I may be a radical leftist dweebo rebooting her food blog, but in many ways, I’m like any other white person living in a metropolitan area.
I turn off Netflix sometimes, and go outside.
On occasion, whilst aimlessly perusing second-hand books on roller skating or finding political street art to add to my Instagram, I come across a comrade-in-hustle.
Sometimes it’s a taco truck. Or kids selling cold soda by the lake, or an elotero catching the 3pm rush of the local high school. They are unique and various but still familiar to me; I recognize them as my neighbors.
I can identify them, without paperwork, as people, living in my community, trying to survive on the modest assets available to them.
It’s a skill that takes some practice. It helps to have some empathy and an understanding of how society’s rules are fundamentally imperfect and often unjust, because they are ultimately developed by people, who are prone to some…issues.
You may have trouble getting your head around this – maybe society has never presented you with a rule that you couldn’t stick to, even if you tried really, really hard to do it the right way.
So: you run into a kid selling 7-UP and it hurts your feelings, so you call the police, which in 2018 is understood by even only peripherally politically aware people to be attempted murder.
Suddenly you’re stepping down from your homeopathy-for cats-startup.
So much for the rules, right?
There’s no guide that can help you be less classist/racist. That’s a life-long, and personal, process.
But if you are really so concerned for the health and safety of people buying chicharrones, here are some ideas on how to sate those plaguing busybody urges.
1) Get fucking certified.
Take the food handler’s test. Learn all the rules about preparing food. Then don’t follow them. Are you going to wash your hands in between handling different ingredients? Are going to you wear gloves when assembling a sandwich or check the temperature of that big plate of communal scrambled eggs? No, you probably won’t – even though you’re serving that shit to your friends and loved ones.
Keeping your kitchen, the place you live, to health code would be a huge labor. You make sure the meat is the right color in the middle; you keep to the rules that have more tangible consequences. And it’s like in the professional kitchens. It’s all about resource management vs risk assessment.
If you’ve eaten in a restaurant, you’ve definitely eaten the “good” side of a vegetable that was covered with mold. It’s not against the rules – but you can be written up for refusing to feed that to somebody. Ask me how I know.
Besides, the most dangerous thing you’ll find in an elote is maybe a strain of corn that is patented by a GMO which, if accidentally introduced into a non-GMO farmer’s crops, would allow for the GMO to destroy that farmer’s livelihood.
But there’s no way to cut the ear to prevent that. That requires cutting a whole head. Sometimes several.
2) Wash your fucking hands.
I used to work in one of those restaurants that also serves as a landmark of the city – regular positive coverage in the press, trusted to host local cultural and political events, etc.
We had rats living in our appliances, feeding between stacks of “clean plates”; a palette of pasta in dry storage had been contaminated with rat feces but couldn’t be thrown out because the restaurant sold its $15 chicken salads on the premise we were conscientious of waste.
A health inspector shut us down, once, because of the rats – we waited for them to leave, and reopened once we knew the inspector’s shift was over. No fines. No cop took the cash out of our register. Inspector came back after the weekend, gave us a pass.
Because it’s not about protecting the health of the consumer, but the health of other things, like property value, foot traffic, that shit. And that shit gets on someone selling food on the street, it could get everyone sick. Wash your hands.
3) Pack a fucking lunch.
If the Latinx family selling sausages on the Mission you’re bothering had permits, would you eat it? If you don’t care for sausage, why are you bothering them?
That’s just a fun icebreaker exercise to figure out which side of the wall you’ll be on once the revolution breaks ICE.
4) Get a fucking job.
In the time it takes you to explain how somehow repeatedly diluting the same sprig of dill cures incontinence, you can get enough “occupational training” to call yourself a graphic designer or “tastemaker”.
LinkedIn checks for false job histories about as often as a Rick & Morty fan washes their cum rag.
In a perfect world, you’d understand how the jobs that require the most access to education, resources, and social capital are also the least policed for some reason?
I wouldn’t count on it, but hey: “out of box experience” is also a fun nonsense phrase you can impress people with at parties that doesn’t have a body count in the thousands.
5) Write a fucking letter to your whatever.
Food cart/truck/etc permits are often difficult to acquire legally. Overly bureaucratic, with massive backlogs.
To get licensed, you usually already have to have your kitchen and your wares in order; you have to be in business before you can be recognized as a business, breaking the rules to be verified by them.
These stifling processes are kept this way because bureaucrats expect a rush of poor, non-white applicants that can be dismissed on technicalities without revealing racist, classist motivations.
What they’re not expecting is people like you to stand up for your neighbors and demand the removal of these barriers which limit their ability to provide for themselves and, through very selective enforcement, jeopardize public health.
White women get listened to.
It can be handy…you could, in this and in only this case, say it rules.
Author: Jetta Rae
Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae