross’ by one person might be delicious to their neighbor. We try to remove moral judgment and shame from food decisions whenever possible. It’s easy in the moment to flounder and not know what do to, so we as staff and volunteers practice ahead of time how to stop and interrupt cultural appropriation in the moment.
This is something that we’re constantly learning, and we must always remember: Food is inherently political. If you resonate with what’s written here and want to take action, we love what our friends at Everyday Feminism have to say about this in their post, The Feminist Guide to Being a Foodie Without Being Culturally Appropriative.
Interested in learning more? Check out the resources below!
- How it feels when white people shame your culture’s food — then make it trendy
- Yelp Reviewers’ Authenticity Fetish Is White Supremacy in Action
- The Cultural Appropriation of My Lunch: What I hear when you tell me my food is “strong smelling”
- When Chefs Become Famous Cooking Other Cultures’ Food
For more info on Solid Ground’s Community Food Education (CFE) work, contact email@example.com.
Shana McCann says
Thanks so much for reading, MJ!
Glenn Philips says
I don’t think you or the author has thought this through. Very much like other Marxist idealogical nonsense it always ends in tyranny and suffering – such as the Killing Fields or the mass murder of the Kulaks during the collectivisation of farms under Stalin.
Lets imagine that the author and like minded people gain power and put this food law into practice in the real world. If this isn’t just an anti-white racist idea it would have to be applied to all food venues. In the UK almost all Piri-Piri, Southern Fried Chicken and Kebab shops are not run by the Portugeuse, people from the South of the USA or Greeks/Turkish, instead they are run by South Asian business people from Pakistan and Bangledesh. In fact many Fish and Chips shops aren’t run by English people but by the Chinese. So under this muddled virtual signalling thinking thousands of South Asians would be put out of business, their employees made redundant and so will be thrown into poverty. Again as I said, typical of Marxist thinking, big on ideas but with no thought to actual outcomes.
Glenn Philips says
Also this “We try to remove moral judgment and shame from food decisions whenever possible”. There wasn’t any “shame” from foof decisions until this bunch of modern day puritans, looking for windmills to tilt at invented the divides between food types as they divide the people in their quest for caste purity. Imagine a group of thugs arriving in nay given starbucks and walking around dividing the coffee drinkers up into groups depending on shoe colour and then announcing that brown shoes are the worst people and blue shoes the best and declaring that brown shoed people have stolen the coffee experience from the red shoe people. They then demand that the brown shoe people ask for forgiveness from the red shoe people whilst all the while saying that the black shoed people should demand better treatment than the others because they didn’t have the nicest seats – again an arbitary ranking made up on the spot. Now the brown shoe coffee people wish that their “shame” could be removed but under Woke rules there is never forgiveness just a long period of purgatory for those who a few minutes before were just enjoying a coffee.
Morgan Shepard says
Another dipshit commenting on Marxism without having actual read anything about it. You wouldn’t know how to define Marxism if it punched you in the face.
Anna hume says
I agree with one exception to your piece.
The reaction a person can have toward certain unfamiliar foods that are particularly alien to their food culture, even polar to their cultural values, is often the result of deep childhood conditioning. For example in the west it would be insects or dog meat, Or for a Muslim that of pork.
Conditioning is something a person has no control over and the reaction is often a deep and visceral feeling of nausea. It’s therefore patronising and wrong to always “don’t yuk my yum” in any and all cases.
So most Chinese restaurants in North America run by Chinese people have food that is nothing like actual Chinese food in China lol. And many tines are run by asians but not Chinese. Our friends owned a resteraunt calked called Hongong Kong resteraunt that served Chinese food but they were from Vietname .
This whole cultural appropriation is stupid on all levels.
Shana McCann says
It’s definitely interesting how the American palate and taste preferences change the way that food is crafted and served! I know that food in many places is much different than it is at American restaurants that feature the ‘same’ cuisine. It definitely shapes how we think about cuisines, too. For example, almost every Thai restaurants here in Seattle has Pad Thai on their menu, and though many people see it as a ubiquitous food from Thailand, it was actually introduced as recently as the 1930s to “Westernize” and modernize the country on the global stage! The history of food is so interesting and so much more political than I previously realized. Thanks for reading!
