Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Black Women Being Deceived by the Cancer Prevention Industry?

Breast Cancer Deception

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Not Yo Mamas Fried Chicken

Black people love themselves some fried chicken. You cannot have a social function without fried chicken. Fried chicken has become such a staple of the black family household that its just one more thing were believed to have invented.

Fried chicken is a staple of traditional Scottish cuisine, originally deep fried in fat. When the Scots arrive in the rural south, they brought their recipes with them and taught the kitchen slaves how to prepare them. The slaves, who were able to bring spices from their native lands, as well as cultivate local herbs, enhanced the flavor of the chicken dishes, as well as substituting oil for fat.

Fried chicken became popular amongst slaves because they were allowed to raise chickens in their quarters, and they soon discovered that fried chicken could be kept well and eaten as snack when working in the fields.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Politics of Food or, Don't Eat Pork

Leviticus 11:7 - And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

Deuteronomy 14:8 - And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.

Why do we eat the foods we eat? Is it because of our heritage, the accessibility of certain foods, dietary restrictions, our religion, or because theres no reason to eat any differently than our parents or how we ate as kids? Most of us go through the motions, never questioning what weve been told or fed. Were okay with the truths weve been given. If it aint broke, right? Well, how do we know? What would we be if everything weve come to believe suddenly ceased to be true? More importantly, who would we be?

I have many friends who have given up pork for various reasons-health, religious ethics, and/or the thought of pigs as being unclean animals. This prompted me to do my own research into pigs and religious rules that forbid the eating of them. This research has been very interesting and in many ways enlightening.

Pigs are amazing creatures. Once the preferred animal of choice for sacrifice to the Greek goddess Demeter, pigs have an excellent sense of smell, are considered to be the most intelligent animals, especially over dogs and cats, and are thought to be more trainable than our canine companions. The pig is also a part of the Chinese astrological calendar. To be born during the year of the pig characterizes a person as honest, tolerant, and good at making friends.

But in the English language, pigs have many a negative connotation. A stubborn person is pig-headed, and one can take on many pig like attributes and become as greedy as a pig. Or, one can overeat and pig out, be lazy as a pig, hog all the food, your time, or physical space, and even live in a pigsty. And for those of you who hold a certain opinion towards cops, you may casually refer to them as, well, you know. Even the dust ball covered character in the Peanuts comic strip was called Pig-Pen. In a not so negative way, but perhaps crude nonetheless, porking is an old American slang term (mostly southern) synonymous with sexual intercourse. (Wouldnt that be something to bring back into mainstream)

In parts of Europe, especially France, as well as in China, and the southern United States, pork dominates the dishes, leaving very little parts of the pig left to waste.

So how can a pig be revered in one part of the world, and be detested in another?

First, lets look again at the scripture above. Its okay to have a divided hoof, but not okay if the animal does not chew the cud. I bet youd all like to know what chewing the cud is.

Ill come back to that later. Why do we consider pigs unclean? Because they like to roll around in the mud? Well, pigs dont have sweat glands, so they have to do whatever they can to keep cool. (If they have access to clean water, theyll use the water-not much difference to them) Is it because they can, to use a friends phrase, chew through bone like butter? IS there something wrong with omnivores (most humans) eating other omnivores (pigs)?

A pig on its own in the wild would certainly eat a little differently than a domesticated pig that has to rely on the feed of the farmer, which might contain scraps of food from the kitchen and various other sources. But is the pig to blame for that diet? Its not as if the pig can choose to say they want whole grains over potato skin, or whatever pig slop contains.

In Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture, cultural-materialistic anthropologist Marvin Harris proposes that it was not economically feasible for the people of Israel and Arabia, or anyone living in desert climes to raise pigs, as they would be competition for resources. If youre to believe that, then its only natural for laws to be designed to not only keep one to ones faith, but also to preserve the posterity.

Because the Bible does not specifically mention any knowledge of the connections between food and disease, or hygiene and food, its hard to say whether the concern over eating pork was related to trichinosis and leprosy. All that is mentioned is that pigs are unclean. One could also argue that to separate a Jew from a Gentile was to look at what the other did, or didnt, and since Gentiles ate pigs freely, and a people of a faith have to remain pure by not intermingling with people of an opposing faith, that could just as well be true.

Now that we care about what processes the foods we eat undergo, from feed to fertilizers, hormones to pesticides, farmers are making an effort to feed their livestock better. And since we know that pork has to be cooked a certain way to kill any potential harm to humans, we can enjoy that other white meat (it is really red) a little more freely. Besides, pork has been found to be a good source of protein and very high in thiamin, an essential B vitamin.

Whether or not pork is good or bad and should or should not be eaten is up to the individual. It gets us nowhere to look down upon each other for how and why we choose to eat what we eat. What is important is to decide for ourselves what values and belief systems are necessary to hold on to, and which ones are grossly outdated and need to be let go. More focus should be spent on the overall quality of our food, the process our foods go from farm or factory to our table and what becomes of us when we eat the foods we eat.

Otherwise, you might as well be chewing the cud, which is simply the process of eating regurgitated food. Yum.

P.S. Pigs get sunburn.

