New & NowAmanda & Merrill

Our Answer to "Politics Don't Belong on Food52"

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The day after the Presidential Election, we posted this note to you, our readers. There was clearly division in the country and we wanted to hear from you about how we might use our platform—which aims to bring people together around the table—to encourage those with different backgrounds to start listening to each other.

We heard from more than a thousand of you, which was thrilling. In an upcoming post, we’ll lay out our plans for addressing your ideas.

But we also want to respond to a common thread among those who disliked our letter. Their message was: You’re a food site. I come here to escape. Stick to your knitting.

It’s a view we took seriously—and not just because minority views deserve to be taken seriously. But we think food is inescapably political, inescapably part of a wider world. The Americas, where many of our readers live, were colonized because explorers were looking for a faster spice trade route. Today’s immigrants keep our food industry running. International trade laws determine what foods we can import. The Farm Bill mandates how our agricultural systems are funded. Hunger strikes have long been a form of protest. Voters parse not only what but how our politicians eat, as a gauge of their character and authenticity.

So, yes, we will stick to our knitting. But that knitting takes up many threads—inspiring recipes; articles about design; delightful infographics; culture pieces; practical solutions for getting dinner on the table and other home quandaries; maker stories; and, at times, politics.

This means we will report to you if imported foods face new taxes that might affect how we shop; if international cuisines are being misrepresented or misappropriated; or if new laws affect our food system or the people who work within it.

This isn’t new. We’ve covered the Farm Bill, G.M.O. labeling, food access, and the environment. Amanda wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times that critiqued Michelle Obama’s stance on cooking. This opinion piece did not deter the administration from welcoming her perspective. She was later named to the Commission on White House Fellows, a non-partisan commission, by President Obama (and was thoroughly vetted by White House lawyers). And Amanda now serves as a Commissioner under President Trump, supporting the Fellows as they continue to work for incoming Cabinet members.

Though we believe that food is political, we don’t believe that that means it has to be divisive. We pride ourselves on creating an inclusive community—it’s been part of our mission from day one. We welcome everyone, and we welcome you to disagree with each other and us. Civilly, of course. If you stand behind a 20% tax on imported avocados, then please share your views. A food site has the power to change the way people think about the world. Let’s celebrate this fact, and each other.

—Amanda & Merrill, Founders of Food52