Food Freedom

Don't Let Food Nationalism Spoil Your Meal

Nationalists are using food safety arguments to attack ethnic diversity


Earlier this month, Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, slammed what he dubbed "the 'political use' of food safety concerns and country of origin labeling" by nationalist and right-wing politicians in the European Union.

While I believe that many food safety regulations work only to stifle competition and protect large, incumbent food producers, reasonable people can and do differ when it comes to determining the proper scope of food safety regulations. I've also heard palatable arguments in favor of mandatory country-of-origin labeling, even if I disagree with those arguments.

As Andriukaitis's remarks suggest, these two issues in particular—food safety and country of origin labeling—are often trotted out in tandem by nationalists who couch their alleged concerns in a sneering illusion of superiority.

Andriukaitis's remarks, reports the E.U. policy magazine Euractiv, were directed at, among others, Italy's Matteo Salvini, a rabid right-wing populist and top Italian government official who replied that he's merely trying to stand up for Italian food producers.

According to Euractiv, Andriukaitis was critical specifically of "the way Salvini put the blame on the E.U. in the past for unsafe food coming from Africa, Brazil, or India as 'very nationalistic, protectionistic and ideological.'"

I share Andriukaitis's concerns about the E.U. generally and Italy specifically. In a column two years ago, for example, I cautioned against the "creeping food xenophobia [that] appears to be taking hold" across Italy.

"Last year, Florence imposed restrictions on so-called 'foreign' food from being sold in the historic city center," I lamented. "Fair Verona barred 'ethnic' foods. This year, Venice banned new fast food outlets, focusing in part on kebab shops, in order to preserve Italian 'decorum and traditions.'"

Notably, the concerns that Andriukaitis and I share are neither contained to the present day nor just to the E.U. or Italy. In South Africa, for example, recent claims that foreign-owned stores stock unsafe food have spurred "xenophobic violence, with shop owners targeted by South Africans."

Food nationalism and xenophobia have long been alive and well here in the United States. For example, the death of the Thanksgiving pudding has been tied to anti-immigrant fervor in the early 20th century. The demise of puddings and other so-called "mixed foods"—those containing more than a couple ingredients—"was due, in large part, to xenophobia; by then, many white Americans had come to associate mixed foods with immigrants," wrote Michigan State University history professor Helen Zoe Veit in a fascinating 2017 piece for The Conversation.

White Americans often misperceive so-called "ethnic" restaurants as somehow less sanitary than white-owned restaurants. In 2014, Slate's Andrew Simmons crunched some informal foodborne illness numbers in Los Angeles, which is 50 percent white, and determined that "around 68 percent of the time, [people complaining about foodborne illness are] pointing their fingers at restaurants serving ethnic food."

More recently, a new Chinese restaurant in New York City faced withering criticism from Chinese-Americans and others earlier this year after the white-owned business sought to differentiate its food from that of its competitors by touting the alleged comparative cleanliness of its food. The New York Times reported the restaurateur's "decision to brand her Chinese food as 'clean' was dredging up stereotypes that were hurtful to Chinese-Americans, not to mention tone-deaf."

That followed a similar controversy involving a racially tinged review of a New York City Chinese restaurant two years ago.

"It's very simple to say Italian food is the best," E.U. commissioner Andriukaitis said this month, according to Euractiv. "If you ask a Hungarian, a Lithuanian or an Irish person, they tell you their food is the best."

Maybe so. But having choices matters so much more than whether, say, Hungarian or Italian food is better than the other.

As it turns out, choices and nationalism are largely incompatible. In 2017, a German grocery store voluntarily removed all foreign-grown and -produced food from its shelves. While this might bring to mind odious nationalism, the store's point was exactly the opposite. By not replacing the foreign-made foods with German-made foods, the store's empty shelves demonstrated perfectly both the need for tolerance and the benefits we enjoy thanks to global trade and the interconnectedness of our food supply.

If you want more and better food choices, as I do, you should reject nationalism in all its forms.

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  1. That’s some really twisted and tortured fake opinion-news up there.

    1. Which parts do you believe are fake?

      1. That part about Salvini having rabies?

        1. Salvini bit me on my malweenie, and now I have rabies.
          And he won’t man up, and have my babies!

          Case closed!

      2. SIV’s tits are fake, I can assure you of that much!

        1. Yeah, ever since he discovered that chickens don’t have nipples, he’s been gluing them on.

          1. You bring nothing to the table, but you do take stuff off it, eunuch

      3. “White Americans often misperceive so-called “ethnic” restaurants as somehow less sanitary than white-owned restaurants.”

        Notice no citation. Just feels that white americans think this.

