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Food - Page 3


Black Owned Spice, Seasoning and Sauce Brands

The global spices and seasonings and sauces market is projected to reach a projected value of over $14.8 Billion by 2020.

Here are some Black owned spice, seasoning, and sauce brands that will add some flavor to your life.

Black Owned Spice, Seasoning and Sauce Brands

Cajun Nation Seasoning

Micah Specialty Foods

Grand Diamond Seasoning

Men Pa’w Hot Sauces

Uncle Keith’s Gourmet Foods

Chef Daryl’s Foods

Select Brands LLC

Creole Flame

Scott’s Barbecue Sauce

Ken Davis BBQ Sauce

The Got Damn Sauce

Keith Lorren Spices

Mama’s One Sauce


Akabanga Hot Chili Oil Sauce

Capitol City Mumbo Sauce

Black Owned Spice Seasoning Sauce

Lefty’s Spices

Rileys Ribz

Joe’s Gourmet Fish Fry

Coco Brown Sauces

Ball’s Cajun Foods


Brother Bru-Bru’s Hot Sauce

Trade Street Jam

The Spice Suite

Ma Robert’s Taste of Tanzania

Chilau Seafood and Pepper Sauce

-Tony O. Lawson

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Black Owned Chocolate Brands You Must Try

Although I wouldn’t say I have a sweet tooth, I definitely love chocolate. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to discover these Black owned chocolate brands.

Hopefully, there are a lot more out there. In the meantime, check these out and tell us which others should all know about.

Black Owned Chocolate Brands

Chocolate Therapy

Pure Chocolate by Jinji

Black Owned Chocolate

3 Some Chocolates

Black Owned Chocolate

’57 Chocolate

Philip Ashley Chocolates

Dapaah Chocolates

Black Owned Chocolate

Midunu Chocolates

Black Owned Chocolate

Chocolate Secrets & Wine Gardens

Cocoa Belle Chocolates

Magnolia Chocolatier


Tony O. Lawson

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Meet the Owner of Slutty Vegan, Atlanta’s Hottest Vegan Spot

What do you get when you mix the growing popularity of vegan food with brilliant marketing and a great product? A line of people, several blocks deep, outside your business on opening day. This is the “problem” that Atlanta’s newest vegan eatery, Slutty Vegan had when it opened on January 14th.

We reached out to owner Pinky Cole to find out more about her and her business.

Slutty Vegan
Slutty Vegan owner, Pinky Cole (credit: Ty Pleas)

What inspired you to start Slutty Vegan?

Slutty vegan was created summer of 2018 in my small two-bedroom apartment. I was lying in bed late in the evening and had a serious hankering for vegan junk food.

At the time, there was no place here in Atlanta at had what I needed. I figured it was time to satisfy that need. Boom! Slutty Vegan came to life.

Photo credit: Ty Pleas

What has been the most challenging and the most gratifying thing about owning a business thus far?

Since its creation, like all businesses, Slutty Vegan has run into its fair share of challenges. Most challenging, surprisingly, has been keeping up with the demand from the city.

Pinky and Uncle Snoop

Because of our sensational growth, we have had to learn how to grow at an exponential rate while making sure we have excellent customer service and every customer is satisfied.

Crazy lines on opening day (Credit:Westview Atlanta)

However great this difficulty, we appreciate and love the community support. Interestingly enough, that challenge has been one of the most gratifying aspects. Imagine me, a young single mom from Baltimore jump-starting the vegan movement here in Atlanta!

Tha crazy growth has been nothing short of inspiring and the pleasure I get knowing the culture and health shift I’m at the forefront of is so humbling. I am so thankful for the opportunity and pressure.

The Slutty Vegan crew

In the past 5 years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Having faith and striving to attain goals that previously, I would have been afraid would have failed. In the past 5 years, my prayer life has shifted my outlook, perspective, and approach to life. Prayer has removed said fear and I can step out of faith regardless of imminent outcome. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t shoot.”

What is one thing about you that may surprise most people?

I think it surprises people that I’m truly an HBCU ride or die regular or maybe not so regular girl.

I attended Clark Atlanta University where I pledged, pageanted, and excelled. Atlanta has truly adopted me, and most would even think I’m from here; sometimes it even feels like that.

#TBT Miss Clark Atlanta University

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

If I had to give any advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, it would be to write every idea and thought down and to stay consistent and persistent. Most small businesses take years to see a profit and the millennial generation is microwave and expects overnight success.

