Vanishing Foodways was launched at the international Slow Food Terra Madre conference in 2016 by the multicultural Louisiana-Vietnam delegation that shared stories, food, and traditions of the Mississippi and Mekong River Basin.
Although Louisiana and Vietnam are on opposite sides of the world, they have much in common. Both Luisiana and Vietnam were formed over the past 6,000 years by mighty rivers: the Mississippi in Louisiana and the Mekong in Vietnam. These two muddy river deltas create biodiverse ecosystems that are home to two of the world’s largest fisheries. These regions of incredible abundance make a considerable contribution to the world’s food supply and also give rise to world renown cuisines and cultures. Those cuisines and cultures meet in Southeast Louisiana, home to over 15,000 Vietnamese-Americans.
However, due to climate change and the industrial production of food and energy, the fragile coastal wetlands of Vietnam and New Orleans are two of the most rapidly disappearing regions in the world. Industrialized aquaculture is the major cause of Vietnam losing 50% of its mangrove forests in the past 40 years. Meanwhile, cheap Asian shrimp imports enter the US unregulated, causing dockside prices in Louisiana to drop to $1.50 per pound, a price that has forced many Louisiana shrimpers out of business.
Slow Food New Orleans raised funds to jumpstart Vanishing Foodways, and to examine and raise awareness of the dynamic, interconnected and often overlooked relationships that exist between the land, oceans, rivers, and people.
Plans are being made to expand Vanishing Foodways to gather stories and raise awareness along other great river basins throughout the world.