Friday, November 15, 2013

[featured in Bitch Magazine: Food From The Cusps]

four pics   
Activist and spoken word poet Kay Ulanday Barrett shares his thoughts on how food can build
community in “Food from the Cusps.”  Excerpt:
No matter how many cooking shows, culinary degrees, or fake bamboo huts, there is no replacement for the spirit of home cooking. It comes from the daily festivity of practice and ingredients that build a home. It comes from struggle, comes from history, comes from the people.
Continue to read more here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

[Sought-after Healing: farming, co-optation, and WWOOFing]

By Cris Izaguirre
DG Zine Submission 2013

I sought out green spaces after ending a three-year relationship, quitting a dead 
end job on Wall Street, and moving out of my former partner’s home. After so many 
uprooting changes, like most people I believed going to a rural, quieter, slower 
paced place would be therapeutic. I envisioned being submerged in the beauty 
and oasis of plants. A former co-worker who had WWOOFed (1)
into the program. I decided to apply to “ One Island: Sustainable Living Center” 
an educational farm which had an extensive application process and an additional 
application fee apart from the WWOOF registration. I was accepted and embarked 
on a journey to South Kona, Hawaii. 

At the time I did not factor into my vision of healing how my race, gender, class and 
sexuality would be perceived in a rural predominantly white heterosexist (2)
The history of Hawaii is fraught with recent colonization, U.S. military occupation, 
the destruction of indigenous Hawaiian land and its’ people. Most native Hawaiians 
do not own their own land. Their sacred burial grounds have been forcefully taken 
and multinational hotel chains have been erected in their place. The U.S. Navy has 
used the island of Kaho’olawe the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands as target practice 
since the 1950’s.

I found myself in the WWOOFing community, a mostly young white heterosexual 
middle class population ranging from places like Michigan, Utah, Colorado and 
Australia looking for a way to travel cheaply. Most of these college-aged students 
were not interested in interacting with Native Hawaiians, their history or culture.
My first farm was run by a white woman from California and her male partner. On 
more than one occasion she stated that: Hawaiians lost their lands because they 
were inept at management and needed Europeans to do it for them. This same 
woman administered U.S.D.A. grants that she distributed to small farmers including 
native Hawaiians farmers. I spoke with neighboring coffee farmers who told me 
that there was a high turn over of workers at her farm because she would steal 
money from them and exploit their labor. We worked 6 or 7 days a week, because 
the owner would add more and more projects to our long list of tasks and we had no 
official days off.

After a fellow farm worker contracted scabies and the owner refused to help him get 
to necessary medical care, I left One Island. I met an older Native Hawaiian lesbian 
couple (“N” & “M”) and asked if they would let me work for them. They agreed and 
I went to their remote farm, the nearest town was Miloli’i the last Native Hawaiian 
fishing town. The couple I worked for did not talk about their relationship or show 
public affection and had no queer friends. However it was the safest place for me to 
On a trip across the island a fellow white female WWOOFer told me that Black 
women were “bitches” like those in Snoop Dog’s videos because her friend showed 
her a “real” video of Snoop Dog and it was evidence that “they” [black men and 
women] behaved “that way” [an overly sexual and violent way] in real life. When 
I ventured into town, to the only gay bar it was a predominantly white gay men 
space. For Cinco de Mayo behind the bar a white man was in Brown face, wearing 
a large sombrero, a fake mustache, yelping stereotypically: “Ay Ay Ay.” Another gay 
white man from Texas would unabashedly use the N**** word to describe himself 
because according to him he worked “too many hours for the man” in a restaurant 
chain. I wasn’t safe amongst the white female WWOOFers or the gay white men 
those spaces were heterosexist and extremely racist.

On my initial visit to the town clinic a white nurse refused to give me medical 
treatment because I had not made an appointment, when I told her that I had 
seen they had advertised as being a walk in clinic, she denied it. When I returned 
the following week, I explained to another nurse that I did not know where she was 
sending my medication to she said: “Aren’t you from around here?” I said, I was 
not I was from New York City. She said: “ You could’ve fooled me with your brown 
skin.” I realized then, at that moment that not only was I read as queer but I was 
read as a “local” or Native Hawaiian and most haoles(3) treated Native Hawaiians,
Mexicans, or Black people, I was treated as subhuman.

