On December 2, 2020, the Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC) hosted the first of a series of network meetings focused on exploring the connections between race and our food system. The series was created as a means to include diverse perspectives, voices and opinions in the KFPC anti systematic racism manifesto and create actionable steps for KFPC to combat systemic racism. The network meeting series was inspired by one of our newest KFPC Board Director, Fauve Garson and her research on the intersectionality between race and food at Thompson Rivers University. It was also facilitated partly by Bonne Klohn, the Policy and Finance lead at Kamloops Food Policy Council and myself.
The first meeting was a preliminary conversation to ease our network into this deep and challenging conversation that requires us all to look back at our experiences historically and compare them to our current circumstances. As Fauve Garson mentioned at the meeting, “food is something that connects us all and regardless of our shape, size or race, there is a disconnect.” At the meeting, we explored the disconnection by posing questions such as;
• What did your grandparents do for a living? What did they eat?
• Where is home for you? What foods are associated with home for you
• Tell us about your etho-racial background. What do you know about its food system? Does it still happen now?
Based on the responses we received from the network, we discovered that modernization and capitalism has a huge impact on what we associate as food that is culturally relevant. It also has an impact on our food system in general. Food is shifting from cultural or ceremonial to functional on the level of intergenerational knowledge transfer The younger generation prioritize the “grab and go” lifestyle and neglect the traditional food preparation techniques due to modernization. The more connection we have with our grandparents and ancestors, the greater knowledge we have about our historical food system and our culturally relevant foods. It takes a very conscious approach to discover food associated with historical backgrounds without intergenerational knowledge transfer.
We also discovered that people in the BIPOC community and our migrant workers find it difficult to acquire culturally relevant food. As an immigrant of African descent, it is becoming evident that the knowledge transferred to future generations would be more functional than cultural or ceremonial. The question that will be asked would be how can we adapt a cultural and ceremonial process of food preparation to the means available in the current food system we find ourselves. So the international knowledge transfer gets altered due to changes in food systems. In the BIPOC community, there is also an increasing number of food deserts and members of the community cannot acquire healthy food let alone culturally relevant food. Because of capitalism, marketing tactics have been launched as a measure to disenfranchise people living in less affluent areas from their right to healthy and culturally relevant foods.
Our future network meetings would be focused on culture and normativity, intersectionality and racial caucusing. We welcome diverse perspectives on this topic and we would like to invite people in the BIPOC community to take part in the conversation. To get involved, visit our website at kamloopsfoodpolicy
council.com and subscribe to our newsletter to receive a network meeting invite.