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Black Food Matters: Vegan eco-chef Bryant Terry shares his recipe for food justice

Kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, black eyed peas, broccoli rabe.

These are foods many of our grandparents ate and grew in their gardens decades ago that are now enjoying a resurgence as people begin to embrace healthy, farm fresh meals.

Fast food alters the taste buds, said Bryant Terry, an award-winning chef, educator, author and TV personality. Terry is the author of several books including Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed. He is currently the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco.

More than two dozen people attended Terry’s talk Monday evening at Duke’s John Hope Franklin Center, organized by Left of Black host Mark Anthony Neal. Neal is also the director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship.

During his talk, Terry encouraged the audience be more attentive to food issues, to grow their own food and to connect with the food justice movement in their own communities.

“I want people to think about these issues in the context of their personal lives and community. It’s about structural issues, not just individual transformation,” said Terry who began his career as a grassroots activist railing against the industrialization of pre-packaged and processed food.

“I’m pretty sure I’m the only guest on the Martha Stewart Show who talked about food justice,” Terry said.

His philosophy on introducing people to the food justice movement is to “start with the visceral to ignite the cerebral and end with the political.”

“Heady intellectual ideas don’t resonate with everyone. For some, it’s a farm fresh meal, memories of cooking with grandparents, could be a conversation with a fast food worker,” he said.

He became politicized around food as a high school student listening to KRS-One’s “Beef,” a rap song about factory farming. And he also read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair on the horrors of the meat-packing industry.

As a college student attending NYU, Terry saw young children drinking soda and energy drinks in the morning before school. “This was their breakfast” he said, noting the link between academic performance, behavior and nutrition.

“The larger social justice movement would be remiss not to talk about the connection between healthcare issues and nutrition. Food justice and social justice are inextricably linked,” he said.

Neal raised the issue that some complain that fast food is much cheaper than healthy foods. Terry pointed to multinational corporations subsidized by the government.

“If the government supported young farmers and subsidized them, healthy food would also be cheap,” he said.

“Major companies market to kids as young as 2-years old,” he said. “They are spending more on marketing than on the product. It’s a form of psychic violence.”

When he started his ‘Be Heathy’ program, his young students didn’t even know where carrots came from.

“I wanted to raise their food I.Q. and to get them to think more critically about food. And I learned that when they prepared things, they ate it,” he said, realizing the connection between food, health and self-empowerment.

Making a meal from scratch, having a garden or a farm — these are things people in the community already know how to do, he said.

His web series, Urban Organic, explores the connections between food, health and technology. The first episode featured a tour of an Oakland, Calif. aquaponics farm. “You can do a lot with a little land,” he said.

“We need a holistic understanding around these issues and a sea change. We should be owning our own land, providing healthy, fresh food, employing people and beautifying the community.”

For more information about Terry, visit www.bryant-terry.com.

Collaborative To Advance Equity Through Research Agreement

Membership agreement from the Equity Through Research website:

The Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research is a voluntary affiliation of American colleges, universities, professional schools, seminaries, research programs, publishers, and public interest institutions committed to taking meaningful action to support and improve research about women and girls of color.

This Collaborative serves as a national model of substantive action, best practices, and sustained partnerships to advance equity through research about women and girls of color. Women of color will constitute more than half of all women in the United States by 2050, but are infrequently the central subjects of scholarly inquiry. This research deficit has meaningful consequences for the ways our institutions contribute to public discourse and policymaking. This Collaborative seeks to address that deficit.

The specific form of commitments from the undersigned institutions vary according to the unique mission, structure, and resources of each institution.

Together we recognize and affirm a shared commitment to generating new knowledge through rigorous scholarship, cultivation of a diverse academic pipeline, and sustained effort to build and implement a research agenda. Recognizing the imperative to act, members commit to the following:

1. Publicly acknowledging, via membership in this Collaborative, the critical need for increased research investigating women and girls of color and the value this research holds in advancing equity for women and girls of color.

2. New or continued support for specific actions on our campus or in our institution that contributes to meaningful research endeavors engaging and addressing women and girls of color. The specific form of our commitments will vary according to the unique mission, structure, and resources of each institution.

3. Conducting a review of the existing research efforts at our institutions and sharing the results of that self-study with members of the Collaborative in order to establish a landscape of existing scholarship, share best practices, and identify areas needing enhanced attention.

The Collaborative is being hosted by the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University in conjunction with the White House Council on Women and Girls. Photo credit: Blair Kelley, NCSU.

VIDEO: Formation(s): Black Women+Politics+Desire

March 2: “Ok Ladies, Now Let’s Get In Formation”

Tomorrow, a panel of female scholars will discuss gender roles in music and popular culture. “Formation(s): Black Women + Politics + Desire” will be held at 6:15 p.m.  Wednesday, March 2, in White Lecture Hall on Duke’s East Campus.

The event is free and open to the public.

For those unable to attend, the event will be streamed live at https://www.periscope.tv/w/1RDGlberWdgxL and live tweeted using the hashtag #DukeFormation.

Panelists are:

  • Yaba Blay, author, producer and Dan Blue Endowed Chair and visiting professor at North Carolina Central University
  • Joan Morgan, award-winning journalist and author of When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost
  • Rapsody, Grammy-Award winning rap artist
  • Eboni Marshall Turman, the director of Black Church Studies at the Duke Divinity School will moderate.

The History of Hip-Hop course is taught by Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of black popular culture in African and African American studies and producer 9th Wonder, an adjunct professor.

The event is sponsored by African and African American Studies, the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship (CADCE), and the Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity (DCORE).