Like “N” & “M”, the private sphere was the safest place for me. On “N & M”s farm my 
race, gender expression or sexuality was not at constant public scrutiny. N & M had 
a Permaculture farm, but as “N” would later tell me, “they [non-Hawaiians] call it 
Permaculture but it is just how my grandma taught me how to farm.” Alluding that 
that permaculuture was a trendy word for ancient Hawaiian knowledge passed on 
orally for generations. When I told “N” that I felt like I had both genders in me, she 
looked at me blankly and said, “All Hawaiians believe we have both genders (4)."
 “N” took me fishing for my first time off of sharp cliffs in Miloli’i; she was an award 
winning fisherwoman and explained that she came from a long lineage of people 
who fished. “N” taught me how to farm based on the phases of the moon, certain 
days were for sowing, others for clearing. She explained the order of things in 
Hawaiian culture: “first the rocks, then the land and ocean, then the animals and 
finally humans.” Humans were last in the order of things and it was a great honor 
to be farmers / caretakers of the land. At night I would write to my friends in New 
York about the farm and my experiences on the island. And I cried. I wrote and 
cried every night, letting go of the tight knot my heart had wound itself into. 

One night I asked “N” who was a Lomi (Hawaiian massage) master and healer: “N, 
can you help me heal my wounds?” she replied: “You heal yourself, you are the 
healer, I just help guide you.” 

When the moon was full, and going through its’ waning phases I would stare at it 
and the immense Hawaiian constellations. I learned lessons from the moon; take 
shape, be slender, grow to be full then, release and be gone again. Let all the things 
take their time and space in this world.

While initially I thought going into green or rural spaces would be healing, we 
can not forget the historical, human and social context. The earth has been hurt, 
colonized, and exploited for political and economic gain, so have indigenous, 
brown and black bodies. As a queer gender non conforming person of color 
my access to space and mobility was limited due to white supremacy and 
heteropatriarchy (5). Until I felt physically and emotionally safe in the company
of an older lesbian couple I could not be present in my body.  Because I could not be
present until the very end of my trip I could not access that healing space I had
originally sought. I am extremely humbled and grateful to have met N & M who
shared so much of their traditional ways of farming with me and showed me how
they honor their land in spite of tremendous obstacles.


(1) WWOOF: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. A volunteer exchange

program where people can work on small organic farms for room and board.
WWOOF doesn’t have a monitoring arm, and often volunteers have no way to make 
formal complaints if a farm owner behaves in an unethical way.

(2) “Heterosexism is the assumption that all people are heterosexual and that heterosexuality
is superior and more desirable than homosexuality or bisexuality. Heterosexism is also the stigmatization, denial and/or denigration of anything non-heterosexual. We live in a 
predominantly heterosexist society and that attitude isused to justify the mistreatment, 
discrimination and harassment of gay, lesbian,bisexual, transgender and questioning individuals.”

(3) Haole: foreigner or white person. 

(4) Māhū in traditional Hawaiian or Kanaka Maoli culture are third gender persons.
Post colonization the word is used as a derogatory term and slur for LGBT people. 

(5) “By heteropatriarchy, I mean the way our society is fundamentally based
on male dominance—a dominance inherently built on a gender binary system that
presumes heterosexuality as a social norm.” From Andrea Smith’s “Dismantling
Hierarchy, Queering Society.” 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

[Update & Fall 2013]

1) This website has been in some deliciously necessary steeping and resting stages, a teeny hiatus but a temporary one. Projects in the air and if you want to pitch a collaboration or piece, please give us a shout!

2) Note: there will be posts of food by QTPOC and dope peoples.... always.

3) To every obstacle, ache, institution, & struggle: I am officially 32 years & 1 day old. I bet you didn’t see that coming (Sometimes, me neither!). p.s. age 32 tastes like sticky pecan buns, turon, & fruit smoothies. age 32 = holding what loves you & what you love with tenderness… & cuddling. There shall be astronomical amounts of cuddling. #survival #ableismcansuckit #tqpoc #sickqueertimes #brownroundwobblyboistyleson

Monday, July 8, 2013

[West coast goats & dreamy greens] summer 2013

K: what’s good, goat? Goat: I’m chillin’. // At Jim’s farm run by mindful #crip and #queer people in #Berkeley. Jim's work and goats were recently featured in the documentary, "Queer Farmer's Project," which I recently viewed with my fam, Cris. During this escapade, I felt sick all day, but goat time was the best time. We learned so much about goat’s milk, trusting relationships between farmers & animals, and sustainable #farming. The land had several goats, squash, apples, onions, beans, eggplants grafted with tomatoes, all kinds of greens, and so much more! Secretly, this was all my dreams. #livestock #qpoc #queer #farming #bayarea. I missed you, @criswordsmith! Photo at the top by Mia Mingus.


