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African Heritage Traditions from the American South

African Heritage Monthly Magazine front page
African Heritage Monthly Magazine back page

African Heritage Traditions from the American South

Food Culture

  • Cooking with love and a caring attitude is an important part of the African heritage food culture.
  • Sharing meals at home and at cookouts, reunions and church gatherings provides comfort and builds community strength.
  • Passing down old and new recipes from one generation to another strengthens family bonds and creates lasting memories.

Food Traditions

  • African heritage foods and cooking methods spread from Central and West Africa to the Caribbean and North and South America hundreds of years ago.
  • In the American South, foods that became African heritage staples were grown in vegetable gardens and fields and foraged from the wild. Farm animals and fish provided protein and flavoring.
  • African heritage foods include beans, corn, greens, hot peppers, melon, okra, peanuts, rice, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Some of the foods came from Africa, such as okra, peanuts, some peppers and rice. Many grow well in Oregon.


In our Oregon Harvest for Schools video, Malcolm introduces the farm he manages where African heritage foods are grown and community members gather. Produce is harvested for a recipe prepared by grandmas and enjoyed at a community meal. Watch the video at:

Malcom is smiling as he holds a bunch of fresh leafy greens grown at his farm.

Food memories season our lives and connect us to our cultureTwo smiling members of Grandma's Hands standing in the kitchen.

Members of Grandma’s Hands, Gresham, Oregon, share thoughts on family and food.

  • “When I cook, I think of the connection I had with my family living in the South at a young age. We had cookouts and community connecting, joking, laughing and having a good time—it always felt like family reunion.” Ms. Mildred Braxton
  • “I remember the smelling of food and meals coming together in the kitchen…” Ms. Vanessa Chambers
  • “Cooking is nostalgic and reminds me of home, aromas, family, fun, conversations and culture—there’s culture in the food and in all the colors!” Ms. Marchane Lawson

Enjoy Cooking Together




Kids Can!

When kids help make healthy food, they are more likely to try it. Show kids how to:

  • crack eggs and wash their hands after handling raw eggs.
  • measure and mix ingredients.
  • pour batter into a baking dish.


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