64 Black Food Experts To Know & Learn From — Nutritionists, Chefs & More
Food can be a form of comfort, solace, fuel, and a connection to one's family and culture. And yes, food should be included in the conversation about racial inequality. In fact, the two are deeply intertwined.
It's imperative to acknowledge how structural racism has made access to healthy food sources a struggle for Black communities. It's also important to learn from and celebrate Black voices in the food world, so mbg rounded up an ever-growing list of men and women to know and follow.
Structural racism and food insecurity.
A study published in 2018 examines the impacts of structural racism on food insecurity. In it, researchers define structural racism as "the totality of ways in which societies foster racial discrimination, via mutually reinforcing inequitable systems." These systems include housing, employment, earnings, media, health care, criminal justice, and more.
The social and economic advantages white people have because of those long-standing systems drive higher rates of food insecurity among racial and ethnic groups, the study explains.
Food insecurity has been followed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for more than 20 years. While there have been fluctuations during those years, "one trend that has continued to persist is the gap in the prevalence of food insecurity between people of color and whites," they write.
This is the USDA's most recent data on food insecurity (2018):
- Total number: 84,975
- Very low food security: 3.2%
- Total number: 16,613
- Very low food security: 9.1%
Because these disparities have continued for more than a decade, the researchers say it's important to think beyond race and ethnicity alone and start considering the factors that affect people of color differently than white people—aka structural racism. Food insecurity is just one of the ways racism is a public health issue.
More resources to understand these issues:
- Read Addressing the Root Causes of Food Insecurity in the U.S.—Disparities and Discrimination by Sabea Evans.
- Read Structural Racialization and Food Insecurity in the United States written by Elsadig Elsheikh and Nadia Barhoum.
- Read Getting at the Roots of Food Insecurity in America on Children's Health Watch.
- Watch mbg documentary and video on LaRayia Gaston, founder and executive director of Lunch On Me.
This list is nonexhaustive, but here are a few nutritionists, chefs, and bloggers to know and learn from:
- Maya Feller, M.S., R.D. (@mayafellerrd): A registered dietitian passionate about educating people on the role food can play in chronic disease prevention. She is the author of Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook and helps mbg out with so many of our nutrition-focused articles.
- Aja Gyimah, MHSc, RD (@compete.nutrition): A registered dietitian with a special interest in sports nutrition and chronic disease prevention.
- Jessica Wilson, M.S., R.D. (@jessicawilson.msrd): A registered dietitian, consultant, and activist. Her Instagram serves up thought-provoking information to help people think critically about their weight and race biases.
- Wendy Lopez, M.S., RDN, and Jessica Jones, M.S., R.D., CDN (@foodheaven): Lopez and Jones are best friends and registered dietitians who co-run the Food Heaven blog, cohost the Food Heaven podcast, and coauthored 28-Day Plant-Powered Health Reboot. Their IG provides food images, recipes, as well as nutrition tips.
- Veronica Garnett, M.S., R.D. (@veronicathedietitian): A fat-positive registered dietitian and culinary expert. Her website describes her work as "culturally sensitive, weight-inclusive, and grounded in social justice." She founded Black Adventuristas, which inspires Black women to embark on new adventures.
- Ayana Habtemariam MSW, RDN (@thetrillrd): A nutrition therapist who specializes in anti-dieting and disordered eating. Focusing exclusively on weight loss, she explains on her website, can exacerbate mental health issues and lead to increased rates of chronic illness—particularly in communities of color. She helps her clients (and her followers) learn to love their bodies as they are.
- Reclaiming Our Plate (@reclaimingourplate): A collective of Black dietitians cofounded by Habtemariam and Garnett. Founding members of the collective include @thecurvydietitian, @et.the.rd, @encouragingdietitian, and @missceoh.
- Brooklynne Palmer (@beetsbybrooke): A medical student based in Dallas, sharing nutrient-dense plant-based meals. Her posts detail what she's eating and how those foods affect the body and the mind. One mission of Beets by Brooke is to explore the overlap of race, culture, and food, she once wrote.
- Diversify Dietetics (@diversifydietetics): An organization, founded by @deanna.rdn and @tamarameltonrdn, aimed at empowering young adults from underrepresented groups to become nutritionists or dietitians.
- Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics, and Agriculture (@_iamwandaorg): An organization founded by Tambra Raye Stevenson, MPH, that educates and empowers females of African descent to create a better agriculture and food system.
- Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN (@marisamoore): A registered dietitian, recipe developer, writer, and consultant. For three years, Moore worked at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), managing the nutrition worksite wellness program. Her recipes balance both comfort and health.
- Titilayo "Titi" Ayanwola, MPH, R.D., L.D. (@platefulofyum): A registered dietitian and founder of Plateful of Yum. Ayanwola also has a Master's in Public Health and believes in the power of food as medicine. She also believes in nourishing the body without sacrificing personal and cultural food preferences or tastes.
- Valerie Agyeman, R.D. (@flourishheights): A women's health dietitian and founder of Flourish Heights. Her mission is to educate women on nutrition and help them take charge of their own health and wellbeing.
