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March 12, 2014 / Rebekah Seder, Editor

The Power of Food

By Tamara Copeland, President

Food is one of the most fundamental elements of life. When we think back on the memories that shaped our lives, food is often at the core — summer picnics, romantic candlelit dinners, and raucous family breakfasts. Breaking bread is a health, social, economic, and artistic experience. It is food as an entry point for exploring history, culture, and community empowerment that encapsulates the work of Michael Twitty.

At WRAG’s first Brightest Minds event of the year, Michael Twitty will introduce you to a whole new way of thinking about food.

If you don’t already know who he is, Michael Twitty is a food writer, a chef, and a historian. He is an expert in African American foodways who explores Southern cuisine by reconstructing foods from the antebellum era. Michael lifts up this history and elucidates the common connections between today’s popular Southern-style foods and African American communities. But that’s only where Michael’s work begins.

Michael’s message is about food equity and community empowerment. He utilizes the construct of food to explore why certain communities have insufficient access to healthy food, poor health and nutrition, and limited economic opportunity. He believes that food as a cultural inheritance should be celebrated and leveraged to connect people to their history, to their neighborhoods and communities, and to ultimately promote what Michael calls “culinary justice,”—that is, access to quality, healthy, good foods regardless of your income, regardless of your race, regardless of where you live.

This year WRAG is working with funders to take a closer look at food. Regular Daily readers know that one of our funder groups, the Washington Regional Convergence Partnership, is looking at how to improve equity in the region’s food system. Last week we released an edition of What Funders Need to Know that captured some of what this group has learned thus far and a few ways that funders can strengthen our region’s food system.

We invited Michael to speak to our community because we believe that embracing the notion of culinary justice can further cultural understanding, wellness, and community building.

I hope you will join us to hear from Michael on April 1 at Busboys & Poets. More information can be found here.

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