B Jennings says
This is one more example of small fragile hypocritical minds REACHING HARD to find another way to make themselves “victims” …. there is NO WAY TO APPROPRIATE ANY CULTURES BECAUSE THERE ISN’T A SINGLE CULTURE THAT HASN’T AND DOESN’T DRAW FROM ANOTHER. So STFU trying to be so “oppressed” by NOTHING just so you can feel important
Shana McCann says
I’m a white American and I don’t see myself as oppressed or a victim, but I think your language is harmful for people who have had their cultures appropriated and taken from them. It’s important that we have cultural humility, respect, and empathy when sharing in others’ cultures.
Name a single culture (current or extinct) which has not been largely influenced by another.
Consider refreshing your knowledge of evolution, human migration patterns, and OUR human history.
Pay special attention to human’s terrifying ‘appropriation’ of genetics from now extinct species for our own benefit. The same genes which for the past ~300,000 years allowed us to ‘appropriate’ behavior, language, technology, art, religion and food from dominant and non-dominant cultures alike.
To make improvements to a system, one must first learn how and why a system currently works as it does.
There are plenty of well meaning people who attempted to make systemic improvements. There are countless of examples in the (20th century alone where well meaning ideas have created real nightmares. Particularly in situations where individuals decided it was a good idea to group humans by race, culture, ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic status.
Educate yourself and be a better human.
“Cultural appropriation” is just the adult version of the childhood temper tantrum, ” I had that first!!! You can’t have it!” If you want to follow these ridiculous rules, then no colored people can open coffee shops, sorry, those are Italian. Or anything else that didn’t come directly from your ancestors.
“If you want to follow these ridiculous rules, then no colored people can open coffee shops, sorry, those are Italian. “
It believe its hyperbolic but incredibly, ironically, proves the problem. 1st Coffee shops are not exclusively Italian 2nd: Coffee is from Africa and Yemen introduced to Europe through slavery and conquered peoples, 3rd: Coffee pickers are exploited, underpaid and virtually modern slaves 4th: Inflated Americanized Coffee shop prices sold as exotic under capitalist models are the very definition of cultural appropriation.
I don’t have any solutions but paying, for example, Ethiopian farmers (the western equivalent of fair) would be a start!
Finally, many people in this comment section aren’t using an agreed definition of terms, and I think the defensive reactions show that there is a fantastic misunderstanding of what is meant by appropriation and why it’s a problem.
Glenn Philips says
@Pete – so Coffee came from slavery and Conquered people? Who were the slaves and conquered people? I think you will find that in history rather than all being victims non white people had empires, trade routes, agency in their own lives and power – sorry to break it to you. The Ottoman Empire only allowed Venice to trade with it, thus making it a powerful city and the reason for the Portugeuse to start to establish colonies around Africa. I would think that the Arabs who drank coffee traded it with the good people of Venice rather than being conquered by those nasty white oppressors – in fact the Ottoman Empire only feel after the 1st world war in 1922 after taking the wrong side and picking the losers to join with.
This article is divisive on so many levels! No one owns a cuisine. All cultures have taken ideas from others. Crazy!
Glenn Philips says
I think we would do better in sharing our cultures, get to know each other and have fun together. I ensure my family enjoy the rich multicultural world that I inhabit at work and in my private lives and suspect that the people with all these hangups are white middle class people who raeely ever meet other cultures. For information, almost every group I have ever met have enjoyed sharing their cultures with us.
You can’t always assume the race of an article’s writer. 😳
Rich Westerfield says
I’ve done gigs as a delivery driver for Chinese restaurants where back of the house was mostly Mexican.
I lived in Mexico City for a year back in the mid-90s. Fell in love with it. But without Bayless and Diana Kennedy, I likely wouldn’t have refined my abilities to cook Mexican cuisine (with American ingredients – imported cuisines cease being “authentic” the minute they leave their place of origin).
You’ve now got the “Foodmanati” making tacos in LA – a bunch of Black folk who simply decided tacos was a better way to make a buck. When I used to demo kitchen appliances, I made a reuben egg roll. I’m neither Jewish nor Asian, but the things were delicious and helped me sell air fryers.
Basically, I believe that being against intermingling of food, which usually happens more organically that this article would suggest, is akin to being against interracial marriage. And yes, there are those on the extremes of both political parties who are against that, albeit for very different reasons.
Probably what holds back some groups from getting into the food business is not money, it’s not knowing how to do it. A stand at a farmer’s market is cheap. We have people here in Pittsburgh with banh mi and kebab carts who simply set up shop on a vacant parcel. I’ll also suggest it’s reluctance to alter recipes that holds these same people back. If you don’t think you’d sell more sweet potatoes, ham and collards by putting them in a taco or empanada than on a plate, then you haven’t followed food trends this century.