Chefs and bloggers
- Sophia Roe (@sophia_roe): An NYC-based chef, who candidly talks about former traumas and life as a Black female chef. Her mission is to make wellness more inclusive and accessible. In her mbg podcast, Roe discusses how to cook in a more sustainable way.
- Kwame Onwuachi (@chefkwameonwuachi): A James Beard Award–winning executive chef. His Afro-Caribbean restaurant, Kith/Kin, is based in Washington, D.C. His memoir, Notes From a Young Black Chef, details Onwuachi's tumultuous childhood, the racism he experienced as a Black chef, and his dedication to food throughout.
- Jaylynn Little (@alittlefoodblog): A self-taught home-chef and food blogger who is seriously passionate about cooking and baking. She was inspired by the women in her family, including her mom and grandmother. She also shared a helpful resource for allies and how to take action after following these food blogs (below).
- Jocelyn Delk Adams (@grandbabycakes): A TV personality, cookbook author, and blogger. Grandbaby Cakes (the name of her blog and cookbook) were inspired by Adams's grandmother. Her Instagram is family-focused and full of Southern comfort food.
- Benjamina Ebuehi (@bakedbybenji): A London-based baker, cookbook author (The New Way To Cake), and recipe developer. She was a quarterfinalist on the Great British Bake-Off back in 2016. Ebuehi and her sister Bonita (@bonitaivieprints) cofounded The Sister Table, an inclusive event brand for women to regularly meet over meals.
- Bryant Terry (@bryantterry): A James Beard Award–winning chef and vegan cookbook author. Along with cooking, Terry is an activist fighting to create a fair and sustainable food system. He's also the head chef and public programming coordinator at the Museum of the African Diaspora.
- Tabitha Brown (@iamtabithabrown): An actress, speaker, and vegan foodie. Anyone looking for wisdom, humor, comfort, and inspiration should follow.
- Asha Dirshe (@dirshe_ayye): Before she was a chef, Dirshe was a special education teacher who saw firsthand how racial inequality limited access to food in the Boston Public School system. This experience led her to Mei Mei, a farm-focused, female-owned restaurant in Boston, where she has been a chef since 2018. "Being a queer black woman in the kitchen means constantly acknowledging how black bodies and labor have advanced—without due credit—global culinary tradition and history," she tells mindbodygreen. "My work aims to uplift others who are also working toward achieving food sovereignty and equity for black people around the world." Since working from home, Dirshe has been leading her team in mindfulness practices, like breathwork, stretching, and practicing gratitude.
- Douglass Williams (@douglasswilliams): Williams was voted Food & Wine's best new chef of 2020 and was nominated for a James Beard Award. He is the executive chef and owner of Mida, an Italian restaurant in Boston.
- Jerrelle Guy (@chocolateforbasil): Guy does just about everything when it comes to food: styling, photographing, recipe developing, and writing. Her cookbook Black Girl Baking was nominated for a James Beard Award. Her Instagram is full of gourmet-looking meals that you can make at home.
- Eric Adjepong, MPH (@chefericadjepong): A first-generation Ghanaian-American. He is a chef and public health nutritionist (and former finalist on Top Chef Season 16), who's passionate about sharing West African flavors with others. To get a taste of those flavors, sign up for his online cooking classes here.
- Black Food Bloggers (@blackfoodbloggers): Run by Jasmine Lukuku. The page is dedicated to regramming delicious dishes from various Black bloggers.
- Eden Hagos (@edenthefoodie): The founder of @blackfoodie.co. She started the media and events company after experiencing racism while eating out on her birthday, she tells mbg. "I made it my mission to create a safe space for Black Foodies and a platform that explores our experiences, foods, restaurants, and more," Hagos says.
- Vallery Lomas (@foodieinnewyork): The winner of The Great American Baking Show Season 3. She is a former lawyer, who now focuses fully on baking, cooking, and blogging. Her cookbook is coming out in 2021—to stay in the loop, sign up for her newsletter.
- Jocelyn Jackson (@justuskitchen): The founder and cook for JUSTUS Kitchen, as well as the co-founder of @peopleskitchencollective. According to the JUSTUS Kitchen website, Jackson is passionate about social justice, community, and singing before every meal.
- Hawa Hassan (@hawa_22): Hassan was born in Somalia and currently resides in Brooklyn. She continues to celebrate Somali flavors through her cooking and her hot sauce company Basbaas Sauce, of which she is the female CEO (aka shEO). She is also the coauthor of the cookbook In Bibi's Kitchen, which will be available in October 2020.
- Erika Council (@southernsouffle): When it comes to biscuits, Council knows best. Seriously, check out her Bomb Biscuit pop-ups in Georgia. She's also a food writer, photographer, cookbook contributor, and recipe developer. Council is a well-known speaker who champions African American cuisine and social justice.
- Ashlea Carver Adams (@allthehealthythings): A recipe developer, as well as a food and wellness blogger based in North Carolina. She emphasizes the importance of balance when it comes to healthy eating and makes sure to incorporate plenty of high-quality fruits, veggies, and fats into each dish.
