Black Food Geographies

Black Food Geographies contains research concerning the foodways of Deanwood, which is ward 7 within Washington D.C. The author’s work is divided into 5 sections that each looks at the community from a different perspective and time frame. The predominantly black neighborhood has undergone significant changes over the last century and by speaking with individual members of the community as well as looking at the historical background of the neighborhood, the author presents significant evidence and information concern food disparities based on race and class.

The first chapter gives a historical background to the foundations of the community. Prior to the heavy prevalence of supermarkets in America, communities like Deanwood could remain relatively self-sufficient. Many members of the Deanwood community grew, bartered, and sold their own food products. This practice combined with a few small grocers allowed for the area to develop a deep bond and connection to one another; however, in the 1960’s grocery stores drastically decreased as middle-class black citizens left the community and there was little business incentive to build in lower-class neighborhoods like Deanwood.

In the second chapter, the author discusses the current situation within Deanwood in regards to one of the few remaining grocery stores in the area: the “Un-Safeway.” When given the opportunity, residents are much more likely to choose grocery stores outside of the community due to Safeway’s management, lack of quality food, and lack of choice.

The third chapter looks at how nostalgia plays a role in how people eat. Fast food and other quicker meal options, according to older community members, has taken away the self-reliance that used to prosper in Deanwood. The chapter also discusses how food choices are often made based on what people ate as children and how they sought to make sure their own children were eating healthy.

The Community Market ran by Mr. Jones in chapter 4 serves as a staple to the community as a whole; however, the gentrification of Deanwood threatens that. The market store serves as a location for people, young and old, to step back into the historical background of Deanwood and stands as a solidified place of tradition for the community. Mr. Jones does struggle with a lack of customers and is able to maintain his shop because he was fortunate enough, as many members of the community are, to own the building he works out of as it was passed down to him from his father.

The community garden discussed in chapter 5 is part of the attempt by the community to proudly represent their community’s history of self-reliance. The garden was not as big of a success as the hopes for it were; however, the children now being raised in the community are being taught about healthier eating, gardening skills, and how to be more self-reliant as the community once was.

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