A little useless information never hurt anyone

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Call for a New Revolution

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As a business owner it is important to define a mission and a purpose for selling a particular product and service. As a holistic health practitioner, my mission is to offer holistic nutrition counseling, lifestyle coaching and wellness strategies to individuals and business owners who aspire to optimal health in their lives and in the workplace. This is accomplished by educating people about their bodies and the processes we go through to maintain balance and well-being, without the use of will-power and deprivation. As a woman of color, and as a black woman, there is an obligation to offer these services to people of color specifically, as they are the ones most in need of my services. What Ive learned early on in my practice is to seek out and work with only those individuals who truly want to be helped. I am okay with that, because I understand that it is a waste of my time and resources to get people to do something they dont want to do, even if it means improving their quality of life.

I believe that changing the way we think about food will change the way we see our relationship to our world. I am a believer in traditions that involve coming together around food. I am against traditions that involve food which does not nourish our whole selves. If food is optimal to the maintaining of health, to keeping our bones strong, our organs working, and our blood flowing, then food has a direct relationship to our thoughts and our actions. We know what happens to our bodies and our moods when we eat certain foods. We know that certain foods can make us feel good, bloat our bellies, or make us irritable. We know that some foods fill us with energy while others make us lethargic. We know that there are foods which cause allergies in some and no reactions in others. Learning which foods keep you in balance and feeling good all the time can have a tremendous impact on your life. Ive seen it happen. I am the result of such learning.

I love what I do. I make a commitment to myself to treat myself well, and live one day at a time in that purpose. It feels good to wake up everyday without pain, to feel good on every level, and to know what my body really needs in order to be healthy and function properly. I like to think that I live by example, and that is why my clients choose me to help them with their food and lifestyle issues. I havent always been able successful with my clients, because people really have to want to change within themselves in order for what I do with them to work. And Im okay with that too, because everyone has to be willing to change in their own time.

What Im not okay with, and what is becoming increasingly painful to witness, is the lack of care which black people as a whole give to themselves on a daily basis. There is so much talk about disenfranchisement, the need for control of the black dollar, political and economic independence, and access to adequate healthcare, affordable housing, and self-determination, but there is little mention of accountability for the things we can control. Like our bodies. The problems in the black community that are growing daily-asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, teen pregnancy, STI and AIDS infections-are all afflictions that are directly related to how we take care of ourselves, or choose not to, but before we are willing to take personal responsibility for what we allow into our bodies-food, thoughts, sex, drugs-we look to blame outside sources for our problems.

Yes, it is a known fact that people who live in close proximity to municipal waste dumps, power plants, and mass transportation depots are at a higher risk of asthma and cancer than people not living in those areas. Yes, it is a known fact that people of color are disproportionately more likely to not have access to efficient healthcare and/or health education that could prevent or provide early detection of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Yes, it is a fact that people of color are more likely to live in areas without access to high-quality supermarkets and healthy dining options.

But it is also a known fact that the environmental factors that bring about these diseases are largely attributed to lifestyle choices that can be prevented with proper nutrition, exercise, and hygiene.

So why does there continue to be an increase in these specific diseases that affect the black community? Surely everyone has access to the information they need to make the necessary changes. All one has to do is enter a query on a search engine and a number of sites will pop up, waiting to be browsed. In metropolitan areas, the excuse can no longer be made as to the lack of internet access with more and more families buying computers, and jobs and libraries offering free internet access. Even those in rural areas have libraries that provide internet resources.

What I see as a holistic health practitioner, is reluctance on the part of all us to take responsibility for what is going on in and with our bodies. In our struggle for equal rights, economic power, and self-determination we did not see the importance of fighting for the one most important aspect of ourselves that was taken away from us during slavery: the right to learn, understand, and control our bodily functions. How, in all the in-depth studies of slavery and oppression, did we miss the most fundamental of human growth and development? In our continued struggle to be seen as equals, we model ourselves not upon our own standards of excellence and achievement, but upon the standards that our oppressors hold themselves to, standards neither designed for us nor will ever be recognized on our parts.

In the history of our ancestors, we have always had methods in which to take care of the body, during times of illness and in good health. We have always known what to eat and how to eat it, what season to eat which foods, and what herbal medicines to maintain our strength and well-being. Illness was always treated as a dis-ease within the body, the loudest message our spirit was sending to us because we had ignored the earlier, quieter warnings, the disconnect one part of the body was having with the other (the mind with the body, the body with the spirit and so on).

Because of our desire to fit in, to assimilate into the dominant culture, we take on values and belief systems that do not really fit in with who we are as a people. We throw away the beliefs that have sustained us for centuries. We have kept very little of what we used to know, but struggle and force our way into holding on to what we think we should know, even if it continues to fail us.

It is impossible to think that we can achieve any of the goals we are aiming for without first controlling our minds and our bodies. How can one fight for civil rights when they are sick? How can one fight for economic independence when they do not know how to feed themselves or their children properly? How can one fight for any freedom when they are a slave to a system of ways that no longer work? We are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It simply will not work.

It is much easier to blame outside forces then to look at the role we play in what does not go well in our lives. Our unwillingness to focus on the true issue of our loss of self will continue to manifest in our inability to change our communities.

It is a time for a revolution of the self. One that involves not only self-determination, but accountability and responsibility for all that we can control in our daily lives.

Free your mind and the rest will follow.