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Soul Food Junkies

4.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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(Mar 19, 2013)
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Editorial Reviews

Soul Food Junkies. Food traditions are hard to change, especially when they're passed on from generation to generation. In this PBS documentary, award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt shares his journey to learn more about the African American cuisine known as soul food. Baffled by his dad's reluctance to change his traditional soul food diet in the face of a health crisis, Hurt sets out to learn more about this rich culinary tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity. He discovers that the love affair that his dad and his community have with soul food is deep-rooted, complex, and in some tragic cases, deadly. Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as doctors, family members, and everyday people, Soul Food Junkies blends history, humor, and heartwarming stories to place this culinary tradition under the micro¬scope. Both the consequences and the benefits of soul food are carefully addressed. So too is the issue of low access to quality food in black communities, which makes it difficult for some black people to eat healthy. In the end, Hurt determines whether or not black people are addicted to this food tradition that has its origins in West Africa and the black south, yet is loved all over the world.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pbs (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: March 19, 2013
  • Run Time: 63 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00B1E6CLU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,416 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This show which aired on PBS is now (or will be next week) available on DVD. While the title sounds like one of Food Network's shows about where to find and eat the best fried chicken, blak-eyed peas, collard greens and ribs, it's really just the opposite.
Documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt grew up eating (and cooking with his mom and sister) "soul food" at home. He noted that his father was gaining a lot of weight and looking unhealthy. When his father died because of the unhealthy food he was eating, the younger Hurt set out to discover why black Americans were eating so much of it and where it all began. This 63-minute film gives a cultural history of food in the households of blacks (going back to the days of slavery and plantations). Hurt does visit some renowned soul food restaurants (but doesn't promote them) and interviews a number of "food historians" and "culinary historians". (Who knew such a designation existed???). The best-known interviewee is former comedian, now food activist, Dick Gregory. Hurt, himself, changed his diet and no longer eats red meat. He visits a man known as the "Hip-hop doctor" who explains that collard greens and fried chicken can be made in a healthier way.

I'd recommend this this DVD to those who - like Hurt - want to know where "soul food" started as well as those who love it but want to cut back. The DVD has no bonus features and this is one area where I wish PBS Home Video went an extra step. It would have been nice to include (either as bonus videos, or as an inserted pamphlet) some recipes (probably by the "hip-hop doctor) for healthier prep of the sol food staples. But, it's a start to know that this DVD will be available to watch and share - and should be in every public library's DVD collection.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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SOUL FOOD JUNKIES (Writ., Prod., Dir., Hosted, Narr. Byron Hurt, PBS 2012 documentary, 55 minutes) is a fine work by Byron Hurt, a young man who seemed to be looking for answers to his father Jackie's extreme obesity and untimely death. Young Byron ran smack into the heavenly pillar of steam from soul food--and decided to blame it.

I agree with that proposed by one of my eternal favorite comedians/activists Dick Gregory who features largely in this documentary, that this manner of eating and cooking is a type of racism made manifest. The argument goes like this: the black community has to cook the slops and even garbage of the rich white world. While I do not believe an entire documentary knocking the food itself ever makes any sense, I see the vital message because the black community cannot even find the opportunity to open grocery stores.

Hurt knows very well that the answer to the lack of health can be overeating or excessively unhealthy eating--he explores the origins of Southern "soul" food which is, of course, none other than "comfort" food. He gets a few things wrong, but his quest is lofty. He realizes quite early on that his father simply ate way too much of the wrong things. Hurt then began to worry that all of the black community eats this way for the obvious reasons: lack of proper access to good nutrition; lack of fresh produce and any way to produce it; the firm foot that always stands on the black neck.

This is a powerful 55 minutes. I loved Hurt throwing himself back into the middle of Southern hospitality which culminated in him eating some turkey neck and corn.
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Often times when viewing documentaries (Food Matters, Hungry For Change, Forks Over Knives) concerning the transition to healthier food choices, there is an "all or nothing" mentality that pervades. That mentality is a Raw Vegan or death attitude, which although I'm in complete accord with, tends to rub my carnivorous friends the wrong way. What Byron Hurt (Hip Hop Beyond Beats And Rhymes) does with "Soul Food Junkies" is allow people of all dietary backgrounds to go on a very informative journey without being offended. And, the documentary offers some practical changes one could make that should lead to a healthier lifestyle. Along with being very informative and personable, the doc is very entertaining. I'm becoming a big fan of this Cat.
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The filmmaker shares how his family and others are impacted by overindulgence of food prepared with love and lard (at a bare minimum). The film goes beyond a lesson of proper nutrition and exercise and dives unashamedly into the history and interpretations of Soul Food explaining why some refuse to let go of their eating habit.
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I give this a high rating because it can help open the eyes of many regarding the importance of analyzing your food intake. Diet literally means whether U have good health or bad and this dvd really brings that point home. I also liked the fact that it gives the history of these soul dishes. Like a class in session. Enjoy!
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I used this CD to encourage some high school students to take control of their health. We had a lively discussion after viewing it. I plan to give this video as a gift to my friends and family.
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