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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

[HELLA HEATED summer foods 2012] D'Lo & D'FunQT


I’m not saying that I have it down completely, but I’m trying. Lord knows that the little things, like eating healthy (not expensively) is like saying “fuck you” to the homophobes. ---D'Lo.

if you know about any combo of the following: theater, queerness, comedy, and desi identity, then you probably know the dynamic and hilarious work of D'Lo. his work has internationally rocked audiences with chuckles, critical thought, and cunning. i'm sure this is the way of many communities and subcultures--- athletes, professional gamers, construction workers, stamp collectors (none of which i currently belong); participants invested in their thriving communities know who the innovators are. well, in my multiple communities, D'Lo is one of the innovators. as someone kindred to the spoken word and theater movement of  the APIA old skool wave, i'm pleased to see D'Lo blasting stages and serving punchlines.   i caught the bay area version of D'FunQT earlier this spring and hope y'all in the east  coast get to watch his play served NYC style. expect some gut-thrusting laughter and also, some choice tender moments during this production's upcoming run. to tide you over, here's some of D'Lo's very own summer time reflections a la food. he mentions popsicles, brooklyn donuts, and some very necessary NYC standards to check out.  ------#RFP 

name/preferred nameD’Lo

preferred gender pronoun(s):  He/Him

age: 34

however you identify: Queer/Trans

describe yourself in five words: Queer Tamil Sri-Lankan American Artist

1) any orgs/events you wanna give shout out to? 

2) any foods you have a crush on right now? 
Digging on Cheap Dumplings from Prosperity Dumplings on Eldridge in China Town, Passion Fruit Donuts from Brooklyn’s Dough Donut Place (not as amazing as the ones at Dynamo Donuts in SF, but the next best thing for sure), Kati Roll’s Shrimp Rolls (the one near 34th street, not the one near NYU), HomeMade Salads with Crushed Red Hot n Blue Chips on top, and my morning Stonyfield yogurt that I swallow my vitamins with.

3) favorite summer grubbin' & chillin’ music?
I can say that I am ;ooking forward to hearing the mix of soca, Selena and Baila(Lankan) music I have at pre-show every night my show D’FunQT (defunct) goes up at Dixon Place this July. The sound in the theater is incredible.

4) please name some of your favorite summer foods?
I don’t know if these are foods – but since it’s so damn hot already in NYC, I’d like to pay my due respect to my summer survival digestables: Natural Popsicles, and the not so natural. Cold Teas and Coffee and any one of my drink specials “Thursht Quenchers” which are like my personal take on mojitos and margaritas and rum punches. 

5) are there connections to food and your art/work/activities/politics? 
In the show that I’m doing, I talk about queer people’s health, both physical and mental. I think that it’s sexy when you know how to take care of your body. It’s even sexier when you know how to take care of someone else’s body – whether by food, or by listening, or by massage or through sex. Looking back at my 20’s,  I learned that I had such a hard time even waking up to do the day, so much so, that I wasn’t proactively thinking about the next step – which was food and health. I’m not saying that I have it down completely, but I’m trying. Lord knows that the little things, like eating healthy (not expensively) is like saying “fuck you” to the homophobes. I don’t know if I’ll die by the hands of homophobia/transphobia, but I will do everything I can do while I’m alive to make sure my body is strong, my mind is strong and that my spirit is strong – only to prove to myself from the inside out, that I do indeed belong and my voice is important until all people feel they belong.

for more on D'Lo's work, please check out his show D'FunQT  now showing for the next three weekends! thanks D'Lo for being all about the interview during your busy summer time. to note: i too love yogurt, but for a pill/vitamin swallowing aid, i'm more of a chocolate pudding guy myself. what? since we're all disclosing, why not share? whatever. you try it and tell me if it doesn't work for you.