Thanks for letting me dump here. I’m in the process of developing my own food/sociology blog covering exactly this kind of stuff.
T Romero says
Al pastor tacos came from the Lebanese and were adapted to the Mexican palate. Peruvian ceviche has the flavors from the Japanese migration but adapted to local flavors. What Americans know as “Italian” food (especially pizza and pasta dishes) bears little resemblance to food in Italy but it’s good. Soba curry in Japan has a very convoluted origin from the military and economic alliances of the 19th century. Most food in southern Spain is not Pure “Spanish” but has Moorish influences. East African recipes reflect the old trading routes with the spices and flavors of India, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
Why should we arbitrarily determine that at this point in time cultures should no longer mingle and adapt and evolve? Because of our technology it happens more rapidly now and less insidiously that in the past. But this process has gone on for all of humanity’s existence.
To say we can no longer learn from each others cuisine and adapt and change and grow with our new knowledge is to trap humanity at an arbitrary point in time because it bothers some people. Kids will ALWAYS make fun of “weird” food. That’s a survival instinct to only eat the familiar. If it happened to you as a kid that you were made fun of for your food, it was undoubted traumatic. However don’t be angry that society now embraces that food. Instead, rejoice in the fact that people learned, and if your different food becomes mainstream in your adopted country or culture, that no other kid will likely go through what you did.
It’s time to find fewer reasons to be offended.
Eric Turnbull says
Hey Romero speak for yourself. Stick to Tacos or ceviche that is what you are good at. You probably went to a so-called Italian joint cooked up by a bunch of Mexicans in the US. other than that so-called “Alfredo” most Italian food in the u.s. is similar to the ones in Italy. Sometimes it is identical sometimes it is close. You can make cases for Philadelphia cheesesteaks although invented by Italians, that is not a thing in Italy.
Eric Turnbull says
It’s time that you started taking your own advice by not looking for reasons to be offended! apparently this article offends you! I don’t know why. I don’t know what’s so offensive about it! everybody so God damn sensitive nowadays even the ones who are claiming that other people are being sensitive are even more sensitive. Obviously you didn’t read this article well because they’re trying to bring up more food for everyone what’s the problem with that? I don’t know what the fuss is? I don’t know why you invented this thing about not wanting to share foods. Stop taking this as if it’s such a burden on you! damn oh my God the burdens of Society are on your shoulders what a poor little child you are. And you feel sorry for those kids who act stupid laughing at other people’s foods and yet somehow ” They are the victims”. Lol. quit twisting things to fit your narrative
Patrícia Bertotti says
Hey Turnbull speak from your own experience. Italian food in the US is nothing like italian food in Italy, I’m italian, I lived in the US for many years, so don’t be rude, no need to say things like “bunch of mexicans” or “stick to tacos” you are just making so many racist assumptions. Stick to a book, maybe something will rubb off from it.
Chill dude dont take a shit
Sing Hao says
This is ridiculous on so many levels, and I’m Asian.
Yao Chi says
This article is absolute garbage. Food is supposed to transcend cultural boundaries. One amazing thing about food is it’s ability to draw cultures together and allow different cultures to experiment to create something unique. At the end of the day this author wants white people to stop enjoying and experimenting with foods from different cultures in the name of social justice.
Shana McCann says
Food is incredible in that it brings us together in such a powerful way. Enjoying and sharing in food from many different cultures is a huge way to foster community & understanding. Eating food from other cultures is not cultural appropriation– appropriation happens when a dominant culture adopts the cultural customs of a nondominant culture *without understanding or respecting the original culture and context*.
“appropriation happens when a dominant culture adopts the cultural customs of a nondominant culture *without understanding or respecting the original culture and context*.”
what does the alternative to your definition of cultural appropriation look like?
Should business owners (most of what we’re talking about are small businesses by the way) not benefit from their work in starting a successful resteraunt? or should that money go to mexico simply because there’s some kind of taco on the menu?
how do you define “adoption” in this scenario? a resteraunt opening up in a major city? people being exposed to a different dish and deciding they like it? it’s not like a japanese place opens up in the midwest and suddenly everyone in that town only eats sushi. the elements of that other culture get added to the “dominant” one.
you know they love american stuff in japan… i’m not mad about that.
