March 31, 2021
This month, we’re excited to highlight five different people fighting to transform the food world—all in equally important, different ways. Keep reading to learn about the innovative work of Kia Damon, Sophia Roe, Ianne Fields Stewart, Nil Zacharias, and Alicia Kennedy. We hope you find it inspiring!
Growing up in Florida, Kia Damon taught herself to cook while watching her siblings, and soon found that she was most interested in how food ties cultures together. As a young adult, she launched the Supper Club From Nowhere in order to bring more visibility to Black women in the culinary community. After moving to New York as a 24-year-old, Damon—AKA Kia Cooks—began working at Lalito and was soon promoted to head chef. Recently, she co-founded Auxilio, a self-described “intersectional, community-based, food-centered space focused on providing resources, nourishment, and support for queer, Black, trans, and Indigenous communities of color in New York City.” She also founded the Kia Feeds the People Program (KFTPP), a nonprofit that works to fight food apartheid. To learn more about these projects, and possibly get involved, visit her website.
You may recognize Sophia Roe from her role as host of VICE’s new show Counter Space, which “combines her expertise in the kitchen with her work in food activism and education.” But she hasn’t always had an audience or a big platform. As a new chef, Roe’s attitude towards food was informed by her own experience growing up food insecure, and she often felt like no one in the food world looked like her or shared her convictions. But after gaining a following through social media, she established a community and things started to fall into place. Today, you can find Roe teaching a workshop that focuses on food, storytelling, and healing; in the pages of Vogue, Gossamer, and Cherry Bombe; or raising money for the Women’s Prison Association and Edible Schoolyard NYC. We’re also psyched for her first book, which is set to launch at the end of 2021!
Ianne Fields Stewart is a self-described “black, queer, and transfeminine New York-based storyteller working at the intersection of theatre and activism.” She is also the founder of The Okra Project, which launched in December 2018 with the goal of making the holiday season less lonely for Black trans people. While it was originally meant to be a temporary event, three years later The Okra Project is still thriving as a collective that brings “home-cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black trans people wherever we can reach them.” You can learn more about The Okra Project here!
If you’re a podcast fiend, you may recognize Nil Zacharias from his weekly cast #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias, or from his eponymous book, Eat for the Planet. He recommends reading the book to “learn why we need to transform our industrial food system” and listening to the podcast to hear more on how it’s being done. Nil is also the co-founder of Plantega, a New York City-based organization dedicated to stocking your local bodegas with products from plant-based brands like Tofurky, Beyond Meat, and Follow Your Heart. Learn more about them and their mission here.
You may know Alicia Kennedy from her podcast and newsletter, From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy, in which the writer discusses “food and its constellation of concerns, from politics and labor and hospitality and sourcing and everything else.” Originally from Long Island, Kennedy is now based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she covers the island’s culinary culture and tapes her podcast Meatless, which boasts conversations with other writers and chefs about meat consumption. Keep an eye out for her book—due out in 2022 via Beacon Press—about “eating ethically in a capitalist world.”
We hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up and possibly even gained some inspiration! If you know of any writers, activists, chefs, or food advocates that we missed, feel free to email us: email@example.com. We hope to feature more people who are transforming the food world in the near future.