Stuffed: gal-dem’s food series celebrating culture, community and culinary joy over the last year
Introducing our new week-long series on the transformative, radical, joyful power of food.
It’s difficult to digest everything that’s happened over the year. Already, so many parts feel like a surreal dream, or even stranger yet – like normal. But food feels like one way to document it all.
Whether it’s tinnies and picnics in parks to see friends safely outdoors, inventing (even more) new ways to jazz up that last packet of Indomie, watching the doors close to a beloved restaurant for good, or finding yourself signing up to a food bank for the first time – food has interlaced our year in the pandemic. Food is nourishment, it’s joy and comfort, it tells stories of cultures, histories and people. But food is also political and it can be a battleground.
The last year has shown us the transformative power of what we eat in the UK. 23-year-old football player Marcus Rashford launched a Free School Meals campaign in light of children not having access to meals throughout the pandemic. “I know what it feels like to be hungry,” he said last June. The Trussell Trust saw a 33% increase in emergency food parcels between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 – 980,000 going to children.
The rise of delivery services continued to impact workers’ rights. Deliveroo, valued at £8.8bn, only has self-employed riders, which means no minimum wage, holiday leave or sick pay. And we’ve seen restaurants and communities built around food across the UK struggling to stay afloat.
Over the week at gal-dem, we want to acknowledge the realities of this year and celebrate just a few of the many individuals and groups who have spent the last year using food to take back power, redistribute it, build community, sustain, nourish and replenish us.