Nina F. Ichikawa

Food & Agriculture Editor

Nina F. Ichikawa writes on food, agriculture and Asian American issues. She graduated U.C. Berkeley and Meiji Gakuin University in food policy, and her education also includes working as a restaurant dishwasher, making corsages at her family's 107-year-old flower shop and helping to establish the nation's first high school Asian American Studies program. She was a 2011-2013 Food and Community Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Twitters: @ninaeats.

Sea Change

Gulf Coast Vietnamese Americans look to the future after the BP oil spill

Writer Nina Kahori Fallenbaum
Photographer Lisa Cates

Some say that Asian America began in Louisiana. In the late 1700s,
Filipino sailors escaped Spanish galleons and started shrimping the
hot, humid Gulf Coast, where the weather reminded them of Southeast
Asia and the water teemed with oysters, lobsters, scallops,
crab, crayfish and shrimp. After the Vietnam War, new waves of
Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants settled in the area, indelibly
shifting the region’s mix of food, culture and history.

Labor of Love

The implications of food go far beyond nourishment.

Bonnie Kwon is prepared to cook and defend. In 2009, she co-founded the District of Columbia branch of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), a national organization that advocates for better conditions for restaurant workers. She’s also a labor organizer, a lawyer and a host of legendary home-cooked Sunday dinners. She recently spoke with Hyphen about the facts behind the food.

How did you become interested in restaurant organizing?

Bringing Home the Farm

Kitchen gardening is all the rage, but Asian Americans have been doing it for generations.

THERE IS A SCENE I'll never forget in Spencer Nakasako's 1998 documentary Kelly Loves Tony. A Mien mother cooks an inky-black brew of homegrown herb soup for her daughter to bathe in after giving birth. Charming scene in the mountains of Laos? Nope it's East Oakland, CA, and she grew the wild potion alongside a concrete driveway next to a chain-link fence. It is here that Kelly's mother and other Southeast Asian families have turned parts of the "Murder Dubs" into arable land using ancient know-how and, sometimes, seeds smuggled through war zones and refugee camps.