Popaganda: Watching What You Eat

What does it take to get “well”? When we think about wellness, especially right now, we tend to think of it as everything we do to make our lives and bodies healthy. Rather than defining health through the negation of sickness, wellness advocates press that being “well” is an ongoing process of maintenance and care. But so much of what we think about wellness is so wrapped up in watching and being watched—through fitness apps, Instagram, bureaucracy, or just the day-to-day experience of going to the grocery store.

On this episode of Popaganda, I’ll be talking with a few folks about that peculiar facet of wellness. First, food writer Serena Maria Daniels shares her experience of growing up in a family that participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and how it feels to apply for the program as an adult. Then I talk to Dr. Elizabeth Hoover, assistant professor of American Studies at Brown University, about the ways in which Native American communities have fought for control over their food supply. Finally, eating disorder specialist Renee McGregor walks me through the trouble with “clean eating,” and the ways in which food bloggers can inadvertently encourage disordered eating.


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TRANSCRIPT

SOLEIL HO: This episode of Popaganda features a discussion of disordered eating. 

Hello, this is Soleil Ho and you’re listening to Popaganda! I hope you enjoyed the last episode on empathy. If you have any questions or thoughts about it, please feel free to email me at soleil@b-word.org. I’d love to read your feedback! 

On today’s show, we’ll be heading in a different direction: We’ll talk through wellness, eating, and surveillance. Stay tuned. 

[theme music] 

Instead of defining health as not sick, wellness advocates press that being “well” is an ongoing process of maintenance and includes fitness, beauty treatments, healthy eating, and alternative medicine. 

[recorded clip from YouTube] 

DAN RATHER: Can you give me a definition of wellness? 

JOHN TRAVIS: It’s recognizing that there’s more to life than the absence of sickness, that health is simply not the absence of disease. It’s an ongoing, dynamic state of growth. Just because you aren’t sick, you don’t have any symptoms, and you could go get a check-up and get a clean bill of health doesn’t mean that you’re well. It doesn’t mean that you’re gonna prevent disease further down the line. 

SOLEIL: That was John Travis, founder of the Wellness Resource Institute, explaining what seemed like a fairly new concept to the 60 Minutes crowd in 1979. That was back when most people thought of wellness as a hippie thing. But that was then. Now, wellness is everywhere.  

In 2015, the global wellness industry alone earned a market share of over $3 trillion. I probably contributed a teeny tiny fraction of that! The language that seemed so radical in John Travis’s time has trickled outward to health insurance plans, juice bars, and even apps. We so desperately wanna get well, and it seems like other people also desperately want us to get well. 

[recorded video clip from Apple with cheerful music in the background] 

JAY BLAHNIK: Science shows that you really wanna think about not just the quantity of movement but the quantity, the intensity, and the frequency of movement. So, in the activity app, you see three rings. It’s really simple. You try to sit less, move more, and get some exercise. And the great part is the watch reminds you to help you accomplish all three every day. And that’s why we’ve based our own corporate fitness challenge on the activity rings in the Apple Watch. 

TIM LARSON: Employees form a team of four and get points for the closure of each ring. During the day, each of the team members are actually seeing what the other one’s doing, and they’re nudging back and forth, you know, “Great job!” Or “Come on, just close your exercise ring.” So, it’s really powerful and very motivating for the employees. 

SOLEIL: OK, wait…. What is this dystopian shit? When I first saw this video on the Apple website, I thought, OK, it’s pretty extreme to release your personal data to your workplace and your coworkers for the sake of exercise. Do I really want the CEO to know how much time I spend playing Mafia in chatrooms? But then I realized that this is a logical extension of the way we, as Americans, think about wellness and dieting and what it means to have a “good body.” We’re always watching, policing ourselves and each other. And for some, wellness can be just a convenient excuse. I wanna consider how we use the framing of wellness to impose agendas that have nothing to do with health on others and on ourselves. And what we can do to take back control. 

[lounge-y piano music, a woman covering Why Try to Change Me Now] 

♪ I’m sentimental, so I walk in the rain 

I’ve got some habits even I can’t explain 

Could start for the corner and turn up in Spain 

But why try and change me now? ♪ 

SOLEIL: You might have already heard that the Trump administration’s proposed budget for 2019 includes changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. While currently, SNAP recipients use a card—kind of like a debit card—to pay for food, the proposal would make it so many of them would receive half of their benefits as a pre-boxed array of non-perishable food. The administration says it would “improve the nutritional value” for the recipients. Kind of like Blue Apron, except that it’s supposed to make you feel like a bad person. I asked my colleague Serena Maria Daniels, a freelance journalist and food writer based in Detroit, what she thought of it. 

