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By: Katherine Hernandez

As we move forward into the new year, unsure of the changes that may occur in the food policies of America, it is crucial we consider the importance of diversity in our movement. It is a time to unite. Only the unity of people of all walks of life, races, socioeconomic classes, and religious groups can create an impact that will shake Americans and our food system.

When I think of unity, I think of all the people unaware of Slow Food’s mission for good, clean, and fair food for all. I think of food deserts and low-income communities—people with rich food narratives who live their lives aligned with Slow Food principles, but do not know about the global movement.

Internationally, Slow Food has over 1,500 chapters that stand together in protest against the tyranny of industrial food. A tyranny that has infiltrated the globe, disconnecting people in the most remote areas of the world from healthy food, from the land in which they farm, and from their seed varieties. However, the work of bringing people together around food does not stop with industrial food.

In “The Food Movement: Growing White Privilege, Diversity, or Empowerment?,” Kelly Moore writes,“Diversity is critical to the sustainability of the global food system because no single set of solutions, created under a single cultural and social system, is likely to produce the range of ideas and approaches needed to create lasting and evolving solutions to the challenges of feeding nine billion people good food.”

The concern of diversity in our movement has hit home for Slow Food New Orleans member/Pit Master Dr.Howard Conyers.

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After being racially profiled at Terra Madre this year, he meditated on the lack of an African-American presence in our movement. Although he has been welcomed gracefully within the Slow Food New Orleans community, has participated in the Slow Fish Conference, and believes it is important to talk about fair and equitable food, he also believes we should talk about fair and equitable people.

“Traditional American cooking and Southern cooking has a strong African-American component and it just doesn’t translate. It has to be more inclusive. Slow Food needs to intentionally try to include this community. People need to be open to the fact that we are all people. With everything going on the world around us, we need to treat each other as people, not by the color of our skin.”

So how do we strengthen diversification throughout the movement?

“We can start by highlighting minority chefs and chefs of color that are serving food that align with Slow Food principles,” says Conyers. “For example, Slow Food North Louisiana supports Chef Hardette D. Harris. I believe it is also valuable if the organization has a panel of diverse farmers and chefs, particularly African American and Native American, who could do something at a venue like Slow Food Nations.”

“It is not solely up to the organization, but also to individuals such as myself who may be vaguely familiar with Slow Food but who look vastly different from the majority of the group. We must actively participate in Slow Food if we want to see change within the organization.”

So, Slow Food champions across the country: I ask you continue the work you are already doing, but become conscious of the people that may not look like you, that may not speak like you, but who are aligned with your hope of good, clean, fair food for all. Are you willing to extend your hand to a fellow food activist, farmer, chef, and gardener with a different color skin or language? How will you reach out to people across America in hopes of spreading the Slow Food message? In loving the earth and defending the future, let us come together as one, one movement, moving forward to better food across our land.


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