Do you read cereal boxes? I do. Always have. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by the way the way words and images on the box describe, and sometimes embellish, the food inside. “Delicious,” “nutritious,” “100% natural,” these terms create a narrative that — like it or not — adds to my enjoyment of my morning bowl of Shredded Wheat.
A different set of words have become popular in describing dishes on restaurant menus and products sold at farmers markets and specialty food stores. Artisanal, sustainable, farm-to-table, healthy, local – to many people these terms evoke a network of farmers and food-makers who produce on a small scale, and have a direct relationship with their customers.
But in immigrant communities the meaning can be something altogether different. For example, Tania Lopez who teaches kids in her native South Bronx how to cook healthy Latino food told Fi2W that the word “local” means whatever food is sold in the neighborhood, including fast food.
In our second annual Feet in 2 Worlds online food magazine we examine today’s food culture through the eyes, experiences and taste buds of immigrant farmers, food makers, and food educators.
From a close-knit group of Mexican cooks and chefs who run the kitchen at a high-end restaurant in North Carolina to a pioneering African-born farmer in New Jersey, we invite you to consider what today’s food culture looks like when seen through an immigrant lens. In this context sustainability is not just about preserving the environment. For Caribbean immigrants in Miami keeping a goat in the backyard is also about sustaining their island culture and surviving on scarce resources. And for Michael Obadina, a college student from New York City and the son of a Nigerian-born nutritionist, none of these terms adequately describe his mom’s jollof rice. To him it’s just his favorite dish.
My thanks to editors Anne Noyes Saini and Von Diaz for putting together such a compelling collection of stories, and to the entire Feet in 2 Worlds team – Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang, Rachael Bongiorno, Jocelyn Gonzales, Kathy Gunst, Rachel Stevens and Anya Prokhorkina.
There is a wide variety of audio and video pieces to explore, as well as in-depth written stories from immigrant communities around the nation. We hope you enjoy our online magazine and please send us your comments and ideas for future issues.
Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation, an anonymous donor and readers like you.