Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
Ed Sargent is the do-it-yourself force behind Weekend Food Projects. His blog is dedicated to food, food issues, and food photography with a strong focus on organic, local ingredients and his experimental trials in the kitchen. Today, Ed celebrates Imani, or faith.
Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
A lot of health issues in our community revolve around the food we eat. Almost daily we hear in the media about young Black people dying from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. The cheap fast food, the lack of fresh vegetables in many of our stores, and the high salt and sugar content in many of the packaged, heavily processed foods that we eat contributes greatly to this problem. The health crisis is a major part of our struggle as a people. I do have faith in our communities ability to heal itself spiritually, physically, and fiscally. A partial solution to our health crisis is to educate ourselves, eat local and cook more ourselves.
Imani is not only believing that we can create a better world, but that we also work towards creating that better world for ourselves.
Educate yourself: My first suggestion is to watch the documentary, Food Inc. Food produced in this way is not be good for us and it made me stop eating meat from any of the major fast food
Eat Local (Ujamaa): Another easy way to contribute is to simply buy your food locally. Support your local farmers, support your local bakers and support your local butchers. I am blessed by living in Seattle, WA where I have easy access to local farmers selling fresh produce and meats. Even if you are not that lucky, one can participate in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and shop in Farmer’s Markets. Even in so-called “food deserts” like Harlem, there are Farmer’s Markets available with fresh vegetables and locally produced food. For help finding sources of local food, please visit, Local Harvest.Long term, our community should work towards creating more farmers, bakers, butchers, chefs, nutritionists and food entrepreneurs to support the needs of our community and we should spend our dollars with them.
Cook more ourselves (Kujichagulia): Another easy way to contribute to this better world is to simply make the food yourself. Let’s start with a kitchen staple, bread. All it takes to make bread is flour, water, yeast, salt and time. Bread is also something that can be easily produced at home and you know exactly what is in it. Look at the labels of most commercially made bread and ask yourself these questions. What is high fructose corn syrup and xanthan gum? Why is it in that bread? Should I eat stuff I can’t pronounce? To paraphrase the food writer, Michael Pollan, you can eat anything that you want, just make it yourself. You want ice cream? Make it yourself. You want burgers? Buy your beef either directly from your local farmer or from butchers who work with local farmers and grind it yourself. It will taste better and you will have fewer worries about e-coli. Feeling ambitious? Start your own container garden? Nothing is better than fresh vegetables from your garden.
I am not suggesting that we never eat at fast food places, never eat bread from supermarket or stop drinking Coke. What I am calling is for us to be more conscious about what we eat and to think about how the food we eat affects our health and well-being. I have faith that we can. To get us started, here is a easy recipe for No-knead bread.
No Knead Bread (Modified from Jim Lahey’s no knead method)
300 grams all purpose flour
100 grams whole wheat flour
300 grams water (105 to 110 degrees)
8 grams kosher salt
2 grams yeast
Special equipment: Cast iron dutch oven with a lid
In a medium sized bowl, mix the flours, salt, yeast together until blended. Slowly add water to the flour mixture and mix until the flour and water are fully incorporated. This should take two-three minutes. Place the dough in a well oiled and sealed plastic container and leave it on the counter for 12-18 hours. After 12-18 hours, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a ball. This is going to be a very wet and sticky dough, so use wet hands to shape the dough. Then, place the dough on a floured, (non terry cloth) kitchen towel and cover with another floured towel for two hours. At the 1 1/2 hour mark, place your cast iron dutch oven into the oven and set it at 450 degrees. At the two hour mark, take the dutch oven out of the oven, place the dough inside and bake covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the lid off and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy.