At Oakland Food Policy Council we see changing the narrative of our food culture as a crucial step to changing the practices and policies that drive a broken food system. As one local artist puts it “Write back or get written out!!” We need to tell our own story so the truth of who we are is represented and our knowledge base and cultural tools can be accurately reflected in our systems and policies.
Food is life
Food is medicine
Food is culture
Food is a political choice that affects our spirits, minds, bodies, community and environment
For that reason, we were honored and humbled to have hosted the launch of Decolonize Your Diet. Luz and Catriona are radical rethinkers showing us how food is a political choice that can be used to “reclaim our vitality as a people,” and “dismantle colonial systems of power.” Their book brings us recipes to sustain revolutionary love that extend beyond food to our cultures and each other. The OFPC director has been an avid fan of their Facebook page since it started. We see how their work creates a vibrant dialogue about taking back our power in food choice.
We featured a wonderful line up of speakers, artists, chefs, educators and culture keepers and had near to 270 attendees. Speaking kicked off with the political satirist and food writer, Gustavo Arellano. He spoke about authenticity as it relates to Mexican food. A lot of people think of sour cream and flour tortillas as real Mexican food, but they were bought with the Spanish conquistadors. Arellano said, spoke on our need to trace the history of our food and embody that in the food we grow, prepare and eat.
Gustavo was followed by the powerful speaker and chef, Bryant Terry. Bryant is able to use a rich assortment of culture and entertainment from references to the KRS-One’s anthem “Beef” to the history of the Black Panthers and a deep knowledge of the foods of the African Diaspora. He talks about having a sense of pride and ownership over our food practices. He said “Eating healthfully is a radical act….It’s up to us.”
The launch celebration was in the context of Dia de Los Muertos, a two day ceremony in Mexican culture to commune with, reunite and honor our beloved ancestors, family and friends. The book is a tribute to ancestral knowledge and an offering in itself for generations to come.
When the authors spoke they wove together the story of their lives together, healing through severe illness and how they rooted their lives in reinvigorating indigenous knowledge of food to heal. In fact, they spoke of how each meal is an opportunity for healing, not just our bodies but our minds, spirits, families, communities and our environment. Their ability to capture the story from the personal to the political is what makes their cookbook Decolonize Your Diet so special…well that and the accessible and very delicious recipes!
Food provided were based on recipes from the cookbook and prepared by the traveling restaurant, The People’s Kitchen. The menu included Vampiro Slaw, Pumpkin Pipián Empanadas, Tamalitos de Colores and sweet Agua de Manzana. The chefs and artists of People’s Kitchen had installed altars in honor of the food rebels, keepers and laborers of the past, present and future. Food was served from the altars. Music was performed by Dia Pa’Son a musical group formed by Maria de la Rosa an Oakland based Maestra of the Mexican traditional style called Son Jarocho. It was an inspiring and deeply meaningful gathering that created a seamless flow of the spiritual, historical, political, health, social, and musical.