By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
As Englewood celebrated the opening of a new Whole Foods, Chef David Fuller, who is the head of the culinary school at Chicago Vocational Career Academy, is doing some celebrating of his own. Fuller’s company, Eating to Live, which was formed in 2012, will offer healthy and tasty recipes for Whole Foods shoppers. How do we impact healthy eating for communities of color? It is the question Fuller believes he has an answer to and one in which Whole Foods agreed.
“I went to a supplier fair in January of 2015 and an opportunity presented itself,” Fuller began. “They sampled a number of the products I’d created over the past ten years and they really liked the green products. Our first purchase order was in January of this year and we are now in 50 Whole Foods stores in the Midwest. Both products are doing very well.”
The products he speaks about are collard greens mixed with cabbage, along with a southern kale green. Both products are cooked without meat but do not sacrifice flavor, according to Fuller. He said the way the product is cooked; it gives diners the taste of the ham hocks without the ham.
Fuller said the modern African American diet is getting better, but there is still a long way to go. He said better marketing, affordable pricing, educated consumers and teaching the younger generations of African Americans the importance of a healthy diet is playing a role in changing the way the community looks at food. Although Blacks still have a higher incident of heart disease and stroke, Fuller said the young people he works with on a regular basis are the key to seeing Black diets change on a broader scale.
“The people are awakened and tired of burying their loved ones at early ages from dietary diseases,” Chef Fuller said. “The myth that we pass down these diseases by heredity is just that a myth; we pass down these diseases due to poor eating habits. In some instances we eat ourselves into the grave. This whole new awareness of living right and exercising is holding firm. Also, the restaurant industry understands they need to meet the demands from the Black community for tastier and healthier foods. It’s one of our competitive advantages because of how we season the food.”
Twice Fuller led the CVCA cooking squad to second and third place finishes at the national tournament in Washington D.C. Because he understands young people believe they are invincible with their eating habits, Fuller said he is currently looking to develop products specifically for the teen and young adult crowd. He also believes that teaching people when they are young proper eating habits saves the community a lot of problems down the road. In time these habits will equate to higher life expectancy rates with lower medical insurance costs.
“It’s at the top of our list in 2017 to create healthy snacks that school systems can purchase and sell to students. This morning one of my senior students came into class with a desk full of junk food and I asked her ‘what in the world did she think she was doing?” Fuller said. “I wanted the student to know how many problems they can create for themselves with bad eating habits. And many times I see the students are eating bad because they want comfort foods because they may be going through some things in their personal life, but bad eating is not the answer.”
Fuller is currently doing a mini-tour of Midwest cities promoting his healthy comfort foods. He has already been to Minneapolis and Detroit and gotten rave reviews. He is confident he can branch out nationally in a short period of time as well. You can find Eating to Live products in the hot food bar at Whole Foods and Chef Fuller told the Crusader exclusively that in the near future you will also be able to find products in Mariano’s.