The Spirit of Soul Food: Race, Faith, & Food Justice

Soul food has played a critical role in preserving Black history, community, and culinary genius. It is also a response to–and marker of–centuries of food injustice. Given the harm that our food production system inflicts upon Black communities, what should soul food look like today?

Dr. Christopher Carter’s answer to that question merges a history of Black American foodways–an expression of identity and a way of maintaining connection to ancestors and ancestral homelands–with a Christian ethical response to food injustice. He reveals how racism and colonialism have long steered the development of US food policy. The very food we grow, distribute, and eat disproportionately harms Black people specifically and people of color among the global poor in general. Dr. Carter reflects on how communities can eat in a way that reflects their cultural identities while remaining true to the principles of compassion, love, justice, and solidarity with the marginalized.


An ordained clergy member whose family history is intertwined with Christianity, food justice, and food sovereignty, Dr. Carter explores how his cultural identity is reflected by his diet and reimagines what soul food can be for those who want to eat in a way that is consistent with their theological and social values. The book is an invitation to both religious and secular audiences to actualize a "beloved community" of love and justice and proposes three fundamental principles of eating practices: seeking justice for food workers, caring for the earth, and "soulfull" eating (Black veganism as practicing compassion for oneself and community).  Given the structural racism within the US food system, decolonization of diet offers a way to reclaim culinary history, agricultural practices, and human dignity for Black people.

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“I've never read a book like this before! Part history book, part cookbook, part call-to-action and resource for spiritual formation. The Spirit of Soul Food is suited for a variety of audiences ready for the timely challenge of inviting a deeper integration of our ethics, actions, and daily bread.”

—Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III,

   Pleasant Hope Baptist Church

“Carter’s excellent book breaks important new ground at the crucial nexus of race, religion, food, animals, and the environment. It is essential reading for anyone seeking to address this cutting-edge territory, which is crucial for the futures of human and more-than-human life.”

 

—David L. Clough

   University of Chester