TheGrio's 100: Bryant Terry, Chef fighting for healthy food distribution

theGRIOs 100 - Bryant Terry is not just a chef. He's a self-described food activist who's fighting for more healthy food options for people in urban communities that lack stores that sell affordable fruits and vegetables.

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Bryant Terry is not just a chef. He’s a self-described food activist who’s fighting for more healthy food options for people in urban communities that lack stores that sell affordable fruits and vegetables.

Yet he’s not speaking from the experience of someone who lived in this type of urban community. Instead Terry grew up in Memphis in a residential home where his farm-descendant family grew vegetables and even raised chickens and pigs. It’s where, he says that his love for natural foods began. Terry took his childhood experiences into a cooking career in which he teaches people the importance of embracing them for a healthier life.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University and his master’s degree from New York University, Terry completed a chef’s training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute.

After his training, he wrote three books. Two of his books, Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine, focus on vegan cuisine and received great acclaim for their recipes. Some of the recipes include caramelized grapefruit, avocado, and watercress salad with grapefruit vinaigrette, and sweet cornmeal-coconut butter drop biscuits.

Bryant Terry is making history … as a chef who is stepping out of the kitchen and into the political arena with a message of food equality for all. Aside from public speeches and his books on healthy cooking, Terry’s strategy for spreading this message is to do it through food, by cooking tasty dishes filled with natural ingredients.

What’s next for Bryant?

In addition to cooking, writing and speaking, Terry recently launched a web show on the Public Internet Channel called Urban Organic.

In his own words …

“I would like to see faith-based institutions in the African American community take the lead in encouraging people to eat more healthfully and to grow food at home, and to cook in their homes and to lead healthier lifestyles,” he told theGrio. “Lots of these institutions, so often they have the capital to start projects, like building a community garden on land that the church might own, or starting a food-buying club where they can buy food wholesale and then sell it to members below cost so that people can actually have less expensive, healthy food.”

A little-known fact about food deserts…

More than 23.5 million Americans live in low-income areas that are more than one mile from a supermarket, an issue that is described by the phrase ‘food desert.’ The Department of Agriculture website has a food desert locator. where you can see statistics about every area labeled a food desert in the U.S.

For more information, click here.


Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?

A: Promoting my new book—The Inspired Vegan—and my new web show—Urban Organic. Speaking at colleges and public events. Loving my wife, and raising our 8-month-old daughter.

Q: What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?

A: I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. -Bishop Desmond Tutu

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: My daughter (Funmilayo Chiu Mui) and ancestors (i.e., grandparents, Fred Hampton, Edna Lewis, and Ida B. Wells).

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: Dr. Joseph Brown, Dr. Annemarie Colbin, Dr. Ronald Dorris, and Alice Waters.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?

A: “Rise up. Over-stand. Stand your ground. Own your land. Serve all. Love all. Never sleep. Never fall. Meditate. Eat right. Pray first. Then fight. But for truth. Not for fame. Not for glory. Or the game.” -Lyrics by Saul Williams from “African Student Movement”