Basic nutrition is not so basic…


Basic nutrition course description: An investigation of the bases of nutrition from a scientific and social-psychological viewpoint.  Problems of malnutrition, food as a social phenomenon and current controversies in  nutrition will be discussed.

I will be pursuing my Masters Degree this fall and needed to get back into the collegiate swing of things.  So, I chose a 6 week spring course entitled “Basic Nutrition”.  Two days into the course we have already covered everything from the definition of nutrition down to microvilli absorption.  We are burning kilocalories and classifying carbohydrates and within this all I’ve come to a conclusion…nutrition is far from basic.

No matter which way you look at it if everyone is not educated on how vitamins, minerals and nutrients interact with the human body then they will never truly understand the importance of a healthy diet.  It’s like telling people they have to build a car from scratch to live, but not giving them a blueprint and only some of the resources to buy the parts.  If more schools opened up the doors of holistic health classes and nutrition…EVEN if they believed the students wouldn’t fully understand the content then maybe, just maybe more people would understand how essential eating to live is.

It almost makes me feel bad.  When I think about the information that has been passed to me I wish that it could be passed to everyone in my communities and they could understand and apply it.  That would be my perfect world!  But, we have so much privilege in some places and disparities in others.  It is getting to the point where racism is SO institutional and polite.  Some people don’t even realize that their lack of access to healthy food is discrimination.

In the times of slavery African-Americans were given the scraps.  Hard sweet potatoes, tasteless cheaply grown collard greens and pig intestines.  Out of this treatment came soul food.  I love soul food and it amazes me how we were able to make some of those awful bottom of the barrel foods taste so good.  But, those days are over now.  We can move on from some of those ingredients and adjust our cultural diet to healthier alternatives.  We hold on tight to our culture.  As African-Americans it’s ALL we have that we can call our own.  So, it’s hard to tell people to change the way they cook!  But, if they were educated on how some of those toxins work against their bodies, and how they could be replaced and still maintain a similar taste, MY GOD.  See, the misconception is that African-American (especially in poverty) just won’t understand these complex concepts.  It’s over there head.  But, just like we have adapted to this land, overcome slavery and have 30% of our women attaining college degrees, we can develop it into our culture.  It really saddens me when I’m eating healthy and people tell me it’s “white people food”.  When really it’s The Earth’s food.  What we should eat to live.  How do we get people to wrap their head around that with these simple USDA concepts?

I never imagined talking or writing about mucilage or enrichment but I am.  I grew up with a lot of the same circumstances as people in these “vulnerable” populations.  I put my mind to seeking out knowledge and it has been coming my way ever since.  African-American and Hispanic communities need to be empowered by the US government if they truly want these statistics to move.  Instead of “get off welfare” it should be “you can learn to budget and survive without the assistance!  Let me show you how you would start to do that with your current earnings”.

I have faith that in the future people will become more and more empowered.  All of these thoughts being provoked by a simple 100 level course. Ha!  Basic nutrition is not so basic…



Downtown Market Grand Rapids…who is the target audience?


The city of Grand Rapids is growing. Not just in size but also food! The food culture in the area is flourishing and that includes organic and healthy food. (Which is great). The down side to this culture is not everyone is included. This is only expected but what does this really say about us? Does inclusion even really matter or should people find their own niche?

Either way there is a lot of hype surrounding the opening of the Downtown Market Grand Rapids. Rightfully so, as the new market will be innovative. 1st LEED certified market, Grand Action funded, Wellness centers, 24 vendors etc… But, the true question remains. Will the market be affordable?

This question arose in my mind due to location, location, location… The market will be on Ionia and virtually blocks away from Division Avenue. It will be serving an area that is extremely food deserted with no local grocery stores or other markets. I once spoke with a man who was living at Herkimer Apartments on Division Ave. and asked him where he grocery shopped with no car? He told me at the gas station on the corner and Family Dollar when he couldn’t get a ride to Meijer over 10 miles away. A lot of the food on the avenue is overpriced for this very reason. Not to mention the homeless and shelter populations are mostly in the area. So, I wonder. Will this market serve the desert? Or, will it be an oasis that is too expensive for the poor to drink?

I know, I know. There are politics to this type of thing. The vendors will need to make a profit…the market too. But, I am hoping and praying at some point they decide to take a look in their backyard. Check out the “community” tab for the Detroit Eastern Market. Oh, the possibilities. Humanity, outreach, service. Let’s not forget. I’m praying to be pleasantly surprised. More to come on this!

West Michigan Farm Markets


Spring is finally here! Well, kind of. So, that means it’s Farmer’s Market season. One thing that I totally love about living in Michigan is the innovative approach the state is taking towards Farmer’s Markets. Most of our Farmer’s Markets are totally electronic and run on an Apple App. They accept cash, credit, debit and some even Bridge cards and WIC benefits. This is such an asset to the community. In West Michigan most Farmers Markets are accessible! Literally within walking distance of most neighborhoods, the spring/summers are rich and getting richer around here. Someone sent me this nice link to a website called West Michigan Farm Markets. The website shows all the local Farmer’s Markets AND individual Farmers and what forms of payment they accept. I love this type of stuff. If people can get their hands on it, it can really empower them to actually go out and buy some fresh produce. What is more important to us than convenience? I support Farmers Markets because I love organic, fresh food. But, just as important is supporting local farmers and our food system. Enough about what I love…go out and try them! 🙂

Baxter Community Center launches Gardener’s Guild film series

How exciting! More screenings in Grand Rapids, MI! Soul Food Junkies and What’s On Your Plate? Contact Baxter Community Center at 616-456-8593 for more information. Thanks OKT!

