Spring 2017: Unity in Diversity
Black History Month. Women’s History Month. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Jewish American Heritage Month. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. National Disability Awareness Month and Italian American Heritage Month. Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month. American Indian Heritage Month. These are examples of months which have been declared, by executive order, to be national celebrations of the positive contributions of these diverse cultures and communities to the United States.
In an age where executive orders seek to divide and instill fear, Edible Queens wants to showcase, in the words of Queens BP Melinda Katz, “Unity in Diversity” and support inclusion, empathy and respect. To this end, our Spring issue features some pretty amazing people for whom food is not the end product, but an element in their narrative.
Scores of success stories exist among the many Vietnamese refugees who found home within our borders during the 1970s. Two of them are the father-and-son team Lam and Michael Lien who together, using carefully documented family recipes, opened District Saigon in Astoria. Known for its flavorful beef pho broth, District Saigon is a mixture of Old World and New World flavors that intimately reflect the blend the family has become.
So it is with Doaa Elkady and Freda Nokaly of Spice Tree Organics. Daughters of Egyptian immigrants and influenced by their Islamic religious traditions, they turned to grinding their own spices and sharing them only in peak form: organic and ground fresh. Elkady and Nokaly are a complex combination of ambition and tradition, immigrants who want to share a positive vision of the Muslim woman.
Take Birch Coffee founders Jeremy Lyman and Paul Shlader who, rather than resting on the success of numerous java outlets around NYC, created a barista program with Long Island City High School, designed not just to improve the palates and technical skills of its students, but to further Birch Coffee’s fundamental principles: supporting third-wave coffee, building community, starting conversations and sharing ideas.
Urban farming is firmly taking hold in the Rockaway peninsula, where Edgemere Farm’s Heidi Woolever, a schoolteacher turned farmer, realized that the vacant land around shelters or low-income housing could be nurtured to grow food and make an immediate difference in her community. At just under an acre, Edgemere Farm cultivates bees, supplies restaurants, operates a farm stand and runs outreach programs in the Rockaway peninsula.
These are a mere fraction of the diverse, deeply inspirational stories that need to be told—and Edible Queens hopes to eventually tell them all.