Jun 7 • 23M

EP 42: Red // Yellow // Green: the Multi-Colored Food Traditions of Juneteenth

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Food lovers, Kim Baker and Leigh Olson, invite you on a storytelling journey exploring food memories, family recipes, food traditions, cuisines, cookery, and food history to discover how food connects, defines, and inspires us.
Episode details

As We Eat turns our attention to the food culture of Juneteenth National Independence Day (or Juneteenth) - a long cherished celebration of the emancipation of enslaved Black and African-American people. Celebrated throughout the United States since 1865, June 19th is marked by lots of good food with a particular emphasis on the colors red, yellow, and green. Kim & Leigh go behind the scenes to explore and learn more about Juneteenth and its tasty traditions.

Traditional African dance and music performed for Juneteenth, 2019 Tim Ervin, National Parks Service

The Colorful Food History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth is an important day in American history, and it is often marked with large community and church celebrations punctuated with music, parades, and of course… lots of good food. For this episode, As We Eat turned to Black and African-American authors to learn about Juneteenth and its colorful food history, and discuss their enduring legacy of hope, community empowerment, and cultural identity.

General Order No. 3, June 19, 1865 General Graham Granger

The first Juneteenth Jubilee celebrations originated in Texas, and as some six million people migrated from the rural South after the American Civil War towards the Northeast, Midwest, and West, Juneteenth celebrations and its food traditions blossomed in cities like Harlem, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Detroit. As of 2021, 49 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have formally recognized the holiday in various ways. Juneteenth’s elevation to federal holiday is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.

Emancipation Day, Richmond, Va. Library of Congress

In order to best memorialize something, humans perform perhaps one of the greatest acts of human community building - share and eat food. And although Black culture doesn’t hold a monopoly on a rich community-based food culture, there can be little doubt about how African-American celebratory food traditions have formed a strong backbone of creating and maintaining a strong cultural identity under incredible odds. We dig deep to better understand and appreciate how Juneteenth food traditions embrace the cultures from all corners of the world from which people were enslaved, and pay homage to the past and the future with foods resplendent in red, yellow, and green.

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Join us in two weeks for the second installment celebrating Juneteenth and the influences of Black and African American culture and cuisine. If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would love to have you join our supporting subscribers. For just a few dollars, you can get access to exclusive content, including the Recipe Box Roulette “card game”, more in-depth articles, and recipes. You’ll also help keep our oven lights on!

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