Will You Tune in to Soul Food Junkies?

Byron Hurt’s documentary explores the relationship between Southern cooking and African-Americans' health. 

Posted: 01/14/2013 12:59 PM EST
Will You Tune in to Soul Food Junkies?

(Photo: Independent Television Service)

It’s not a secret that so many of us indulge in our love for fried chicken, candied yams and macaroni and cheese. But is that love for food having a hand in killing us?

Filmmaker Byron Hurt explores this question and the connection between food and the Black community in his new documentary, Soul Food Junkies, which airs on Monday, Jan. 14, at 10 p.m. ET on PBS. The film, which was prompted by the early death of his father, approaches soul food from a historical and cultural perspective, says The Los Angeles Times:

Hurt talked to doctors and professors and cooks. And he talked to people who love soul food – at a cafe, around a family table and at a tail-gating party with a big pot of corn, pig ears and turkey. He sought the opinions of people from the Nation of Islam, whose followers were urged by Elijah Muhammad to improve their diets decades ago.

He also attempts to trace the origins of soul food, which brings us back to slavery, writes the Austin Chronicle.

An economic matter, the slave owners introduced large amounts of carbohydrates, such as corn and rice, as sustenance for the horrors of the journey overseas. Once Africans were forced onto American plantations, they were given scraps, the worst cuts of meat, and the spoils of the field. And so began the tradition of such staple soul food items as cornbread and dishes such as chitlins. In essence, the food initially intended as a means of survival is now often considered a delicacy, the crème de la crème of old-fashioned good eats.

Hurt emphasizes that soul food is one of the ways Black folks bond with one another. But in the end, Hurt’s film reminds us that food is a great way to bond, but we have to be able to do it in a healthier way. 

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