eating, food, Healthy, nourishment, shopping

An Edible Caste System: Change is Upon Us (Part 1)

When my son was just born and my daughter was around 4 years old, I had WIC.  I am a second generation New York City WIC recipient.  In the interview, I happily declined the offer of baby formula, because I was breastfeeding successfully.  What I did get was the opportunity to exchange checks for a variety of groceries.  What I didn’t get was a choice in exactly what groceries those were.

I learned a lot about benefit programs during that time.  It was abundantly clear that there are other entities, powerful and wealthy ones, that also benefit from my benefit.  To name a few, Post, General Mills and Kellogg’s, because I was allowed to get their cereals and theirs alone, as well as the Dairy Farmers of America, who no doubt were able to sell millions of gallons of milk and pounds of cheese through WIC.  The problem? While I was able to get copious amounts of these items, I was only given $6 a week towards fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.  That was my only opportunity to buy anything that wasn’t a product or byproduct of GMO corn and soy, and the only time I could buy anything organic.  A pound of organic strawberries was $5.99.

Then there was the time that I figured out that I could get organic peanut butter.  See, they hadn’t gotten around to striking deals with guys like Jif yet, I guess, so they only specified what size of peanut butter you could get.  Because there were no other restrictions, I strode happily into PathMark with my WIC checks in my purse and grabbed the organic peanut butter in the correct size off the shelf.  The cashier looked puzzled, asked a manager, and in the end I got it because there was no notation on the check forbidding it.  Clearly, big brother was watching, because the next set of checks I got had (no organic) printed next to peanut butter on every one.  Wow.  So because I was poor, I had to eat the poisons and feed them to my child as well.  Is it possible that the chemical companies also have a stake in the WIC program?

Thankfully there are no such restrictions on what is now known as SNAP.  You can buy anything edible with that benefit, but for me, it wasn’t about backing cupboards with calories, it was about getting the best possible quality of food I could afford.  The problem was not about the benefit in this case, it was about access.  Until my son was 2, the only supermarket in walking distance from my home was Western Beef.  Here are there stats:

Organic Produce: 0

Organic Baby Cereal: 0

Organic Anything: 0

So at first I would take a 40 minute bus ride to a nicer neighborhood (read less people of color, more white people, no housing projects or even apartment buildings, most fellow shoppers drove there in their own vehicle)  to shop at ShopRite.  I would spend $5.00 round trip getting there, then another $5.00 organizing to have the groceries delivered to my home later that day.  Still, the organic produce selection at the time was minimal, but I was able to get the organic baby cereal and a lot of other organic foods in the aisles.  No organic or grass-fed meats were available there (I wasn’t vegan yet).

Soon, KeyFood opened, but to my chagrin, I discovered that their organic selection was only slightly better than at “The Beef”.  Then I figured out that I could get to WholeFoods in TriBeCa without spending money on transportation.  I mapped it once, it’s a 14 mile trip.  It involved a 10 minute walk from my home to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, hopefully arriving in time to walk right on a ferry that is boarding, then on  arrival in Manhattan, boarding a free Downtown Manhattan loop bus that would drop me right outside the supermarket.  It could take anywhere from 1- 1 1/2 hours one way, depending on the ferry schedule, bus stop waiting and traffic.   (“Wrote a poem about it, like to hear it?  Here it go!”)

The downside: they could not deliver my groceries, so I had to make frequent trips and carry heavy loads, sometimes with both children in tow.  I continued to do it, even after I got off of the benefit programs, because it was worth it to me to really nourish myself and my family, which soon grew again by one when my dad came to live with me for a time.

One day it dawned on me: if I lived closer to this supermarket, that would be so nice.  If only I could afford a swank apartment in shiny Battery Park City… but indeed I could not.  The edible caste system at work, ladies and gentlemen: those who have plenty get more nutrients closer to home, and those who don’t either have to make long journeys to the wealthier neighborhoods and look for in season organics and sales in at a high quality, high priced grocer, or just stay malnourished.

The good news is that prayers have been answered and change is upon us.  The edible caste system is about to be shattered, and food deserts are about to be flooded with better food.  How, you ask?  Be sure to read part two when I post it…

In the meantime, please share your food desert confessions in the comments section.  I would love to know how fellow parents are handling this problem and getting cleaner, more nourishing food for the families in spite of financial and geographic obstacles.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

3 John 1:2 NIV

 

 

breakfast, cooking, food, God's word, health, Healthy, nourishment, Produce, salad, seasonal, vegan

Gen 1:29-30 Breakfast: Trini Avocados, Himalayan Sea Salt and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Good Day!!!  It’s avocado season in Trinidad, so avocado is plentiful and can be had at great prices and top quality – that made me really want to sing a little!  Check out this quick, easy recipe using a ripe avocado, some local produce (chandon beni, anyone?) and a few delicious items – Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Bragg Raw Apple Cider Vinegar – that I am including in the Thrive Market Gift Box that I am giving away in my #ReallyNourishGives Sweepstakes!

