The Transformational Agenda Magazine 26th Edition

Love Us Some Greens

We African Americans do love us some greens, as we should. They were a staple of our diet during slavery. They grew prolifically while plantation owners considered them weeds. So, after weeding the fields, my beloved ancestors could just keep some or simply walk into the woods and help themselves, and guess what? Nobody cared. You could eat them to your heart’s content. Nobody thought you had stolen anything, so no punishment. They certainly weren’t a valued yam that could get you beaten badly.

Today, greens are cooked the same way slaves prepared them: a big pot filled to the brim and slow-braised, with some animal fat (or a bone holding tight to meat that the knife couldn’t free) added for flavor. Greens have amazingly few calories, so while they failed to provide much fuel for a slave’s demanding work, they do have tons of fiber. Loads of fiber will convince your body that you’re full. Thank goodness they’re high in nutrients, but I doubt we knew that during slavery. They were just a throw-away plant. 

During slavery, fruits and vegetables were all but nonexistent for slaves. Good cuts of meat, no way. Both types of pig ribs, spareribs and baby back ribs, which I envision to be a holiday delicacy during slavery, are laden in saturated fat, too, although not as much as those chitterlings (intestines). Animal fat, another throw-away food, was thrown in everything to provide flavor.

Today, our diets are too often too unhealthy. Today, we have access to fresh produce, good cuts of meat, fruits, vegetables, fresh dairy products, and grains—whole foods. Yet, many of us continue to eat the slave diet, just as our ancestors did, and we have supplemented it with highly processed foods, chips, candy and soda, hot dogs and hamburger (today’s high fat content meat), etc. This diet is contributing to amazingly high rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and obesity in our communities—the very highest levels of any group in any of the richest countries on planet Earth. Thus, African Americans have the shortest life span, and our morbidity (a fancy word for sickness and disease) is off the chart. Guess what medical experts think could help immensely, which we can control? Our diet. 

Maybe those soul food dinners could be modified to make African American doctors happy. Now don’t be like some once were with cigarettes, knowing better yet continuing the behavior, actually standing outside in the snow at every intermission, puffing away, trying to kill yourself. Be smarter than that. Do it for those you love; do it as a conscious act of self-love. You will feel better, your body will work better, and your mind will thank you. 

That grandchild spending the night with you does not require lots of bacon, and it’s not good for him or her no matter how much grease you sop up with those paper towels. Help children you know, and certainly those in your care, to fall in love with fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat, and grains and beans. Make their diet empowering, not disempowering. Let’s eliminate all that added sugar we’re feeding our kids; and take heed from all those healthy people who make fun of the fast-food menu, so just keep driving past the drive-thru. 

The Transformational Agenda Magazine 26th Edition

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