The Stream – Eating out, with a side of cultural appropriation


The Stream – Eating out, with a side of cultural appropriation

Eating foods from different cultures can be a way to connect with people around the world. But when is borrowing flavours from backgrounds other than your own considered wrong?

In Portland, Oregon, two white women were forced to close their Mexican burrito cart after people on social media criticised the business for what they saw as cultural appropriation. After a local newspaper report told their story of learning how to make tortillas for free during a trip to Mexico, the two women said they had even received death threats.

Why is there so much anger over these burritos? On Wednesday’s show, we want to examine the issues surrounding food, identity, and being accused of cultural appropriation. What is the difference between flavor inspiration and a culinary rip-off?

This episode’s story:

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On The Stream: What constitutes cultural appropriation when it comes to food?




  1. …china didn't invent noodles, nor does italian pasta owe its existence to china in any way. that's just a common myth. the earliest record for noodles is definitely in china, but noodles have appeared separately and independently in various cultures throughout history.

  2. And this is why there needs to be racial segregation of people of colour from the white Caucasians and white Asians (Chinese, Mongolian, Korean and Japanese people)…

    Just joking… but really though… Lol XD

  3. This is a problem with Capitalism you short sighted fools! If you want to disrupt the ideas of power structures we must focus on the upper class, you know, the people that actually have power. Not attacking people who are victims of Capitalism, that cannot survive without looking for demand in the market and supplying people with what they want. Poor people are not responsible for our power structures.

  4. First of all how are these girls culpable for Neocolonialism? (They're not)
    Second people sell their food what ever country their from, if you have a problem with that then blame Capitalism not the people filling a gap in the market.

    The fact that we're getting upset about this only undermines real appropriation of culture, like when headdresses only worn by Native American elders as a sign of wisdom and authority get their symbology ripped off by sports teams and hipsters.

  5. I think a lot of people are missing the entire point in the comments, yes it's food if you have no feelings attached to it. The thing is many people do have feelings attached to it. For many immigrant cultures it's part of our identity, it's what ties us back to home. It's the same way that people from New York see someone in another place in the US selling something as "New York xyz " and it's so blatantly a rip off and a bad one at that and get mad. It's the same way It troubles me to see places like chipotle or other "Mexican" fusion places that make the food into a joke just to please the common person with bland taste.

  6. cultural appropriation is real.

    whites sometimes "steal" foods from other places, while dark skinned people sometimes "steal" technology like indoor lighting, televisions, studio cameras, and clothing styles that were all invented by white people.

    lighten up guys. what are you REALLY upset about?

  7. how will these accusations of cultural appropriation impact mixed race people? wait… are interracial relationships appropriation?

  8. This is American there is no such thing as immigrant food this country is made of immigrants, if you want to segregate people for making food your in the wrong place.

  9. This is basically a reaction to the Americanisation in many societies around the world. Western clothes and fast food has pushed away people's costumes, food and traditional clothing. Some think it's anti-white but this is a silent revolt against the dominance that American culture has on other cultures. People are holding unto to the little that's left that makes one distinct from others. It's about preserving diversity.

  10. There was this one time were I was eating at a Mexican restaurant and there was a white couple on the next table making fun of the dresses the waitresses were wearing and I find some similarities with this and it's a lack of respect for the culture which they are making a living from..

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