Depending on what site you look at, there are a lot of numbers going around as to how many black people live in the Americas, on the continent of Africa and in other parts of the world as a result of the transatlantic slave trade. The estimate is said to be well over 300 million. Connecting the dots around culture, heritage and food is the Boston-based organization, Oldways.
Oldways, which began more than 25 years ago, is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional ingredients and eating patterns from around the world in order to improve public health and welfare. To help communicate this, they've developed five traditional diet pyramids: Mediterranean, Asian, Latin American, Vegetarian and Vegan, and African Heritage. With the Oldways African Heritage Diet Pyramid and its accompanying curriculum, A Taste of African Heritage, Oldways encourages everyone to celebrate African heritage foods and foodways during its annual African Heritage & Health Week set to begin on February 1. The weeklong celebration ends on February 7 with year-around partner and community engagement opportunities.
“I have had a long relationship with the Diaspora. It is truly my passion. All aspects of the African Diaspora culture,” says Sade Anderson, program manager and African Diaspora specialist for the organization. Anderson currently oversees national partnerships for the organization, a vital role in reaching out and engaging others in conversations about food and its origins.
Along with spreading awareness about African heritage foods, there is a focus on health and wellness as practiced through it’s a Taste of African Heritage cooking classes. Classes take place nationwide for six weeks at partner sites and expose participants to foods from the African Diaspora, their health benefits and connection to other cultures within the Diaspora, something that Anderson says many are still not aware of. “For me, it is always about exposure. This program really opens their eyes to the concept of the African Diaspora and who encompasses the African Diaspora,” she says.
Although classes take place for just six weeks, you can expand your knowledge by taking the free online African Heritage & Health CPE course which provides information and tools to individuals of African descent to help fight chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
You can enjoy a taste of the African Diaspora all year long by dining at an African Heritage restaurant around the country. From Ethiopian to Senegalese, Jamaican, Brazilian, soul food and more, be sure to check out Oldways’ Dine Around Town guide.
Finally, celebrate the week by sharing your photos, recipes and more on Oldways’ Facebook page.
For more information about Oldways, African Heritage & Health Week and Taste of African Heritage cooking classes, visit http://www.oldwayspt.org/programs/african-heritage-health.