Tag Archives: Michael Pollan

Sustainable Food and Privilege: Why is Green Always White (and Male and Upper-Class)

by Guest Contributor Janani Balasubramanian

When asked to name the heroes of food reform and sustainable agriculture, who comes to mind? Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin, Eric Schlosser, Peter Singer, Alice Waters maybe? Notice any patterns? The food reform movement is predicated on rather shaky foundations with regards to how it deals with race and other issues of identity, with its focus on a largely white and privileged American dream.

Still, what could be better than a return to family farms and home-cooking, which many of these gurus champion? The images are powerfully nostalgic and idyllic: cows grazing on sweet alfalfa, kids’ mouths stained red with fresh heirloom tomato juice, and mom in the kitchen rolling out dough for homegrown-apple pie. But this is not an equal-access trip down memory lane. While we would like to think the American dream of social communion around food is a universal one, this assumption glosses over the very real differentials in gender, class, race, ethnicity, and nationality that were enabled and exacerbated by specific communities (white plantation owners, for example) through the use of food. Continue reading