Meiko Temple, a prominent food creative at Meiko and the Dish, birthed Eat The Culture – a community-centered safe space for Black culinary creators and entrepreneurs after seeing the lack of representation in food media. By convening some of the most passionate food creatives, Eat the Culture employs three pillars: elevate, activate, and teach to amplify Black entrepreneurs in food. This February, the organization is taking its efforts to new levels by hosting an Afro-futuristic virtual potluck celebrating Black History Month.
“It's really about Black people in food who empower content creators, storytellers, and tastemakers that champion Black foodways,” shares Marwin Brown. Brown leads the food and music blog, Food Fidelity, and serves on the board with five other members passionate about Black food creators getting the opportunities they deserve.
Elevating Black Food Creators
Eat The Culture established roots in the summer of 2021, after an intense year dealing with reactionary food media publications. With increased murders of Black people at the hands of police officers, a larger question surrounding equity in Black communities and what it means to be an ally rose to the surface, igniting various brands to want to target Black food creators.
Marta Rivera Diaz, another board member at Eat The Culture, shares, “When it comes to who media outlets will hire or even pitch to, it really is reactionary based on the social environment in the United States.” Diaz is the chef and founder of Sense & Edibility, and for years has witnessed the disparities in opportunities for Black professionals in food.
Diaz continues, “Part of our goal at Eat The Culture and through these virtual potlucks is to show media outlets that there's a wealth of Black food talent that they are missing out on.”
One of the most significant efforts that Eat The Culture initiates are virtual events to elevate various Black food creators. This February, for instance, Eat The Culture is collaborating with more than 30 Black recipe developers to honor Black History Month. Kenneth Temple, chef, author, and contributor to Eat The Culture, shares, “It's fun for me to collaborate with all these creators…this year, I love the whole concept of Afrofuturism, it's just a way to take it to the next level in how we can elevate food.”
Activating Black Food Creators
Knowing that Black food creators deserve more opportunities, instead of waiting on conventional food media publications to activate these food entrepreneurs, Eat The Culture takes matters into their own hands.
Jessica Lawson, contributor to Eat The Culture and founder of Big Delicious Life, shares, “I'm one of the baby bloggers out here, and there's a lot of people in this group that have provided me with a lot of support, community and encouragement… it's crowded out here. It's a lot to navigate…especially a lot to navigate if you're a person of color.”
Eat The Culture deployed a challenge for its contributors to submit delicious recipes for their Holiday E-book to facilitate confidence and overall skill development opportunities. And, not just for emerging food bloggers, but veteran food bloggers well. Zainab, the creator of A Classic Twist, has been food blogging since 2012 and reflects on what it means to contribute to Eat The Culture. “It introduces me to new food creators and pushes me to elevate as much as I can.”
Teaching Black Food Creators & Reshaping Media
What sets Eat The Culture apart from other organizations aimed at professionally developing food creators is the mutualistic teaching relationships that they facilitate and encourage. When creating equitable and anti-oppressive spaces, one of the most common practices is collectivity —or in other words —no one knows everything, but collectively groups know a lot. Eat The Culture is intergenerational, international, and diverse in the Black Diaspora, yet they still learn from each other.
“We're doing a reverse crabs-in-a-barrel instead of pulling each other down. We are all lifting each other up,” shares Temple.
To continue, the collective has dreams to rewrite narratives and expand on the boxes that Black food creatives are traditionally put in. Lawson reflects on how Black food creators are typically called upon to collaborate by sharing recipes for particular holidays but would love to see more Black creators contributing everyday recipes and food content.
“For the virtual potluck, people really showed out, and it demonstrated so much creativity, artistry, and the diversity across the diaspora…I found that I learned so much just as a participant,” shares Lawson.
The Future of Eat The Culture
While Eat The Culture has made many strides, there is still a lot of work to tackle systemic inequities that contribute to the lack of representation of Black people in food media. Nevertheless, the collective is very excited about adding more contributors to their organization, hosting more out-of-the-box events and continuing to give Black creatives their flowers.
Diaz shares, “It costs nothing to encourage another person. We are always keen on giving people their flowers. We know what a struggle it is to put yourself out there… we take that collective struggle that we are familiar with and turn it around to encourage Black food bloggers to keep going.”
For more information on Eat The Culture, its board members, contributors, and happenings, visit their website, Instagram, and Facebook. Learn more here about Eat The Culture's 2022 Black History Month Virtual Potluck.