Opening day

Generally, this won’t happen, and successful businesses are grown from “long game thinking.” Understanding and planning for long term success and preparing yourself to be persistent on the journey there will make the difference.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In 5 years, I see Slutty vegan country-wide providing vegan experiences in communities where they would have otherwise never had that opportunity. We are here for the community.

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A Black-Led Food Co-op Grows in Detroit

Malik Yakini came to cooperative economics as a student at Eastern Michigan University in the mid-1970s when he started a food-buying club. “I wasn’t thinking of myself as a food activist,” he says, “I was thinking of myself as an activist in the black liberation movement.”He viewed controlling food retail and production as important aspects of black self-determination, echoing the sentiments of organizations like the Nation of Islam and Detroit’s Shrine of the Black Madonna Church that emphasized owning farmland and running food businesses. Healthy food was important to Yakini, but so was making sure “the majority of people had their needs met as opposed to a system that concentrates wealth in the hands of a few.”

Now, after years of teaching and serving as a principal in Detroit schools, helping lead the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) and starting D Town Farm on the city’s west side, Yakini and DBCFSN are planning a 34,000-square-foot food co-op, event space, and commercial kitchens in Detroit’s North End neighborhood. The project could serve as a proof-of-concept for the ability of co-ops to build wealth, create food security, and drive investment in underserved communities.

Some of the core members working on the Detroit People’s Food Co-op. (Denerio Watkins)

The project, which is called the Detroit Food Commons and contains the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, builds on a tradition of African-American business cooperatives that were championed by the likes of W.E.B. Dubois as tools for building economic and ultimately political power. Following slavery, African Americans formed co-ops for things like credit and farming to survive under a segregated and exploitative system. Unlike other businesses, co-ops are jointly owned enterprises, focused more on meeting collective needs than turning profits, although profit or “surplus” as it’s sometimes called is necessary to exist in a capitalist system. At the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, each owner will get one vote, creating equality between owners, at least in theory.

As well as delivering the benefits of a democratically-governed institution that sells healthy food, the Detroit co-op plans to create 20 to 40 jobs, provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs and stimulate other aspects of the local economy, like urban farms. It is part of a wave of similar projects in cities such as Flint, Michigan, and Dayton, Ohio, that have received support from charitable foundations. The Michigan Good Food Fund is helping this project, which is a partnership among Capital Impact Partners, the Fair Food Network, Michigan State’s Center for Regional Food Systems and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. This fund has invested over $12 million in food-based projects in the state, as well as providing technical assistance, and sees food co-ops as an especially effective way to build wealth in communities facing redlining and systematic disinvestment.“We prioritize our work with food cooperatives because we feel that the model allows for the creation of quality jobs and these jobs have low barriers to entry, especially within the food economy,” Olivia Rebanal from Capital Impact Partners said. “It creates employment opportunities for those that are most difficult to employ … We also see the cooperative model as a catalyst for community development. They empower leaders. They provide more equitable access to services like Malik’s project would do. They are more likely than non-cooperatives to recirculate local profits back into the community.”

The Detroit co-op would also employ black people in management positions—jobs that they have often been denied in Detroit grocery stores according to Yakini—helping build capacity for this kind of leadership.

Malik Yakini at the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm. (Brian Allnutt/CityLab)

However, food co-ops and similar businesses still have to contend with the same challenges faced by other African-American businesses to obtain financing. “The exclusion of certain groups from accessing credit is no mistake,” Rebanal says. Some have understandably questioned the ability of co-ops to reverse the growing wealth gap between black and Latinx households and white ones. Rebanal says she believes it will take a while to reverse this trend and the onus needs to be on lenders as well as communities to create change. But she thinks her organization can help by both providing investment and technical assistance. Cooperative ownership itself also helps with financing—the cost to join the Detroit co-op is $200, although there is a matching fund for a number of low-income people to buy-in with just $100.