Click Here to Enter for YOUR chance to win! 

Click Here to get your Thrive membership started today! 

Be in good health,

Rashida

 

 

 

eating, food, nourishment

Prison Residents Suffer Nutritional Abuse

An excerpt from The Food Revolutionary Strategy Handbook, a work in progress by the author. 

inmates2
Source: YouTube user “She Needs A Lawyer” video entitled WOMEN IN PRISON: LOCKED IN CELLS

From what I learned both in and outside of history classrooms in school, slaves were treated with a great deal of cruelty, including being subjected to food that was low in nutritional value and high in fats and starches[1], which could lead to scurvy and rickets.  Per the 13th Amendment, prisoners deserve to be treated as slaves, and in modern times that is certainly the case.  Like the slaves carried to the Americas in the cargo holds of ships, they are shackled, beaten, sometimes stripped, often raped by COs, forced to work for no pay and subjected to inferior food.  The shocking truth about the food is that the same corporations who provide school food are also feeding prison populations.

[1] Slavery and the Making of America: The Slave Experience: Living Conditions http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/living/history2.html

Prison reform is a very difficult topic around which to rally public support.  People are judgmental.  The media vilifies people who commit crimes and influences viewers to put those people in a myopic, unyielding set of boxes in their minds, and in those boxes, “criminals” are dehumanized.  Even as you are reading this, you may have trouble

1938-prisoner-eating
Source: Getty Images

thinking that people who have been convicted of crimes are entitled to clean, healthy, nourishing meals because as a society we have an insatiable appetite to punish one another for breaking rules and laws and hurting other people.  Some may say that we do this to shift focus off our own infractions – in truth, most of us break rules, break laws and hurt people all the time – so we can feel better about ourselves.

If we can dehumanize a person we can easily deny them basic human rights, can’t we?  One of the first hurdles the prison reform movement, which encompasses standing up for vast improvements in prison meal programs, is to get society to change its perspective on inmates.

Why We MUST Do This:

Because if we don’t stand up for food sovereignty for every man, woman and child in the world, then we are not doing mankind real justice.   Standing for inmates’ right to clean, wholesome food shows that the food revolution is universal.   Many of us have sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers, fathers, aunties

inmates
Source: Emaze.com

or uncles residing in penitentiaries and we are feeling firsthand the plight of the inmate’s loved one.  They may have told us horror stories about the food on brief phone calls and emails and expressed their longing to come home to a good meal.  If the corrections system is to live up to its name, punishment should not be the primary impetus for the decisions that effect every aspect of inmates’ lives, but it is indeed.  They are dehumanized through societal programming through the media and subjected to abuse in many forms, including nutritional abuse, all to justify the mechanisms in the prison industry complex that benefit the corporations who profit from the constant supply of souls in it. This is just as wrong as feeding school children inferior food and contributes to the same widespread problems in physical and mental health, in environmental abuse and in food insecurity.

Children, Crops, food, gardening, Healthy, non-gmo, Organic

The Faith Garden Phase One: Germination

OK, so It’s been almost 4 months since I posted The Faith Garden: Part 1 on The Really Nourish Movement YouTube station, and I’m finally at a stage where I am ready to start this thing!

For a couple of months over the summer I had a bit of garden training in an already existing garden.  My landlady went away for holidays and she gave us the green light to harvest whatever would grow.  So we had fresh pimentos, jalapenos (which I sliced and pickled in a blend of Apple Cider Vinegar and olive brine for my daughter), eggplants and ochro on a regular basis.  She was also growing cassava, limes and dasheen but we didn’t get too involved in those crops.  Her mango tree was not bearing (season was over) but the two coconut trees provided us with fresh coconut water on a few occasions when one of the men felt to put up a ladder.

We harvested together and shared the bounty around with fellow tenants and some IMG_3673friends.  She had one pimento tree growing in a pot and then some various pots around with chadon beni (culantro) flourishing.  I watered the pots and the garden crops close to the wall from time to time and didn’t have to weed any of it because my husband simply sprayed it when it came up.

