today, it is no longer enough to speak about what’s on the plate all the while ignoring the socio-political moments leading up to the first bite. we deserve restaurants that talk about more than just food. -Tunde Wey
We admire Tunde Wey. He is redefining the future of food by talking about the bigger picture of food. Touring the U.S. with his pop-up dinners that are discussing Blackness in America, he’s going beyond the plate, pushing the food industry to no longer just value the transparency of farm-to-table, but calling on an even greater unveil, the acknowledgment of food’s complex intersectionality with oppressed groups and unrecognized histories.
Over the last few decades we have seen the farm-to-table movement take off. It has highlighted the american food system for it’s flaws in unsustainable agricultural food practices. We saw key figures like Alice Waters challenge the restaurant industry by developing her menu around what was grown locally and seasonally. Michael Pollan’s book Omnivore’s Dilemma and popular documentaries like Food Inc. and Fed Up have highlighted the way that big business has poisoned our land, food, and bellies. People are more aware of where their food is coming from and key words like “local”, “sustainable”, “fresh”, “organic”, and “farm-to-table” all are used as trigger words to entice people into being interested in a new branding of food.
The farm-to-table movement has left out a major component of the food industry; how the soft power and influence of oppressed groups has been abused in order to lift up and strengthen the american food system. Tunde Wey’s call to action is inspirational. It is not enough to just unveil the secrets behind where our food is coming from, and what is going into it. We need to look at who is growing our food. We need to think about the appropriation of cultures when a white person sells a Korean fusion taco. We need to look at who is working in our kitchens- who’s cleaning dishes, who’s prepping food, and then who’s getting credit? We need to think about where people are starting restaurants, and address issues of gentrification and exploitation as “farm-to-table” businesses open off of the back of oppressed communities. Tunde Wey shows strength and courage. I hope he comes through Baltimore with one of his pop-ups, because the conversations getting started!
I’m just going to wait for the world to move towards me. If I’m going to fail I want to fail spectacularly, crash and burn in style. -Tunde Wey