Jason Rantz hosts a radio show in Seattle, so he’s drawing on a webinar that was given at Washington State University, although it was developed at Duke University. Its title is “Examining Whiteness in Food Systems” and it looks at how farmers’ markets and food charities are part of “white dominant culture.”

Rantz writes that “the materials claim that ‘whiteness defines foods as either good or bad’ and that farmers markets are merely white spaces.”

Jennifer Zuckerman of the Duke World Food Policy Center led the discussion. She framed the webinar around her identity as a white woman who has “benefited from whiteness for my entire life at the expense of other people.” With that in mind, she explored the “really specific ways in which whiteness shows up in the food system and particularly in the work of food insecurity.”

She took particular aim at farmers markets as being too white. She uses a quote from Rachel Slocum (“a preeminent researcher on whiteness and food”) as a jumping-off point.

“What that does is it erases the past and present of race and agriculture. What whiteness also does is ‘mobilizes funding to predominantly white organizations who then direct programming at nonwhite beneficiaries,’” she said. “And we’ll talk about that a little bit more when we talk about communities that can’t take care of themselves. Also, what this does is it creates inviting spaces for white people. Then program directors or farmers market directors are scrambling because they’re trying to add diversity to a white space. So what whiteness does is center whiteness.”

She’s reportedly also offended by white groups bringing mobile food banks to communities of color, which “pathologizes people and makes the assumption that they need to be helped” and instills “a savior mentality” in those doing the giving. So … don’t help.

No, rather than food charities, the priority should be on “providing economic assistance, increasing wages, or providing direct capital for BIPOC owned food and agriculture businesses.”

No surprise that the woman leading this webinar is white and yet is concerned about white savior complex.