Additionally, the Detroit Food Commons possesses what Jean Chorazyczewski, a program director for the Fair Food Network, terms an “ambitious vision” that makes it appealing to foundations looking to drive change and could help it succeed at a time when other co-ops are struggling. Today, many are based on a model that was established in the 60s and 70s in which co-ops found a competitive advantage offering healthy, organic food. During the last few years, large grocery stores have moved into the organic sector, offering competitive prices and cutting into co-op profits, causing some long-established enterprises to close. One pitfall the Detroit People’s Food Co-op wants to avoid is the practice of giving discounts to members at the register, something Yakini says, “(is) giving away profit before you know if the store is profitable.” Instead, member-owners will receive periodic discounts and an equity-share at the end of the year.To remain competitive, co-ops have had to re-evaluate how they attract customers. The Detroit Food Commons hopes to establish itself as a destination for “hyper-local” produce and offerings from local food businesses, as well as hosting events. It also plans to draw income from its commercial kitchens. The co-op’s position near a major freeway and directly on Woodward Avenue—a major road that connects downtown Detroit with the wealthy suburbs of Oakland County— might also help. It could benefit from the boom in Detroit’s downtown and Cass Corridor neighborhoods while also serving residents of the predominantly black areas of the city outside downtown.

Malik Yakini addressing a meeting for the Detroit People’s Food Co-op. (Denerio Watkins)

“One of the challenges we’re faced with is that the neighborhood is changing,” Yakini says. “And co-ops, no matter how thoughtful we are, help to spur gentrification. And so, we’re thinking about ways that we can circulate wealth within the existing community.” They’re also trying to make themselves more accessible to historical residents by rewriting some of the rules of the co-op playbook, offering what they call “clean conventional” products, which will make up 25 percent of the store. They’re coming up with their own standards for these more affordable foods that will exclude ingredients like BHT and artificial colors, while also accounting for other things like labor practices.

Outreach is also a top priority. Yakini has been in contact with a number of co-ops across the country including the Renaissance Community Co-op in Greensboro, North Carolina, which initially had trouble attracting shoppers because residents had become so accustomed to leaving the neighborhood to buy groceries. Those that Yakini spoke with at Renaissance and elsewhere also stressed the importance of hiring a competent general manager. “Food retail is not easy,” Rebanal says. “The margins are low, the waste is high, you need to turn volume. It does take an expert to be able to navigate towards success.”The terminology itself presents another obstacle. “I know that for some co-ops in primarily black communities, the word ‘co-op’ is even exclusive,” Rebanal says. For its part, the Detroit co-op is trying to recruit 1,000 members before a prospective late 2020 opening, which will help with both outreach and opening costs. So far, it has signed up 271 members.

Although connecting with black Detroiters is a priority, Yakini makes clear that the goal is to create a welcoming environment. “That’s kind of a delicate balance that we’re walking because we definitely believe in black self-determination and black leadership and this is black-led … And the white people who are working with us—I think for the most part—have an awareness of the racial dynamic and the need for black leadership, and are trying to function in a way that helps promote that. But we don’t want to frame it in such a way that everybody doesn’t feel welcome to shop there.”

After ten years of work, Yakini and the various co-op steering committees are still deep in the planning process for the store, doing things like “detail/retail” planning to project the income from various store departments, and deciding how much space to devote to each one. They’re also working on the building’s construction in partnership with the non-profit Develop Detroit—which is also building housing in conjunction with the project—and that work is all contingent on permitting and the often unpredictable machinations of city government.At the end of this grueling process, Yakini hopes to have created not only a community hub for food and education in Detroit, but a replicable model for communities elsewhere, that among other things “causes funders to be more thoughtful about how funding and finance is deployed in majority black urban areas.”

Rebanal believes this is already happening, noting a dozen other projects that have been inspired by Malik’s mentorship. Although the circumstances in Detroit are unique, this project is still expected to change the conversation around cooperative enterprise. “We think the model is aspirational,” Rebanal says, “and we see it happening in many other communities.”


Source: City Lab


We Dat’s Grew from a Food Truck to Multiple Locations and an NBA Partnership

Three years ago, We Dat’s founder, Greg Tillery started We Dat Food truck and began selling wings from the truck, outside nightclubs and by a car wash.

We Dat’s founder, Greg Tillery

Today, that food truck has grown into We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp and has two locations. Greg also has his own seasoning line and has just signed a partnership with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

He says he was inspired to start a food truck after watching “Food Truck Wars” on Food Network. After struggling initially, he eventually started to build a following online and offline.


we dat's
Greg with Gerald Bridges, Corporate Partnerships Exec for New Orleans Saints and Pelicans


He credits fellow New Orleans native, Supa Cent with bringing his business a lot of attention via an online shout out.

While the specific details of the deal are unclear, we can imagine it involves selling food to sports fans in New Orleans.

