John T. Edge, the Southern food writer and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, appeared on Nightline over the weekend with a provocative segment about how barbecue and soul food can heal racial rifts. His theory is that people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds converge at restaurants, when they might not otherwise meet. There were moments in this video that raised a few questions for me, namely, the part where Edge starts gushing about the best food in the South over b-roll showing supergreasy fried chicken. Considering our country’s socioeconomic problems surrounding diet, obesity, and diabetes, it felt off to glamorize unhealthy food without questioning its impact.
That said, Edge is great on camera, and I loved seeing the split, whole pigs fired in concrete pits at Scott’s Variety Store and Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, South Carolina, using wood felled by the owners’ own hands.