Lifestyle, Opinions

Long Beach has a vibrant and unique food culture, but it’s threatened by gentrification

Long Beach is a great and varied food city. From high-end Italian restaurants to modern twists on Mexican food and the various restaurants in the expansive Cambodia Town, there is a lot to love.


Food is one of the best representations of culture. Many people have intense, vibrant memories of the tastes and smells of the cooking they grew up with. 


There’s a reason why “grandma’s cooking” is a near-universal concept. Smell is strongly connected to memory on a neurological level.


It carries with it memories of home, of growing up and the people and places that come with it. Because of that, for many who are far from home having the food that they grew up with can be a comfort in an unfamiliar place.


Food also frequently is a great connector of cultures, and the fusion of two different cuisines is often greater than the sum of their parts when both are treated with respect.


When Middle Eastern immigrants made their way to Mexico, their food came with them. The al pastor taco, one of the most common we see in this area, is a direct fusion of shawarma and the already existing taco.


This is a popular, iconic, delicious and only possible because of the blend of the two cultures.


So when a large number of unique culinary experiences and cultures are in close proximity to each other, it’s usually a great thing.


However, this culture in Long Beach might not be around forever. Housing prices have been consistently rising, and many have already been pushed out.


There have been attempts as recently as 2018 to push out local businesses in favor of large scale developments in Cambodia Town.


Luckily, local outrage helped prevent it, but as rent continues to rise, developments in these neighborhoods are looking more and more enticing to massive chain restaurants.


We cannot allow this city’s unique culture to be paved over, and public protest has proven effective in the past.


Short of the city passing ordinances more aggressively limiting rent increases or preventing certain chains from incorporating in Long Beach, public outcry is the best way to prevent the millionth Starbucks or a towering Walmart from darkening the city’s doorstep.

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