The Card – Part 1: Soul Food

Many of us black people always joke about revoking a brother or sister’s “card” if the individual chooses to disengage themselves from historically black actions or behaviors. We box each other in by not allowing one another to explore everything the world has to offer. This topic can cover many areas. I will attempt to cover a few of them. The first topic that I will address is “Soul Food.”

When and where soul food started is often up for debate. Some say it started prior to slavery. While most African Americans believe that it started as a result of slavery because our ancestors were forced to make meals from the “master’s” table scraps.

To ensure our survival, we learned how to turn “trash” into “delicious delights.” However, in the process we also created a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Each generation continues to inherit these deadly health conditions because we continue to feed our children the same food that slaves had to eat. We are no longer slaves. Our menus should reflect that. I love my grandmother and great-grandmother but lard and salt pork aren’t the best choices for health. Sure, they make the food taste good, but is it worth the risk? Now I am not saying let’s get rid of soul food. But what I am saying is that we should not risk our health and our children’s health simply for the sake of “keepin’ it real”. Here are a couple of statistics to keep in mind:

  • Ebony magazine and many medical sources list heart disease at the #1 killer of African Americans. African Americans have a 30% greater chance of dying from heart disease than Caucasian Americans.
  • These heart diseases largely consist of heart attacks and strokes.
  • 3.2 million African Americans have diabetes and 33% do not know it. That is over 1 million people. (Hudson Valley Press)

Soul food is not the only contributor to these poor health statistics. Exercise and health education are also needed to help improve these dismal numbers.

Here are five soul food tips that can help maintain flavor, but decrease the health hazard.

  • Use smoked turkey instead of salt pork
  • Use butter instead of lard
  • Use low-fat dairy products
  • Cook tilapia or perch instead of catfish. Baking or broiling them is even better.
  • Use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned.

Search “healthy soul food” on any search engine.  We must do better.

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