Liberal food snobbery, such as Mike Bloomberg’s campaign billboard reading “Trump eats burned steak”, or tweets mocking Republicans’ lack of knowledge of craft beer haute cuisine also allow the Right to craft this populist image. In the words of the Right, a huge side of meat with ketchup is “owning the libs”, these imagined, eco-conscious, pretentious liberals who probably order steak “à point”.
Soy boys and tradwives
From castigating ‘soy boys‘ to Jordan Peterson’s carnivorism, meat means masculinity for the Right. Even those who don’t yearn for a white nation might associate veganism with women or celebrate meat as food that builds muscular strong men. Such shared ideologies make this an important area for the normalization of far-Right politics.
Perhaps the best example is the meat-heavy Paleo diet. The author of ‘The Paleo Manifesto’, John Durant, is a Trump supporter who describes himself as an “unfiltered contrarian”, but his diet had between one and three million users in 2013. Pioneered in 1975 by Walter Voegtlin, since disavowed by modern Paleo leaders for his “white supremacist, eugenicist, and generally unpalatable politics”, this diet celebrates a natural, white, premodern utopia.
This vision of traditional utopia is also maintained by the tradwives, the women in their 20s and 30s who celebrate “traditional femininity” and actively promote submission to men, homemaking and having large families. Researcher Annie Kelly notes that this vision of nostalgic femininity is linked to white supremacy. Central to the women’s production of anti-feminist and white nationalist nostalgia are ideas of bodily and racial purity and fertility, such as home cooking as a performance of traditional lifestyles and gender roles.
For some a traditional utopia reflects an interest in wellness; a farm-to-table cuisine leading to a natural, healthy lifestyle, as well as a pure, fertile body and a slender figure. Often celebrating traditional Western foods or preparing labor-intensive meals that would be impossible for working women, tradwives link wellness to whiteness and anti-feminism. I grew up with this ideology, from a cookbook called “Nourishing Traditions”, which gave pickled beet and fermented cod recipes, and saw modernity and processed food as polluting to the body and mind – and challenged ‘politically correct’ nutrition.
Others celebrate traditional American food and traditional gender with a 1950s’ flair and a pearl necklace. If grilling is male, baking is feminine. Perhaps the only thing more feminine would be the dinner a tradwife proudly cooks from anti-feminist activist Phyllis Schlafly’s cookbook, ‘Faithfully, Phyllis: In the kitchen’.
Cooking itself is often a metonym for the ‘traditional’ female role, her place ‘in the kitchen’. Cooking for and serving your man becomes an important image of submission and femininity, which honors and elevates white masculinity.
Tradwives use pies and pearls to translate far-Right politics into the language of home and family. Although their tastes are different, mainstream Republican politicians and tradwives use food in very similar ways, using hamburgers and steaks to translate the Green New Deal into a front in a war on meat, men and white suburban homes.