Just in Case You Wanted to Listen In, The Kojo Nnamdi Show Interview


This was a great afternoon, too short, too short!!!

Denzell Mitchell of Five Seeds Farm @5seedsfarm on Twitter and I were hosted on WAMU 88.5 by Kojo Nnamdi (@KojoShow)

Special thanks to Mike M. @MikeMartinezDC and Camelia for their putting this together.  Photo Courtesy The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

And here’s the show! Have fun! http://thekojonnamdishow.org/shows/2013-04-03/urban-farming-and-agricultural-history


Common Good City Farm: http://commongoodcityfarm.org/

Five Seeds Farm: http://fiveseedsfarm.com/

Woodberry Kitchen: http://www.woodberrykitchen.com/

Capital City Farm Company: http://www.capitalcityfarmco.com/

City Blossoms: http://cityblossoms.org/

Three Part Harmony Farm: http://threepartharmonyfarm.org/

Aya Community Markets: http://ayamarkets.org

DC Greens:http://www.dcgreens.org

Healthy Affordable Food For All (HAFA):http://hafadc.com/

COOP DC: http://coopdc.org

Montgomery County Food Council:http://www.mocofoodcouncil.org

Washington Youth Garden:http://www.washingtonyouthgarden.org/

Wangari Community Gardens:http://wangarigardens.wordpress.com/

Washington Gardener Magazine: http://www.Washingtongardener.com

Rooting DC:http://rootingdc.org/

Tambra Raye/NativSol Kitchen:http://about.me/tambraraye

Neighborhood Farm Initiative:http://www.neighborhoodfarminitiative.org/

A 19th Century Heirloom Kitchen Garden I Grew Myself, 2009 A 19th Century Heirloom Kitchen Garden I Grew Myself, 2009

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Sharing the Details

Last weekend, I had this singular opportunity to witness an authentic African “Soul Food” cooking class at Woodrow Wilson High School, in Washington D.C. Tambra Raye Stevenson, acclaimed speaker and founder of NativSol Kitchen (NativSol stands for new american traditions including values of sustainable, organic and local), and notable DMV food specialist Michael Twitty, taught participants and health-conscious foodies the importance of an African diet.

This unique cooking class was a featured segment from Rooting D.C, a free, all-day gardening forum that provides hands-on demonstrations, and exhibits on urban food.

When I speak about an “African diet” I refrain from highlighting the perks of eating fried chicken, macaroni, chitlins and what most Americans perceive as authentic soul food. Real soul food consists of: millet, quinoa, chilies, and veggies. Essentially, real soul food has profound and rich origins from African nations.

africandietpyramidStevenson is highly lauded, in the DMV area, for her…

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District Residents Learn to Align Their Faith with Their Fork

Food for the Soul offers more than nutrition to residents

WASHINGTON, DC (August 26, 2012)—For the last eight weeks, a little parish—Saint Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church—in Southeast Washington, DC has become a home for spiritual food for many health concerned District residents.

“There’s been a high level of interest of people seeking ways to increase their faith while improving their nutrition and wellness,” says Tambra Stevenson, creator of the program & nutrition educator with the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health at the University of the District of Columbia.

Now in its third run, the “Food for the Soul: Faith-Based Nutrition Series” wraps up this summer. Participants like Charlene Howard have brought their children and spouse making it a family affair to become whole and healthy together. In her first assignment, which is a letter to God on what our health goals, she writes:

“I am working to be more intentional about what I put in my body. I don’t want to use commercial medications but would rather use foods that provide medicinal benefits.” She goes on to share: “If I do these things I will be able to be a more effective teacher, mother and wife. I will have more energy to be able to think more creatively.”

In the sessions, participants learn to cook, eat and pray together. With the written recipe in hand and produce supplied in the kitchen, teams rotate weekly to prepare a meal based on biblical scripture such as making whole grain bread from Ezekiel 4:9. Hot from the oven, they can taste and see the goodness of God’s creations.

Other sessions included creating their personalized ten kitchen commandments. One participant, Allison, reflects on her covenant with God. Her first commandment is ‘thou shall not have sodas, or other sugar-sweetened juice drinks or teas.’

