Diggings 21 June 2020

The Case for Letting the Restaurant Industry Die

There’s a conflation there of a safety net with employment—and with precarious employment, at that. It’s sort of like saying that because we don’t have socialized mental-health care in this country, that prisons and jails are the closest things we have to that, and so if we close down prisons and jails, we’re leaving these folks no option but to be on the street. I’m not equating restaurant work to being in prison, but I think the biggest issue with employment in general—anywhere in the world, but especially in the U.S.—is lack of choice. The existence of precarious jobs is not the same as security. On the face of it, that perspective sounds like an excuse to keep an industry going that’s problematic. It sounds terrible. It’s like somebody saying, “Stay in this marriage, even though you are suffering terribly. Stay in it for your children.”


let it die.

 But what exactly will die?

An industry where labor is segregated by race and gender, underpaid and uninsured. An industry where labor is segregated by race and gender, underpaid and uninsured. An industry fed largely by an industrial agricultural system that  either extracts profits from the environment with little consequences, or offers ethically sourced produce to just a few for a lot. Let it die. An industry where on the higher end is great food at fat prices in spaces that drive up real estate values, pushing property prices higher and poorer people further. And on the lower scale, working poor people, making barely enough to keep them going, serve low nutrition meals to other working poor people, who can’t afford quality housing because of predatory development. Let it die. And all over the spectrum, a white man gets paid off of all of that. Let it die. 


The unseen as fertile ground for new wisdom

Are we brave enough to love what is ugly inside and transform it? Are we brave enough to imagine a food system that does not involve old paradigms of poor farmers versus conscious consumers? Can we imagine a chain of production that is truly diverse and integrative? Or are we committed to what we call “the reality we have to reckon with” and unable to dare ourselves to take bigger risks both in our personal and public lives?

Sukhmani Khorana: Migrants and food during COVID-19: Stories of Destitution, Enterprise and Solidarity

So what is new about migrants and food, especially in a settler colonial multicultural society like Australia in the midst of the pandemic? The challenges of COVID-19 might be unprecedented for many social groups, but they have been experienced in one form or another by most migrants and refugees. Also, while many academic studies and migrant advocacy bodies have been calling for greater attention to listening and responding to their voices and recognising their agency, the current circumstances make these calls even more pressing. What we need isn’t yet another ‘Harmony Day’ that celebrates food from different cultures, but doesn’t talk to those serving the food about anything other than their enriching spices and costumes. Nor do we want to fall into the simplistic trap of condemning all migrant-initiated food initiatives as pandering to white tastes.


‘People fear what they don’t know: the battle over ‘wet markets’, a vital part of culinary culture.

The warehouse smelled powerfully of feathers and droppings, but Harry, a Guyanese construction worker in his 50s, seemed unfazed. He pointed out two broiler hens to a man in overalls who grabbed them, hung them by their legs from a scale, then carried them into a room strewn with feathers and drew a knife across their throats. “You can put your rice to boil, come get a chicken, be home before it burns,” Harry said. “Can’t get fresher than this.” The market he frequents, Madani Halal, is one of more than 80 in New York City that stock live animals and slaughter them on demand for customers.


We’re in This Together: Working Towards a New Food Culture

History clearly demonstrates that the uneven impacts of such crises hit society’s least privileged the hardest, exacerbating existing disparities as they relate to food. Presently, the food security implications of a COVID-19-triggered economic slowdown are manifesting in some of the most vulnerable populations across Australia. International students and temporary visa holders are queuing for food across the country, while members of isolated communities, immuno-compromised and elderly persons face barriers in safely accessing supermarkets


The Cherokee Chefs Bringing Back North America’s Lost Cuisine

Plant materials recovered by archaeologists in the Gorge in the 1980s and ‘90s led to a historical revision “that fundamentally alters how we think about indigenous peoples of the [precontact eastern U.S.],” says Morgan. A trove of ancient seeds debunked then-dominant theories “depicting early inhabitants as backwater nomads that didn’t acquire agriculture—and thus the markers of complex society—until after A.D. 1, when maize arrived from Mesoamerica.”


Gardens of the galaxy: can you grow vegetables on Mars?

 “The journey to Mars takes half a year,” he tells me on a video call from his garage in Wageningen, an attractive town on the Rhine, not far from Arnhem. “So store all your poo and pee. That’s your starter kit, what you need to get started in the soil. Actually, The Martian is totally correct there. It may be smelly, but it’s so important.”


Two million fish to be released into Murray-Darling system

“This is a good thing. But it’s nowhere near what a natural breeding event could add,” Mr McCrabb said. “We’ve gone through the worst 12 to 18 months in the history of the basin. Thousands of Murray cod have died. The perch we have left are at the end of their breeding cycle.”


Pass the shiraz: how Australia’s wine industry can adapt to climate change

Cool wine regions such as Tasmania, for example, will become warmer. This means growers in that state now producing pinot noir and chardonnay may have to transition to varieties suited to warmer conditions, such as shiraz.


‘Life attracts life’: the Irish farmers filling their fields with bees and butterflies

Dunford needed to radically rethink what it means to be a farmer. “What defined farmers was how much food they can produce. The biggest challenge was to get them to take on a new role – to convince them they have a broader destiny than just food. And for that, they needed to be supported and paid to do it.”


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