Contact info: 

1407 Canal St. New Orleans, LA  (504) 252-4927 and  4500 Old Gentilly Rd. New Orleans, LA (504) 605-995

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG@thebusyafrican)


The Mobile Good Food Market Brings Fresh Produce To Low-Income Neighborhoods

Urban areas are difficult for someone who wants to maintain a fresh diet. The main reason is money: fresh vegetables and fruits are expensive, because the produce has to be shipped and you end up paying for the delivery cost more than for the quality of the product itself.

With the Mobile Good Food Market, you can have your fresh veggies and greens without traveling. Thanks to a collaboration between FoodShare Toronto, the City of Toronto, and United Way Toronto, an old bus was converted into what is a mobile food market. Everything from broccoli and lettuce, to apples and onions or other fruits and vegetables are available when the bus comes to town, twice per week.

Mobile Good Food Market

The price isn’t that much lower, because they have to take care of the costs involved by the bus, but all in all, the idea behind such a conversion is easy to praise and be impressed by. You can find more details in the video below…


Source: Good Home Design


12 Black Owned Restaurants in Florida

When next you’re in town, check out these Black owned restaurants in Florida. Even if you don’t live there, spread the word to those that do. Let’s give these businesses our businesses. Also, leave a comment with any others you feel should be on the list!

Black Owned Restaurants in Florida

Chef Creole

Swirl Wine Bistro (Coconut Creek, FL)


Southern Spice (Hollywood, FL)

Black Owned Restaurants in Florida


Uber Wings (Miami, FL)

Black Owned Restaurants in Florida

KC Healthy Cooking (Miami, FL)

House of Mac (Miami, FL)

Black Owned Restaurants in Florida

Little Greenhouse Grill (Miami, FL)

Black Owned Restaurants in Florida

Soul Veg (Tallahassee, FL)

Awash Ethiopian Restaurant (Miami, FL)

Black Owned Restaurants in Florida

Chef Eddie’s ( Orlando, FL)

Nikki’s Place (Orlando, FL)

Black Owned Restaurants in Florida

Soul Food Bistro (Jacksonville, FL)


-Tony O. Lawson

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Fast Food Millionaire Ulysses Bridgeman could strike deal to buy Sports Illustrated

There is buzz that former NBA star Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman is closing in on a deal to buy Sports Illustrated from Meredith.

If a deal comes to pass, Bridgeman will have beaten out a group headed by Joshua Pollack that includes Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, motivational speaker Tony Robbins and Hollywood producer Peter Guber, who is a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors.

Ulysses Bridgeman
Ulysses Bridgeman Photo Credit: Andrew Hancock

The Pollack group was also trying to put together a package to buy Fortune and Money, which Meredith is seeking to divest before year’s end.

In his NBA career, Bridgeman embraced a role as “super sub” for the Milwaukee Bucks, eventually playing in 711 games, more than any player in franchise history.

But he credits his time as head of the National Basketball Players Association for giving him his business schooling.

Ulysses Bridgeman
BOSTON – 1983: Junior Bridgeman #2 of the Milwaukee Bucks (Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

In his post-playing days, Bridgeman started acquiring and operating Wendy’s and Chili’s franchises, which he sold for $400 million in 2016.

He is now the owner of Heartland Coca Cola Bottling Co., with distribution in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.

Bridgeman may be teaming up with an even deeper-pocketed partner in Canadian billionaire Larry Tanenbaum and his family’s Toronto-based investment arm, the Kilmer Group.

They recently purchased Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada from the Coca-Cola Co. Terms of that deal were not disclosed, but the Globe and Mail estimated it as an $800 million deal.

Tanenbuam, said to be worth C$1.5 billion, is huge in Toronto sports and media holdings. He’s chairman and part owner of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and played a big role in bringing the NBA’s Raptors to Toronto, where he is also a part owner. Kilmer owns the Scotiabank Arena, where both teams play. And to round out the roster, he’s involved in ownership of the soccer team Toronto FC.

Bridgeman did not return calls seeking comment. Kilmer Group is insisting its only deal with Bridgeman is the recent Coca-Cola agreement.

Meredith declined to comment.

Source: NY Post


Black Owned Vegan Businesses You Should Know

As more people associate eating vegan with health and fitness, more businesses catering to the consumer in search of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy. Here are a few Black owned vegan businesses that can cater to that need.