Because of this unique program, participants are now looking at food from a spiritual lens and with great appreciation. During a mindful eating meditation, they prayed before eating an apple.

“As the instructor, I guided them through the meditation. They reflected on the farm workers who worked to harvest a perfect apple for them. And they gave thanks to God for making the perfect apple recipe with the right balance of ingredients.”

One participant shared that she now buys apples, and the experience has transformed her.  “It was a powerful experience for me,” she says with deep gratitude.

“The program has been received positively. We have been interviewed by NBC News and Sirius XM to share the message of what it means to align your faith with your fork,” says Stevenson. “Social media has been key in spreading the word. People from other states want to be in the program.”

Now the Muslim community wants to have the program at the mosque in Washington, DC. So starting this Fall, “Food for the Soul: Faith-based Nutrition Series” is headed to Masjid Muhammad to teach how to build a body fit for Allah with halal foods.

After a summer sabbatical, Tambra Stevenson will regularly update DC FOOD JUSTICE. This fall she begins the Virginia Tech dietetic internship program. She also serves on the public policy committee for the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association. To follow her, visit her on Twitter.

More Staff, Resources Needed at UDC Nutrition Program

This week DC City Council heard day-long testimonies from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). University president Allen Sessoms and Joseph L. Askew, Jr., UDC Chair of the Board of Trustees, made their case for additional operating budget dollars before the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development.  Chaired by Councilmember-at-large Michael A. Brown, the hearing included councilmember Marion Barry of Ward 8.

With potential funding looming this summer UDC aims to climb the top of the priority list. One group within the UDC enclave is the nutrition program housed within the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences. Advocating for more staff and improved facilities, Tambra Stevenson, the outgoing president of the Student Dietetic Association, provided the committee with her remarks sparking interests from Councilmember Barry. As a workforce development opportunity she added the need for a dietetic internship at the University to ensure that the students gain supervisory experience to become Registered Dietitians given today’s job requirements.

Apparently the long-time local politician wasn’t aware of the state of the nutrition program until now. He went on to inquire about the funding needs of the program since the current Mayoral budget has 0 full-time equivalents (FTE) listed. Stevenson stated to the Councilmember: “Conservatively the Department needs at least a million to fund three full-time positions and renovate educational facilities.”

To take a view of Stevenson’s testimony, see below:

Currently I am the outgoing President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia that I call ‘family.’

Like my Oklahoma roots—as a UDC family—we work hard together, struggle together; but ultimately still we rise together.

If it wasn’t for UDC, my goal to become a Registered Dietitian would not be possible. Due to passionate faculty, dedicated staff and supportive peers, I have been learning and doing my passion.

Right now the acceptance rate for a dietetic internship to prepare for the RD exam is 49% nationally; yet for UDC it was 100% this year.  As a testament, I received my number #1 choice Virginia Tech—because UDC prepared me.  And it rightfully should have its own program like most universities. Therefore Council I ask you to increase our funding.

Increase in Opportunities in the Field of Nutrition and Dietetics                                                                                                     

Even in a rough economy, we have been able to still rise.  The UDC Nutrition Department had a 300% spike in enrollment since 04. With DC ranking in the top 10 for childhood obesity, DC residents have been answering the call of First Lady Obama.

And in many ways I am like my late father, an Oklahoma City firefighter. But I am a food fighter on the frontline fighting a fractured food and healthcare system for the next generation to have a better life.

With most of America, the District has rightfully focused on food access like in my Ward 8. Yet for residents in the TANF and SNAP programs, making informed food buying and eating choices maximizes those public dollars.

And that’s why through the UDC Center for Nutrition Diet and Health, I am empowering residents to prepare healthy meals and to double their dollars at the farmer’s market.

Another reason to support our UDC family: It’s the only land-grant accredited and affordable academic program in DC to prepare future RDs like me.

The road has been challenging though with no admin support and only 3 FTE faculty for 80 students. How is this possible? Passion for family!

