Food has a prominent place among all cultures. The same is true for all of the various cultural elements that are found in America. When speaking in particular of African-American culture, soul food as it is popularly referred to is consumed by many. Although soul food has its origins from enslaved Africans creating a meal from the table scraps, it is now regarded as part of American style delicacy. While we all enjoy these foods, it is important to realize what they are doing to us.
Soul Food Junkies is the latest documentary by director Byron Hurt. Some may be familiar with Hurt from his last work Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. It is a look at the diet of African-Americans through the lense of the Hurt’s father and his affinity for soul food. Exploring the Southern origins of this type of food, Hurt ventures to different states to shed light on the culture and history that shape the diet of so many people today.
Not relegating itself solely to dealing with the dining habits of African-Americans, Soul Food Junkies also tackles the overall problem with the food supply. The various health experts and advocates in the documentary reiterated the downsides of industrialized food. The expansion of cheap, fast food available to Americans was also touched upon. Dr. Aletha Maybank and Dick Gregory who make appearances in the documentary remind the audience of the issues the American food system present to us all. From the 1960’s to now, the changes in the process of how our food gets to our plate has an effect that only complicates matters for those wishing to be healthy.
Traditional soul food is high in fat, salt, sugar, and grease. These foods we all know and love like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese taste great, but too much of it in concert with other processed foods can lead to problems like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These preventable illnesses do much damage in our community. This is something that can be counteracted with enough effort, and a lot of will to adjust.