        1. Well, there is a cite. But it is hardly scientific nor corollary to the above statement.

          1. I don’t see your cite to refute it. Or do you just feels it?

            1. Posts like that are why people think you’re human garbage, and an idiot.

              1. Posts like this are what make us all think that you are worthless waste of gravity, Satan.

      4. The demise of puddings and other so-called “mixed foods”—those containing more than a couple ingredients—”was due, in large part, to xenophobia; by then, many white Americans had come to associate mixed foods with immigrants,”

        None of my white friends ever mix ingredients

      5. The part about the “Clean” kitchen. That was clear fake outrage that confused everyone who was involved in the situation. She wasn’t even aware of the stereotype. The Twitter mob was the only group upset.

        Also, the 68% of food poisoning complaints are against ethnic food locations? Given how vague that description is, it’s quite likely that 70% of restaurant visits are to “ethnic” food of one sort or another.

        1. For that matter, isn’t all food “ethnic” in some way?

      6. Which parts do you believe are fake?

        Well, this, right here, is COMPLETELY fake–

        The demise of puddings and other so-called “mixed foods”—those containing more than a couple ingredients—”was due, in large part, to xenophobia; by then, many white Americans had come to associate mixed foods with immigrants,” wrote Michigan State University history professor Helen Zoe Veit in a fascinating 2017 piece for The Conversation.

        It’s created by taking a part from the piece in which ‘reformers’ are talking about dishes that are simple being healthier and a cite to another article that is not talking about what the average citizen thought or did–but about what ‘reformers’ thought.

        And who were these ‘reformers’? Racists? Nationalists? No, they were progressives.

        Oh, the ‘mixed food’ the article is suggesting that all the Anglo descended citizens thought was foreign? Anglo style puddings.


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  2. Hey man… Just re-name all of the offensive-named foods!!!

    French fries > Freedom fries

    Sauer kraut > Liberty cabbage

    Kimchi > Kardashian sauce

    Tacos > Titillation wraps

    Burritos > Footballettes

    Get creative!

    1. Spaghetti > Stringy Stuff

      Hamburger > Cow Parts

    2. This Kardashian sauce tastes like rotten fish!

      1. Durian fruit > TrumpTurds!

        1. 3 Musketeers bar > mock duck

      1. Fuck off Satan!

        Here is Evil as personified by “Tu¬lpa AKA “Mr. Satan”” on these very comment pages, as a warning to all of us: The essence of Evil can be expressed as, I should be admired as being MEEeeEE because I am MEeeEEE!!! I need not do any useful work, I need to invent anything, I need not contribute any humor or information or wisdom to the world (let alone any LOVE or respect for others), I need merely dispense my scorn and disdain and superiority over all others, and then I may walk away, knowing fully well in my own self-admiring mind, that I have EARNED the admiration of all others, although they may selfishly deprive me of said admiration from time to time… I deserve to be admired and worshiped by all and sundry, not because of what I do or say or accomplish… But because I am MEEeeEE!!! That alone should be enough, dammit!!!

        1. Seems like there is a story to be told here

  3. Time spent reading Linnekin’s stuff is wasted.

    1. I enjoyed this article actually. Which parts did you not like?

      1. Conjecture based on articles largely from media outlets that have a vested interest in the SJW backed narratives. This would be better with actual studies instead of biased articles pushing a narrative as the sources.

        1. There is also the notion that a culture deciding it doesn’t want a cuisine (and that cuisine largely dying out) being conflated with government bans.

          Pundits complaining that ethnic foods are supplanting national foods? “It’s just the market at work. Calm down your nationalism!” Local populace *choosing* local cuisine instead of ethnic foods? “You nationalist jerks are responsible for the death of food!”

          I love all types of food. But sometimes, I just want a hamburger or other “american” dish. That’s hard to do in my location, where almost all inexpensive eateries cater to a large asian population. The fact that I wish there is more domestic fare doesn’t make me an anti-immigrant, it makes me human. That said, the Japanese izakaya here is the bomb.

          1. “Hamburg steaks,” ground beef patties, were invented in Hamburg, Germany. The idea of serving them in a bun was supposedly invented in New Haven, Connecticut, by a Danish immigrant.

            History is the process of mixing cultures. There really isn’t any such thing as “national” food.

            1. Bullshit.

              Yeah, there is cross pollination… But to say that places don’t have their own foods is retarded. Did Italians make teriyaki 100 years ago? No. Likewise, the Japanese did not make spaghetti like Italians either. Spaghetti itself includes new world ingredients, like tomatoes, and noodles, which incidentally WERE NOT brought back from China, that’s a myth.

              But that doesn’t mean there isn’t Japanese food and Italian food. America is the biggest mish mash of shit in the history of the world, especially the last few decades. But don’t try to peddle that “nobody has ever had a culture or traditions of any sort that were all their own!” nonsense.

      2. This particular article was mostly conjecture and assumption. There are assertions but no cites to back them up.

        Its an opinion piece – and I don’t completely agree with the opinion.1 I don’t completely disagree with it either.

        1. It was mostly stupid

      3. Yeah, I also really enjoyed this article.

        As it turns out, choices and nationalism are largely incompatible.

        Fucking A, Baylen. That’s some wisdom right there.

