Photography by Valaurian Waller of V.W. Photography
At first glance, Fed and Bougie may seem like a playful food blog, but that’s just the hook. Look closer — instead of recipes you’ll find pieces about black urban farmers and the virtues of building community around brunch — Fed and Bougie is a food blog with a purpose.
Created by journalist Brittany Hutson, Fed and Bougie is an accumulation of Hutson’s years covering small business news and entrepreneurship for Black Enterprise, Essence Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. A native New Yorker who studied journalism at Howard University, Hutson has long been a gourmand. She is a home cook, baker, and an avid cookbook collector, all making Hutson’s evolution into food journalism inevitable.
After relocating with her husband to his hometown of Detroit, Hutson began carving a path in the food and beverage industry. She started by leaning into one of the area’s biggest resources, FoodLab Detroit, a good food organization that helps food entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses. Later, through a fortuitous encounter at a Detroit Black Restaurant Week dinner, she’d connect with the organization’s executive director and industry powerhouse, Devita Davison, who’d become a mentor to Hutson. “I can’t not give them credit in how I started doing this work,” Hutson says of Davison and the FoodLab team.
Hutson was also inspired by another woman, Julia Turshen, author and founder of Equity at the Table (EATT). While attending an event hosted by FoodLab for the release of Turshen’s book, Feed the Resistance, for which Davison was a contributor, Hutson’s eyes were opened to the power of food. “I never thought about using food to talk about issues like social justice or poverty and economics and political issues. I thought that was amazing,” Hutson says. “I guess I just got bit by the bug. Between FoodLab and Julia, I was like ‘Wow, I never thought I could use food to talk about something I’m already passionate about and combine it with something I already do.’”
“The name may attract you, but when you come, I want you to see that I’m talking about black and brown bodies in food,” says Hutson of Fed and Bougie. A nod to Bad and Boujee by Migos, the name was in instant hit. “Fed and Bougie came from my husband who named me that,” she laughs. The blog focuses on the people who fuel Detroit’s food scene. “I want to show — Who are the people behind the plate? Who are the people making the food? How are they feeding themselves? How are they feeding their community?” It’s something Hutson felt was missing from the narrative as she discovered the richness of Detroit’s food scene for herself. “The food scene is very diverse which I would have never thought about for eating good food. Coming from New York and DC, no one was like, ‘Hey, let’s go to Detroit.’”
Hutson is a Feet in 2 Worlds Journalism Fellow where through a partnership with WDET, Detroit’s public radio station, she has added audio and multimedia skills to her repertoire.
In a piece for Tostada Magazine, Hutson explores black and brown vegans, a population that is growing as people with high blood pressure and diabetes look to plant-based diets over prescription drugs. Veganism is often seen as an option primarily for white people but Hutson is quick to point out the opposite. “The irony in this idea of introducing communities of color to plant-based diets is that it has been a mainstay in indigenous populations for generations,” Hutson writes.
Media coverage of people of color in Detroit’s food space is lagging. In part because of a lack of representation in newsrooms, and Hutson has noticed something else. “I feel that [black and brown business owners] also have to compete with this trend in media about Detroit — now Detroit's ‘cool’, it's a ‘tourist destination’, it's being ‘revitalized’ and there's always news about a new restaurant moving into downtown — whether it be a Shake Shack, or Calexico from New York, a new burger joint, Kid Rock opening a restaurant at the Little Caesars Arena, or any white, hipster-based spot,” says Hutson. “I would always think, ‘what about the people who have been here and are still here?’”
While Hutson is working to expand the narrative, being a black food writer in the Midwest comes with a certain type of isolation as industry events are often on the East and West coasts. She maneuvers around it by building a network, IRL and online; but notes it could be a barrier for young people looking to break into the business.
No matter what, Detroit has Hutson’s heart. “I’ve really fallen in love with the resilience of the people. To make your own way out of what seems like nothing — to be able to stand on your own feet as an outsider looking in — they’re fighters. That drives me in wanting to continue telling the stories coming out of Detroit because of the spirit of these people.”