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Uncovering Hidden Narratives: Exploring African-American Culinary Traditions with Pork at the 2024 Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Conference

RPTC graduate student, Elisabeth Ramsey, participated in the 2024 Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Conference in Syracuse, NY, to share insights on diverse cultural narratives in pork consumption.

Elisabeth Ramsey standing with her powerpoint before her presentation

At the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values 2024 Conference in Syracuse, NY, Elisabeth had the privilege of presenting her study titled "Pork on the Plate: A Content Analysis of African American Pork-Centric Recipes." This study challenges the mainstream perception of pork by diving deep into the cultural contexts and food rituals where pork holds significant value within the African-American community.

Introduction slide to Elisabeth Ramsey's presentation detailing the title of her project

Using a content analysis approach, she examined pork-centric recipes from three African-American cookbooks— “Sweet Home Cafe”, “An African American Cookbook”, and “Jubilee.” The goal was to trace the historical connections of pork from slavery to the present day and to highlight its cultural significance. The findings revealed a preference for utilizing less common parts of the pig and underscored the importance of pork in soul food and Black southern culinary heritage. This research contributes to a broader understanding of how cultural heritage influences food relationships and the necessity of preserving diverse culinary narratives.

A slide from Elisabeth Ramsey's presentation showing the cookbooks she chose to analyze for this project

The presentation received a lot of positive feedback, with many participants expressing excitement about the work being done to understand and highlight diverse cultural narratives in cooking and eating pork. This enthusiastic response provided valuable suggestions for additional literature to explore. 

Based on the feedback and suggestions received, the next steps for this research include exploring additional literature and potentially expanding the study to include more cookbooks and culinary sources. Future milestones involve deeper analysis of the cultural significance of pork in other underrepresented communities and continued dissemination of findings to industry stakeholders.

The Agriculture, Food, and Human Values 2024 Conference was an excellent platform to share the often-overlooked culinary traditions in African-American cooking. The positive reception and constructive feedback emphasize the importance of recognizing and preserving diverse cultural narratives. This study not only enriches the discourse on food heritage but also provides valuable insights for the pork industry to better connect with diverse consumers.

We would like to express our gratitude to the conference organizers, participants, and all those who provided feedback and suggestions. Your support and enthusiasm are invaluable to the success and continuation of this research.


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