Independent Lens: Soul Food Junkies

About This Episode


Filmmaker Byron Hurt grew up eating lots of soul food; delicious but fatty foods right out of the black southern tradition. His parents are from a small southern town in Georgia where soul food, a tradition passed down from generation to generation, is both beloved and a source of pride. Depending on how the food is prepared, it can be good for you but in most cases, it can lead to obesity and other health issues. Hurt's own father was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, a virulent disease that disproportionately affects black people. He died three years later at the young age of 63.

In Soul Food Junkies, Hurt sets out on a historical and culinary journey to learn more about the soul food tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity. Through candid interviews, the film puts this culinary tradition under the microscope to examine both its positive and negative consequences. He also explores the socioeconomic conditions in predominantly black neighborhoods, where it can be difficult to find healthy options, and meets some pioneers in the emerging food justice movement who are challenging the food industry, supporting local farmers' markets, and cooking healthier versions of traditional soul food.