Spotlight on Ibraheem Basir, Founder of A Dozen Cousins
With his company A Dozen Cousins, Ibraheem Basir combines Caribbean cooking, soul food, and Latin American flavors in a culturally authentic—and completely natural—way.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Disparities in socioeconomic levels express themselves in many ways, from job satisfaction to social interactions to leisure activities. One of the most prominent effects, though, is in the realm of food and diet. Where you live and how much you make have an undeniable and significant impact on what you eat.
As a private chef to the definitely rich and occasionally famous, I have been allowed to observe this first-hand. With money and social status comes the ability to make dietary choices without being limited by cost or even availability, plus easy access to information and leisure time in which to explore it. This allows those blessed with that access to shape and execute a healthy diet.
But for those without the resources and time, achieving a balanced and healthful diet can be a challenge.
Bonding Through Food
Enter Ibraheem Basir. He comes from a large family of 10 kids, and food was the great unifier in his childhood. “I grew up in Brooklyn in a really diverse Black and Latino community,” he explains. “So our kitchen was an interesting blend of Caribbean cooking, Soul Food, and Latin American dishes. Food always played a special role in how we bonded with each other, celebrated holidays, and marked important milestones.”
Years later, as a part of the natural foods community, he felt there was something missing. “The natural brandsI saw didn’t have the same feeling of culture or joy that I have always associated with food, and the really authentic cultural food brands were still using a lot of questionable ingredients. I started A Dozen Cousins to offer the same authentic food experience that I grew up with, but I wanted to make our products using the best
That meant searching out wholesome ingredients such as beans, vegetables, and avocado oil while avoiding GMOs and anything artificial, then combining them into easy-to-prepare, culturally authentic, reasonably priced meals.
Helping All People Eat Better & Live Longer
But Ibraheem’s plans go far beyond just tasty and nutritious food. “We’re on a mission to inspire families of all backgrounds to eat better food and live longer and more vibrant lives. Unfortunately, there are many Americans that need a little extra help toward that goal. Living in underserved communities, they are at far greater risk for obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related illnesses.”
So in addition to making delicious and affordable foods, Ibraheem and A Dozen Cousins provide an annual grant and volunteer support to nonprofits that are working to eliminate socioeconomic health disparities in the U.S., like a series of cooking classes for underprivileged youths in Austin, Texas.
For Ibraheem, it hearkens back to his childhood values. “We want to make sure that we are all around long enough to enjoy time with our grandkids, and we believe that starts with a diet that is heavy on real food and light on junk!”
Make it: Chicken, Rapini, & Chickpea Curry