African Heritage and Health Week features food traditions

African Heritage and Health Week features food traditions

As Black History Month begins, African Heritage & Health Week focuses on food traditions from Africa which have enriched the world.  Championed by the nonprofit group Oldways, which educates on heritage-based diets from many world cultures, traditional African dishes and ingredients are highlighted, such as the use of millet, peanut stews, yucca root, and leafy greens.  While anyone can benefit from this cuisine, African Americans suffer disproportionately from health issues like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease which can be mitigated by a traditional diet.

Oldways offers health studies, recipes, and food preparation guides on their website.  The Campus Library offers many valuable, vetted resources as well.  Several of our databases focus on African American issues, such as African-American History Online or Black Thought and Culture are particularly valuable, for topics across the spectrum (try searches in these like ‘cuisine’, ‘food’, or even ‘cookbook’).  These include articles with subject matter ranging from ‘Soul Food’ to ‘Slavery’s Impact on African-American Cuisine.’ Searches in our general, multidisciplinary databases yield great information as well.

Traditional African foods, Adobe Stock #243483994. Licensed for educational use.

There are also a wealth of books available at the Campus Library. Academic books and cookbooks (and some that blur the line) include Every Nation Has Its Dish: Black Bodies and Black Food in Twentieth-Century America by Jennifer Jensen Wallach, Food in Time and Place: The American Historical Association Companion to Food History by Paul Freedman, Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool Cookbook: The Global Migration of African Cuisine by Diane M. Spivey, Cooking the West African Way by Bertha Vining Montgomery, Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry, and Mango & Mint: Arabian, Indian, and North African Inspired Vegan Cuisine by Nicky Garratt.

Broader works on health generally include titles like Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness by Michelle A. Gourdine or Building Health Coalitions in the Black Community by Ronald L. Braithwaite.

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