Is ‘Trash Food’ a Thing? On Food, Stigma, Class, and Connection

Longreads

A store clerk, an African-American man in his sixties, offered to help us. I told him I was overwhelmed, that plumbing had gotten too complicated. I tried to make a joke by saying it was a lot simpler when everyone used an outhouse. He gave me a quick sharp look of suspicion. I recognized his expression. It’s the same one John T. gave me when I mispronounced his name, the same look I gave John T. when he mentioned “trash food” and social class. The same one I unleashed on people who called me a hillbilly or a redneck.

I understood the clerk’s concern. He wondered if I was making a veiled comment about race, economics, and the lack of plumbing. I told him that back in Kentucky when the hole filled up with waste, we dug a new hole and moved the outhouse to it. Then we’d plant a…

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