Eric Turnbull says
Hey Yao Chi! You Chinese you ain’t even white. What’s a matter white people can’t fight their own battles and now you think they need your help to rescue their social causes? For someone that’s “Anti-social justice” You sound like a social justice warrior yourself! Trying to invent a so-called “White victim’s narrative” that don’t even exist except when you want to start a race war with all your racial baiting nonsense. So you don’t agree with the article, fine but don’t make a big stink out of it implying that there’s some sort mass conspiracy to victimise & persecute white people because it’s not contributing to anything except harm & chaos.
Eric Turnbull says
And Yao Chi, you don’t speak for all whites, some white’s don’t want to eat non-white foods . And many people who claim to be white aren’t. They are Americans posing as whites. And show some Goddamm pride in being Chinese instead of selling out your own by sucking up to the White racists who condescendingly pretend to “embrace all cultures” only to say xenophobic things at their convenience. If only white people embraced THE VERY PEOPLE of those different cultures as much as they embrace their food then this world would be a better place. Just like the black servicemen who fought in the second world war for the USA, if they’re not good enough to enjoy basic descent human rights then they are not good enough to fight for the US! Let the whites “die for their country”, atleast their country don’t hate them like they do blacks. If minorities are not good enough for white people then their food is not good enough for white people then! you can’t have it both ways.
Glenn Philips says
Totally agree. I and my friends from different cultures around the world love sharing and being together. White middle class guilt ridden people are the driving force behind such nonsense. Many have taken to patronising POC and treating them as little children which in my mind is far more colonial in thinking than the long dead people they profess to hate. You see it in the way they think that POC have no agency or control of their lives.
I agree with “without understanding or respecting the original culture and context” but your examples do not illustrate this qualifier at all. Cultural appropriation of food would be trying to pass off a poor facsimile of an ethnic food and I’m quite certain my elementary school cafeteria was guilty of this :). If a chef uses authentic ingredients and/or identifies their cuisine as “fusion” or “inspired” they are paying respect to a culture. Furthermore, it does not seem to bother you if one white culture cooks food from another white culture, you just seem very focused on distinct visual differences in skin tones. No matter how much you share culture you never run out (or get robbed of it); Instead you GROW it and the whole world bennifits.
So if a white person were to cook asian food would it be considered cultural appropiation.
Eric Turnbull says
What is a “white person”? I do not see a place on Earth that’s called “White”. Where do whites come from? so if an Asians wants to cook the food of white people what’s it called? Asian cooking white food what is that? I bet alot of Whites would be offended if other races cooked their food whatever that is.
Glenn Philips says
You really think “white” people would be offended if other races cooked “their” food? You don’t live in a multicultural place on this planet do you?
This article make no sense.
> White chefs selling burritos, benefiting through financial and social capital, without any benefit to communities that contributed to the food culture in the first place
You know that in some countries there is no people of colour, right? Or there is no white people? Some countries are very monocultural, such as Eastern European, some Asian of African countries.
Some types of food are specific to several types of community. Some food is spread all over the world. Food is a common good that should be multicultural. For millennia, food has been passed down from one culture to another. From one country to another. Some types of food originated in countries that no longer exist.
Current cultures have taken over food from other cultures.
For example, Mexicans also once took over some food from other cultures. So there is no such thing as eating a specific culture, because current cultures have taken over as well. There is no point in appropriating a food for a given culture if the cultures have been mixing for hundreds of years. It may turn out that some of this “Mexican food” are not Mexican at all.
Why only white people should pay for other communites, when they have restaurant with food from another culture? Because they are white? So POC can open restaurants with Ukrainian food and not support the Ukrainians, even though Ukraine is now fighting the dictator in stare of a civil war, innocent people are dying, because Ukrainians are white?
People of color (especially black people) have experienced systemic racism, but fact that white people have to spend money on POC because they have a restaurant that sells their food is pointless. It is an individual person’s decision what to spend the money on and what minority they support. Maybe I’d rather support an anti-trafficking organization than the Mexican culture. This is not a way to fight racism. The way to fight racism is to educate and change politics, not to refuse someone to eat from a given culture.
Food is not something that is reserved only for a particular culture. There are many types of food that don’t even have an origin anymore because they’re so common, such as bread.
Such a philosophy will only lead to further divisions and assimilation.
Multiculturalism is good and people should connect their cultures. Alienation of cultures never leads to anything good.
> Restaurants with a white front of house (host, waiter, etc.) and a Brown back of house (cooks, dishwashers, etc.).
Why this is not good? Being waiter is better than being cooker?
People for work are selected by ability, not skin color. A brown person can be a great cook, but a bad waiter. So making her/him/them a waiter is illogical.
