Lately, amid seemingly constant acts of terrorism, racism, homophobia, and police brutality, I have found myself questioning the frivolity of my food obsession, this blog, and the pressure to be ridiculously active on social media. As I turn up my nose at those who like Stan’s Donuts, a large majority of the world will never ever be able to taste let alone contemplate where they can get the best doughnut because of the discriminatory reality they live in and the infinitely more dire decisions and fears they must face daily.
I do not kid myself that my “trials and tribulations” are even remotely as important as those faced by the majority — I repeat — the majority of the world, the other (more than) half that is only shown in the media when it can boost ratings and scare the rich and white. I realize what an absolute fucking privilege it is that I can sit on the internet for an hour researching where to go for dinner or debate whether to take an apartment because the kitchen doesn’t face the living room.
However, I know I must recognize that I have this immense privilege and, while I can absolutely enjoy and appreciate how lucky I am for my series of life events — the parents I was born to, the country I was born in, the opportunities I was given — I cannot turn my back on the realities of others and pretend it is not my problem. I am horrified by the attack in Turkey, the bombings in Baghdad, the murders — to only name a few — of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and Laquan McDonald, the deaths in Dallas, the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, and the constant trauma of those who live with fear or violence or hunger or poverty daily because of viscous, repeating cycles that have stripped them of opportunity, hope, and piece of mind.
From the process of cooking to the concept of a meal, I love food because it is such a connecting force. It is an opportunity to slow down, to connect with past and present, to bond with friends and family who are close and with people in far away lands. Eating is an opportunity to embrace humanity. It is a beautiful intersection of necessity and art. For me, it is the cornerstone of what is good in the world. Food is fleeting. Within minutes, a painstakingly created meal can be gone. And yet, people pour care and consideration into every detail. How is life any different? Every single one of us is only here for a little while, but every single one of us should be given the opportunity to be nurtured and given the utmost attention and respect and opportunity to flourish regardless of our short time here.
I’m constantly evaluating what I can do to improve the lives of others, to give others the same chance to work their way up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are the “easy” ways — financial assistance, sharing a Facebook post, changing a profile picture — that are all helpful in their own way. But what are the hard ways? How can I ensure that at least a few more people in this world get to enjoy the things I do. I’m truly asking, because I don’t even want to begin to pretend I know exactly what is needed and how I can best support all of the those who are suffering as a result of these terrible occurrences and are constantly affected by systemic discrimination or what I can do to help change their reality. But what I do know is that I would love to be in a world where the intricacies of food can be contemplated by more people, where a parent does not have to worry about how to get food for their family but instead how to best prepare it, where all races do not fear law enforcement as if in a dystopian novel but rather have access to fresh produce at a local grocery store, where a teenager’s mind doesn’t have to be filled with awareness of gang lines but rather contains accurate information about the nutrition value of various foods, and where more people have enough well-being to contemplate where to get the best doughnut.