Natasha Tarlpey- The Hands that Feed You
Posted by denisegoitia | Filed under The Hands that Feed You
The Hands That Feed You
Natasha Tarpley is an accomplished writer who started her first book–an anthology of writings by black college students called Testimony–as an undergraduate at Harvard. Her second book, Girl in the Mirror, is a memoir of three generations of women in her family, and explored the
Natasha Tarpley cleaning lettuces for lunch.
experience of the African-American migration from the South to the North (in her family’s case, from New Orleans to Chicago). She has also written numerous children’s books, including the popular I Love My Hair.
Writing and food have always been associated in Natasha’s mind. From a young age she loved writing while eating, as well as writing about food. Both food and writing are about storytelling for her, and about celebrating, connecting, and building community.
But Natasha only recently decided to turn her energies directly towards food, and dreams of creating a kitchen in the South Side of Chicago that would be both a viable business and an opportunity to rebuild community through the preparation of healthy and traditional foods. Natasha’s grandfather had a produce stand where he sold not only vegetables and fruit but also fresh, local chickens and other real foods. Unfortunately, the kind of self-sufficiency that the African American community in South Side Chicago created during the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s began to wane during the 1950s, when Americans of all colors were encouraged to purchase more mass-produced, factory foods instead of growing and preparing their own food.
Ironically, the situation worsened after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as some people began to devalue historically black communities and disinvest from them, moving resources to neighborhoods outside of the city. This helped create the notorious “food deserts” of many inner cities, where food access is limited to fast-food chains and convenience stores. At this point, food deserts are almost self-fulfilling prophesies: the more we repeat the story that there is no access to healthy food in the inner city, the more true it becomes.
Natasha wants to take another approach: re-envision and revive the healthy and traditional food self-sufficiency that can and should thrive in inner city communities-not just urban agriculture, but a more holistic and inclusive picture of a sustainable, inner city foodsystem. Natasha is particularly interested in exploring and celebrating the culinary traditions of the African diaspora – finding commonalities, themes, and stories in the foods that bring together so many diverse cultural threads. She is spending the month of July immersed in the CSK model at Three Stone Hearth, learning and thinking about how what we are doing here might be a part of her business vision, and we are so excited to see how her ideas evolve!