Black Owned Vegan Businesses

Azla Vegan (Los Angeles, CA)black owned vegan

Simply Wholesome (Los Angeles, CA)

NuVegan Cafe (Washington, D.C.)

Evolve Vegan Restaurant (Washington, D.C.)

Senbeb Cafe (Washington, D.C.)

Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar (Washington, D.C.)

​​Drop Squad Kitchen (Wilmington, DE)


Eden in Eden (Miami, FL)

Tassili’s Raw Reality (Atlanta)

Loving It Live (East Point, GA)

Majani Restaurant (Chicago, IL)

Deelish by Deedi (Baltimore, MD)

Land of Kush (Baltimore, MD)

​​Detroit Vegan Soul (Detroit, MI)

​​Simply Pure (Las Vegas, NV)

Blueberry Cafe Juice Bar & Grille (Newark, NJ)

Seasoned Vegan (New York, NY)

Greedi Vegan (Brooklyn, NY)

Two Vegan Sistas (Memphis, TN)

The Southern V (Nashville, TN)

Green Seed Vegan (Houston, TX)

Sunshine’s Deli (Houston, TX)


Plum Bistro (Seattle, WA)

222 Vegan Cuisine (London, UK)

Yummy Dishes (Mississauga, ON)

Stuff I Eat (Inglewood, CA)

First Batch Artisian Foods (Atlanta, GA)

Sweet Soulfood (New Orleans, LA)

Brown Sugar Baking Company (Seattle, WA)

Bam’s Vegan (Dallas, TX)

V-Eats (Dallas, TX)

Recipe Oak Cliff (Dallas, TX)

Vegan Vibrationz (Dallas, TX)

Soulgood (Dallas, TX)

Slutty Vegan (Atlanta, GA)



-Tony O. Lawson

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‘White People Food’ Is Creating An Unattainable Picture Of Health

Tanisha Gordon doesn’t see what white people love so much about cottage cheese. Or salads, especially when they’re topped with fussy ingredients like candied almonds, pickled carrots or Brussels slaw.

Gordon is a 37-year-old employee at an IT company in the Washington, D.C. area, and until recently, her diet was deeply saturated with fast food ? McDonald’s, Taco Bell, you name it. When her doctor diagnosed her last year with pre-diabetes and prescribed her a CPAP machine to help her sleep through the night, she began working with a nutritionist to clean up her diet. But the lifestyle change she sought would require more than cutting out Chicken McNuggets. Cutting out foods like this can be very hard. One way to enjoy foods like this is to cook them yourself and use a healthier method of cooking. One way that is healthy is air frying. Visit to find out more about the benefits.

As a black woman, Gordon battled the perception that most of today’s healthy food is “white people food.”

“Alot of the time, when you go to restaurants now, they have these extravagant salads with all these different ingredients in it, like little walnuts and pickled onions ? like the stuff Panera sells,” Gordon told HuffPost. “For me personally, that’s like a white person’s food. A lot of the mainstream stuff that’s advertised comes across as being for white people.”

Today’s Goop-lacquered definition of healthy eating has made it de rigueur to guzzle $9 bottles of cold-pressed kale juice or chug hydrogen-infused water. In this micro-bubble of fastidiousness, a healthy diet means more than consuming your daily dose of fruits and veggies. It means eating pudding made of chia seeds (yes, the same ones used to make Chia Pets) and sprinkling your açai bowl with goji berries, even if you have no idea what either of those things are.

There’s nothing wrong with being nutritionally ambitious, but we’ve cultivated a health food culture that’s unattainable for the multitudes who can neither afford nor identify with it.

“You’ve got the dominant culture in the USA being white culture,” black restaurateur Dr. Baruch Ben-Yehudah told HuffPost. “And that white culture has taken the power to define all things good as white, and all things white as good. So that definition of healthy eating is not an accurate depiction of eating healthy.”

Over the course of a year, Gordon shed 60 pounds and outgrew the need for a CPAP machine simply by making some changes to her diet. But food isn’t always the biggest obstacle to a healthy lifestyle. Cultural barriers can be just as powerful.

“For a person who needs to re-train their mind and think differently about healthy eating, that’s always gonna be their struggle; getting past, ‘This plate of food is for a white person,’” Gordon said.

Healthy food has historically been less accessible to black Americans in a number of ways. So, does eating healthy have to be equated with eating like white people? According to a new generation of chefs, nutritionists, academics and patients, the answer is no. Some foods found in America are giant and extravagantly unhealthy, but this may attract younger travellers to visit the country and try all these mouth-watering foods. Many au pairs visit the country every year and if you are interested in becoming an au pair visit Cultural Care Au Pair today!

