CHEF’S CORNER

New Film Shows That “Soul Food” and Black Folks Aren’t Always A Healthy Match

Soul Food2

By Gary A. Johnson

  • Fact:  Soul food and southern style cooking is high in saturated fat.
  • Fact:  Fat tastes good.
  • Fact:  Black people are twice as likely to die of stroke before age 75 than other population groups.  

“Soul Food Junkies,” is a new film by Byron Hurt which will air January 14, 2013 on PBS.  In the documentary Hurt explores the addiction that black people have with “soul food.”

Hurt also explores the health advantages and disadvantages of “soul food” and peers inside the unhealthy side of the food industry and the growing food justice movement.

Hurt interviewed a wide variety of people including chefs and health experts and concluded that black folks’ addiction to soul food is killing them.

I’m not sure that we needed a documentary to confirm that, but if a film helps to spread the word that people need to adopt healthier eating habits, then let’s get everyone we know to watch this film.

Growing up I was raised on fried and fatty foods.  My father would cook grits, bacon, pork sausage and fried eggs for breakfast and pour the grease from the pan on top of the grits for extra flavor.  That leftover grease would then be poured in a jar on the stove to be used for the next meal.

There was no thing as “turkey sausage” in my house.  I didn’t learn about “turkey sausage” until I was in my late twenties.  Turkey sausage is an insult to pigs everywhere.  There is no substitute for the taste of bacon.  If I was running the pork industry; I would move to legally prevent the turkey industry from using the term “bacon.”  At best, they should call it “turkey breakfast meat.”  I know that I have offended turkey lovers with those comments about turkey bacon.  What can I say?  I told you that I still struggle.

As I grew older and learned more about healthy cooking, I had to break some of my early “cultural conditioning” when it came to food.  It was not an easy transition to rid myself of those unhealthy cooking habits.

Today, I still struggle.  I do the majority of the cooking and grocery shopping in my household.  I have an emotional connection with my food.  I struggle every day to eat healthy.  I win the battle most days and offset my weak days with regular exercise.  I don’t recycle cooking oil, I buy fresh vegetables, I bake much more than I fry and I get regular exercise.  Despite this effort, I still struggle with my weight and battle my predisposed genetics.

Thank goodness the rest of the people in my household are healthy and health conscious.  “Soul food” can be healthy.  We have to make better choices in our cooking and eating habits.

Watch a preview of the documentary below.

Byron Hurt Byron Hurt is an anti-sexist activist who provides cutting-edge male leadership, expert analysis, keynote addresses, and workshop facilitation in the field of sexual and gender violence prevention and education.  You can learn more about him by visiting his web site at www.bhurt.com.

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You can also read John’s story in the Latin Links section of Black Men In America.com. Click here to go there now.

New Orleans “Best” Gumbo

Soul food takes on a spicy accent in gumbo packed with flavor, spice and plenty of shrimp and oysters.
Prep Time:1 hr
Start to Finish:3 hr 10 min
Makes:15 servings

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11 Ratings
6 Reviews
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6 cups water
1 package (1 pound) chicken gizzards, chopped
2 tablespoons seasoned salt
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash of ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 large green bell pepper, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds uncooked turkey or beef sausage links, cut into 1-inch slices
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
4 cups hot water
1 bag (1 pound) frozen chopped okra
1 package (6 ounces) frozen ready-to-serve crabmeat, thawed and drained
2 pounds fresh uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can (8 ounces) regular or smoked oysters, drained
Hot cooked rice, if desired

1. In 8-quart pot, heat 6 cups water to boiling. Add gizzards, seasoned salt, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in sausage. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in heavy 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over high heat. Stir in flour; reduce heat to medium. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is dark brown; remove from heat.
3. Stir flour mixture into gizzard mixture until blended. Stir in 4 cups hot water, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Stir in okra, crabmeat, shrimp and oysters. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered 5 to 10 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm. Serve over rice.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): No changes.
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