        1. God damn you’re lazy and boring.

          1. Says “Mr. Satan” whose posting-name has embedded in it, “”… You are one evil motherfucker, encouraging people to commit suicide! WHEN are you going to WAKE THE FUCK UP, and come on over to the good side?!?! WHEN is the last time you got ANY genuine long-lasting satisfaction from torturing people and destroying souls?!?!?! Wake up and give it up, Satan!!!

  4. So food labels are fascist?

    1. Are they mandatory for ideological purposes?

  5. I enjoy eating, perhaps more than I should, and so I can not imagine not having ethnic cuisines. It would just make everything so dull. But that what nationalism does. It makes for a dull world. Comfortable yes, but dull. So I say give me kimchi, give me falafels, give me chicken marsala, or give me death.

    1. Nothing about nationalism says you can’t enjoy the food from other cultures. Stop misusing terms.

      1. Well, tell that to the Italians.

        1. No. They can do whatever the fuck they want, and if very occasionally enjoying something from another culture is good enough for them, that’s their right.

          1. The point of nationalism is that no, you can not do what you want. You can only do what the collective wants.

        2. The Italians, who got the tomato from South America?

          1. The spanish brought tomatoes to the Americas.

            Been studying spanish colonization and exploration of the Americas. Cows, tomatoes, pigs – spanish contributions to our continents.

  6. “Palatable arguments”. Sheesh.

    1. Didn’t agree with your palate? 😉

  7. “”Last year, Florence imposed restrictions on so-called ‘foreign’ food from being sold in the historic city center,” I lamented.”

    Harry’s Bar is right on the Arno. Been there more than 60 years. Pretty sure hamburgers are ‘foreign’.

    1. But you can only get them smooshed with the fries crushed inside now.

  8. “If you ask a Hungarian, a Lithuanian or an Irish person, they tell you their food is the best.”

    What about if you ask an English or Scottish person? How rabidly nationalist would they have to be to say their haggis and spotted dick is the best cuisine on the planet?

    (Ha ha, just a little ethnic humor, if you like your local food and it’s healthy go ahead and eat it)

    1. Um, Eddy, that spotted dick you ate in England wasn’t pudding, was it.

      1. God you’re so fucking borimg and lazy.

        1. You’re even FAR worse than “borimg”, you Evil One you!

  9. Seems like a wash when you consider how many places actually want to force restrictions on what food is called from Italian cheese to French whine wine, at least the sparkly kind.

  10. “I’m very happy that the Supreme Court decided not to review the case because it brings a definitive end to this terrible project which would have caused devastating damage,” Dean Wallraff, a lawyer for the pro-environment Sierra Club said in an interview.
    Don’t copy ” ++ ” with web address

  11. The article blames right leaning politicians but in America its the left that wants food labeling for type and country of origin and its the SJWs that claim it food appropiation for anyone to eat any food not associated with their race

    1. Finally the left and right can find agreement.

  12. All restaurants are dirty restaurants. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows this. No matter how much you scrub, how much bleach you use, the kitchen is always greasy and dirty. There’s just not enough time in the day to keep it clean. The labor required to strip commercial kitchens down for a through cleaning is not worth it. Home kitchens are an order of magnitude cleaner.

    That doesn’t mean the food isn’t safe! But it does mean no one should ever pretend they could eat off of restaurant kitchen’s floor.

    1. Some home kitchens are an order of magnitude cleaner.

      FIFY. I’ve never once had animal hair in my food while eating out.

      1. I’ve gotten hair in my mouth after eating out.
        A Brazilian takes care of that problem.

  13. Seriously? This whole article is retarded.

    As a strong libertarian leaner labeling laws are some of the only regulations I think are remotely acceptable. Why? Because it’s essentially just up front anti-fraud measures. In a free market I suspect most people would list most things anyway, but the burden is so low on labeling laws I don’t think they’re unreasonable.

    This includes national origin. The fact is that other countries HAVE LOWER STANDARDS than the US and Europe. It’s reality. Remember all the human feces infected produce from Mexico not that many years ago? Well, some countries are still janky like that. I may well buy stuff from foreign countries if it is cheaper, or I like their product better or whatever, but there is nothing wrong with labeling things that they are to give people information to make decisions with.

    As for the other nonsense… Did it ever occur that the ethnic restaurants MAY in fact have higher instances of issues with their food? Honestly, all food service is dirty at the end of the day… But handling practices are not the same the world over. I think Americans are TOO sterile in many ways, but some other cultures might be too lax… Which means if you have a kitchen full of foreign born people from a more lax place, you may get more food borne illness. Or even just that many ethnic places are smaller hole in the wall type places and not bigger, better funded places. Even hole in the wall places owned by whites tend to be jankier in my experience.

    His whole assertion that because there was higher reporting there it MUST mean RACISM is retarded. It could mean they’re less safe. It could mean more meals are at at such establishments. It could mean a lot of things. Jumping to RACISM is stupid, and shows there is a narrative being pushed, and nothing else.

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