SERENA DANEILS: Yeah. You know, I remember as a kid, every now and then my mom or my dad would go to a food pantry. And you always get, when you go to a food pantry, like this white, no-name jar or can of peanut butter or meat or government cheese. And it’s always, the label is white. It just says in black what that is. There was also government orange juice, and it just tasted horrible. It just tasted like can, you know? It was a terrible feeling to try to make something out of that, to make a delicious or somewhat decent meal out of these food pantry ingredients. So, this just reminds me of that. It’s like [sighs]…. 

SOLEIL: Serena grew up in a family that relied on food stamps. As an adult, she was surprised to find herself applying for the program when she suddenly lost her job as a food critic. This past New Year’s Eve, she did what a lot of food writers do and published her list of the year’s best meals but kept it real about what she actually could afford to eat: Things like wings from a halal fried chicken spot that accepts EBT or the Applebee’s appetizers she bought as a special treat while shopping for groceries. 

But even in Detroit, where a lot of people use SNAP and it’s just not that big of a deal, Serena felt like she was being judged hard at the office where she applied. 

SERENA: It’s just like if you don’t know what you’re doing, then you’re kind of treated like you’re an idiot. So, like, “Oh, what do you mean you don’t have this paperwork?” Or, “What do you mean you can’t prove your income?” And I tried to explain my situation as a freelancer, how my income fluctuates dramatically. And it’s like, “Well, you should be able to figure that out on your own. I don’t have the answers for you.” 

I think that’s especially if you go into the office itself, the times that I have been able to get in touch with my case worker, he’s been pretty understanding and is kind of like, “Hey, just turn in your bank statement or something, and that will suffice. And I’ll go ahead and turn that in, and we’ll see what happens.” And in my situation, that’s been sufficient. But it’s just kind of like this waiting around or not being able to just get things moving in a way that feels that there’s a sense of urgency. I think that’s the most frustrating part. 

SOLEIL: Right. ‘Cause you have to eat. 

SERENA: Yeah, yeah. You have to eat. You have bills to pay. So, yeah, it’s stuff like that where little details of your life are just under scrutiny. And if you’re doing well, you’re doing fine financially, you don’t really think about it. But it really forces you to think about it when you’re in that situation. 

SOLEIL: I’ve been in that position before, and I’m sure some of you have, too. When I first applied for food stamps while living in New Orleans, I stressed so much about how the information I put down in my application would look. Was I making too much? How could I express to the person at DHS that I literally had a quarter of a cabbage in my fridge for a week, that even though I was working for the university, I was making $600 a month and was too busy writing and grading papers to take the time to go to the cheaper grocery store? When I put down my occupations as “writer” and “teacher,” I felt like the punchline of some asinine joke. 

[recorded clip of Matt Foley in Down by the River from SNL] 

[audience laughter, applause] 

MATT FOLEY: You’re gonna end up eating a steady diet of government cheese and livin’ in a van down by the river! Now, young man, what do you wanna do with your life? 

SON: I, actually Matt, I kinda wanna be a writer. 

MATT: Welllll, la dee frickin’ dah!!! [laughter, applause] We got ourselves a writer here! 

SERENA: Having that mental stigma over my head kind of forced me to think, OK, this is a temporary situation. I’m not trying to game the system. I’m not trying to take advantage of anything. I’m in a specific, temporary situation, and once I get through this storm, I’ll be done with it. But even just having that sense of shame, it’s weird. It’s like you’re pitting yourself against people who might need it long-term, who might have a family who’s experiencing chronic unemployment or generational poverty. And so, it kind of does something to you mentally where you’re like, “Oh, well, I’m not like them. I’m a hard-working, college-educated person. This is just a temporary thing.” And that feels, I mean, that just creates a mental conflict, you know? Why do I have to feel any sort of shame in asking for help for something that’s so fundamental: Food, eating. 