Charmaine Jones, a Washington D.C.-based dietician who is black, penned a short paper earlier this year called “Do I Have To Eat Like White People?” that shared the dietary struggles of her clients, whom she describes as primarily low-income African-Americans on D.C. Medicaid.

The majority of her clients seek nutrition strategies to treat obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol, a set of challenges that are particularly prevalent in the black community. Gordon was one of her clients.

Jones describes “white people food” as salads, fruits, yogurts, cottage cheeses and lean meats ? the standard low-fat, heart-healthy foods promoted by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Every five years, a 14-member advisory board writes those guidelines, which dictate what the average American should eat to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The current board has only two black members. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services didn’t respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.


African-Americans are at a much higher risk for a number of genetic predispositions and health issues, many of which are strongly influenced by diet. The numbers speak volumes.

  • Black Americans face a significantly higher risk of diabetes than white Americans, particularly for Type 2 diabetes: The prevalence is 1.4-fold to 2.3-fold higher in African-Americans.
  • The prevalence of high blood pressure in African-Americans in the United States is among the highest in the world. That high blood pressure is often attributed to higher rates of obesity and diabetes in the black community, as well as a gene that potentially makes African-Americans more salt sensitive.
  • African-American adults are nearly 1.5 times as likely to be obese as white adults. While approximately 32.6 percent of whites are obese, the rate for African-Americans stands at 47.8 percent.

Jones’ clients say they didn’t find it easy to get help in the black community.

“I found it difficult to find a black nutritionist. [Jones] was the only one I found when I was looking,” Gordon said. “Part of the reason I picked [Jones] was because she had similarities to me. I felt as if she would understand my body type more and she would understand the culture I come from more.”

“Even after I met her, I asked her what made her become a nutritionist, and she said, growing up, she’d never seen a black person be a nutritionist. So that was something we definitely related on and ultimately why I picked her.”

That’s not to say the black community isn’t without its proponents for healthy eating. Former first lady Michelle Obama launched the “Let’s Move” campaign in 2010 to address the problem that one-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese. She sought to break down cultural and socioeconomic divides by cultivating partnerships with big business and championing sweeping legal changes that would affect both the rich and poor.

But Obama often met resistance, finding that food is an everyday comfort that many Americans aren’t willing to compromise on.

EMPICS ENTERTAINMENT – Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks on behalf of Let’s Move in London.

Jones says she runs into this problem with many of her clients.

“It’s very frustrating,” she told HuffPost. “My clients feel pressure that they have to change the way they eat. They have to start incorporating foods that are not common to them. So any time that happens, there’s a resistance against the pressure.”

Natalie Webb, another registered dietician and nutritionist in the D.C. area who is also black, told HuffPost that her clients share that same frustration.

“My clients absolutely associate healthy eating with eating like white folk,” Webb said. “I think it stems from what people see in marketing and what they associate healthful eating with, and it often doesn’t include foods they’re familiar with.”

“When you change folks’ food ? especially people of color ? it’s like you’re asking them to change who they are,” Webb said. “That’s why it’s so important as a dietician to start where folks are and introduce foods that are going to be familiar but maybe in a little different way.”

Psyche Williams-Forson, associate professor and chair of American Studies at the University of Maryland, powerfully described how people react to interventions in their diet.

“When you go into a person’s culture and you say, ‘You can’t eat this,’ or ‘You can’t do that,’ it’s just like going into your house and moving your furniture. You’re going to feel violated, you’re going to feel invaded. It makes people feel like their cultural sustainability has been compromised.”

“I try to encourage people to remember that food is part of the constellation of material objects that we deal with every day. And every time you have a material possession that’s been taken away from you, you’re going to be very protective.”

Few, if any, cuisines are more firmly attached to African-American culture than soul food, which took on an especially political meaning in the 1960s.

Williams-Forson explained that when writer Amiri Baraka coined the term soul food in the ’60s, he was very specifically responding to a criticism that the African-American community didn’t have its own culture. “Baraka chronicled a number of foods that at the time were heavily eaten by people in the South, everything from ham to sweet potato pie and sweet tea,” she said. “The actual label of soul food became a political term.”

