Editor's note: Next year, the Southern Foodways Alliance will explore inclusion and exclusion at the Southern table in 2014. This theme is two-fold. It marks the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of Southern restaurants. It also challenges us to take an honest look at ourselves today - for the sake of tomorrow. Who is included? Who is excluded? For the Southern table, what are the implications of obesity? Class, nationality, and sexuality? These are critical issues to ponder. Sustainable South hopes to draw your attention to agricultural groups tackling inclusion and exclusion from the field. Today's contributor is Emilie Dayan, a SFA project manager who blogs weekly about issues of nutrition, sustainability, and food policy in the South.
The VEGGI Farmer’s Cooperative challenges head-on problems of inclusion and exclusion in New Orleans, Louisiana. The cooperative, established following the effects of the BP oil spill on the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East, aims to provide the highest quality local produce and seafood to Crescent City and beyond.
The story of this community goes back to 1975 when, after the fall of Saigon, the Archdiocese of New Orleans invited many of the Christian Vietnamese who supported the U.S.-allied government to seek asylum in Louisiana. There, the Vietnamese found a familiar climate and jobs as fishermen, a trade many had practiced in Vietnam.
On his dock along the banks of Bayou Yscloskey, Darren Stander makes the pelicans dance.
More than a dozen of the birds have landed or hopped onto the dock, where Stander takes in crabs and oysters from the fishermen who work the bayou and Lake Borgne at its mouth. The pelicans rock back and forth, beaks rising and falling, as he waves a bait fish over their heads.
At least he's got some company. There's not much else going on at his dock these days. There used to be two or three people working with him; now he's alone. The catch that's coming in is light, particularly for crabs.
"Guys running five or six hundred traps are coming in with two to three boxes, if that," said Stander, 26.
As the massive flooding from the Mississippi heads towards the nation's richest oyster grounds, Mike Voisin feels that old familiar feeling.
He's seen the damage caused to the oyster business in Louisiana firsthand over the past six years. After Hurricane Rita and then Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana, the oyster business realized they needed protection. A part-government, part-private insurance program gave them breathing room to recuperate.
But then the blows kept coming. One, after another, after another. Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav again battered the spirits and livelihoods of those who depend on their oyster crops.
Previously - Oysters stage a comeback after BP disaster
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 crew members and leaking more than 200 million gallons of oil into the water. Today marks the one year anniversary of this disaster.