Is Cauliflower Racist?

Culinary partisans can relax; there’s nothing offensive about eating ‘non-native’ foods.

In the latest Bizarro-World controversy, political partisans have taken to the internet to fight over – cauliflower? Yes, really. This bland and ubiquitous vegetable has become the latest front in the Culture Wars, with freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) even claiming ‘people of color’ have a hard time gardening because cauliflower is a colonialist vegetable.

Many people love cauliflower because it’s high in fiber and vitamins and low in calories. I dislike it for the same reason I dislike vanilla ice cream and plain waffles–I need flavor in my life! But because AOC has become clickbait and her name buries every other search result, I haven’t been able to determine where these anti-cauliflower sentiments come from. Is it actually something argued by fringe identitarians, or did AOC just make it up to grab headlines?

In the dumbest video she’s uploaded since pretending to not know what a garbage disposal is, she said:

“But when you really think about it — when someone says that it’s ‘too hard’ to do a green space that grows Yucca instead of, I don’t know, cauliflower or something — what you’re doing is you’re taking a colonial approach to environmentalism. That is why a lot of communities of color get resistant to certain environmentalist movements because they come with the colonial lens on them.”

Essentially, she’s arguing that South and Central Americans living in the Bronx have been brainwashed into growing European foods, rather than something native to hot, dry regions like the Yucca plant. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why it’s easier to grow cauliflower in New York than a desert plant like Yucca. Yucca thrives in a completely different climate.

But her broader point seems to be that “communities of color” are resistant to growing gardens because they’re unfamiliar with foods non-native to the Americas. That’s crazy. People all over the world enjoy foods that aren’t native to the areas in which they live, or where their ancestors came from.

When you think of German and Irish food, what comes to mind? Potatoes. Yet potatoes are not native to Europe–they were introduced by the Spanish from North America in the late 1500s. Today, they are considered a culinary staple and are the world’s fourth-largest food crop.

We consider potatoes an integral part of Irish and German cuisine because Europeans have been eating them for centuries. Just as people in North America have been eating cauliflower for centuries. This exchange of foods have benefited everyone (for the most part). Potatoes and cauliflower are cheap and easy to grow, and have saved tens of millions of people from starvation.

This idea that we should only engage in our ‘native’ or ancestral culture is completely bonkers. Everyone benefits from a variety of goods and products shared across the world. Unraveling those connections at this point in history (or at any point in history, really) would be impossible. As a person of European ancestry, I couldn’t imagine giving up rice or tomatoes because they don’t originate in Europe.

I’m becoming convinced AOC is actually a conservative troll who routinely says things to make leftists look stupid. This Yucca/cauliflower nonsense is just the latest example.

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Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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