What are the legacies of our pasts? How does the past shape our today? How do the lives our parents and grandparents led affect the lives we lead today? Those are some of the questions writer Tommy Tomlinson of Charlotte has been asking himself. And he’s asking them in a really interesting way. We are accustomed to hearing that question asked about something like education. If your parents went to college, you have a greater chance of going to college. But how does the life and work of your people affect your health? How does it affect what you eat? That’s a newer and now urgent question for many Southerners.

Tommy Tomlinson is the author of The Elephant in the Room, a memoir about his decision to swear off Krispy Kreme and chili dogs as he approached 50 years old at 460 pounds. His podcast SouthBound features interviews with Southerners–artists, athletes, preachers, and politicians–exploring how place shapes what they do. He worked 23 years as a reporter and columnist for the Charlotte Observer.

This presentation was originally shared at the 2019 SFA fall symposium on food and labor. Matt Pearl produced the episode.


The Elephant in the Room

We the People are Larger Than We Used to Be