Why Potlikker Is More Than Just A Soul Food Staple

us navy seaman in a kitchen
Leslie Grover-Taylor
January 26, 2024

Potlikker, the broth left after cooking a pot of greens, is deeply connected to Blackness. Our ancestors kept potlikker after preparing meals for their enslavers, who considered it something to be thrown away.

We used the superfood to sustain our bodies and serve as the basis for a host of other sauces, soups, and meals. The same potlikker that kept our ancestors alive under brutal, subhuman conditions is the same one that exists anywhere our people gather to eat today.

Potlikker is packed with iron and vitamins A, C, and K. Enslaved people used it to cure illnesses and to fortify their spirits.  We strengthen our spirits when we radically reimagine our world, the same way potlikker was extended outside kitchens.

Whether we add cornbread, black-eyed peas, or meat, potlikker is made better when we add our own twist.  Sharing our experiences in community with each other, too, proves the power of our stories to make change.

Potlikker has always been underestimated, but it is a powerhouse. It’s not the potlikker itself that has made it a Black cultural staple – it’s how we have nurtured, recreated, and made it our own. The truth is when we lean into our own ways of seeing the world, we, too, are powerful.

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