Cultural historian Jessica B. Harris has echoed that argument, writing that in the 1960s, “soul food was as much an affirmation as a diet. Eating neckbones and chitterlings, turnip greens and fried chicken became a political statement for many.”

In short, soul food was more about blackness than it was about a specific list of ingredients,” author Adrian Miller wrote for the website First We Feast.

Ben-Yehudah adds even more context: “Soul food is an experience in culture, it’s an experience in connecting with not only the people around you today, but connecting with the souls and the spirits of those that came before us that had created an identity for the food we were consuming,” he told HuffPost. “It not only provided nourishment but also allowed us to have a good experience. The soul food was a comfort food. It comforted us in times of difficulty.”


“The thing that bothers me about eating healthy is that in the media, people appropriate different ways of eating to different people,” Bright told HuffPost. “And so I don’t necessarily feel like black people eat as unhealthily as people would assume that we do. If you think about Italian food, which I love, it’s just as fatty [as soul food], but it doesn’t have that same reputation.”

She points out that the origins of Southern food took root at a time when it was necessary to cook with less-than-ideal ingredients.

“Some people think all black people eat is chicken and collard greens, and that’s not necessarily true. However, out of utility and necessity, we ate a lot of that down South back in the day because that’s all that was available. It’s not like we didn’t know what carrots or Brussels sprouts were.”

“Stereotyping is extremely frustrating. We all have to find an approach to food that still respects and honors our culture. We can still respect our ancestors for how they had to eat out of utility. Now, I have a lot more choices than they did. I shop at Whole Foods, I can go to Trader Joe’s.”

It’s especially evident that these diet stereotypes don’t always apply when talking to someone like Novella Bridges.

Bridges is a 45-year-old nuclear chemist who lives in the D.C. area. She started seeing Jones in 2017 to treat high blood pressure that suddenly arose after both of her parents passed away. Unlike many of Jones’ clients, Bridge pays out of pocket for the nutritionist’s services. But more significantly, she has been eating healthfully her whole life.

“I was raised by a nurse,” Bridges told HuffPost. “I didn’t have to make a lot of changes once I started seeing [Jones]. I was used to eating the food pyramid, so I was raised in such a way that we all were real big on fruits and vegetables. Most people from the inner city or from my culture didn’t eat a lot of those vegetables, but we did.”

Bridges sees herself as being from a distinctly different cultural cross-section than most of Jones’ clients, and she doesn’t feel closely connected to her roots through the foods she eats.

“I would never qualify what I eat as being from one culture or the other,” Bridges said. “No matter who you are, you need to eat fruits and vegetables every day. The bottom line is, we’ve gone to a processed way of eating, and African-Americans have claimed that as their type of food. [African-Americans] want to dismiss healthy eating as being for white people because it’d require a change. The truth is, when people are asked to change, change is difficult.”

“It has more to do with class than race,” she added.

Indeed, money is an inevitable issue when it comes to healthy eating.

Larry Perkins is a 40-year-old married father of two and a Walmart employee. His doctor sent him to Jones last year because he had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. He made the suggested dietary changes with aplomb, but not without increased financial strain as he attempted to provide healthy meals to his family.

“The most frustrating thing about being on a diet is not having the money to purchase the stuff that you need,” Perkins told HuffPost. “It’s hard to pay for it.”

“A lot of the healthier meals are not marketed toward us. When you go to Sweetgreen or Chopt, their menu is not geared toward low-income families. I can’t take my family there to eat healthy without breaking the bank.”

“I think it’s more of a class issue than a race issue, because in all actuality, you’ve got low-income people, black and white, trying to eat healthy, and the prices really aren’t geared toward any of us,” Perkins said. “We all want to eat healthy, but they just don’t market their menu for us.”

Jones, too, cites socioeconomic factors as one of the primary roadblocks preventing her clients from transitioning to a healthier diet, in part because her clients do the majority of their shopping in food deserts, which lack access to affordable, healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. In the United States, many low-income black neighborhoods can be considered food deserts.

Based on the United States Census Bureau’s Income and Poverty in the United States report from 2016, the average black household made $39,490, while the average white household made $61,858. While only 11 percent of white Americans lived below the poverty level, 22 percent of the black American population did.

There are, however, those who warn against using the term “food desert” as a blanket assessment of a community. Forson-Williams explains: “Every community has a means of sustaining itself culinarily. Not every community may have a supermarket, but supermarkets are not panaceas.”

