Bringing Black Culture to the Table

Bringing Black Culture to the Table

Marcus McFarland is familiar with and shares the historical past of the Black professionals who preceded him as agents with NC State Cooperative Extension. He’s pursuing their guide as the initially Black man to provide as a family and client science (FCS) agent in Union County, training children and older people about healthful cooking and behavior, food items basic safety and food items preservation. McFarland delivers his personalized and cultural connections to foods and health and fitness to the table.

A Charlotte, North Carolina, indigenous, McFarland grew up in the vicinity of Union County, found just southeast of Charlotte.

“I’m from a southern Black loved ones,” McFarland suggests. “A lot of what I bear in mind and imagine about when it comes to foods is the recollections of family members dinners, and I nevertheless have an appreciation for the meals.”

One of his beloved dishes that his grandmother and mother would make is homemade yeast rolls, but his loved ones also ate a lot of fruit and veggies.

“Everybody thinks in the South, it is nothing at all but biscuits and all the things fried,” points out McFarland. “But actually, I come from a household of smaller, sustainable sustenance farmers and sharecroppers. Most of the time what was economical was escalating fruits and vegetables.”

Joining NC State Extension

McFarland has often loved aiding other people and his community, and he volunteered normally for businesses like Habitat for Humanity. He was also fascinated in science and considered he preferred to go into well being treatment to mix his passions, but he immediately uncovered a really like for nutrition and dietetics at Appalachian State College.

Marcus McFarland mashing bananas
Marcus McFarland teaching a course.

Soon after graduation, McFarland joined the AmeriCorps’ FoodCorps plan, in which he experienced the chance to educate children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg college program about nutritious having, developing their personal foods and how to cook dinner. Although in that system, 1 of the leaders, Elizabeth Driscoll, stated an open up placement as an FCS agent in Union County.

“I don’t forget her telling us, ‘This is a excellent chance to keep on that enthusiasm for teaching our group about nourishment, health and wellness,” states McFarland.

Right after two years in FoodCorps, he started as an FCS agent, a purpose he has held given that 2018.

“I educate a simplistic search at nutrition,” McFarland claims. “It’s just ingesting far more fruits and veggies, thinking about what and how significantly you place into your overall body, and emphasizing it’s not about getting absent points you delight in.”

Generating a Difference 

As the to start with Black male agent in the county, McFarland is familiar with the impression he can have.

“I want to make confident that I am that representation for Black folks, so that they see, ‘Wow, there is this Black man who appears like me, who talks like me, who shares pretty equivalent cultural distinctions as me.’”

“I believe cultural link and nutrition can exist at the exact time.”

For McFarland and lots of other families, food items has generally been at the forefront of their society. However some of his childhood meals are not viewed as the healthiest possibilities, McFarland doesn’t sense he has to prevent ingesting them. Alternatively, he has realized how to make some of them more healthy or to balance the fewer wholesome foods with healthier ones, these types of as taking in a lot more fruits and greens with his grandmother’s yeast rolls.

“I assume cultural link and nourishment can exist at the similar time,” McFarland states. “When they exist at the similar time, you are in a position to preserve and honor your lifestyle. I feel like in a good deal of communities of color, they may perhaps see what they are having as not nutritious or nutritious, but which is not the situation a ton of moments.

“We can make improved, more healthy impacts on ourselves even though even now getting to get pleasure from the meals that we have relished for a long time.”

Celebrating Black Historical past

McFarland also teaches other people about those who have appear ahead of him. He revealed Celebrating Black Record in Extension in honor of Black Background Thirty day period, a write-up highlighting the contributions of African Individuals in agriculture, relatives and client sciences, and 4-H in North Carolina.

“I needed to know a lot more about the history powering our Black Extension agents, alongside with their contributions and the problems they might have faced in regards to what it was like doing the job in the course of segregation.”

Though doing the job with NC State Extension seems various now, there is a great deal of get the job done continue to to be finished with equal representation, and McFarland hopes to carry on growing nutrition equality between underserved communities.

“One day, with any luck ,, there will be a lot more Black adult men in diet and family members and consumer sciences who are equipped to educate about health and effect their specific populations so we all can have a chance to raise our top quality of daily life.”