Is black southern cuisine often reduced to the term “soul food” harmful and/or “low vibration”? Is it not excessive blood pressure that is prevalent throughout the family but rather the “plate,” as an actress and vegan food blogger reportedly said recently? This is a recurring debate; however, it’s necessary because ignorance is a major factor.
However, Black food isn’t harming Black people.
Black Southern cuisine
Black Southern cuisine is seasonal and healthy, but also nuanced and rich in significance and culture. Systemic racism as a result of eating disorders, anxiety caused by racial terror, and medical negligence are what kills us, not the food that was created by our skilled and compassionate hands.
The notion of Black foods are unhealthy or unworthy originates in anti-Blackness as well as discrimination towards overweight individuals. In order to comprehend our food and fight against the narratives that are based on it, We must recognize that our immigrant roots are at the heart of our food.
The Great Migration, when millions of Black Southern moved into North America from the South in search of freedom from injustice, Jim Crow apartheid, and the constant danger of lynching, was among the most important events in U.S. history.
The families we grew up with tried to hold on to the South by sending our children south to Alabama and Mississippi to spend the summer However, like any migration-related community, over time the connections dissolved. With those fading connections, came a vague notion about Black Southern food.
People who have lost touch with their Southern roots want to minimize Black Southern food as unhealthy “slave food.” However, this isn’t the case for real Southerners or those who have maintained their connections and have the knowledge.
Chef Amethyst Ganaway, who grew up living in South Carolina, said, “Our closeness to fresh food was what kept us fed and alive even after our arrival in the United States, and not by the scraps of white folks and not from processed food either.” As a Southerner, I did not grow up with fast food or junk. We had pecan and pear trees.
We had hunters and fishermen within our communities and families. People who have these bizarre views on soul and Southern food choices are disconnected from their roots. It’s easy to propagate misinformation and feed stereotypes.”
That’s why Ganaway advised that it’s crucial to engage with your elders and to learn. “There’s been some discord between the older and younger generations. I’m likely one of the first generations of millennials in my family and the only generation that has snapped peas in the face of my grandparents. “
Cora Harrington, who grew up in Georgia and whose family comes from rural Mississippi with a long lineage of relatives, explains that people who claim that Black and soul foods are bad for you are “often people whose grandmothers and great-grandmas were the last people to reside within the South.
Relationship with Black Southern
Their relationship with Black Southern cooking is far from them and has been filtered through several generations of eating it only on special occasions and being able to access a small amount of available fresh foods.”
Harrington’s story, as with many people from the Black Southern, isn’t one of food that is unhealthy. I’m originally from the Deep South and grew up eating numerous varieties of beans, peas, and other greens on a regular basis. There are people who sell tomatoes, squash, and watermelons from the back of trucks. “People you know who hunted for you gave you ducks, turkeys, and boars.”
In the end, the refusal to acknowledge the distinctiveness that is black Southern cuisine is an injustice towards our own people. It causes dissonance that is difficult to pinpoint as a loss that we do not even realize we’re supposed to experience and a lack of understanding about our history that no one ever tries to rectify.
A large part of the confusion is due to the fact that a lot of black people have been cut off from their origins. When their great-grandparents, ancestors, and grandparents left their homes in the South to the North during the Great Migration, the translation of the food we ate changed to suit white palates, and then changed again to something that we could sell easily when we set out to begin our own business.
Many of the people who moved including my own family were from rural areas of the South and then moved to the crowded cities that were located in the North. We were removed from the land we had known in many cases it was the first time we had the cultivation of any land and as a result, we lost touch with our hunting, agricultural, and fishing practices.
In discussing what they ate when they lived in their hometown in Camden, Alabama, my mother’s family discussed fresh produce such as okra, venison, and rabbit, in addition to other holiday-related foods like ribs of beef and candied yams.
This wasn’t always a story of abundance, but rather a tale that emphasized sustainability, and also the need to ensure food independence. Compared to comparing the choices of low-income individuals’ food as “black foods” and “soul eating” is incorrect. In Camden, unhealthy foods are due to inaccessibility.
“People should be aware that what they think of as soul food isn’t something you eat every day it’s the unique Sunday dinner you eat with your loved ones,” said Erika Nicole Kendall, a nutritionist and the author of the website “A Black Girls Guide” to Losing Weight.
“When we attempt to separate Black Americans as if we are a distinct health problem instead of suffering from similar illnesses as other people, [U.S. society is telling us that it’s okay not to take care of it because it’s a [Black American’s] issue.”
There is a truth to the issues that affect the Black Southern community that isn’t attributed to our traditional foods and are a society-wide issue. However, the rest of society does not face the same health issues as we do due to our sub-par status, which raises our risk.
Kendall suggests that people take charge of their health through regular checkups, setting aside time to exercise, and educating themselves on how to eat healthily and in ways that boost the health of their bodies. Kendall said, “We can’t ignore the necessity of policies that help people have access to the items we know to improve health outcomes.”
“Insurance and health insurance that is affordable, walking and safe communities, low cost grocery stores, and jobs that don’t have the right to pay you pennies, while using up all your time to take care of yourself; these things are important.” “It’s not possible to count on a single effort to erase the things required by law,” Kendall continued.
When black health is the main focus, taking soul food apart is not the best option. However, confronting the injustices of the criminal justice system is an important part of the answer. Black people are five times more likely to be in prison than white people, and prisons are an area where, due to many factors, including poor food systems Black suffer from health issues like heart disease and diabetes.
Phillip Alvin Jones, the host of The Wall: Behind and Beyond podcast who was imprisoned for more than 30 years throughout Washington state, has told Andscape via phone that the food regimen in prison is a major risk for those who are incarcerated, Black people. Jones is the co founder of Inside/Out Consults Inc., which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the formerly and currently imprisoned.
She believes that the food in prison consists of food produced cheaply and that is high in sodium. “It’s not about conserving cash,” Jones said. “They do not want us to be healthy.” It is true that a “vegetable” is typically the lettuce piece, while the meat gets “mixed with something else to create bones and gristle.”
When he read from the menu, he mentioned that”fortified drinks” or “fortified drink” containing unknown ingredients was served with each meal. He advised prison officials to utilize it to enrich the diet of prisoners without offering the inmates more or better food.
To combat the battle for the health of our population, we must re-connect to our history of food independence and set these old stereotypes to be put to. As Harrington stated, “One way to understand the background of Black Americans is through our food. And a detour from this may suggest a lack of understanding about other aspects too.”
Food writer and travel writer Nneka Okona who was raised in Georgia, has said that “Being Black Southern is central to my identity.” Everything I know about food is during the season and comes from the place I grew up watching. ” Okona said that her maternal grandmother, who was born in Alabama and had a garden, was the main source of her meals and her family’s when they came to visit.
“Each time we came on the way to Georgia she would have an evening meal consisting of meatloaf as well as cabbage, lima bean along with mashed potatoes, and cornbread that was ready. My grandmother was well known for her greens she blended the aforementioned collards, mustard, and turnips.”
Black people who have a heritage from the South must become familiar with the traditions of our cuisine and not be reliant on stereotypes that only serve to hurt us. If we can understand Black cuisine, then we can understand many things. Ganaway explained that when we attempt to comprehend Black food, we “open an entire world of history, culture, and personal customs that help to establish positive ideas and beliefs about what “Black food’ is.”