As above, some countries only have one type of people. For example, if the Czech Republic is inhabited mainly by white people, nobody will hire brown people for work, because there are practically no such people.
> Having your childhood lunch ridiculed, then it instantly becomes trendy the moment a white chef decides it’s exotic and exciting.It goes beyond enjoying another culture’s food into the dominant (white) culture monetizing food that is not traditionally theirs and profiting off another’s culture. This is especially important because chefs and business owners of nondominant cultures often don’t have the access to do the same.
I don’t understand this sentence completely. Why would someone ridicule the lunch from their childhood? If someone makes fun of food from their own culture and then gets excited about it when an expensive restaurant serves it, they’re just stupid.
Restaurants will always adopt certain cultural trends from around the world. This is how the world works, especially in capitalism. This doesn’t mean that someone ‘appropriates’ food from a different culture, but introduces its elements to their restaurant, because it’s interesting. By the way, I don’t like capitalism, but the alienation of cultures is bad in my opinion.
There is no such thing as one “white culture”. American culture is different from Italian, and Italian is different from Eastern European.
”White” culture is not dominant in every part of the world; in Korea there is ”Korean” dominant culture, for example they have their own beauty standards. Arabs have their own dominant culture. In South America they have also their own culture.
Well, I see, you are talking about US and American white people culture”, because in Europe people have their own different cultures. For example Scandinavian culture is different than Slavs culture etc.
Also, in today’s world, China is a superpower stronger than the United States. Items from Chinese companies are ahead of American or European companies (even if these are also located in China).
I’m sorry that there is racism in the US and white people are taking over a minority culture, but that doesn’t mean people in other countries can’t start a Mexican restaurant, because they did the same.
> We believe that food work which ignores intersections of racism and culture can do more harm than good
I have different opinion. For me ignoring intersections is not the same as ignoring racism and someone culture. I wrote above that this is not a good way to fight racism, because it leads to further divisions and alienation.
> One way this might show up is when we alter a cultural food to add more vegetables or whole grains, and the dish winds up drastically different from the traditional dish in a way that can be offensive – especially when we call it a “healthy version” of whatever it is. This implies a racialized definition of health, which assumes that food from “white cultures” is automatically healthy, when traditional foods from cultures of color is automatically not.
I’m dietetican and I never heard about something like this, it sounds stupid. Nobody in this way elevates food from the cultures of white people countries, at least in Europe… For example, in Eastern Europe in Poland, everyone knows that Polish food is generally UNHEALTHY, and Mexican food with vegetables, legumes and whole grains is healthier.
It’s surreal that adding vegetables to a dish is meant to be offensive. Seriously? If I want to eat Polish pierogies, but I know that deep-fried pierogies with cracklings are not healthy, so I add a lot of vegetables to them, do I offend the culture of people of color? Wtf?
It doesn’t mean that I want to offend someone else’s culture, I just want to be healthy. You can change your traditional dishes for healthier versions … Please ….I know that some Mexican or African food is healthier…
>Think of the ingredients used in Mexican food vs. French food; both have vegetables, meats, and saturated fat, and both can be made more or less healthy. But which culture’s food is seen as elevated, or refined? Which do we expect to shell out money for, and which do we automatically see as “junk” food?
I’ve never heard that French food is considered healthier than Mexican food. It depends of the meals. There are thousands of Mexican and French reservoirs that differ radically from each other. Some are healthy, some are not, these cuisines are very diverse.
Plus, you’ve ignored the fact that Mexican food in the US is sold as fast food in not healthy form, because US loves fast food. This probably influenced the perception of this type of food as ‘junk food’ in the US.
>It also might show up when a kid in a cooking class we’re teaching says, “Yuck, that looks WEIRD!” when we’re making Vietnamese spring rolls. Because this kind of language suggests that there is a normal when it comes to food (and that those spring rolls clearly don’t fit into that norm) – this can ‘other’ a whole culture. As staff and volunteers, we could suggest that spring rolls might taste different than what the kid is used to, but many students in the US and Vietnam love this food.
Children always react like this to things that are new and strange to them.
Are you now judging a children for their childish and stupid behavior? Well, they are CHILDREN. A child from Asia could also react to sauerkraut from Belarus in this way.
If you prohibit white people from eating Mexican or Asian food and/or opening restaurants with food like that, white children will react to unfamiliar food because they’ve never seen/or eat it in their life. On the other hand, it’s only the multiculturalism will make children treat food from other cultures (and generally other cultures, other people) as ‘normal and familiar’. Alienation always leads to the division of cultures into ‘strange and exotic’, not ‘normal’.