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with asking for assistance. But I think just having childhood experiences of being in the supermarket and having your mom rip off the printed coupons, and it’s holding up the line, and your face turns red and all of these little mini-traumatic experiences kind of accumulate over the years. And so, it definitely creates this internal struggle or conflict. 

SOLEIL: Mmhmm. It seems like a lot of the apparatus around SNAP is built around shame. When you describe the coupons, it’s an obvious tell, right? 

SERENA: Yeah, definitely. And just again, like the experience of going into the DHS office and having the workers who are impatient with you and questioning why you don’t know what you’re doing, or if you don’t speak the language, that it just creates this whole battle, practically, that you have to work out on top of your own internal feelings of shame. It takes a toll, I think, emotionally. 

[mellow music] 

SOLEIL: Controlling what people can eat and judging them under the guise of, “We know what’s good for you,” or “You don’t know how to take care of yourself,” is a tried-and-true method of social control: The same old system of domination with different window dressing. Just ask any Native American person who’s lived or worked on a reservation. 

ELIZABETH HOOVER: So, I am Elizabeth Hoover, she/her/hers, and I’m a Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University. And I do lots of things. I’m also a Board member of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance and part of the Slow Food Turtle Island Association. So, I have a life as a professor and a life as sort of an Indigenous food advocate. 

SOLEIL: So, nowadays, food sovereignty activists talk a lot about “decolonizing the diet.” What exactly does the “colonized diet” look like? 

ELIZABETH: You know, this really started—this colonized diet—depending on where you’re at, hundreds of years ago. So, as part of the American Revolution, a lot of Haudenosaunee communities sided with the British rather than the Americans because the British made better promises about people being able to keep some of their land. And so, in punishment, George Washington sent out Sullivan and his army to destroy the fields and burn all the food stores as a way of bringing people to submission. And so, the destruction of Indigenous food was how war worked. It was about starving people out. So, the wholesale slaughter of buffalo on the plains. Kit Carson rounding up Navajo folks for relocation to Ft. Sumner, and he burned their orchards and their fields and their sheep. And so, attacking Indigenous food self-sufficiency was the way that colonizing armies and individuals worked to subdue Native people. 

But you had to replace that food with something. If you were going to keep people alive and in submission, you had to feed them something. And so, this is where rations really came about. So, delivering enough food to keep people alive. And a lot of that was flour and lard and coffee and sugar and beef of various and assorted quality. And so, Native people started eating a lot of this kind of processed food a lot sooner than—and to great quantities—sooner than other communities did. And so, it moved from rations that were trying to keep people alive to then, in the ‘30s, the government develops this commodity food program as a way of trying to stabilize agriculture prices. Surplus was bought up and redistributed, often processed and starting in the ‘40s, especially, there was money put aside to process that food to make sure it was shelf-stable. And so, you have a lot of sodium in canned food. You have a lot of different preservatives that are added to make this food last a long time. And you have people in Native communities who are really, in some cases, surviving off of this food and so, being subjected to a lot of processed food. 

This is where things like frybread that everybody really enjoys because it’s delicious, but it’s basically lard and flour. It’s fried bread, and it was created because these are the ingredients that people had to work with, and they needed to keep their relatives alive. But again, so, it’s tasty because it’s fried, but it’s not great for you. It really contributes to a lot of these different health problems. 

So, now you have people who are really trying to improve on that system. So, the food distribution program on Indian reservations was started: That program that kind of got these commodity foods more efficiently into Native communities. They’ve been working recently to really try to get more fresh foods put into that program and to try to get more traditional foods put into that program. Because now there are more Native people who are working for that institution. An so, the review group that they have has really been trying to improve on that system to make it so there’s something besides just processed foods that people are eating. But it’s a struggle. I mean, that’s the type of food that’s affordable and easy to get out to people. 

SOLEIL: There are so many negative stereotypes about American communities of color and the bad things they eat. I’m sure you’ve seen local news stories and social media posts centered around the contents of a person’s shopping cart, for example. On a less sensational, but still suspect level, we also absorb rhetoric from wellness writers and health organizations about how greasy or junky folks’ diets are, and how rampant the rates of obesity and diabetes are in those communities. We rarely talk about how those diets have been inflicted on people by those in power, how these folks are given so little choice about what they consume, and how that’s a kind of violence in itself. And it’s not just about the food. It’s about people’s sense of who they are and who they have been. 

