Edit on June 18th, 2020: Hello y’all. Let’s talk about how institutional racism is connected to food.
Food insecurity is a term used to describe when people are unable to get enough food to eat, typically as a result of their economic status. Food deserts are places where accessibility to healthy food is low, which forces people to resort to unhealthy (albeit cheaper) alternatives. The hunger crisis in the United States is intrinsically tied to racism.
Why am I bringing this up now? Over the past few weeks I have been rattled by the state of the world. George Floyd’s murder by the police and the subsequent reaction by Black Lives Matter supporters has opened my eyes to how little I have contributed to social justice issues in the past. I was ignorant when it comes to politics, and I only put hollow words towards fighting for racial equality as opposed to direct action. Not anymore. I hope to incorporate information about racism, social justice, socio-economics, and more into this blog, starting with this update to an old post about pasta. Racism and white privilege is undeniably present in every aspect of our society. Acknowledging that and understanding how both issues influence our daily life is the first step towards combatting them.
It seems hard to believe that something as simple as putting food on the table is impacted by racism, but I’ve learned over the past few weeks that the cloud of white supremacy and systemic racism covers almost every aspect of our lives; nothing is untouched by it, and if you struggle to see the connection then you’re simply blinded by privilege. An article from The Philadelphia Inquirer by Sherita Mouzon does an excellent job of breaking down the relationship between race and food:
“How are racism and hunger related? Being mistreated at school, on the job, in health care and beyond, translates to lower wages and exclusion from society. When employers discriminate, people of color make lower wages than white people. When health-care providers discriminate, people cannot get the health care they need, and when the courts and the police are biased, they are more likely to put our family members behind bars, which damages their prospects for economic security.”
Mouzon makes an undeniable connection between race, ethnicity, and hunger, but the root of the issue doesn’t stop there. The racist history of redlining and gentrification in the US has made it difficult for low-income communities and minority communities to have access to good, healthy food. The two factors that result in food deserts are proximity to a supermarket or a health food store and the affordability of items in said store. When it comes to food insecurity, the United States Department of Agriculture has directly tracked the correlation between race and health, as is evident in their 2001 – 2016 study which revealed that up to 21.5% of nonwhite households experience hunger whereas only 10% of white households struggle with the same issue.
So what can we do about it? That was the main question that circled around my mind once I discovered how pervasive racism is. When it comes to food specifically, Sabea Evans writes, “Simply providing people with food has proven to be an unviable solution to ending hunger in the U.S. Policymakers, meds & eds, big businesses, non-profits, philanthropists… We all need to acknowledge, address and help people heal from the racism and discrimination in our systems and within ourselves in order to intervene in systemic oppression and reduce food insecurity in the U.S.”
Learning about how racism presents itself in every facet of our lives is the first step – action is the second. Get involved with local community gardens, soup kitchens, and food banks in order to help people who are directly suffering from food insecurity. Financially support organizations that are working to fight systemic racism – the Black Lives Matter movement has a list of their partner organizations, and The Strategist came out with a post of places to donate to. Also, support Black creators the next time you scour the internet for a recipe. Here are some BIPOC food accounts that I have recently discovered:
- The Kitchenista Diaries. Angela of The Kitchenista Diaries whips up classic comfort dishes, like potato salad, peach cobbler, and black eyed peas.
- Rachel Ama. Rachel is the queen of vegan cooking and baking! She makes everything from homemade pho, Shepard’s pie, spiced apple cake, and everything in between. Her book, Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats, is available for purchase online or at independent bookstores. Interested in picking it up? Refinery29 and Literary Hub have both compiled lists of Black owned bookstores arranged by state.
- Dish it with Tisha. Tisha (a fellow Florida girl) shares classic Southern dishes, and she also writes about different local restaurants that she visits in the South.
- Sweet Tea and Thyme. Eden of Sweet Tea and Thyme is known for her “comfort food and easy seasonal dishes.” Her recipes have been featured in Delish, BuzzFeed, Taste of Home, Essence, Good Housekeeping, and more!
- Ev’s Eats. Evi’s Instagram is full of flavorful creations from her home and her travels. If you want to find more of her recipes check out her blog, Ev’s Eats, or her cookbook, Flavors of Africa.
- Jessica in the Kitchen. If you’re looking for amazing vegan and vegetarian food, look no further. Jessica puts a plant-based twist on classic meals, and her recipes are as visually stunning as they are delicious!
- Whisk it Real Gud. April of Whisk it Real Gud makes quick and easy food that tastes anything but.
I’m going to keep educating myself, and I hope you do the same. With that being said, enjoy this recipe for vegan rapini and sausage pasta.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe on Forest Tourist, so today I’m sharing with y’all one of my favorite Italian dinners. I beg my dad to make this every time my parents come to visit or I travel back home, and when I came back to Florida earlier this week this was one of the first family meals we cooked together.
This recipe is for a vegan rapini and sausage pasta, but you can substitute the sausage with mild Italian sausage if you aren’t vegetarian. The best meatless “sausage” that I’ve found is the Beyond Beef plant-based ground – just rip it into tiny pieces and you have extremely believable chunks of sausage. My favorite non-dairy Parmesan is by the brand Follow Your Heart, although you can easily find vegan parm at any grocery store.
Try out the recipe below and let me know what you think!
Rapini and Sausage Pasta
- 3/4 lb penne pasta
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 6 ounces vegan Italian sausage
- 6 tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 lb rapini florets, tender stems, and leaves only
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp butter vegan
- Boil salted water in a large pot, and then cook penne according to box instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on the stove over medium high heat. Add the vegan sausage and cook until brown. Remove from the pan and store in a bowl.
- Add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for around 1 minute before adding the rapini, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the cooked vegan sausage, vegetable stock, and vegan butter, and cook over high heat until the sauce reduces slightly.
- Add the rapini and sausage mixture to the penne, and toss with vegan Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Was this helpful? Have feedback for me? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos in this post were taken by me unless otherwise specified in the caption.