- Rosalynn Daniels (@rosalynndaniels): A food and lifestyle content creator. Her website is a resource for food and drink recipes, entertainment tips, DIY hacks, and more. As a mom to two kids, she writes on Instagram, "a lot of my recipes are kid-friendly and kid-approved!"
- Brandi Crawford (@stay_snatched): A fitness foodie whose resources make it easy for hardworking, busy individuals to cook and eat healthy meals. "Snatched means looking good and feeling good," her website explains. Anyone following a keto diet or deciding what to make with their air fryer should check out her meal plans.
- Rahanna Bisseret Martinez (@rahanna.bisseret.martinez): A 16-year-old chef and former finalist on Top Chef Junior. She's already cooked in Michelin-starred and James Beard Award–winning restaurants and is calling on the food media to be more inclusive and representative of Black food experts. "I want to see more content for and about black people," she tells the L.A. Times.
- Charity Morgan (@chefcharitymorgan): A plant-based chef with a focus on nutrition and overall health. She's dedicated to helping her clients (including many NFL athletes) smoothly transition to animal-free diets.
- Shanika Graham-White (@orchidsnsweettea_): A self-taught cook and baker who takes traditional recipes and puts allergy-friendly spins on them. Her blog, Orchids and Sweet Tea, has a little Brooklyn flavor, a touch of Jamaican flare, and a whole lot of Southern charm, she tells mbg. Her mission is to help others develop a healthier lifestyle through food and overall wellness.
- Jessica Hylton Leckie (@jessicainthekitchen): The photographer, videographer, and vegan recipe developer behind the blog Jessica in the Kitchen. Before focusing on her blog full-time, she was a practicing attorney-at-law and owned a baking and catering business. "Cooking is how I express my #blackgirljoy," she writes in an IG post. "It's therapeutic, soothing, and I literally do a happy dance when I perfect a recipe."
- Jenné Claiborne (@sweetpotatosoul): A longtime food lover, according to her website, who spent her formative years playing in the kitchen with her Nana. Now, as a recipe developer and cookbook author, she shares her kitchen creativity and Southern roots with others—all while following a vegan diet.
- Michelle Braxton (@supperwithmichelle): Braxton started her food blog after sharing pictures of her meals on social media and seeing the response from friends and family. Her dishes are vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan, and there is no shortage of one of her favorite comfort foods: soup.
- Yemi Amu (@okofarms): The founder and director of Oko Farms. She runs several educational, nutritional, and gardening/farming programs for both kids and adults in New York City and Brooklyn. The mission of Oko Farms is to promote food security and the health of the planet through sustainable farming.
- Evi Aki (@evseats): A food and travel blogger based in L.A. who believes food is a means of connection. Aki is a first generation Nigerian-American. She authored the cookbook Flavors of Africa to share her love and appreciation for African food and recipes, she writes on Instagram post, and to encourage others to try it.
- Dominek Tubbs (@domnthecity): Content creator who helps her readers find the best restaurants in New York City. Since restaurants have been closed, she's also been posting recipes and Black-owned businesses to support, including these in Brooklyn.
- Nicole A. Taylor (@foodculturist): A producer, storyteller, and founder of NAT Media, a platform for other Black creatives in the food industry. She is the author of two cookbooks and her writing has been nominated for two James Beard Awards. Read this NY Times piece Taylor wrote on how Black chefs will celebrate Juneteenth differently this year. features Greg Collier, Subrina Collier, Edouardo Jordan, Jonathan (Jonny) Rhodes, and Danielle Bell.
- Jessica Lawson (@bigdeliciouslife): A self-taught recipe developer, cook, and baker. After friends starting reaching out for healthy eating tips during the pandemic, Lawson decided to start her blog. As a certified health coach and foodie, she's dedicated to incorporating high-quality ingredients into her meals.
- Anela Malik (@feedthemalik): A foodie and advocate whose goal, according to her website, is to empower diverse voices in food and to always prioritize taste over trends.
- Mercedes Gosby (@profoodmaker): A self-taught cook and baker who founded Pro Food Maker, a platform to help Black food entrepreneurs start their own food businesses. "I wanted to create a space where Black people in the food and beverage industry could talk about how they've built successful businesses despite the challenges they face," Gosby tells mbg. "The focus is on their accomplishments, not the struggle."
- Omar Tate (@honeysuckle_projects): A chef and the brains behind Honeysuckle, a pop-up dinner series in New York that celebrates and honors Black heritage.
- Kurt Evans (@kurtcooks): A chef and restaurateur who founded the End Mass Incarceration dinner series (@emi_dinner) in Philadelphia. Evans cooks and serves multi-course meals at EMI dinners, while also educating guests about the issue of mass incarceration.
Calls to action
- If purchasing any books or cookbooks mentioned, buy from a local Black-owned bookstore.
- Sign the petition to Insist that the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics publicly support Black Lives Matter.
- Next time you eat out, find Black-owned restaurants near you (@eatokratheapp is a great source).
- For those who have the means, donate to any of the organizations mentioned.
- Read this guide from Gosby at Pro Food Maker to learn how to support Black-owned restaurants and food businesses long-term.
This list is nonexhaustive, and I will be updating it often. Please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any recommendations.
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