In honor of Black History Month, three local food entrepreneurs are launching an initiative called Taste the Diaspora Detroit (TDD). This celebration of Africa’s contribution to American cuisine will showcase the diverse foods of the African Diaspora through culinary storytelling.
Throughout February, folks in the Detroit area can order weekly-diaspora themed dishes created by a collective of Black chefs, restaurants, farmers, and producers. The weekly TDD meals will honor a specific cuisine of the African diaspora. Each box will contain 2 beautifully curated dishes utilizing fresh, locally-grown produce from Black farmers such as Nurturing Our Seeds and Black-owned artisan food products like Mr. Levi’s MyTFine Soul Sauce. Consisting of African, Creole, Caribbean, and American Southern-inspired dishes, meals will be sold as a shoebox lunch, in recognition of the food boxes used by African American travelers during the Jim Crow era.
A limited number of shoebox lunches will be available for purchase online with contactless curbside pickups on Fridays at Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. Revenue from the shoebox lunches will provide much-needed additional income to Black restaurants and farmers affected by the pandemic. Across the country, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have closed due COVID-19 compared to 17 percent of white-owned businesses. Meanwhile, many Black farmers have lost income after being dropped from the USDA’s Food Box Program. The pandemic has also exacerbated Detroit’s food insecurity crisis with over 300,000 residents without reliable access to affordable and nutritious food. TDD will partner with Oakland Avenue Urban Farm to distribute 20 percent of all shoebox lunches to food insecure residents at no cost.
Taste the Diaspora Detroit is founded by Raphael Wright, founder of Urban Plug L3C and Neighborhood Grocery; Jermond Booze, chef, co-founder of High Vibe Guyz and owner of Upper Crust LLC., and Ederique Goudia, co-owner of Gabriel Hall and founder of In the Business of Food. Participating chefs include farmer and chef Azeezah Ford; Ryan Salter of Salt + Ko and Breadless; and Le’Genevieve Squires and Brittiany Peeler of Experience Relish. Participating restaurants include Baobab Fare, Flavors of Jamaica, and Savannah Blue. Additional partners include Oakland Avenue Farm, Deeply Rooted Produce, MyT Fine Soul Sauce, Vegan Black Guy, Uncorked Spices, and Nurturing Our Seeds.
Follow the initiative on IG @tastediasporadetroit and Facebook at Taste the Diaspora Detroit. For more information or to donate to Taste the Diaspora Detroit, please visit www.tastethediaspora.com. (website launches Wednesday, Jan. 27!)
Pictured Above: The Taste the Diaspora Team: Raphael Wright, Ederique Goudia, Jermond Booze
Photo credit: Val Waller Photography