Food, Community & Government

Culinary Justice

Michael W. Twitty

Lesson time 13:34 min

Michael tackles the topics of cultural appropriation and environmental racism by exploring a system that denies African Americans credit for their own culinary impact.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Owning the Source Code • Environmental Racism • Taking Back the Power


- Food justice is something you may have heard about. And food justice is very specific. It's about food as a human right, and it's about food as healthy and sustainable food, having access to it. Culinary justice a little bit different, because when you say culinary, we're not talking about all matters food. We're talking specifically about ideas about food, ideas about cuisine. Ideas about how food should be ordered, served, prepared. The rules around how food looks, who it's given to, and its meaning. And its value. You know, I've spoken in this class about hierarchy and food. And the African tradition. So we have these one pot meals, and foods that are not necessarily high value prestige ingredients, but they're made in a certain way that's very comforting and very accessible. And those foods have attained a large measure of value in American food ways. If all you have is rice and beans, and somebody jacks your rice and beans and turns it into a gourmet $20 plate. And here you are in your hood and your area and your niche and your cut, and this is your culture creation, but you can't make anything off of it, because it's not empowering you. You don't have the power of the platform the privilege. But you do need some culinary justice. Because at any point in time, those foods that we've created, whether it's hot chicken or chopped cheese or whatever, those foods have been reappropriated to fit a high end market. And therefore, in many times, not only does the food leave us, but the ideas about the food and its meaning and its import, and its cultural significance leaves us. So it's so critical for us to be able to delineate culinary justice. And it's not just about appropriation, that's only one aspect. One of the more important aspects of culinary justice is this idea that the people who create it deserve to have the ability to empower themselves from it. And that we give credit where credit is due. But we also acknowledge the complex networks that create the argument and meaning and import of those foods. We have to have that context, we have to have that information that tells us why that food is connection to a people is so central to telling this story. And connects that story to other elements of justice issues that they face. One of the buzzwords that we often hear about is cultural appropriation. There's an incredible pushback against it. And it's interesting, because why is the pushback there, predominantly when we make the argument against taking those influences without any sort of hint at attribution? Any sort of hint at acknowledgment. Any sort of hint at reciprocity. And it really does come from a space of thinking that because we came from these enslaved people, whose labor and whose contributions were taken for free. Remember, if the enslaved person, man or woman, invented something during the antebellum period, or innervated something, the White man and woman, by law, got the credit. They can lit...

About the Instructor

Through years of unearthing his African American heritage, bestselling author of The Cooking Gene Michael W. Twitty discovered undeniable ties between his ancestors’ past and his own palate. Now he’s teaching how you can get a taste of your family history through food. Explore the migrations that informed the ingredients in your kitchen—then re-create the dishes that helped shape who you are.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Michael W. Twitty

James Beard Award–winning author of The Cooking Gene teaches how to trace your culinary roots through the food your ancestors ate.

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