Online effort aims to expand diversity and opportunity in the food industry

Equity At The Table (EATT) is a dynamic effort to level the playing field in the food industry by providing an online database of women, gender-nonconforming and LGBTQ food professionals. EATT is designed to change up who does the hiring and who gets hired to tip things to a more equitable alignment.

“Every single decision we make every single day about food is a political one,” says organizer Julia Turshen, a cookbook author, radio host and recipe developer. Need a food writer? Search EATT. Looking for a caterer in your area? Search EATT. And if you’re not a woman of color or in the LGBTQ community but you’re hiring, you can submit your profile to EATT, too.

The website, launched this past April, is supported by a Patreon page, as there are no fees to join. One of our very own Indy food leaders, Candace Boyd Wylie, is a member (see her story on page 10).

“The EATT platform is like nothing else I’ve seen in a good while,” she says. “I remember the day the launch of the site was announced. My social feeds and social groups were all abuzz. What was this, I thought? A food-geared creative space dedicated to women, the nonbinary and people of color? YES, PLEASE. There wasn’t anything of its kind like it. I was elated.

“After reading everything I could find, I jumped in and created a profile immediately. Julia Turshen and her team have made EATT one of my go-to directories. I’m on the site almost daily, from looking for inspiration to finding points of connection for projects and creative work. I think EATT is important because it allows the many of us who don’t have a large voice in the food world to have space. I’m tired of straight white men telling the food story. We are well overdue for diverse stories to be shared. Shine a light on the voices that have been marginalized. We have food stories to be told, too.”

Edible Indy: Much like Edible Communities Inc., it seems like EATT arose out of a need in the food industry. How would you describe that need and how did you and your board design EATT to meet it?

Julia Turshen: The need was, and continues to be, for a tool that can help the industry move in a more equitable direction. In providing an easy-to-navigate directory of women and nonbinary individuals, and focusing primarily on people of color and the queer community, EATT centers the people who have not been centered. It is accessible (there are no fees to join or to use the directory) and simple to use and aims to be a dependable resource for anyone in a position of power to use when they can hire, feature or fund someone. It’s also an amazing tool to keep everyone on the site connected to each other and create community in doing so. We have an active Instagram feed and an email newsletter that goes directly to members to keep us all in touch with each other. We’re not just waiting for gatekeepers to come to us—we’re working with and supporting each other.

Q: Tell me about the differences for you between diversity and inclusivity and equality and equity?

A:Equality is pulling up more seats to the table. Equity is about who the table belongs to and who gets to do the inviting.

Q: Why do you think it’s vital for freelancers to have a virtual space to come to and connect?

A: No matter how technologically advanced the world becomes, we all crave and need connection and community. Our work is stronger, and our lives are enriched, when we know about each other and can support and lift up each other.

Q: In time, how do you see this tool advancing and/or moving the food industry forward?

A:I see it shifting not just who gets covered, featured, honored and invested in, but also who gets to do the covering, featuring, honoring and investing.

Q: What do you want readers in the Midwest to know about EATT and take away from your mission?

A:Every single decision we make every single day about food is a political one (where we eat, what we eat, etc.). When we make these decisions, remember that there are women and nonbinary individuals, especially people of color and the queer community, working in and around food everywhere and each choice can move us in a more equitable direction.

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