Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, candied yams, ham-dressed collards, cornbread and peach cobbler…even those of us who don’t eat meat or who typically count calories obsessively may find that we have some emotional attachment to these most unhealthy dishes. This cuisine has become an inextricable part of the African-American experience and far too many of our people have created or added to their health woes by indulging in it routinely.
Activist, writer and award-winning filmmaker (Beyond Beats and Rhymes) Byron Hurt is gearing up to release Soul Food Junkies, which examines our community’s relationship with what is usually thought to be Southern cooking. Among the interviewees are Sonia Sanchez, Dick Gregory and Marc Lamont Hill, who laments the fact that the government places warnings and restrictions on certain addictive and dangerous substances, yet the foods that are killing us aren’t as highly regulated: “The reality is, more people are hurting themselves with fried chicken than marijuana. More people are hurting themselves from high cholesterol than from alcohol.”
Hurt recently paid a visit to NPR’s Soundcheck to discuss the film, which is scheduled to be released next year. You can check out the film’s Facebook page and follow Hurt on Twitter for more information.
Clutch fam, what’s your soul food story? Did you grow up eating these foods often or were they saved for special occasions? Was there a Big Mama in your family like the matriarch of the 1997 film who could burn in the kitchen like nobody’s business? My grandmother-who was actually called Big Mama- had ‘sugar’ (diabetes) like the one in the movie, but wasn’t able to get around and cook much by the time I came around…which is much of the reason why my own mom made soul food a special treat, not a weekly ritual or daily menu option. How often do you eat soul food now? Can you cook it? Can we maintain this cultural tradition without allowing it to keep putting us in early graves? Speak!