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. https://www.nps.gov/bowa/learn/historyculture/upload/the-final-slave-diet-site-bulletin.pdf.
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
- 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.https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760. We’ll talk about what that looks like and how you can determine what works for you in future posts.