The food world’s response to President Trump has varied. Farmers, from the Central Valley to Midwest, supported him. Restaurant owners are grappling with how political they can be without risking business. Some have declared their businesses “sanctuary restaurants,” while others, like the restaurant group that recently opened a restaurant in a Trump-owned hotel, simply see working with the president as a good business decision. But in the Bay Area, the food world is ready to resist.
That was the focus of a Thursday night CUESA event called “Resist Together! Reframing the Food Movement,” where panelists Evelyn Rangel-Medina of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Edwin Carmona-Cruz from La Raza Centro Legal, Amelia Moore from the Union of Concerned Scientists, Leslie Mah from Nourish|Resist and moderator, writer Stephen Satterfield, discuss the intersection of food and activism in the age of Trump.
CUESA director of education Julie Cummins introduced the event by emphasizing the need for people to think of food with a “bigger lens”: to think less about food itself and instead focus on the social and political issues in which our food is produced and made. Mah agreed, talking about how people need to shift in how they see the food movement, and go from making passive food choices (whatever’s cheapest at the store) to active ones (did that apple come from a farm in California or Mexico? Do the farmers take advantage of their workers?) The focus needs to be on “good food meets food justice,” Mah said.
The panel discussed the problems that Trump’s focus on illegal immigration can cause restaurants. Carmona-Cruz discussed how La Raza leads trainings for restaurants about what to do if ICE comes knocking at their door. Undocumented restaurant workers are often taken advantage of, he said, made to work for much less than minimum wage. “We have to realize that good food equals good practices,” he said. “We like to think about it in an intersectional way.”
Intersectionality is key, Moore said. It’s not just about people buying most of of their produce from the farmers' market. For the food system to become more equitable as a whole, she said, people have to collaborate with other social justice movements, like Black Lives Matter.