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The DO

Food from the soul: A history of African American culture and nutrition

By The DO Staff

12.16.22

Soul food is a phrase that commonly describes foods once enjoyed in the homelands of previously free Africans and adapted in the United States following Africans’ voyage to the U.S. on slave ships. Old and New World crops, European and Native American influences and African traditions have all contributed to soul food cuisine. Following their integration into Western culture, African foods were significantly modified. Many adaptations made by necessity during slavery to traditional African foods decreased their nutritional value and compromised their inherently nutritious properties, starting relatively unhealthy dietary patterns.