I have an Egyptian friend who ran a French restaurant.
I know two Mexicans who run a Japanese restaurant.
But a White person can’t open a Chinese restaurant? When 90% of Chinese restaurants in America don’t even make authentic Chinese food but rather a bunch of dishes that “appropriate” American ingredients and taste preferences?
Rubbish this article. There are thousands of ways that non-white folk are legitimately disenfranchised in this country but this article only creates a silly standard likely to backfire.
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I don’t understand what is meant by “White” culture especially when it comes to food. It even said in the article “French” food. French culture is different than Irish culture, different from Italian culture, different from Polish culture. All considered white, but all very different from each other. These kind of arguments are always used to what benefits the person writing it. White culture vs. Asian Culture, well China is different than Japan and is different from Korea. Even if there is an argument, which there isn’t one there is no apples to apples comparison, white vs western europe vs eastern europe
I came here concerned about Korean waffles. I want to do a fundraiser for a summer camp(I’m a Scottish/Swedish/Austrian teenager in the US) and I really love the concept of Korean waffles, which are Belgium waffles topped with overzealous amounts of fruity cream.
I know these are known as Korean waffles, but since they took the concept of waffles from France/Belgium and built off of it, I think it’s more of a mix of cultures. It wouldn’t be cultural appropriation to sell Korean waffles, would it? Especially since waffles didn’t originate in Korea in the first place….and plenty of street vendors profit off of these waffles.
Thoughts? I’m curious to see what other people have to say.
hey there, this is a super late response but i thought i’d share my thoughts as an asian american (not korean though), especially considering your comment thread isn’t overrun with miscommunication.
simply put, and contrary to popular belief, there is no policing on what ethnicity can and can’t sell or profit off of a certain cultural food. appropriation can begin when aspects of the culture become indiscernible through bastardization of said culture, and this ALWAYS will come from lack of research, respect, and integrity. for example, when a “bento box” is just meat over rice in a round bowl, can it really be called bento? despite what these other commenters are saying, misbranding (like in the example) can always be something turns disingenuous, which is appropriation.
in your case however, it would’ve been just fine! when you have an earnest understanding into what you choose to share to or with people, it’s good for everyone all around, and these values are at the core of TRUE appreciation.
What are your thoughts on vegans culturally appropriating pure Texas chili? This discussion is f’n stupid. Crybabies cryin. Civil rights for carrots. Me too movement of moo goo gain pan. What a bunch of idiots.
This is where identity politics starts to collapse. Cultural Appropriation as an issue is watered down and made irrelevant by this level of extremism.
It’s legitimate for cultures to preserve and fight for things that are considered sacred or meaningful for them – it’s wrong for a non-native girl at Coachella to don a feather headdress. (For christians who don’t understand that, or believe that’s a ridiculous thing: how would you feel about a bunch of teenagers putting on Papal hats in some mockery of your religion while getting wasted?)
Respect for the sacred for other cultures is a reasonable thing, a value that should be upheld. Further, respecting and honoring another culture’s food is necessary as well, and insulting it is not ideal: the backlash against Lucky Lee’s was reasonable.
However, to create excessive roadblocks and bar people from cooking food from another culture renders the issue ridiculous, and hurts the concept of cultural appropriation as a whole. It’s absurd to demand that “white men” be barred from making sushi, or whatever – if they are honoring the culture and giving their own spin on it, there shouldn’t be anything wrong here. It’s gatekeeping and upsets most people because it’s utterly unreasonable.
A. Allison says
This is a really good answer. Thanks!
“For christians who don’t understand that, or believe that’s a ridiculous thing: how would you feel about a bunch of teenagers putting on Papal hats in some mockery of your religion while getting wasted” If you are any of the other big Christian religions that aren’t Catholic (Protestants, Eastern Otherdox, Methodists, Baptists, Coptic) then I imagine they might (probably not) find it amusing.
I agree on the food issue, reminds me of a company run by teenagers all this woke nonsense.
