Scroll To Top

Error message

Brightcove API call failed: [ { "error_code" : "NOT_FOUND", "message" : "Resource does not exist." } ]

Natural Cookin’ for Black Folks

Natural Cookin’ for Black Folks

One of my best friends growing up, Angie, had a famous uncle, the actor and producer Bill Duke, who would book talent in the area whenever he was in town. They’d often meet at Angie’s house after shows. My favorite of the many visitors was Duke’s good friend, comedian Dick Gregory.

I didn’t realize the full weight of who Gregory was at the time, but knew he was a big deal, which was evident in the stories he would tell us about his friend Martin Luther King, Jr., and about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Gregory also introduced me to aspects of the movement that had never occurred to me (and still aren’t commonly known): environmentalism and the importance of a nutritious diet.

Gregory would rail about how white hippies talked about the environment as if they owned it, but Black folks often lived in areas of towns and cities where landfills and incinerators were more abundant.

“We should be the ones screaming about the environment,” he once said. His thoughts on the subject of environmental justice were remarkably prescient and would echo through the years in themes addressed by folks from Marvin Gaye (What’s Going On?) to Melissa Harris Perry (whose moving keynote at the 2017 United States Conference on AIDS explored expanding Blackness to encompass all “problematic bodies”).

Gregory was also adamant about the importance of eating a more natural diet, instead of overly processed foods. He even wrote a book on the subject, 1974’s Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ with Mother Nature. Written with his typical comedic flair, the cookbook includes what we would today call vegetarian, organic, or slow-foods recipes and offers cleansing fasts, weight loss diets, and natural substitutions for favorite cocktails.

Gregory passed away last year at 84, but his wisdom will continue to inform me, and many others, for decades to come.

Tags: Health, Culture

From our Sponsors