chapter  19
18 Pages

Food and Race


The American system of white supremacy was built, in part, around ideas about different racial ways of eating. Race, which is generally regarded as a biological fantasy, and food, which is unambiguously acknowledged as a biological necessity, have interlocking cultural and intellectual histories. Throughout time, race and food have been conceptualized in both biological and cultural terms. Sometimes race has been defined as something essential, an indelible corporeal code. At other times it has been understood as a social status that is assigned rather than inherent. Eating is an organic requirement as it sustains life, yet food has always been interpreted as more than the mere means of subsistence. Like race, the concept of food is embedded in a web of cultural meanings.