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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[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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In May 1891, the London Vegetarian Society held a meeting in Portsmouth. Present were not just English, but also two Indian members, T.T. Majumdar and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, both students of law in London. For Gandhi, later one of the leading figures in the Indian independence movement, membership in the London Vegetarian Society was a formative experience. It allowed him to discover vegetarianism as an ethically motivated choice and integrate it into a philosophy of non-violence. The encounter was not a singular instance. It was part of a larger entanglement between European vegetarianism and India.   In order to buttress what was then a fringe lifestyle, vegetarians in Europe made frequent reference to meat abstention in other parts of the…

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On Sunday, April 30th 2017, Oprah Winfrey, probably America’s best known talk show host,  sat down for that day’s episode of her weekly talk series SuperSoul Sunday.  She met Geneen Roth, author of several self-help books on eating, dieting and women’s spiritual life. Geneen and Oprah talked about a topic seemingly accompanying both middle-aged women for almost their whole lifetime, their long lasting “struggles” with food, dieting and their body—leading to life-changing insights Roth digested in her best-selling book “Women, Food and God.” I will, first, explore that show as a gateway to think about how food and body are dealt with in popular media. The show stands as a powerful example for how food and eating have become an…

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For lunch Hillary Clinton ingested 840 calories, 1.270 milligrams of sodium and 11.5 grams of saturated fat. This was on Monday, April 13, 2015. She had takeout from a Chipotle outside of Toledo, Ohio. A surveillance camera recorded her visit. One day before, she had launched her campaign for the US Presidency. Where did we get the nutritional data? New York Times writer Kevin Quealy did the research for us. His piece claims that Clinton had the “chicken bowl, white rice, black beans, fresh garden salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce and guacamole.” Using a Chipotle calorie calculator, the journalist computed how Clinton’s order at the slightly upscale fast food restaurant compares to the national average. Apparently, Quealy states, her lunch “was…

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