Difference of Opinion says
So are we not allowed to mix different flavors and ingredients because it might reflect on another’s culture by accident when a young to-be-chief is experimenting? The reason I myself am in love with food is because I thought it was the one place where cultures intertwine and live in harmony and still representing each other respectfully. Have you ever watched the food network? People from different cultures participating and cooking on competitive food shows that are on that network, they come in and also mix cultures within their food that they present to the judges. Not to mention those judges having a vast and respective flavor pallet. those people from other cultures always talk about their roots in those shows and say they want to represent their culture with some twists. Some people just come in with their food as traditional or clastic to their culture, and that is respected too. Why are you hating on something so beautiful? A place where all the cultures are accepted? And lots of restaurants tend to serve things from different cultures and some make it their own or mix them with other cultures or ideas, sure. They are fighting a competition with so many other restaurants, they need to implement diversity if they want to survive. Although I personally believe in the idea of “quality over quantity” so if a place is really good at making Italian food but not so much Mexican food, than I’d probably order more of the Italian food. And think that they should probably stick to what they know. At least until they can create the other dishes properly. But I don’t like it when restaurants spread their menus thin with so many different dishes. because at that rate, so many restaurants do that, that no restaurant has a specialty and you might as well just go the the closest restaurant to get whatever meal you might be craving. I wish there were a diverse community of different cultures with different stores/restaurants. Then it really would show people’s preferences, and then maybe you wouldn’t have made this article. Because maybe everyone would just love food no matter who made it, what culture it came from, and they’d all respect it for the efforts put in. Food is magical, it connects us, drives us, motivates us. You can bring culture into it, but it shouldn’t be taken out or separated. It has nothing to do with race, it’s got everything to do with culture. Read that again. It brings love, beauty, and community to a divided, ugly world. I’m a positive person, and I have faith in humanity to rise above trivial things. And if we expose our children to unity and acceptance, there won’t be articles like this one anymore because there wouldn’t be a problem anymore. There’d be less racism. Less cultural appropriation because we’d actually be taught to respect the culture and learn about it before participating in it. I grew up in California, an elementary school filled with different people from different cultures, no majority, no minority from what kids can see. I never saw race, I just saw people. Race is a political idea. We are all just people, that’s what we need to be taught, and that no one person is the same, and race has nothing to do with that. Only culture does, and if we thought this way I talking about, we’d all respect each other’s.
A. Allison says
It’s call culinary ARTS not culinary culture. You cannot appropriate art or food. If people really are feeling this “authentic” vibe and only wanting food from a specific race typically served from a specific country, even if you visit that country, you will run into problems.
Take Italian food for example, a cuisine that is distinguishable by their pasta dishes, lots of cheese and marinara sauce. When Italians began exploration in the 13th century with Marco Polo. He brought noodles from China, spices from India, and tomatoes from Spain. Literally, the only stereotypical Italian food that originated in Italy was cheese. Everything else was taken from another country or ‘appropriated” as this new generation is calling it. What a silly concept. The evolution of food and artistic celebration through food has allowed for appreciation of other cultures and palates. As diversity spreads through America, people are allowed a chance to try new things they never would have thought of before. Food never divides people.
That is all I have to say. This “food appropriation” crap needs to stop.
So is using ‘soul’ endlessly for the African American communites( soul food, soul music…) considered Religious Appropriation for taking it from the Christian Bible? The word Soul comes from the bible.
So would it only be cultural appropriation if it is ethic food? Like for examples chickens came from Asia but that wouldn’t be cultural appropriation since it doesn’t come from one specific country? Also would it be cultural appropriation if a food was brought by colonizers like how tomatoes were brought to Italy? /lh
Because im confused because if one food came from one place but that ingredient is used in many other dishes across the world is that also cultural appropriation???? then again i dont think it was in an attempt to mock anyone
Glenn Philips says
I don’t think there is anyone, apart from those invented people in th febil minds of the SJW, who mock people’s food by attempting to make it for themselves etc. The problem with the SJWs is that they start from the premise that all certain people are evil and trying to do bad things to the good people – its straight out of the Zoaristian/Gnostic/Platonic religious idea of an evil God that makes a false world and a good God that puts its spirit into the good humans like the SJWs. Its a religious cult this Woke movement.
Johny Euphrates says
You cannot “own” a culture.
Burak Can Sarı says
Thanks good post..
Uh… No. This article has nothing to do with cultural food appropriation. It is a hate speech.
The claim that “Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture adopts the cultural customs of a nondominant culture without understanding or respecting the original culture and context.” is incorrect. Cultural appropriation is “the adoption, usually without acknowledgment, of cultural identity markers from subcultures or minority communities into mainstream culture by people with a relatively privileged status.” (Source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/cultural-appropriation)
A white front of the house with brown back of the house isn’t appropriation. It would be racial discrimination if that were the case if the division were 100% on both sides but I have never seen that to be the case.
White chefs selling burritos, blah, blah, blah? This point is not a statement of fact based on anything but personal opinion and is completely incorrect.
