It’s great to be here with Vegans of Color!
So, as you may soon learn about me, I’m pretty obsessed with the African diaspora. If I can find any way to merge my love for diaspora with my love of food…I’m on it. I sort of think I’ve eaten the most plantains of all vegans everywhere. I have eaten so many plantains (and their hot cousin, the banana) in my vegan life, that I feel like Bubba on the bus next to Forrest when I get to talking about them. Fried plantain, sweet plantain, green plantain, baby plantain, baby bananas, banana smoothies, bananas with peanut butter, bananas with soy yogurt…bananas with a rash.
Yep, that last one, bananas with a rash, was the least tasty and fun. Not to go into the gory, weeklong details, but this damn rash felt like my body was an overpopulated red ant hill. At first, I loaded up on cortisone, oatmeal rubs, shea butters and neem oil, but nothing changed. I was still on fire and was definitely dealing with some embarrassing business. After much anguish, it occurred to me to change my diet. First went the orange juice. Nothing changed. Then I added kombucha. Some relief ensued but nothing dramatic. And then the moment of truth came. After a long day of work, with very little to eat, I turned towards a banana before strolling over to a friends house. Five minutes between the last bite of banana and my foot hitting his door, I was jumping out of my clothes like I had been promised legendary sex. After much writhing, scratching, crying and calling on the heavens for mercy, I was covered in lotion and panting in the bathroom; cursing bananas and their deceptive good looks. With more thought over the origins of my latest outbreak, it occurred to me that my mainstream mega grocery store purchased bananas were the source of my extreme pain. People: even my eyelids burned.
Now I know, and I’m sure you can gather, that my body is so interesting that we can and should talk about it all day. However, I won’t push it. What I am looking to speak to, however, is the danger of genetically modified foods. I am absolutely certain that what I have developed sensitivity to the monocrops that are often sold at large grocery chains that are not organic, nor are they sustainable for our ecosystems or for their consumers.
The insustainability of GMO food-products should be of particular concern to us as vegans of color knowing that are communities are systematically under-resourced with fresh produce. The produce that is available (and perceptibly suitable for consumption) is often not organic, and therefore subjected to pesticide (at an overstated “best”) or a genetically modified food product at its worst. When Haitian farmer’s are refusing Monsanto’s GMO seeds in the wake of an infinitely far-reaching disaster, we should be thinking deeply about the speculative effects of modified foods upon our individual bodies, and by extension, upon our communities. What will happen to our reproductive systems? What will happen to our fetuses in utero? What will happen to our immune systems? Our babies? Our adolescents? And our elderly community members? Our natural ability to heal ourselves with food?
To conclude on a productive note, I won’t delude myself with the idea that we will all go out any by organic at my behest (because I am still tippin on pesticides and food-products when my budget is pressed). I will say though that those of us with the resources in knowledge, time, and/or money should be furthering urban farms, farmers markets, affordable locally grown organic foods and growing food ourselves. If these aren’t appealing, ramping up our talking points and putting our skills towards increased (awareness off) WIC and LINK access at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Yes Organic, etc can make a tremendous difference. Ultimately, we can do an immeasurable amount of good if we put our energy behind making sure we engender more pathways towards harm-reduction than by letting the “organic” debate go on under the guise of a conversation about vitamins and price. If we don’t, how many of our most physically vulnerable community members gain the value of living more holistically when what is perceptibly whole breaks them down?