ELIZABETH: There’s so many different layers to food. You think about food, the stuff that you put into your body. In order to have proper cellular turnover, you need a certain amount of different vitamins and nutrients. And so, you need food on that level, as fuel for your body to keep you healthy. But there are all of these other layers attached to foods that are culturally important and relevant to people. And so, you think about the connection that, if you have traditional corn in your meal, the connection that you have to the people who have grown that and adapted that corn to your region over hundreds and hundreds of years. All the hands that made the decision to save particular seeds to get the corn to grow exactly right in that region, to be exactly the color that they want and the flavors that they want. And so, that process is then continued. If there’s a demand for it, if there’s a need for it, if people are excited about eating that corn, then that prompts more people to grow that corn and to share the knowledge of how to plant it and that time that people are spending in the fields with their relatives learning about these things. And so, there’s the knowledge that goes into producing food or catching fish and the language that is lost when people stop doing that. 

I just wrote a book about Akwesasne and the environmental issues there. And one of the things that people talked about as the kind of fallout of people eating a lot less fish as a way of protecting their bodies from contamination was that you then, if there’s no fishing, you’re not spending time out in that boat with your grandpa. So, there’s language that’s then lost because people aren’t using the precise words for the colors and the textures of particular fish. And if you’re not catching fish, you’re not spending time in the winter tying nets. And so, there was a time when a family came together and tied nets, and people described how there were stories that were exchanged, conversations that exchanged. And if you’re not tying nets, then that time just isn’t happening. And so, when you lose the production of food and the gathering of food in that way, there are other aspects of culture and relational family values that are also kind of lost or misplaced until people can revive those kind of food production ways. 

And so, yeah, so it’s not just the healthy components of food that are good for your body; it’s the family relations that go into harvesting and preparing. It’s the culture and the language that you’re learning as part of it. 

SOLIEL: So, like you said, there’s lots of great initiatives to bring choice to folks living on reservations, with stores where people can pick out what they wanna eat. But in the end, it seems like those stores are still stocked by the federal government. They still get the ultimate say. 

ELIZABETH: Yes. So, ideally, what groups like the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance are pushing for is how do you better support community-based projects who are trying to produce healthy, culturally-relevant, local food for communities? How do you help them to get established in that way? So, some of them are putting up greenhouses and buying more equipment or working on hiring more staff for these kinds of projects to then be able to have food that can be distributed to elders or sold at farmers’ market or used in schools and that kind of thing. 

Like I said, food is at the base of everything. And so, people are using food in language revitalization. At some of the gardens that I went to, people talked about how language classes in the garden, it was the perfect setting because you’re doing these activities over and over, and you’re talking about what you’re doing. So, for some people who don’t learn well in classrooms can learn better in an active setting like that. Some had little signs up and little rocks in their gardens with the words for— So, for example, like at the Shakopee garden had little rocks. And Jemez Pueblo had little signs on things to tell people, and it was the Euchee language program where the director was talking about how having the kids from the immersion program out in the garden really was helpful in that way. 

So, if you’re producing all of this food, the cultural knowledge and revitalization that’s necessary both for the ceremony that goes into planting and harvesting, but also then, processing that food. So, some things like Iroquois white corn, you can’t just take it off the cob and eat it. It needs to be processed with hardwood ash or another alkaline substance to nixtamalize it. And so, there’s that cultural knowledge that goes into that. And then learning, how do you make the corn soup or the corn mush or the different corn cakes that goes along with it? And for a lot of difficult cultural celebrations, there are particular foods that are associated with them. So, producing enough food so that you have your community’s own white corn or whatever it is that you need. One of the projects that I talked to at Cochiti Pueblo, the gentleman talked about for him, food sovereignty was being able to produce enough of the corn that his mom and grandmas needed for their ceremonies there. So, that was a big, kind of important goal for them. 

A lot of these different kinds of cultural revitalization projects have food at the root of them. You need to have good food to keep people happy and healthy and participating. 

SOLEIL: So, I’ve presented some pretty obvious examples of how things can get pretty screwed up along class and ethnic lines when food is used as a tool of social control. But let’s go deeper and talk about something a little more subtle. I found out about Renee McGregor, a performance and eating disorder specialist dietitian, through a piece by the legendary British food writer Bee Wilson. The two were panelists at a literary festival where they were meant to discuss the phenomenon of “clean eating” opposite a young author who had made a living off of the trend. When they pointed out the fallacies in the author’s claims about nutrition, things got real. 