Having your lunch as a child ridiculed only to become trendy until a white chef decides its trendy? Really? Again that point is opinion, not based on any verifiable fact.
“Inspired” menus are appropriation? White bloggers talking about healthy soul food in their blog is somehow wrong? How? Why? You have to provide information based on research and be prepared to back those claims with that research.
This article (if you can call it that) is nothing more than hate directed to the white race as a whole. The author writing this knows nothing of the food industry, and nothing about appropriation, or racial issues. It is a piece that is intended to invoke an emotion against what they are claiming is white supremacy in the food industry, and to garner donations to the organization. The claims made are incomplete and not thought through. It all misses the mark. Does cultural food appropriation exist? Yes it does. It isn’t just a white issue. All races do it. Are there racial problems in the food industry? You bet there are but again it isn’t all because of the white race. All races can be and are racial. It has been like this since the beginning of time. These problems will continue to exist long after we are all gone. What we should be focusing on is understanding, forgiveness, and education. Now can we get back to food?
Whilst I appreciate the sentiment I this article is overly harsh.
I don’t think adapting recipe to include more healthy ingredients so it differs from the original can be offensive, nor does it imply a racialised definition of health. On the whole western food and particularly western fast food is seen as and is the least healthy. By adding vegetables to a recipe you are not saying our white culture Big Mac is healthier, and I do not believe anyone thinks that.
French cuisine as more refined – as home cooking in France it isn’t. It’s home cooking. French restaurants may seem more refined because they have a long history in the west or restaurants from cheaper to Michelin star. We have Michelin starred restaurants from all sorts of cuisines now.
And people everywhere in the world find new or different food – well different – and sometimes a challenge or a novelty. My wife and in laws are Japanese and there are things in Europe that they need some coaxing with. My wife has lived in the UK for 20 years but won’t go near a can of baked beans or custard !
Whilst I understand cultural property, food is about transmission and adaptation. If you think in Japanese food, the three most known dishes abroad are sushi, ramen and tonkatsu (as in katsu curry). Sushi started a while back but for a long time was often pickled or fermented ingredients for preservation unless you had very fresh fish. It really took off after the importation of refrigerators from the West, then production of them in Japan post war. Ramen came from China in the late 19th century but the Japanese adapted it to make it their own. Tonkatsu came from European escalope in the late 19th century and tonkatsu sauce is derived from Worcestershire sauce from the UK post WWII and then adapted.
Food is a moving feast !
Dan M. says
I’m a Southern White and home cooking that White blue-collar Southerners cook is basically the same as Soul Food! Does that mean that Southern Whites are guilty of cultural appropriation? I don’t think so! Black slaves ate parts of the hog that Master would’nt eat and White dirt farmers couldn’t afford to waste anything. Both did it out of necessity. Bashing Whites for borrowing or adapting from other cultures is polarizing nonsense!
Heather Christy-Robinson says
I would love a response to my question: If any non-White person were to create “healthy soul food recipes,” would that be okay? What if a White Southerner created a health[ier] version? What if a Black person created a “healthy soul food recipe”? Is the problem only a matter of who makes money from the recipe?
Hamton Inglewood says
white is not capitalized but Brown is? Why? These minor “triumphs” against “systemic oppression” are only fueling rhetoric from the white supremist you despise so much. When you use grammar to marginalize “white” it proves their thesis of white replacement and oppression. Please stop giving these people ammunition to use. They can not support their claim with facts if they have none. Ether capitalize all or none, stop creating biases.
Man, we must live a pretty good life to actually get offended by the “culture appropriation” of food.
Food is made to be celebrated and enjoyed.
If I go to a black owned business that makes the best Chinese food I’ve ever had, should I not support the effort of their craft just because they aren’t Chinese? Come on now, this idea is insane when you apply it to a real world scenario.
Shawn Furey says
so as a White male cisgender it’s considered cultural appropriation for us to eat food? you are seriously saying that our white privledge makes eating a crime? food is food no matter where it from.
Such an idea is outrages.
“Think of the ingredients used in Mexican food vs. French food; both have vegetables, meats, and saturated fat, and both can be made more or less healthy. But which culture’s food is seen as elevated, or refined? Which do we expect to shell out money for, and which do we automatically see as ‘junk’ food?” I’m not sure, if I buy a French pastry and compare it to an “authentic” burrito will one of them be of different quality??? Surely not right guys???
You’re comparing apples to oranges and then calling it racist.