When Food Gets Political: Delicious Stories of Theft, War, Scandal and Protest - OZY | A Modern Media Company

When Food Gets Political: Delicious Stories of Theft, War, Scandal and Protest

When Food Gets Political: Delicious Stories of Theft, War, Scandal and Protest

By OZY Editors


Because sometimes what’s on our plate says more than “delicious.” 

By OZY Editors

The saying goes that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. There is truth in this. Food brings a sense of comfort, makes us feel cared about and conjures warm memories of the past. It can be persuasive and intoxicating, and some foods are thought to be aphrodisiacs. And it can bring us joy when eaten in the spirit of worship or celebration.

But sometimes food has a different purpose than to deliver happiness or satisfy our hunger. Sometimes what we put in our mouths was once meant to deliver a message or make a statement — a sweet protest covered in icing. Food and drink have even torn civilizations apart, firing up wars and revolutions. Sometimes it all just comes down to shrewdness and, well, money. 

From a sweet cookie with a sharp message to a dessert linked to Nixon, and from a chocolate drink that ended an empire to a theft that created a tea empire, these sumptuous stories will fill your plate — and perhaps touch your heart — with political food. 

The Sweet ‘Two-Faced’ Cookies That Called Out a Lying Politician

Tweegevrietjies were a delicious middle finger to a prime minister who went back on his promise to South African women.

Iran’s Building a Stockpile — of Potatoes

Faced with a food crisis thanks to U.S. sanctions, Tehran is turning to spuds to stave off hunger … and protests. 

How a Scottish Botanist Stole China’s Tea and Changed Indian History

Learn about the great heist that got tea to India, now a leading player in the industry.

How the Humble Pineapple Is Curbing Guinean Immigration to Europe

Thousands of migrants once fled the West African nation, but pineapple cultivation is helping put a stop to that.

Watergate Salad: The Creamy, Green Creation We Might Have Nixon to Thank For

Looking for a dessert for those who want to have their scandal and eat it too? Both sweet and savory, this beloved Middle Eastern dish inspires a food fight over its origins. 

Sweet Knafeh: The Israeli Occupation Of A Revered Palestinian Dish

This syrupy cheese pastry shows why we can’t have nice things — or peace — in the Middle East.

Drinking Montezuma’s Diplomatic Chocolate Elixir in Mexico City

This Mexican beverage blew up one of history’s most delicate diplomatic encounters. Talk about bitterness.

Today the grain is a much-loved dish served with a pork chop and spicy sauce. But it was once a mark of poverty.

Solidarity Fridges: How French Firms Feed Their Neighbors for Free

Les Frigos Solidaires found a way to cut food waste and hunger at once. 

Everyone Screams for Ice Cream. Even the Incarcerated

The battle over the legal right to ice cream behind bars has been raging in the U.S. for at least a century.

Restaurant Workers Bite Back Against Food Delivery Apps

DoorDash and its global peers disrupted the restaurant business and squeezed workers. Now employees are turning the tables. 

The ‘Waste’ Food Industry for the Wealthy

Can sleekly packaged juices and snacks made from produce waste convince the West to throw away less food?

This Sweet, Fruity Spread Symbolizes a Dark Chapter of Jewish History

Charoset is a Passover fan favorite, but nobody quite knows its origin. 

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