By Felicia Cenca, CFSA Intern. Come hear Michael Twitty at the Local Food Feast where he will deliver the keynote at the 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference. Twitty will also present a Friday Preconference and a Sunday Workshop.
The Carolinas are no exception to the slow progress we’ve seen throughout the South to strengthen the ‘socially just’ leg of the sustainability stool. Michael W. Twitty, a talented writer, activist and culinary anthropologist, has made it his mission to shine a much needed light on these issues through his inspiring blog, AfroCulinaria, and his accompanying book, The Cooking Gene.
The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is thrilled to welcome Michael as our keynote speaker at this year’s 30th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference. Twitty will share his extensive knowledge of the connections between food and deeper sociological questions related to the historical roots of American southern cuisine, and challenge the audience to seek out ways to express your complex identity throughout our food choices. Conference attendees will have several chances to connect with Twitty’s work as he will be giving an in-depth preconference presentation, speaking during our legendary Local Food Feast, and offering a workshop open to all conference attendees on Saturday afternoon.
Twitty is rapidly gaining acclaim for his work as a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter. He is motivated by a drive to prepare, preserve and promote African American foodways and its deeper historical traditions in Africa and her Diaspora through American southern food culture. Currently, Twitty is a Judaic studies teacher in the Washington D.C. area. His work includes two distinct categories: the Antebellum Chef which deals with the huge number of black chefs who have been left out of the history of American southern food despite their vital role; and Kosher/Soul which talks about “identity cooking” and how complex identities can be expressed through the way that we eat.
Twitty’s inspiration stems from his desire to trace his roots through foodways and their evolution in America. His website, Afroculinaria, is a food blog that presents his diverse interests blended into one engaging and dynamic site. Twitty’s thoughtfully crafted blog posts weigh in on a range current issues while also documenting his progress on his personal project, The Cooking Gene.
The Cooking Gene is a project that Twitty launched in 2011. According to his website the project is “the confluence of several major areas of interest that I hold dear–family history, Southern/African American food history, the cultural politics of identity, and intercultural connections and historical legacies.
We are traveling the “Old South,” in search of sites that are a part of my family history in slavery and segregation (plantations, gravesites, cotton gins, tobacco barns, churches, etc.) tracing the larger story of African American foodways through my Black, white and Native American ancestors and their personal stories.”
Afroculinaria documents Twitty’s journey through what he called the Southern Discomfort Tour, which was sparked by The Cooking Gene project. He travels to farms, zoos, places of worship, farmers’ markets, historic plantations and many more places in order to understand how history has evolved through these specific places for his ancestors while also doing presentations and conducting genetic research to discover his roots and food heritage. Due to the success in his personal mission, Michael is forming his experiences into a forthcoming book that documents the journey of The Cooking Gene which will be released in 2016.
Join Michael Twitty for his pre-conference intensive on Friday November 6th from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. to hear the full story of his journey and its implications for the destiny of the southern table. You don’t have to register for the full Sustainable Agriculture Conference to attend this exciting, personal workshop with Michael (but we hope you will!). Or, if all this talk about southern food history is making your stomach growl, join us for the Local Food Feast on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. to hear Twitty’s keynote address. The Local Food Feast is a magical, mouthwatering meal made with only the best in-season, sustainably grown ingredients supplied by local farms. An annual highlight of the conference will be made even more memorable as Twitty talks about the role of Southern food in shaping our past, present and future.
CFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference is a unique opportunity to experience Michael Twitty’s historical perspective on American southern food culture while surrounded by those who share common interests! Online registration is now closed, but you can still reserve your seat Friday morning onsite at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, NC. Just check in at the CFSA registration desk to get signed up.