Our Department Chair, Dr. Prema Ganganna does the work of 3 FTEs with no salary increase in 5 years while losing her son and battling cancer.  And our facilities are that of an elementary home economics lab with outdated equipment and confining space.

Still through all of this, UDC nutrition rises because of professionals like Dr. G.  Without her there would be no program.

And like a family our Nutrition Advisory Committee has supported students with service-learning opportunities in DC Public Schools, DC Cooperative Extension Services, and WIC clinics to name a few.

Funding the Future Food Fighters                                                                                                                                   

It’s difficult training future RDs like me with limited funding. That is why we are here today to urge you to fund the Department for a state-of-the-art learning lab and 2 FTEs to operate our first-ever dietetic internship.

Your decision will determine if we continue to struggle together or rise together. Dear Council, what are we going to do together?

Take Action! In supporting a strong nutrition program for the District, supporters should email a letter this week to Councilmember Barry and to Chairman Brown.  Here is a sample letter to personalize: 

Contact Information for the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development that oversees the University:

Councilmember-at-Large Vincent Orange

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 410, Washington, DC 20004

Tel: (202) 724-8174 

Email: vorange@dccouncil.us


Councilmember Phil Mendelson

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20004

Tel: (202) 724-8064

Email: pmendelson@dccouncil.us

Councilmember-at-Large Michael A. Brown

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 406, NW

Tel: (202) 724-8105

Email: mbrown@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Marion Barry 

Office: 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 102, Washington, DC 20004

Tel: (202) 724-8045

Email: mbarry@dccouncil.us


April 26, 2012

Councilmember Michael Brown

Committee on Housing and Workforce Development

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Suite 406

Washington, DC 20004

Dear Councilmember  [Name]

Please take action to ensure a funding commitment beyond 2012 for the UDC Department of Nutrition and Food Science!

I am a student of the UDC nutrition program. [State your work, occupation or relationship to UDC, Personalize to your story]

Over the years, District youth have become an unlikely statistic—the top ten in childhood obesity. In fact, over the few decades, access to healthy foods along with nutrition counseling and education has been bleak in communities like Mt. Pleasant and East of the River.

Why does it matter? Obesity has become the gateway to diabetes, heart disease and hypertension like a domino effect.  At this rate today’s youth will become tomorrow’s early candidates for disability and underproductive workforce! The soft savings achieved in prevention is clear from that perspective. So are we going backwards or forwards, Council? A Baltimore Sun article noted that are youth are becoming obese and malnourished. Meaning they have access to food but not eating nutritious foods.

Through the years, so little has been spent on community nutrition for District residents; yet is the cornerstone to prevention. Really! How else can you explain the epidemic of chronic disease plaguing women, men and children—who suffer from diet-related diseases and think the solution is in a pill? Proper nutritional support and access to healthy foods work together; yet the connection between food and health gets overlooked along with recognizing the role of registered dietitians daily.

It has taken until 2010, to get a master’s nutrition program off the ground at UDC training students in nutrition policy, research and communication. With Howard University downsizing its nutrition program, UDC stands in the lead to train and empower residents on a critical topic—nutrition as medicine and as prevention. Together UDC nutrition faculty and students work diligently to ensure continued success regardless of their circumstances. In support the UDC Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health provides student training opportunities and administrative support to the program.

My issue does not have the representation of a high profile of a celebrity or a PR machine—this may explain why it has taken so long to get a concerted effort going on behalf of our nutrition program.  It is vital to keep the UDC nutrition programs going to help our residents to live a healthy, happy life.

I wait to hear back from you as to what steps you will take to ensure the continuation of the UDC nutrition program. Thank you in advance for your attention to my request.


[your name]


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Faith Community on the Move: Food for the Soul

“When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick. Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.” But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”   – Matthew 14:14-16

Check out Ayinde and Donna and vote for “Food for the Soul” in the Let’s Move Video Challenge! http://t.co/ofX8HAB

Diet-related diseases disproportionately impact African Americans in the United States. The top chronic diseases decreasing the quality of life of African Americans include diabetes, cancer, stroke, hypertension and heart disease with obesity as the gateway. Obesity—which is the precursor to many chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease—alone costs the United States more than $117 billion. That’s why President Obama under the Affordable Care Act has placed priority on prevention to  improve the health of Americans but also control health care spending.  By concentrating on the underlying drivers of chronic disease, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps us move from today’s sick-care system to a true “health care” system that encourages health and well-being.

