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Soul Food and Short Memories

A brief history of African American’s soul food and it’s nutrition.

Image: Oreo enjoying some cat soul food

“Soul food” … Delicious fried okra and chicken… Cornbread, fried catfish, barbecue ribs…

The term ‘soul food’ wasn’t in my vernacular until a few weeks ago. It refers to food that is a family tradition for many African Americans. Unfortunately, soul food is often unhealthy.

Let’s face it, there are many problems in western culture, from food producers hiring crave-ability experts to make our food as addictive as possible, to lying in ads about the “nutrition” of food-like products. The list goes on and on. But what about soul food? What is the story behind it?

Apparently, as said in several interviews in this year’s Food Revolution Summit (hosted by John and Ocean Robbins), soul food dates back to the days when African Americans were forced to work as slaves on plantations. They were usually only given scraps of food – sometimes even rotting meat – and yet through their ingenuity they made it work to stay alive. A lot of the food could be fried over a fire, which would safely kill the germs for example.

It makes me feel an aching compassion for African Americans, past and present, who experience this systemic racism. Before being forced into ships and taken to America, the to-be African Americans had top-notch diets filled with a lot of vegetables, fruits and little meat, or dairy.

As dietary experts like Eric Adams say, it’s time for African Americans to go back to their roots in the sense that they should experience the vigour they deserve from healthy eating. I imagine it will be difficult, but if everyone can extend their memories back to the days of slavery and gruelling conditions that birthed modern soul food, everyone can help one another to choose a better future. And I’m sure we are already starting to do so.




Hi there,

Lauren Sims is an artist and author from Brisbane, Australia. She has recently become and author and will be releasing her first book in late 2022.

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