Do Not Gentrify Health

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Vegan food sold by black vendors at the International African Arts Festival

Write. Write. Write. What is it for? To cure my inner demons? Turmoils? Traumas of the world? Is it the source of peace? A random combination of words that crazy people like to put together? Or is it just my soul speaking? Well folks, she’s speaking.

This is something that I just feel like getting off my chest. Recently, I saw someone post something on Facebook that supporting Veganism or indulging in it was supporting slavery. It may have not been those words verbatim, but it was pretty similar. I gaped at the post, rolled my eyes and kept scrolling. However, I have been seeing posts from people dismissing certain foods and seemingly applying it to gentrification. In an article, someone mentioned getting the side eye if you order avocado toast and another hated on sriracha. There is probably another example, but I cannot remember at the moment.

One thing I do not understand is why are some people equating veganism to gentrification. It makes no sense. I understand that the people moving into our neighborhoods are carrying with them their gluten free foods and non-dairy products as well as their lack of culture of the very place their taking over. The overpriced juice bars and dumpling shops come to New York like a green shadow pushing out the small businesses and homes which belong here. I hate what’s happening to New York. Gentrification is making Brooklyn residents strangers to their own home. It’s pissing me and many people who live here off.

However, the healthy choices that comes with it is not the problem. Sure, it definitely is a selling point to those moving in. The foreigners that are invading our neighborhoods can afford to eat healthy so of course the marketing ploy is to get them comfortable and turn a place like Bushwick into something it never was. But the foods in our neighborhoods is the true killer of our people. Seriously, look at what is sold in your corner store. Can you truly say with an honest heart, fingers crossed, and all that good stuff that any of the cuisine in our stores has any nutritional value? What about the chicken spot on the corner or the Chinese food store? It’s easy to eat when you don’t want to cook, but is it something we should be eating all the time?

I work with kids and I see them eat the unhealthiest things. What evil person invented Takis? All the kids rave about them, but many know nothing about how bad it is for them. Do you see this product selling in the Upper West Side? What about Tropical Fantasy?

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French toast the kids at WIN made as a part of the Food In the Big Apple program.

One thing that I have started to become more passionate about is for children to understand more about what they are eating; for them to know how tasty food from the land can be and the joys of cooking food themselves. I work for a program called Food In the Big Apple through my company City Science. We teach kids the science behind food while teaching them different, tasty recipes every week. They learn about the five senses through food, the differences between chemical and physical reactions, the essential food groups, parts of the plant and the importance of local farming. It’s an incredible program that I have great joy in being a part of.

With this program in place, I wish there were more opportunities for nutritional health to be introduced to my people. There is so much people that do not know their health. Here are some facts you may or may not know when it comes to nutrition:

  • Some of the culturally accepted meat dishes in the black community were undesirable leftovers from the slave master. (Chitterlings and pigs feet for example) Our ancestors did this to survive, not because they chose to. (Dude, it’s even mentioned in this Boondocks episode.)
  • Processed foods (the foods in our stores) are a leading cause of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Sugar is also a leading cause to heart disease and cancer.
  • Consuming too much gluten products can increase your risk of getting Celiac disease.

I am not here to try to convince people to change how they eat. Please eat how you like. You like red meat, feel free to eat it. If you like to only eat vegetables and fruits, please feel free to eat that too. We all have minds of our own and can make choices with them. What I learned through research and by watching all these documentaries is what I believe to be true. However, it is not the same truth for another person. It is important to read on your own, accept your own truth in your own time and make your own decisions.

My point is to highlight that eating healthy is not the enemy. Since my approach to a more vegan diet, I feel more energized when ever I drink a juice blend. I lost a lot of weight. I learned about the diversity of our natural buffet of herbs, vegetables and grains. I learned different ways in how we can fulfill our daily intake of vitamins. I feel healthier in general. Eating this way is what works for me. Eat the way that works for you. I listened to my body. It said “Tiffy, you know this is good for you. Yes! Chicken is amazing, but you don’t need to eat it.”

Why does bringing in a gluten free, dairy free diet have to be a way that’s destroying our culture? In fact, a lot of the culture we have become so accustomed to is part of our painful past. Do we need to continue this tradition especially with what we know now?

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Vegan chicken wrap with the Sutter Solution juice blend from Blendzville.

Why can’t our neighborhoods own healthy eating? There is this up and coming spot in Brownsville called Blendzville. They make the best juices all while appetizing your palette with dishes like the vegan chicken wrap, salmon burger, a quinoa salad and more. And by the way, it’s black owned. I am seeing more juice spots and vegan choices from black owned businesses. It is a beautiful sight to see my people owning their health and making it available to their brothers and sisters.

Going vegan, vegetarian or just making better choices in terms of your health (less meat, more veggies, no sugar, etc) does not have to be part of the “white people taking our homes” thing. Let’s face it, kale salads and green juices are marketed to the rich, heart disease and death is marketed to the poor in the form of chicken wings and beef burgers. We just refuse to see it because of the tempting nature of the very food that is killing us. Get out of the smoky sweet haze of sugary treats and wake up. We can take back our neighborhoods as well as our health.

