Food and Black History Month

Since we’re more than halfway through Black History month, I thought I’d merge the month’s focus with my ever-present topic of eating raw foods. Through the years, I have built a mini-library of raw foods, vegan, vegetarian, and general food books. I have been preoccupied with the topic of food for some time now. I thought I’d use this blog post to recommend a few books that have served me well through the years.

I initially started dabbling with a raw food diet in 1997. There were two books I used during that time. I’m not sure they’re still in print today.

1) Sunfried Foods: Cookless Recipes – Aris La Tham :This book is more of a pamphlet of raw recipes written by a Jamaican man who toured the U.S catering events. Last I heard he was preparing raw foods at a resort in Jamaica. I learned how to make almond milk from scratch using this book. At the time, I was able to get fresh squeezed sugar cane juice for my almond milk and raw cactus juice for my salad dressing! Beyond yum 🙂

2) 30 Days @ Delights of the Garden – Imar Hutchins: I just did a google search, and I believe the book is still available on I was a huge fan of the Greener Hummus recipe. This book was a great help because it gave daily affirmations and the back story on the importance of eating raw foods if only for 30 days. The brother that wrote this book had a restaurant named Delights of the Garden in Washington, D.C. I’m not sure if it’s still open.

A vegan cookbook I’ve taken to lately is Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. On the back cover Terry is described as an eco-chef in Oakland, California. He uses his recipes to debunk the notion that soul food, African-American southern cuisine born out of slavery, is always bad for our health. If you saw the independent film “Soul Food Junkies”, you would have seen him in it. This book was at least published in this century (2009). 🙂  He also pairs the recipes with a soundtrack generally from jazz, African, or blues music.

Two other books that have broadened my understanding of food are Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, and terra madre: Forging a Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities. The first is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by noted author Barbara Kingslover. The book journals Kingslover year long commitment to eating only food she grew on her Virginia farm or bought in her neighborhood. The book chronicles the intense preparation needed to maintain a commitment to eating mostly what she grew. The book gives perspective on eating local and the challenges that go along with it. She comes up with a catchy term: vegetannual. The second book is terra madre: Forging a Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities by Carlo Petrini. Petrini is a journalist turned activist as well as the founder of the Slow Food movement. He began the Slow Food movement as a reaction to the ever-increasing “homogenization of food and culture”. Every two years Terra Madre hosts an international event that highlights indigenous and traditionalists who share their food cultures in Turin, Italy.

Lastly, all books by food guru Michael Pollan helps with understanding the history of the American food diet how it began and how it has effected our present-day lives and lifestyle.

Until next Sunday,



Edible Landscapes

In my workout reading I came across a delicious story about edible landscapes for an entire town. This is the brainchild of Pam Warhurst of Todmorden, England (a town in northern England with a population of 16,000 people). Pam attended an environmental conference where participants were prompted to start thinking differently about how to treat our environment. After thinking on it, Pam went to a friend with what she called the “wackiest” idea: making every available land space in the town a place to grow food. Fortunately her friend agreed with her idea. They sent out flyers requesting townspeople attend a meeting where the idea was announced. To her surprise 60 people showed up to the meeting and agreed to volunteer to turn their town into an edible landscape. Visit the website to get the full breadth of this project.

The idea of edible landscapes has my mind reeling with the possibilities in my own neighborhood. For years I have planned to open a natural food store with a café (Organic Soul Foods). This March I will begin my crowdfunding campaign to prompt friends and family and friends and family of my friends and family to donate to this idea. When I think of this business idea it too is wacky because in many ways my neighborhood does not fit the suggested demographics to open a natural foods store. I met with a businessman who looked over my business plan, and he emphasized the need to be clear on who my customers are. In Pam Warhurst’s TED Talk she emphasized that small acts are not insignificant. Small acts can be the catalyst for real change. I say that if we ever want our communities to be healthier and more vibrant than we have to think of ourselves in different ways too. We can’t just go by what we think customers want based on what they buy in our neighborhoods. You can’t buy organic fruits and vegetables if they aren’t sold anywhere in your neighborhood. Think of it, there was not a market for smartphones before IPhone. Why? Simple, there can’t be market for something that does not exist.

John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods, stated in an interview that when Whole Foods began organic foods’ sales was only 5%; now they’re 50% of sales. He claims the growth in organic foods’ sales in large part is due to educating the consumer. A large part of Organic Soul Foods mission will be the continuous education of ourselves/ consumers. I believe when given the opportunity to eat foods that makes one feel good, most will take it. I applaud Pam Warhurst and her incredible edible town, and hope one day that it can be said that Organic Soul Foods brought the same value to my community as she has brought to hers.

Until next Sunday,