RENEE: When I was onstage with this particular food blogger, she categorically sort of was like, “No, I don’t say that. I don’t say that.” And it’s like, well, here’s your book. It’s written. You talk about clean eating. You talk about actually not going out for food because why should you eat badly, as you put it, just to be sociable. Food is more than just fuel. Food is about building relationships. It is about social stuff. It’s about kind of learning how to interact with people and network with people. It’s such a big, important part of our lives and development pathways of who we are as we go through life. So, I found that a really weird statement for her to make. And the thing that was, I think what was so obvious to me was when Wendy and I said, “You know what? You can’t say these things because you have not proof of them,” this person had nothing to come back with. She knew she had nothing to come back with, and so she burst into tears. And she burst into tears in an auditorium full of 400 people. And what happened next was pretty, like, [laughing] I’ve never experienced anything like it. I hope I never do again. But the audience turned on Bee and I, saying, “Why are you having a go at this young woman? All she’s trying to do is provide us with right ways of eating.” 

And I’m sat there going, oh my god. Oh my god. I am the person here who’s been brought on this panel because of the fact that I’m supposed to be the scientific brain behind this panel. And yet, I’m the one that’s being dismissed for somebody who looks the part. And that’s what it comes down to. 

SOLEIL: Since then, Renee has focused on raising awareness of the kind of disordered eating that this kind of discourse enables: orthorexia. In an article published in Yoga Journal in 1997, American physician Steven Bratman coined the term. Ortho, for “right,” and “rexia,” for “appetite.” While anorexia is the complete denial of the appetite, orthorexia indicates an obsession with purity, with putting the “correct” things in your body according to a set of internal rules. 

Of course, I think most of us have rules about what we eat: Like, don’t go to Waffle House when it’s light out, or don’t mix soy sauce and ranch, or always order steak well done.  

[recorded clip of The Wendy Williams Show, starts with crowds cheering and whooping] 

WENDY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for better ways to eat healthy. So, here to show us some delish, healthy dishes is the author of Clean Green Eats. Please say hello to our new chef friend, Candice Kumai. 

[applause, cheers, Wendy and Candice greet each other] 

Candice, it’s so nice to meet you. Thank you for being here. 

CANDICE: Such a pleasure. 

WENDY: All right, Candice, what does eating clean mean? 

CANDICE: Right. So, everybody’s asking about this new clean-eating trend. It’s all about eating from the soil, from the ground up, eating real foods that our body recognizes, and cutting out the processed foods. And the most important thing to remember, Wendy, is that clean eating is a lifestyle. It is not about dieting. You can have whatever you want. 

WENDY: OK. 

CANDICE: You just have to eat real. 

RENEE: The thing is, while I’m not a massive advocate of people eating white pasta and white rice and white bread, what I would say is that actually, a real healthy relationship is one where yeah, you eat well as much as you can most of the time. But every now and again, you throw away the rulebook because actually, if you wanna go out and eat a pizza with a friends, you go out and eat a pizza with your friends, you know? If you wanna have a pudding because you’re out with your partner, you go and have a pudding with your partner. You don’t stress about it. You don’t feel guilty about it. 

And I feel like what’s happened with this whole kind of clean movement, regardless of whether you’ve got orthorexia or not, is that people feel bad about eating certain foods. So, suddenly, it’s almost like if you don’t eat the ways these clean eaters recommend you eat, somehow you’re eating dirty? 

SOLEIL: When you search for the clean eating hashtag on Instagram, it returns more than 36 million results. People post their meals, shirtless mirror selfies, and the contents of their shopping carts. They’re excited to be viewed and judged, for the purity of their choices to be measured by the public. 

RENEE: As a practitioner in this field, this is what you’re up against. You’re up against those health bloggers that are telling every morning that somebody should have whatever they should have, Protes or whatever is next big thing that people should do. And that’s how foods become labeled as good and bad. Carbs are bad; protein’s good. Well, not really, you know? People have this huge belief that if you eat protein, somehow you won’t get fat. Well, no. If you overeat any food group to excess, you will put weight on. It’s as simple as that, you know. It doesn’t matter whether it’s protein, fat, or carrots. It’s just a bit harder with carrots ‘cause you have to eat so many, you know? 

