awake culture and food

The awakening culture is defined as an active and highly conscious sense of important factors mainly related to social and racial injustice. Although the term first appeared in the New York Times in the 1960s, due to the Black Lives Matters movement, its use became more widespread due to the use of the word woke (which in English used to be simple of the verb is “wake up”) to denote people who were vigilant and active in the face of any social injustice, including racist attitudes and remarks.

Over time, the so-called waking culture not only serves to denounce racist acts, but its use has been expanded to be used when any social problem, or even environmental problems, are exposed. Hand in hand with the waking culture, the use of the term “cancellation” has also begun to indicate the “public veto” made to a character, a company, institution or media for issuing comments or statements which opposes any issue of social inclusion based on race, gender, social status, sexual orientation, etc. In this way, we have seen in different cultural manifestations how this culture of “political correctness” has gained so much circulation, that they have “canceled” awards like the Golden Globes because they do not respect the diversity of their constituents.

In the field of food, the waking culture is already finding its various repercussions, causing various controversies. Some people have tried to position veganism as a wake-up call, due to its economic and environmental consequences of refraining from eating any animal products. Other people have taken the waking side of eating for a sense of well-being through practices such as meditation, eating only unprocessed products, and being aware of the origin and ways of producing a product (preferably from organic, and from small local producer). But, while these movements appear to be harmless, initial controversies have been unleashed. For example, in the United States, many food critics have downplayed the fact that the James Beard Awards, Culinary Awards for Best in the Restaurant Industry, were changed to cancel an award in the first year of the pandemic. This was partly due to the reorganization of the industry, but also because, for example, they strictly rewarded vegan foods, or because they had to adjust their voters to gain racial representation in the winners. The waking culture also permeated the sense of social justice of food production workers, and even in the “allowed” and not “allowed” vocabulary of food critics, who tried to eliminate words related to guilt related to food, such as “guilty pleasure”, “addictive”, “sinful” among other terms.

The controversy that some experts have made editorial is that they see the waking culture pretending to be so politically correct that it leaves behind various spontaneous manifestations of the ways we think about food. Those who attack this point argue that social problems such as racism or abuse of power are so systematically anchored that in order to eradicate these evils, you need to start with cancellations that can seem drastic. The truth is that raising awareness of social issues around our food is never a topic that is too much.

Liliana Martinez Lomeli

Food and Society columnist


Food and Society columnist. Gastronaut, observer and cosmopolitan. She is a researcher in food sociology, nutritionist. She is president and founder of Funalid: Foundation for Food and Development.

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