Jones has to find innovative ways to help her clients make healthy choices when the options are sparse. “Most of my clients live in economically disadvantaged areas, and I have to become creative and learn what’s in those stores to direct my clients how to eat healthy from those places.”

Though Jones teaches her clients how to make healthier soul food at home, finding healthy restaurants that serve soul food is another issue entirely. HuffPost talked to two black restaurateurs who run vegan soul food restaurants, chef Gregory Brown and Ben-Yehudah, about their experiences.

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BARBARA HADDOCK TAYLOR/THE BALTIMORE SUN/TNS VIA GETTY IMAGES – Gregory Brown holds a plate from his restaurant in Baltimore on Aug. 26, 2016.

Brown is co-owner of Land of Kush, a vegan soul food restaurant that opened in downtown Baltimore in January 2011. His restaurant specializes in dishes like vegan BBQ rib tips, smoked collard greens, vegan mac and cheese, candied yams, vegan drumsticks, smoothies and fresh-pressed juices. He created his restaurant to provide patrons with a healthier version of soul food, which he says is inherently unhealthy. “It’s heavy, greasy, animal-product based … in its original form, it was really just scraps. Not the healthiest things. Black people just kind of made it taste good to make it palatable. That just became the cultural regularity.”

Ben-Yehudah is the owner of several restaurants, including vegan soul food restaurant Everlasting Life in the Capital Heights area outside of D.C. He agrees that soul food has been in need of a healthy makeover.

“Soul food is always greasier, it’s always saltier, and it’s always sweeter,” Ben-Yehudah said. “So those three elements that we don’t need more of in our diet are definitely found it more abundance in today’s soul food diet. I call it the Standard Black American diet, and it has created many of the health challenges that we have today because it’s void of nutrition, it’s full of toxins and it’s addictive.”

But now Brown sees a change in pop culture that’s influencing the black community to make some healthy changes.

“Just in the past three years or so, you just see an influx of popularity of veganism in pop culture. You see celebrities and athletes eating a plant-based diet. You hear about [NBA player] Kyrie Irving, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, you hear about a lot of different celebrities going vegan, so it makes people more willing to try it if they hear about their favorite celebrities doing it.”

But when Brown first opened his vegan soul food restaurant seven years ago, he saw some resistance from the black community.

“There’s always resistance,” Brown said, “because people are stuck with their culture, their background, their traditions. It’s a part of their living. It’s difficult to break people away from that, so people show a little resistance.”

Brown’s solution to changing customers’ mindsets is meeting them where they are and finding a path toward healthy eating that lies somewhere in the middle.

“That’s the basis of our restaurant: Meet people where they are,” Brown said. “Black people like barbecue and they like collard greens, they like yams. Let’s offer that to them but at the same time, let’s put quinoa on the menu, and let’s also have some fresh fruit smoothies. That’s how we integrate it into people’s mindset. What do you like to eat? Let me tell you how I can make that vegan.”

“What we want to provide is the full transition,” Ben-Yehudah echoed. “We want to meet the person who’s accustomed to the fried fast food, meet them there and be able to provide them a transition point so they can engage the vegan, healthier food lifestyle.”

And that healthier food lifestyle doesn’t have to look white.

“African-Americans might say, ‘I don’t want to eat like white people,’ said Ben-Yehuda. “However, at the end of the day, it’s not eating like white people, it’s actually eating the way we used to eat before we were brought to this country.”

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as white people food,” Williams-Forson said. “But I think there are foods that have been assigned to black people, and there are foods that have been more in line with white communities. And I think soul food is largely what gets short-handed as black people food, and things like veganism and vegetarianism get short-handed as white people food. Quite frankly, African-American people have been eating white people’s food since we arrived on this continent. But a lot of folks don’t know that because the food we tend to get associated with is almost always soul food.”

And though redefining one’s diet always comes with challenges, for Bright, the journey to a healthier lifestyle turned out to be much more personal than cultural.

“We can learn how to make the foods that we love in a [healthier] way and be comfortable with that. It’s not an insult to Grandma and Mommy and how they used to make these things,” said Bright, whose mother died of colon cancer and whose grandmother had heart issues.

“I want to honor them by learning how to do this whole thing a little bit better. A different diet could have maybe kept them here a little while longer. It’s important to me: I feel like if I can learn how to do this a little better, I’m still honoring them, and I think they’d be proud of me in the process. I think that’s the kind of shift we have to make collectively.”

By Kristen Aiken for Huffington Post