Our Kitchen Table

Baxter Community Center, 935 Baxter St SE, launches its Gardener’s Guild series at 6 p.m. Tuesday April 16 with a free screening of award winning documentary, Soul Food Junkies. In this documentary, award-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt explores the health advantages and disadvantages of the soul food culinary tradition. Free popcorn! After the film, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute‘s executive director Shannon Wilson will lead a discussion. 
On May 14, Baxter’s  Gardener’s Guild , Our Kitchen Table will lead the discussion after a screening of the film, Whats On Your Plate?
For information, call (616) 456-8593.

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$4 Recipe for Food Bloggers Against Hunger

Zesty Tomato Soup

Serving Size: 1 cup

Yield: 4 servings


1 can (14.5 ounces) no-salt added diced tomatoes *$1.06/can

1 cup roasted red peppers, drained *$1.49/can

1 cup evaporated milk, fat-free *$1.14/can

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh basil, rinsed and chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried)


1. Combine tomatoes and red peppers in a blender or food processor.

Puree until smooth. (You can also finely chop and press without these tools)

2. Put tomato mixture in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

3. Add evaporated milk, garlic powder, and pepper. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add basil and serve.

Find this recipe and many other affordable and healthy recipes here at the Snap-Ed Recipe Finder Database

Food Bloggers Against Hunger

Today is Food Bloggers Against Hunger Day!

Today is Food Bloggers Against Hunger Day!

If there is one thing I have personal experience with when it comes to food it is being hungry. Coming up in a single parent home that was fairly close to the poverty line was not always easy. My Mom did everything she could to make sure my sister and I had everything we needed. She worked two jobs and supported us the best she could. But, I do remember times when I was hungry. Not starving or being neglected. But, simply hungry in between our rationing of food for dinner that we had to keep into perspective. I received free or reduced breakfast/lunch at school all the way up until the 6th grade. I started going to a special 6th grade program called John Ball Zoo School that did not have a lunch program. With sack lunch being required every day I started to notice that we didn’t have much to pack. A lot of my peers had fresh fruits and veggies and luscious packed lunches. I would have a simple pb&j and a drink, but I remember being hungry still until I got home in the evening. I did not know that this was childhood hunger. I thought maybe I was just more hungry than other people? As I got into middle/high school it started to get worse. I was playing sports and eating little to nothing all day. I would come home staving and I never told my Mom because I didn’t want her to think she wasn’t doing enough. She was already working her fingers to the bone!!! I would have 2 or 3 bucks a day for cookies or chips at school. Looking back I have no idea how I focused in class and made it through those grueling practices. It brings tears to my eyes because I know there are millions of kids in this country who are going through the same thing! Some of it due to lack of money, resources, education… Whatever it may be I believe that a light needs to be shined on the issue. If you are someone like me who has experienced hunger pain first hand be an advocate for these kids. Be sure your own children never have to feel food insecure and take it one step further for others. My heart truly lies in these issues. Because hunger is silent and personal it is usually the story never told…

Food Deserts: Subliminal Racism

One thing I would have to add to this that there may very well be supermarkets within food deserts. Some of it has to do with price, access, selection etc… But, I just LOVE seeing and reading so much about food deserts around the country. People are coming to see that there is a problem here. Not to mention they effect all communities, Hispanic, Asian and Caucasian included. It is such a shame that there are so many more in African-American communities because they are not being valued. It all begins with humanity.

By Tere’ Lewis

Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and plenty other civil movement activists, may have contributed to the creation of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, however, I wish they could see the racism that still takes place today, almost fifty years later. The only difference between then and now is that now, acts of racism are more subliminal, for instance, the existence of food deserts in predominately Africa-American, urban areas.  Towns without supermarkets are called food deserts.  This means the area lacks access to healthy foods such as fresh meats, fruits, produce, vegetables, etc.  It seems that the fact that food deserts are located in low-income, black communities is not a coincidence, however.

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A Place at The Table

If you are in the Grand Rapids, MI area between now and April 11th take the time to stop at UICA and view the film “A Place at the Table”. The film takes a look at food insecurity through three lives. It rasies awareness and talkes about solutions on hunger. My husband and I will be going to check it out this weekend and I’ll provide a review. I’m hoping that it’ll be motivating and insightful!

OKT Community Convening March 30, April 20 & 27

Really hoping I can make this event on Saturday and gain some insight on local food access etc… OKT is awesome in every way!

Our Kitchen Table

Let’s discuss, reflect on and learn together about the topic “What Does Access to Food Look Like in Grand Rapids.” We will dialogue about local food access, food justice principles and food politics.

 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Saturday March 30 Food Politics 


Facilitated by Cynthia Price*, Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council. Meeting at Madison Square Church, 1441 Madison Ave. SE, Grand Rapids.

Price is the chair and co-founder of the Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council, a food policy council which has been around since 2001. Her day job is as a newspaper editor, reporter and photographer for two papers, one in Muskegon and one in Grand Rapids.

Lila Cabbill, president emeritus of the Rosa Parks Institute, will facilitate the April 20 convening. La Donna Redmond, nationally renown food justice activist, will facilitate the April 27 convening. 

Look for more information on the OKT website soon!

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YMCA Veggie Van


The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids has a mobile oasis for the food deserts of Grand Rapids.  The YMCA Veggie Van was made possible through a grant from W.K.Kellogg and offers fresh fruits, vegetables and pre-made items at a low cost to a majority of areas in the inner city.  They accept everything from bridge cards to WIC benefits.  It’s such an amazing idea and answer in response to the current food situation.  My favorite part about the Veggie Van is that they support local farmers and a majority of the food is Michigan grown and organic!  I really pray that people are taking the time to look up the scheduled stops near them and taking advantage of the service.  Innovation at it’s best…