man holding thread spool
man holding thread spool
Photo by Julie Krabbe Clausen on

So this is a hard conversation to have. The origins of what we in the African-American community know as Soul Food began as the food that was eaten by slaves. For the most part according to sources slaves were given:

  • cornmeal and other grains,
  • dried beans
  • some vegetables (if they were allowed to grow things) and
  • the portions of the pig and other animals that the slave masters would not eat.

The enslaved women who cooked for their communities used the skills that they brought from West Africa to turn these items into mouth-watering meals that were usually high in fats, sugar, and salt in order to enhance the flavor of the meal.

This food was high calorie which was good for the slaves who worked hard in the cotton fields because they burned those calories off.

This food continued to be eaten by our ancestors and soon became symbolic of our people and culture and not the circumstances under which they were forced to eat in this manner. We lost sight of the fact that many of the dishes that we still eat (and not only on holidays) are not the healthiest. Additionally, diseases like

  • Type Two diabetes
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure

which are rampant in our communities are linked (along with other socio-political issues) to what we eat!

So here I am hoping that we can move towards a healthier diet/lifestyle by changing to a more plant based eating model. We’ll talk about what that looks like and how you can determine what works for you in future posts.

3 thoughts on “SLAVE FOOD = SOUL FOOD

  1. Thanks for the post and the enlightenment about the origins of soul food. In my case I’m Caucasian mixed race with English Romani and Welsh Romani Spanish Indian and North African DNA (what people call Gypsies {& an inaccurate description as we originally from India}) So our races have followed similar paths we were also enslaved and taken out of our homeland.. We were also experimented on alongside the Jewish people and other people of ethnicity… Its made me think whether the Romani dishes had the same origins. As I can think of two dishes that were made from scraps of food.. Thanks for the thought provoking post… I’d like to share this if OK? All the best on your vegan journey.. Feel free to contact me if you need any tips or help… Nelly 🥰

    1. Thanks for your insight. I certainly don’t want to diminish others who are the ancestors of enslaved people. It’s interesting to me that the stories of so many have been lost. Our food stories, though the food may be different, are stories of our cultures!

      1. Hi there you’re welcome I really enjoyed the article and I don’t think you diminish anyone. You wrote an interesting and moving post about slavery.. In the UK we were barred from Shops and most establishments as a people. The signs were always no dogs no Irish no blacks and no Gypsies.. Some woul even say Gypos or Pikey (the equivalent to the N word) so I can see a familiar pattern.. our two races both suffered appalling treatment at times when it was acceptable.. While people can be awful I know there’s good people too. I’m naturally an optimist.. I’m a foodie too and love all foods around the world… I’m only plantbased nowadays but glad I am. For me I wished I’d gone vegan years ago! As I have food allergies and sensitivities there’s certain foods I can’t eat.. Especially if they contain sugar. As it causes an immune system reaction and sends my blood glucose levels out of whack.. I totally agree bout the lost stories of so many. as you say they’re stories of our cultures.. You’ve certainly taught me something I didn’t know and I’m all about learning new things too.. Thanks again for your insight and these interesting posts… Best Wishes

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