I’m not going to lie – I love going to Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic! I love food. I love wine. And I love meeting the people whose lives are dedicated to bringing us such amazing flavors.
What I learned this year is that #SocialJustice is the underlying conversation happening in the food world right now. Acclaimed Chef José Andrés has been leading efforts to help people in Puerto Rico. Michel Nischan and his Wholesome Wave organization help people who are “struggling with hunger to make better food choices by increasing affordable access to healthy produce.” The Jacques Pépin Foundation “supports free culinary and life skills training, through community-based organizations, that helps individuals detached from the workforce gain confidence, skills, and employment in food service.”
Food is definitely something that connects us, brings us together and puts ALL of us on common ground. So does bias. We are all biased – in more ways than just the routine ones like racism or homophobia. Food and wine give us an innocuous way to let out our biases, so to speak, because it’s okay if I don’t like a dish that you do. When it comes to people, that’s when we start to split apart and it’s not okay.
So what can we learn from food and wine about bias? The answer has been staring us in our faces – and stuffing our faces – for so long. The same curiosity that pushes us to try new and unique dishes or new wines and beers is the same curiosity that should drive us to learn more about people who are different than us. It really is that simple.
Another benefit to having that same curiosity about people is that you don’t have to mentally strain yourself. We waste so much energy keeping our biases straight. Rather than serving up judgment when it suits you, why not just be curious all the time? Just like taking a bite of something incredible, curiosity can make us feel nourished.
For many people, a career in the culinary world can literally save their lives. And it makes you wonder if they just want to find a way to make curious and genuine connections with people by making them amazing food. After all, people will be more apt to judge the food than the chef.
Food (or wine) for thought.