By: Byron Hurt
The food we eat is as critically important as the air we breathe. That is why I made the documentary film, Soul Food Junkies. It is time that we start to have honest conversations about our food, the rising obesity crisis, and the negative impacts on the health of our families. What better time to have this discussion than during the holiday season. In most communities across the country, regardless of race, class, or ethnicity, THE HOLIDAYS mean FOOD.
The discovery of links between our food and our health has been a long and painful journey for me. My father’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer motivated me to explore my own family’s tradition of eating soul food. One of the many factors leading to pancreatic cancer is a high fat, meat-based diet. My father’s diet consisted of both. I hope that this blog carnival sparks a firestorm of debate in homes and communities about how we can eat better and live longer, healthier lives.
The food that is killing us is not only found in our homes. Junk food — foods high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar with little to no nutritional value — can also be found in our children’s schools. And children obtain 35-50% of their calories in school. As a parent of a preschooler, my focus to create a healthy community environment has intensified. Education about the perils of poor nutrition is critical as we enter a time where our children are facing diseases historically experienced by middle-aged and elderly adults, like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
In my household, food was one of the ways my mother demonstrated her love for us, and loving my mother’s food was one of the ways we loved her back. It was a beautiful model and one I consider when I prepare meals for my wife and daughter. But after my father’s premature death, our whole family has learned to update our favorite family recipes, making them healthier, and ultimately, more loving.
Soul Food Junkies premieres on PBS on January 14, 2013
This blog was originally posted at MomRising.org