John Egerton writes in Southern Food: On the Road, at Home, and in History that “the [U.S.] South, for better or worse, has all but lost its identity as a separate place.” However, Egerton quickly turns to food as one of the last distinct markers of Southern identity: “But its food survives — diminished, perhaps, in availability and quantity, but intact in its essence and authenticity — and at its best, it may be as good as it ever was” (3). For many folks who identify as Southern, cuisine is all that remains that makes Southern culture unique after cutting out all the problematic elements of an economy and culture built on enslaved labor, a history of racial violence and poverty, and other regressive…

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In Moschino’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection, designer Jeremy Scott had models walk down the runway in lavish, multi-layered cakes and petit-fours. Inspired by Marie Antoinette, The New York Times took up the phrase ‘Let them wear cake!’ and quoted Scott’s concerns about “how stretched and tenuous the idea of democracy has become.” He explained that our times reminded him of pre-revolutionary France, with all its decadence and excessive wastefulness. In order to raise questions about privilege, elites and the distribution of wealth, Scott turned to food. Since the dresses were made of simulations of real cakes and were not edible, his invocation of food to make a point, however, pales in comparison with an outfit that is as memorable as it is provocative:  Lady Gaga’s meat…

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[I]t looks as though […] McKay has set out to cater for that prurient demand on the part of white folk for a portrayal in Negroes of that utter licentiousness which conventional civilization holds white folk back from enjoying—if enjoyment it can be called. W. E. B. Du Bois, Review of Home to Harlem, June 1928 (359–60) In 1928, W. E. B. Du Bois, sociologist, author, and one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, published a review of the younger Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay’s first novel Home to Harlem. He didn’t like it. He believed that the novel catered for white readers who wanted to see the wilder side of Harlem life:…

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States in the early months of 2020, national media outlets have featured photos of lines of cars outside food banks in cities across the country. Such images serve as a shocking reminder that, yes, hunger exists in America. In this piece, I highlight how drastic changes in American food programs in the 1970s shaped contemporary food welfare policies. Enacting a politics of austerity, presidents and politicians began to place limits around food welfare spending within government, opening the door for a more far-reaching politics of disentitlement in the 1980s. These changes created lasting legacies that impact our relationship to hunger in America today, including normalizing the reliance of millions of Americans on…

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The “personal is the political,” a slogan of second-wave feminism, was also embraced by fat feminists in the 1960s and 70s. A founding member of the Fat Underground, a fat feminist liberation group, Vivian Mayer explained that they taught women to “relate ordinary ‘personal’ problems . . . to political injustices. The goal is to teach people how to support and encourage one another, and how to work together to change oppressive social relations” (xi).  In recent stories circulating around Boris Johnson’s (fat) body and his experience of COVID-19, the personal is political in a very different and problematic way. At the time of this writing, the United Kingdom has over 40,000 confirmed deaths related to the disease. The government’s…

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