 

 

 

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Memories That Last a Lifetime: Mason Catering Wedding Expo

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Flowers are a gentle reminder of the slivers of beauty that exist in the world. They come in all types of colors, styles, and sizes. These products of nature are a unique part of the Earth in which we live in. Flowers were a beautiful addition to the Mason Catering Wedding Expo that took place on March 25, 2017 at the Adria Hotel & Conference Center in Bayside, NY. Like a flower, each vendor there had their own uniqueness shining through. They all represented an integral component that makes up the sensational spirit of a wedding. Each of them are a part of the formula which makes the spectacular union between two lovers magical on their wedding day.

“We are natural born entertainers. We make people happy.”  Benny Hype said from GT HIFI, a Mason Catering sponsored entertainment duo making their place at the event.

The DJs have been entertaining party goers for over 20 years at bridal and baby showers, bar mitzvahs, clubs and graduations.

Nigel Alfred stated that he’s happy when the bride is happy. A photographer who has traveled the globe, Alfred has worked professionally at birthdays, maternity and newborn shoots, engagements and baby showers, but has a strong focus on weddings.

“Wedding photography was a great source for me to develop my work,” he said.

Once invested in mostly street art, photographer Ricky “Dean” Scott is passionate about making the day special for the bride.

He said that no bride should ever have to worry about her pictures on her day as he retold a story of getting wet in the rain to capture the bride’s special moment.

“It (Weddings) happens so many times and every time it takes my breathe away,” he remarked.

At this wonderful event, an array of entrepreneurs made up the community dedicated to making the best of a bride and groom’s nuptial. Also in attendance was Pottery Barn, a known venue for bedding, kitchenware and more; Pauline’s Treats, a specialization in traditional and vegan baked goods, YoDog Media, a media company focused on digital and print videography and photography, photo booth rentals, web design and logo design; M & V Limousines Ltd, the largest limo company in NY that provides luxury vehicles; Rose Sweet Designs, a custom candy company that provides catering for sip & teas, baby and bridal showers and christenings; IP Phone System, a phone company that provides computer phones, video phones, phone greetings and much more telecommunication services; Bigga soft drinks, a flagship brand of the Wisynco group that is the only soft drink made locally in Jamaica; and Orchid’s Flowers and Gifts, a family owned business that specializes in day of the wedding services.

Renee Giscombe of Orchids Flowers and Gifts provides everything a couple needs for the day of their wedding. Wait staff, make-up artists, limos, photographers, hair stylists, fresh florals, candy stations, and more.

“From soup to nuts, we do everything,” Giscombe said. Her mother Ruth and brother Leo also have their own entertainment businesses located next to each other in which they all work together as a family.

Garrick Mason brought this community of entrepreneurs together to celebrate and showcase the magic they create for matrimonial ceremonies. After migrating here from Jamaica 10 years ago, Mason has been in the catering business for six years and four months.

Delsha Monroe, administrator for Mason Catering Services, said their goal is to make every event a memorable one. They offer cooking, meal preparation, and catering services (wait staff, bartenders, plated/buffet service, tables, chairs etc.) for all events whether big or small.

Once an employee at Golden Krust, Mason saw a need for low cost business for food. He started Mason Catering with only $150 in his pocket.

“I can never stop. I have to keep going. I always try to go forward no matter what,” he said. With three kids to motivate him, Mason aspires to take his business nationally. Mason Catering is already in Texas, Florida and California.

“If you think about it, you got it in you. Before a tree blooms, it goes through changes,” he said.

Like the changes and evolution of a flower, the talent, drive and compassion of all these individuals work together in blossoming a forever memorable moment for those ready to say “I Do.” I was honored to meet all the unique individuals dedicated to making the beautiful moments of a wedding incredible.

 

 

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Renee and Ruth Giscombe of Orchids Flowers and Gifts

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YODOG! Media

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Nigel Alfred Photography

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Rose Sweet Designs’ Candy and Cake Station

Spread Love, It’s The AMG Way (Thanksgiving Day Give Back)

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Creativity meets giving back in more ways than one

A day of giving thanks…. do we take it for granted? For the fortunate of us, we have families who however dysfunction they may be, still love and care for us immensely. We get one day to sit surrounded by loved ones and get to fill our bellies with delicious food (Tell me why we do not do this everyday. At least the food part). However, there are so many people out there that do not have a single family member around them. Some have to question when their next meal is coming or how long it will take until the grumbling in their food pits stop. It is terrible that we can not all get to enjoy this family oriented holiday.

Thankfully, there are kind-hearted souls out there who aspire to help those persons in any way that they can. On November 25 (Thanksgiving) in the core of Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, AMG (Avenue Music Group) hosted an event to give back. In front of TD bank, volunteers gave their time to distribute clothes, canned and fresh food and toiletries for those of the needy. Creative professionals also donated their talent to the event through poetry, singing, guitar playing, art and more. Collaborations happened, networking happened and smiles formed to all who were able to come through. As one of the volunteers, it put so much joy in my heart to help those less fortunate. I hope we were able to make their lives just a little bit brighter even if for just one day.

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