Slave Food: What’s on Your Menu?
By Dianne Anderson
Slave food, it’s what’s for dinner, and it’s as bad as it sounds.
The only difference is that today, it’s not just for the historically oppressed masses. Not to be confused with soul food, Slave Food has taken on a whole new definition from the food industry.
Today, it’s more broad scale. It’s for low-income communities, people of color, or anyone just hungry for cheap junk foods.
In urban areas considered food deserts, or food swamps, there’s not a lot of choices for good food. At best, it’s cheap fast food.
“We are a slave to our foods, it’s more about just our fast foods, and the foods we consume have such a low nutritional value, if any at all,” said Danette Batiste, organizer for the upcoming free event, “Slave Food: The Key to Unlocking Better Eating.”
On Saturday, August 17, the community is invited out to hear two top physicians in the community talk about life-saving food choices. The event will be held at the Kansas Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church Health Ministries Team at 4:00 p.m., located at 4491 Kansas Ave. Riverside.
The event features her husband known as “Healthy Heart Doc,” Dr. Columbus Batiste, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Chief of Cardiology at Kaiser Permanente Riverside and Moreno Valley Medical Centers. Also featured is a long-time colleague and professional associate, Dr. Eric Walsh, a medical director for urgent care.
Some of the things covered is how today’s standard diet of greasy hamburgers and supersized fried food is costing lives.
As a cardiologist, she said Dr. Baptiste regularly sees the fallout in the African American community from bad food choices.
“We lead in every single disease area as having the most cases, even though we are the smallest part of the population. Heart disease is no exception,” she said.
But anyone, even doctors or medical associates, can cave in to the occasional craving for french fries, or a piece of cake, but it’s the life long daily choices of wrong foods that add up to severe health problems.
Recently, one Harvard study shows increased early death for those that eat red meat, especially processed meats.
“Now that you know that, will you eat the steak at the same rate? Maybe you still eat it, but you’re aware that you don’t need to eat is as frequently,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t want to know.”
Once the community learns, she feels they will not easily forget how food impacts the body. Typically, the doctors’ presentations get good attendance, and the church seats 800 people.
Dr. Batiste gives six to ten presentations annually. He has presented at events nationwide from New York, Atlanta, Washington. D.C., and Northern California, along with churches in the Riverside area.
Both doctors are practicing physicians, and community outreach can be challenging through their workload. However, she said they both are dedicated to creating awareness about the urgency of health and diet.
Discussions will center on how slave food has evolved to look like the average American diet.
But the first goal is reaching the African American community because the community has taken the hardest hit for diet related diseases. She said it’s important to note that the standard American diet these days consists of nearly all slave food.
Other cultures, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, also have a lot of food on the menu that is not health-promoting. Food choices are not helping many communities of color maintain a vital lifestyle.
It’s also about location, and not having close access to grocery stores, or affordability. She said it’s often not just about eating better, rather how to feed the family for under $10.
“If you look at urban communities, we don’t have healthy choices, there’s food deserts, food swamps. We get saturated fat with a lot of fast food, which are very inexpensive,” she said.
While cultural foods don’t have to go away, the community needs to look at whether the ingredients are health promoting, or not.
For example, many studies show certain foods can become cancer-causing, such as foods fried in oil heated past its smoke point, like fried chicken, fish, or deep fried anything. Hotlinks and other packaged meats, lunchmeat, salt pork are often cured with nitrates, also linked to cancer. Collard greens are great, but throw in some ham hocks or other high fat meats clog the arteries.
“African Americans are dying every seven minutes from a disease that could be cured by changing their diet,” she said. “It is about changing the mindset, when people know they have an opportunity to do better.”
For more information, call 951-682-9810 or see www.slavefood.org