Soul Food Junkies (2012)

On a quest to understand his father’s unwillingness to give up a high-fat, calorie-laden diet in the face of a life-threatening health crisis, filmmaker Byron Hurt puts soul food under the microscope. Through interviews with soul food cooks, historians and scholars, as well as doctors and family members, Hurt comes to appreciate that changing food habits and traditions rich in family history is easier said than done.

For many, leaving behind these foods can feel like a rejection of family and roots. Soul Food Junkies reveals how the American culinary tradition of “Southern” food began in West Africa, spread throughout the Americas during slavery and was coined “soul food” in the late 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement — and how fast food and processed food have replaced traditional home-cooked meals in many communities.

But change is in the air! The film follows dynamic individuals who are propelling a movement to “go back to the land” by creating sustainable eco-friendly gardens, advocating for healthier options in local supermarkets, supporting local farmers markets, avoiding highly processed fast food and cooking healthier versions of traditional soul food.

Blending historical fact with humor and heartwarming stories that encourage viewers to think about the complex issue of changing food habits and traditions, Soul Food Junkies shortens the cultural distance between African Americans who eat traditional foods from the South and their health care providers.

Constance Brown Riggs
Constance Brown Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, is president and owner of CBR Nutrition Enterprises — a multi-pronged company that focuses on providing complete medical nutrition therapy to patients.