Then we started the Sangre Grande Family Resource Group under the auspices of the National Family Service and decided that one of our first acts would be to start a “Grow Box” initiative.  The plan is to learn how to grow our own food.  I was giddy when this all came together!  This is Really Nourish in motion indeed!   Restoring food sovereignty to the community here in Sangre Grande, and to Trinibagonians at large, is a neglected priority.  All the reasons we are so focused on this project relate to food sovereignty – taking control of our food costs, our health, our environment (by growing organically) and teaching the skill to our children as a vital parenting activity.  In that last consideration, it dawned on me that the skill got lost in recent generations and it is now time to reintroduce the education of food cultivation as a necessary part of parenting, perhaps institute the stewardship of plants as a rite of passage for every child.

really-nourish-seed-packets
USDA Organic seeds are from organically grown plants and are non-GMO and not treated with any growth stimulants.

So, I decided, after the demise of said training garden, with my fridge devoid of any fresh fruit or vegetable, and the recent realization that I live in a food desert in the middle of farm country, I initiated The Really Nourish Faith Garden.  My children, the neighbor’s children, Abigail (aka Lindey) from the Sangre Grande Family Resource Group and I got our hands happily dirty filling the tray and sowing the seeds.  The children were fascinated at the different sizes and shapes of the seeds for each plant.  I even planted some sunflower seeds given to me by Mount Sinai Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute at an event where they honored kidney donors about a month after my dad and my transplant.

Here’s the photo journal entry of the seed sowing activity.  We prayed over this little tray as we sprinkled water over them all by hand.  All of them are USDA organic, and most of them are good companions for each other.  I charted out their germination and harvest time frames.  Updates to come!!  Keep us in your prayers for success!

alissa-and-che-planting
My daughter and the girl next door sowing seeds. Statement on shirt: WORK IT GIRL!  
Really Nourish Faith Garden Tray Chart.jpg
Didn’t want to rely upon my memory of what was planted in each of the 120 spots in the tray, so I made this chart as we went along. Multiples of 4 made it good times table practice for my Standard 2 student!
really-nourish-faith-garden-phase-one
ReallyNourish.com Faith Garden: Phase One. I marked where the sunflowers are so I could reference the chart the correct way. I am sticking the chart up where we stage the tray inside at night.
che-and-judah-seedlings
This is the kind of activity that creates many bonding opportunities for my children and I in stages – sowing seeds, watching seedlings sprout, transplanting, Repeat! Thanks be to God!
Crops, farm, food, gardening, God's word, Healthy, Herbs, no pesticides, non-gmo, nourishment, Organic, Urban Gardening

The Faith Garden Part 1

We are enslaved if we must rely solely upon our jobs, money, supermarkets and agribusiness to eat.  Thank God for His (yes, it’s His) system of seed time and harvest that never ceases.  We can all grow at least some of our own food.  You will start small but you will want to grow more because it was God’s first job for us.  He gave us the power to feed ourselves.

food, God's word, Healthy, scripture

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 4: Write and Visualize

Now that you are in the 8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 4: Write and Visualize, the world is probably starting to look very different to you now! You’ve purposed in your heart not to defile yourself with delicacies. You’ve renewed your mind about what exactly food is.  The deception in what is available around you to eat has been uncovered. Thanks be to God!

Food Sovereignty: This is Your Liberation!

This is liberation for you, but at first may feel like some kind of bondage.  God promised  us in His word that He will satisfy us with long life.  Many people live long by taking 5-10 prescription medications every day, being in and out of hospitals, and living in fear of disease.  If you consider that “satisfying”, then stop reading right here and go back to your Facebook scrolling! Here’s the truth: YOU ARE FREE from all that when you honor God at your mouth gate. We can pray for healing from food-related diseases, but James 2:17 tells us that faith without works is dead, so here’s where the work comes in.

 

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 4: Write and Visualize – but Why?

In every life pursuit, visualizing and writing your goals down is a crucial step. In most cases, the difference between success and failure lies in whether this step was taken or foregone. Without revelation, people cast of restraint says Proverbs 29:18. Revelation is what God shows us, its His vision for us. If you can see it, you can achieve it!

A vision board is a great way to visualize your goals. I’m sure there’s an app for this, but I highly recommend a simple cork board on the wall. I always kept mine right near my bed, so it was one of the first things I laid eyes on every morning. You can find images of people in magazines and stick your face on them.  Find people doing things you want to do, like running or swimming, or people with body shapes you are aiming for.

Another thing I did was I changed the body shape on my Bitmoji. When I first made my Bitmoji avatar, she was a thick empress, but sometime in early 2015, she dropped 50 lbs. I changed her to a slim body type. I sat writing the first draft of this devotional in April 2016 having lost 45 lbs in size 8 skinny jeans. This is powerful!

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 4: Write and Visualize
My new, slimmer Bitmoji

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 4: Write and Visualize – How

Nick Zizi, a great motivational speaker I learned about recently, said of goal setting “If you can think it, ink it”. This is biblical wisdom. In Habakkuk 2:2, God tells His prophet to “Write the revelation down and make it plain so that a herald will run with it”. Here again, I’m sure there’s an app for writing goals, but I recommend pen and paper – assuming you don’t have stone tablets handy like Habakkuk did.

