Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Culture wars: Leeds City Council to investigate Parkin and Yorkshire Tea links to slavery

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Parkin is a traditional ginger cake northern Brits have been enjoying since the 18th century. However, the cake may have connections to colonialism and the slave trade because of its ingredients.

The Black Lives Matter movement that swept the nation last year following the tragic death of George Floyd has prompted Leeds City Council to investigate the true history behind the beloved cake in order to educate the younger generation.

“Our work will aim to reflect these issues, looking at them from a contemporary perspective in an effort to tell their whole stories,” Leeds City Council told the Telegraph.

“Historically, some of the ingredients used to make these ‘local’ products were gained through the triangular slave trade (for example, sugar).”

Parkin will be reviewed along with other local favourite products like Yorkshire Tea, that may have ties with colonialism.

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The goal is to examine “how local products such as Yorkshire Parkin and Yorkshire Tea are, in fact, reliant on global trade”.

The findings will be used to educate primary school pupils in the area.

The council explained that its aim is to educate pupils that, while these products are household favourites, some of the containing ingredients “would have been sourced from around the empire and would have involved the labour of enslaved people as well as exploitation of resources and communities around the world”.

Parkin is a gingerbread cake traditionally made with oatmeal and black treacle and typically made for autumn and winter celebrations like Guy Fawkes Night.

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It is still popular on Bonfire Night.

A prominent ingredient in the cake is ginger. The spice only became widespread in England due to European trading and colonial expansion.

Black treacle most likely would have been made with sugar imported from Britain’s sugar plantations in the Carribean.

Yorkshire Tea is also being taken under review as while many prefer the drink with sugar that has colonial connections, it isn’t the only thing worth examining.

The tea plants were grown in Britain’s imperial colonies and imported to England.

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