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Nutrition Month Through the Lens of Poet Maya Angelou

Smothered Pork Chops with Collard Greens and Rice (photo from http://www.irvinginquisition.com/)
Starting in the 1970s, naturalists began investigating the role of nutrition in one’s health kicking off the modern health food/organic food movement we have today. I talk about this in the last chapter of my book Hog and Hominy http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-14638-8/hog-and-hominy/webFeatures. Some called for drastically increasing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and decreasing the amount of sugar, salt, fat, and red meat as doctors made the connection between food and one’s heart and blood pressure. In her 1983 poem “The Health-Food Diner” Poet Maya Angelou expresses her frustration with the growing influence of the nutrition, healthy food, and vegetarian movement around her. Instead she desired the dishes of her childhood.

The Health-Food Diner
No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).
Not thick brown rice and rice pilaw
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I'm dreaming of a roast).
Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).
No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run
Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).
Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

The Best of Maya Angelou Food Stories With Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Maya+Angelou

The Welcome Table: Recipes from Maya Angelou: [8 min 35 sec] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4975315

Maya Angelou’s Cooking Advice and Recipes: [7 min 20 sec] http://www.npr.org/2010/12/16/132080094/maya-angelous-cooking-advice-ignore-the-rules

Maya Angelou Reflects on Turning 80:  [Listen 11 min 56 sec] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89355359

Nutrition Month: Food Rebel Elijah Muhammad

Women’s History Month: Ida B. Wells