$16 taco blog post

Another enjoyable read for me, and I liked how this reading seemed to tie together a couple of the other readings and topics we have discussed before. Throughout the introduction, the author highlights many ideas that were unfolding in many cities and neighborhoods across the U.S. around the time the author was conducting this research. Many people were seeing gentrification of “up and coming” neighborhoods, which some called an extension of colonialism. The big idea that he talks about is cosmopolitanism, the seeming growing openness to cultural openness. But of course as with everything there are some nuances to that idea especially when it comes to the food scene of these neighborhoods with traditionally immigrant populations. Many want to resist this while upper class, white people want to “discover” these locations. I really enjoyed how the author described how he studies both ethnic and cosmopolitan food and figures out where all of those fit into places. Chapter 5 focusses on gastrodevelopment and the urban machine and how these two ideas coincide and sometimes further one another. Before the development of a food scene in the areas such as Bario Logan, all of the articles written about the area were focused on the crime, gang violence, and homelessness and not much else. But today the narrative in these neighborhoods is far different. These are destinations that as the author puts it “best for foodies” and they no longer have the negative view around them. They put this title around these locations so that it would attract more visitors, who were mainly affluent, educated, white people. As cities have changed drastically and rapidly, food has proved to be an important commodity because it is more than just something that keeps us going, it is a way to distinguish from one another and a vibrant food scene provides the place for this. But the role it plays in cities isn’t for food justice or for the betterment of any food justice issues, it is to simply further a cities development. But to develop these cities it takes investment at all levels. On a smaller level, but incredibly important one, is local governments. This level is completely in control of what goes where, land uses, granting permits, among other things. These local governments have also been trying to attract the “creative class” and what does this group want? Vibrant, fun places to eat the and many choices of them. But when the city plans to accomplish these goals are limited by funds that’s when third parties step in. The author describes the ultimate public-private partnerships with cities and public benefit organizations. These organizations have a lot of influence in shaping these neighborhoods but because their funding is lower and less stable, they do not have the capacity for long term change. The example of North Park is one that we see in many neighborhoods across the U.S. where this funding worked and many white affluent residents moved in. However, now the area is unaffordable to longterm residents. And now these areas are no longer discouraged for tourists to go to, they are in fact encouraged to explore unique, local experiences. Local media of course also has an important role through articles in lifestyle and travel magazines. Reviews are also online, but all of them preach the same ideas of diversity and authenticity in the food scene in San Diego. These online reviews can even have a much bigger impact because they are updated constantly and show up on “best of” lists. Among the reviews there becomes this association that in order to experiment true “ethnic” food one must eat in one of these neighborhoods, even though there are numerous restaurants in the San Diego area serving similar foods. Real estate is another important component that the author discusses. When developers create these mixed use plans there are restaurants, markets, and activities incorporated into them that after a few years are removed for more co-working spaces or parking for residents. And of course all of the activities are member exclusive. All of the sections the author discusses I found extremely important to understand the concept of urban development and along with it the food scene because they are so deeply intertwined. Chapter 6 focusses on the gentrification of San Diego. Since the 1980’s, almost all of these once low income neighborhoods have seen an increase in median income, housing prices, and percentage of white people. The reason that this gentrification works in investors favors is because the rely on racial capitalism in order to drive down prices in the neighborhoods and then exploit that to then “reinvent” the neighborhoods. Everything that happens to gentrify a neighborhood is in relation to race, to chase out the working class minorities to make room for affluent white people. Taste has an important part in this too, because the restaurants in the area have to match the taste of the white newcomers. The section on yelp reviews was interesting because it gives a sort of first hand look at what outsiders to these neighborhoods really think. The overall thing was that they loved to food but the area was too “sketchy” or “dangerous” to come back. But some people that reviewed thought of themselves as helping the neighborhoods that “need some TLC”. But this proves that people who come here to eat are ignoring the real issues that are found in these neighborhoods. And all of this gentrification, etc. is displacing residents who have lived here for years and now that cannot even afford their homes. But its not just the people who are displaced its businesses, community gardens, and soup kitchens, things that residents rely on. The ideas of food sovereignty in the last chapter wrap all of these ideas up. Because when gentrification happens the people that are investing in the areas think they are helping, but the people in these areas only want is to be able to bring their neighborhood up and support them selves. I think that this speaks to a lot of what the author was talking about. People who come into these areas are more focused on finding the new, cool, authentic places but do not stop to consider what could benefit the neighborhood. Instead these primarily white people are creating a neighborhood that will attract more white affluent people and eventually, sometimes unintentionally, make the neighborhood inaccessible to those that were there first.   

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