SOLEIL: [laughs] 

RENEE: It’s that kind of, that’s the commonsense, kind of just that’s where it is. It’s not rocket science, but I think, as you pointed out, people want an answer. People want answers for everything. I think we’re in that society where we believe there are answers for everything. And sometimes, you just have to accept that things are not great, and you have to deal with it. Which is really tough. It’s a really hard thing for me to say, but you do. You just have to deal with it and realize that, by eating a certain way is not gonna change your problems. It really isn’t. 

SOLEIL: How do you help people escape from this? Because it seems like people get trapped into eating like someone’s watching, or they get so invested in other people’s stories. So, how do they separate themselves from that, from watching themselves constantly and watching other people constantly? 

RENEE: So, one of the things I always do is really try and help the individual to start to actually question their thoughts. What we know about individuals that struggle is anybody with a mental illness tends to have intrusive thoughts. We all have intrusive thoughts, not just mental illness. We all have intrusive thoughts. It’s just that some people act on every single intrusive thought, and other people let them go. So, when you work with somebody with, say, orthorexia, and they say, “Well, I can’t have sugar; it’s bad for me,” and that’s what they’ve done is they’ve taken that intrusive thought, and they’ve made it fact. And I will always say, “Right. Let’s challenge that. Let’s look at the facts.” So, again, in a similar way as what I described earlier with the client from yesterday, it’s like, where’s the evidence? Where’s the evidence that sugar is actually bad for your per se? Because again, you are unlikely to find a single study that actually says those exact words. 

And so, what I start to do is challenge their thought processes and help them to reframe them so they start to see food in a very different way. But then they also start to see themselves in a different way. So, we’ll look at things like qualities, traits, like what are the qualities and traits you admire in other people? And you get them to write things down. And then you get them to think about three people who they value in their life, and you get those three people to write the traits and qualities they admire in the client. And you bring that to a session, and we discuss them. 

And it’s really, it’s actually a really lovely, such a really nice, a really good exercise and task to do because when you set it, they’re panicking that, “Oh, they’re gonna say all these horrible things.” Because that’s what they truly believe about themselves, that they’re just not worthy, they’re not good enough, they’re not great people, they’re not accomplishing anything. That’s how they really, truly view themselves. And so, when you open these kind of letters up with the words and descriptions, and you go, “Look. They say you’re caring. They say you’re considerate. They say you’re beautiful,” you know, they say these different things. It’s lovely to, it’s really nice to see them go, “Oh! I didn’t realize that.” 

And it’s then that you can start that conversation with them: “You know, you build your belief system of yourself on your perceptions, and you’re constantly worried about what other people are perceiving of you. But actually, the only person that counts here is you. And if you change how you view yourself, you won’t care what anybody else is thinking because you’ll be comfortable with who you are.” And that really is the crux of an eating disorder or any sort of dysfunctional relationship with food; it’s actually about getting to understand that they are fine as they are. They are good enough, and they don’t need to be defined by a number or a type of diet. They just need to be comfortable with who they are. 

One thing I say to people is, “You know, what’s the point of comparing yourself to someone else?” ‘Cause in my view—and it’s only my personal view—in my view, comparing yourself to somebody else is like comparing a cat and a dog. 

SOLEIL: [laughs] 

RENEE: All it is! We’re all unique. We’re all completely unique. There is no other Renee on this planet, thank goodness. But there is no other person who is an identical copy of me. So, why would I compare myself to somebody else? Why? 

[mellow but spirited music] 

SOLEIL: I’m so grateful to Serena Maria Daniels, Elizabeth Hoover, and Renee McGregor for their time and wisdom. Thanks for listening. 

[theme music] 

Thanks for listening to Popaganda. This episode of Popaganda was produced by Ashley Duchemin. Our jingle is by Mucks & Owen Wuerker. Thanks to Jessie Davis for their cover of Cy Coleman’s Why Try and Change Me Now? Additional music was provided by Blue Dot Sessions. If you have thoughts or feelings or feedback on the show, please feel encouraged to send me an email to soleil@b-word.org. Or just plain review us on iTunes! We love that! 

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Soleil Ho
by Soleil Ho
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Soleil cooks for a living and writes sometimes. When she was in kindergarten, she reviewed a book for Reading Rainbow that she didn’t actually read. She cohosts Racist Sandwich, a podcast on food, race, class, and gender.

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