I put this question to Nick Zizi on a Periscope broadcast once.  He talked about some studies that have shown that writing on paper for this purpose is more effective. Get a journal to keep track of your food life scriptures, changes and choices.  Use it also to plan ahead and dream big about the rewards you can reap along your new journey.

Your 8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 4: Write and Visualize Meditation Scriptures:

Habakkuk 2:2

Proverbs 29:18

To return to the 8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devotional page, CLICK HERE.

Click Here to go to Day 5.

Devotional, eating, food, God's word, Healthy, scripture

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 3: Recognize the Enemy

Hello my Friend! You are three days in to your new food life!

You have arrived 8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 3: Recognize the Enemy! On day one, you took a page from Daniel to purpose in your heart to no longer defile yourself with delicacies. Next, you took steps to renew your mind as God instructs us to do in Romans 12.

Today it’s time to start to take a good look at food. Proverbs 23:3 in the NKJV says “Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food.” A delicacy in terms of edibles, as defined in Websters 1828 Dictionary, is that which delights the senses. Please notice that since we have renewed our minds we are much less liberal with the use of the word food, and this version of Websters appears to also indicate that there are edibles which possibly are not to be called food since they don’t nourish the body.

That’s a good start to defining and identifying these delicacies that we are warned not to desire (or crave). In today’s world, we are even encouraged to crave them! You know what they are, the most recognizable enemies include cakes, candies, cookies, fast food and soft drinks.

These have actually become easy and even trendy to avoid, altogether eliminate. 🍪🍩🍰🚫 If that’s all it took, then you wouldn’t need 8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 3: Recognize the Enemy, now would you?

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 3: Recognize the Enemy
Ad on the back of an NYC MTA city bus.

The Not-So-Recognizable Enemy

The truth is that it isn’t in these where the most insidious deception lies. When I think about deceptive foods I think about %100 fruit juice, where the free sugar (that is unencumbered by fiber) is just as abundant and damaging to the body as the sugar in soft drinks. I think about granola bars, which contain whole grains but also contain half a day’s worth of free sugar in the one small snack. Fruit snacks for children. My daughter was noticing in a corner store the other day that a particular brand is now saying that fruit is their first ingredient, but we turned the package around to the back and notice that the fruit is juice concentrate, followed immediately by sugar AND corn syrup. Talk about deception!

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 3: Recognize the Enemy More Deception Brought to Light

🍥 Yogurt, framed in our consciousness as a health food, is a dairy product. Cow’s milk has been linked to numerous cancers and diseases in children and adults.  Although goat milk is a biblical super food, again, it is NOT for daily consumption.

🍨 Items labeled Low Fat still sell so well because we still haven’t awakened to the fact that that fat alone doesn’t make you fat. What you’re really buying is something in which the processors have replaced the fat with sugar and so the boom in Low Fat processed foods on the market has been consistent with dramatic increases in obesity rates and related diseases.

🍞 Refined starch sounds like something that should be good (as in “fine”) but the refining process is designed to strip the wheat of its nutrient-rich germ because it is the germ that shortens its shelf life. Enriched flour and bread is so called because after the germ is taken out of the grain and processing is underway, the producer adds synthetic vitamins to it to try to replace what God already built in and, as you can imagine, the result pales in comparison to the original composition. I could go on and on!

Purpose, Renew, Recognize

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he3 would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

‭‭Daniel‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NKJV‬

If you notice, Daniel used this same word to identify that which he would refuse to defile his body with: delicacies. In the King James, both Daniel and Proverbs 23 call them dainties. Even in those descriptions they are deceptive. The damage they cause over years of consumption is neither delicate nor dainty. Rather, it is usually devastating.

8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 3: Recognize the Enemy
Living Your New Food Life!

So my dear loved one, you’ve purposed in your heart.  You’ve renewed your mind.  Now it’s time to recognize and eschew the stuff that isn’t God’s will for your body. If it isn’t straight from the earth and it comes in a package, read every label!  If you can’t pronounce it, denounce it. Through your purposeful heart and renewed mind’s eye, you will indeed start to recognize the enemy easily.  You will see him all up and down the middle aisles of the supermarket and in many other places. This is your victory.

You are now done with 8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devo Day 3: Recognize the Enemy! Nice Job!

Meditate on your scripture for the day:

Proverbs 23:3

Watch A Prophecy of Delicacies 

To return to the 8 Day Really Nourish Yourself Devotional page, CLICK HERE.

Click Here to go to Day 4.