Members of the New York Times Cooking Community Facebook group, a private forum for home cooks to share technique tips, personal experiences with recipes and favorite kitchen tools, are having a small but powerful political uprising.
Over the weekend, a moderator decided to remove a post that allegedly encouraged members to vote. The Times said the post showed support for a specific candidate.
The group's rules state, "There are many places to express your political views; this is not one of them." But members of the group took issue with the post's removal and rebelled by posting their own get-out-the-vote messages — but in food form.
Then, on Sunday, Chaya Milchtein, 25, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin tweeted about the internal incident, garnering support from the public.
"There is a coup going on in the @nytimes cooking community Facebook group," Milchtein wrote. "Here's the scoop: A member posted about making sure to vote, and the moderators removed his post since the group is supposed to be a haven from politics, focused only on food."
Milchtein's tweet has since amassed over 3,500 likes, with many people fascinated by the creative way the cooking community showed solidarity with its fellow member.
"The members, numbering over 62k, weren't having it and made it clear that food is undoubtedly political," she continued. "They began to fashion food to spell VOTE, using captions only directly related to food. The creativity and patriotism is inspiring. Here are some of their creations."
She continued to share the pictures of the dishes her community came up with, including a butternut squash stuffed with patriotism, among other ingredients.
By the end of the thread, Milchtein took a strong stance of her own.
"Bottom line: food is political," she wrote. "Food can be used to build community, change lives, feed the hungry, inspire creativity, and it also could be easily squandered. Use your voice (and your food) to inspire change."
"I became aware that a post was removed when my feed became flooded with food fashioned in the shape of the letters V-O-T-E," Milchtein told TODAY Food.
"My understanding was that it was a post about voting put up by an active member," she said. "@nytimesfood tweeted and said that it supported a specific candidate. I did not see the post, only the reaction."
Milchtein and others were amazed by the way group members creatively hid the word "vote" in different types of food.
"It was hiding in plain sight," she said. "They were otherwise discussing the food, not the get out the vote effort."
"We removed the post because it carried a political view in support of a candidate, and that breaks one of our group rules," Jordan Cohen, executive director of communications at the New York Times told TODAY. "The vote photographs the members are posting are beautiful, though, and anyone can make a nonpartisan vote post."
Cohen directed anyone with more questions to the group rules and stated that the Times did not have anything further to add on the matter.
"I think people are becoming more aware of the need to speak up when things happen, but mainly, this started because they thought that an active member had been removed," Milchtein said.
In the end, the Times even replied to Milchtein's tweet.
"Food and politics cannot be divorced from each other," said Milchtein. "From the production to access, food is only non-political if you have the privilege to not think about the political aspects of it. And by privilege, I mean both money and class."