In Brooklyn, the movement for healthier communities started with a few grassroots organizations, and here at Restoration it started with the Partnership for a Healthier Brooklyn. To continue building the mass movement for healthy living, during the month of February and specifically on February 22nd, Restoration, in collaboration with over 30 Brooklyn member organizations of the Partnership for a Healthier Brooklyn, will screen the award winning documentary, ‘Soul Food Junkies’ by Byron Hurt.
The documentary was first screened at Restoration in mid-November, and was unforgettable as it was successful because it traced the history and love for soul food. It sparked an interesting discussion among community members, some aware of the obesity issues engulfing communities of color and some struggling with them.
I joined Restoration out of interest for food issues, and was thrilled to attend the first screening. The impact of soul food was shocking, but throughout the documentary I kept thinking that there’s ‘soul food’ in every culture. As a Ukrainian immigrant, I can tell you that the Ukrainian diet revolves around mayonnaise, sour cream, butter and pork fat, and a lot of Ukrainians, including my family members, struggle with type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. I can also say that aspects of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine are also detrimental to health.
The most disturbing fact of the obesity epidemic in the US is not food deserts, quality of food available to those struggling with obesity, cost of healthy food options or even lack of government support and funding. The most saddening part is that, at the fundamental level, food is the very object that gave us power, illness resiliency and nourished our bodies and souls, yet it is what’s suddenly depressing our minds and slowly, quietly killing us. The food system didn’t revolutionize into a high fructose, high sodium machine over night, it took years to perfect a can of soda with 39 grams of sugar, years to research pleasure triggers and disarm us in front of a chocolate swirl sundae, and years to design the ‘value’ notions to make more and bigger appealing. But because research, development, and progress is a slow and gradual process, it went largely unnoticed, and today 1 out of 3 Americans live with obesity and have forgotten how to live without it. Although cultural diets are an issue, communities of color are disproportionately more affected by obesity and chronic illnesses. This is the reason ‘Soul Food Junkies’ is pertinent and the reason Restoration chose to ignite a deeper wider discussion around this documentary.
On February 22nd, more than 15 locations will screen the documentary, lead a panel discussion about how to make food our source of life and happiness again, and numerous participants will leave that day with a distinct memory, and continue the discussion the next day with their family, and the gradual movement towards healthier communities will proceed.
For a list of participating organizations please visit: http://www.restorationplaza.org/calendar/soulfoodnews2013