Martin Luther King Celebration: But What Did He Eat?

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Martin Luther King Celebrated Human Rights

Martin Luther King Celebration:  But What Did He Eat?

Martin Luther King with Gandhi and other world peace leaders

No matter the occasion, or the celebration, it is my constant question – but what did they eat?  Seems to me this is often overlooked, when it should never be.

Take Martin Luther King.  Known as a tireless worker, and an inspired speaker, he was on the move for the entire period of his short, eventful life.  What fueled him?  What did he like? What could you cook today to honor his memorial day?

Martin Luther King Celebrated Human Rights

A quick internet search for Martin Luther King’s favorite foods turned up a variety of Southern foods, none of which can be verified as his fave.  Fried  chicken, watermelon, pecan pie, pickled eggs, pigs’ feet, corn on the cob.

Martin Luther King’s Favorite Foods

These are the foods of his time and of his place.  But what would Martin Luther King say today?  When the oppressed people suffer from foods that are not nutritious, filled with all sorts of health-wrecking chemicals, and hormones, and GMO laced ingredients, not to mention the deadly trio of processed carbohydrates, fats and poorest quality protein.

Even the chicken that’s for sale now is not as healthy as the chicken available in MLK’s time and place.  You have to go some to get foods as healthy as those available to all people 40-50 years ago. For the facts are that the industrialization of food has taken place since MLK died.

And we are all the worse for it.

Visitors to the MLK Memorial Show the Ravages of 40 years Industrial Foods

If Martin Luther King were with us today, he could see with his own eyes, the ruination of the poor by the industrial food conglomerates that invade the poorest neighborhoods, and offer to the least able among us, the most ruinous excuse for food.

Someone said: The opposite of poverty is not wealth.  The opposite of poverty is justice.

Martin Luther King Would Want Food Justice

Martin Luther King would want food justice.  He would want nutritious whole foods to be available to all.  It’s the right thing to do.

So on Martin Luther King’s Day, think about what you can do to help foster the notion of food justice.  People are honoring Mr. King in many ways, from church dinners, to prayer meetings to marches.

In a small town in Texas, McAllen, which is down on the border in one of the poorest parts of the state, volunteers for the RGV food bank, have inspected, processed and packed 8,700 pounds of food to be distributed on Martin Luther King Day.

Helping others is one way to honor Dr. King.  As 22 year old Kevin Cruz, said after his day of packing food for the poor, “We wanted to help out.  It was the right thing to do.”

In a nation as rich as the United States, not one person should go hungry.  Not one.

Honor Dr. King by Fighting for Food Justice

It’s what Dr. King would want.  It’s what I want.  I know it’s what you want.

Let’s work together to make 2012 a banner year for making sure that every American has access to healthy, whole foods.


Here’s a traditional recipe for Southern Fried Chicken.  I bought a best quality bird at my local store.  A bird that hadn’t been fed GMO feed and hadn’t been pumped up with hormones and junk.  A bird that had been a free range bird.  I wish every person could have fried chicken as Dr. King had.  This is what you have to do to get it.  Hunt for the right chicken in the market.

I brought that whole bird home, cut it up myself and now am soaking it in buttermilk tonight.  Tomorrow about 2 pm, my friends and I will gather to have an MLK lunch. Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, corn bread and a chopped salad.  We wish Dr. King were here to join us.

Traditional Southern Fried Chicken

Buttermilk  Soak:

2 cups organic buttermilk

1 tablespoon Dijon  mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Fried Chicken:

1  (3 1/2-pound) organic chicken, cut into 8 pieces

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking  powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

peanut or light olive oil



Buttermilk Soak: In a gallon-sized bowl with a tight-fitting lid, combine the buttermilk, mustard, salt, dry mustard, cayenne, and black pepper. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.


Frying the chicken: Preheat oven to 150 degrees F. In a 13-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch pan, whisk together flour, baking powder, dry garlic, and salt. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat thickly. Let the chicken stand 10 minutes, turning occasionally to recoat with flour. Shake off excess flour before frying.


In a 10-inch heavy-gauge skillet with a deep-fry thermometer attached, Add oil half way up the sides and heat over medium-high heat, bringing it to 375 degrees F. In batches of four, fry the chicken pieces, turning once when the coating is sealed and begins to brown — 3 to 4 minutes.


Reduce the heat to medium to lower the temperature to 325 degrees F. Maintain temperature and continue to fry, turning the pieces halfway through cooking time until chicken is golden brown and cooked through — about 20 more minutes.


Transfer to a wire rack on a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat to cook all the chicken. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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