And in the District youth are vulnerable to childhood obesity placing the District as a top 10 offender in America though it ranks 7th lowest among adults. With a population of 591,833, the District of Columbia’s African-American population comprises slightly more than half (50.7%). Of that number, majority are living in Wards 7 and 8 which has experienced a lack of affordable, accessible and quality foods and nutrition. For instance in the D.C. Department of Health’s Obesity Report, Ward 7 and 8 has a total of 6 large and small grocery stores and two farmers markets compared to Ward 2 and 3 has 16 large and small grocery stores and 7 farmer’s markets and 4 organic markets. Overall one-third (33%) of District adults consumer the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

With the growing epidemic of diet-related diseases, faith-based institutions can play a key role in influencing health eating efforts among their congregation. Few faith-based program interventions integrate its teachings with nutrition education, particularly using a participatory approach. At the St. Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church in southeast Washington, DC, participants attended “Food for the Soul” a faith-based eight weekly nutrition sessions. They received weekly incentives for completing assignments to reinforce healthy behaviors. Activities included writing in journals, creating  kitchen commandments, and preparing healthy recipes.

As a result, participants are preparing more meals at home with fruits and vegetables. Also participants reported an improved sense of self and incorporating their faith made a positive impact in goal achievement.  At the end members supported the development of a new culinary ministry which Parish Life Council approved. 

Church members have shown their excitement and encouragement for more programs in nutrition education, food safety and wellness. Given the high unemployment in communities such as East of the River, many families wouldn’t be able to afford private nutritionists and personal trainers to improve their health and quality of life. Therefore the federally-funded programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program are vitally important. By doing so, we continue to provide citizen-demanded nutritional services with culturally competent nutrition professionals. Ultimately we can address the health disparities and curb the diet-related disorders preventing another generation from seeing its full potential.

At the beginning of the program, participants wrote letters to God about their nutritional goals:

We truly are what we eat, thus we must watch what we take in. Eating must be life giving. This comes at a critical time for me. It brings structure to my Lenten journey. My sacrifice truly will be a journey of discipline using natural (things already available from nature) substance to replenish my body through meals. The suggested meditative habit will help guide me to a closer relationship with God. – Food for the Soul adult participant

I learned that I don’t need mass quantities of food to be satisfied or several cups of juice to be refreshed. I will most definitely drink coconut water instead of Gatorade. I like the fact that food symbolizes freedom and after today I look forward to this idea expounded upon and being fully understood. – Food for the Soul youth participant

Dear God,

I want to experience true vitality again to breathe better, feel stronger, act more boldly. Also I see a need to eat less and think about food less. Please help me to make healthy choices about what I eat and save for others. Help me to eat more mindfully and prayerfully. And help me to remember those who don’t have enough to eat.  – Food for the Soul adult participant

Together participants created healthy dishes. Below is a copy of a recipe for Warm Apple Crisp.

Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia. You can follow her on Twitter @tambra.

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As a special feature of DC Food Justice from Women’s History Month and National Nutrition Month, community leaders in the food justice movement will be showcased. This month’s focus is on the role of women in advocating from their communities to improve quality of life throughfood and nutrition.

Mariama looks for new vegetarian recipes.

A woman is like a tea bag. She only knows her strength when put in hot water.                                                                                                                                — Nancy Reagan

by Tambra Stevenson

Student across the country hold walkouts in protest of an unjust judicial system for the lack of arrest of Trayvon Martin’s killer. Yet Mariama Taifa-Seitu, 17, protests another unjust system that produces the food you put in your mouth: chicken! And that’s why she is this month’s featured food fighter on the frontline.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, poultry are fed diets mostly of corn and soybean meal with added vitamins and minerals in the U.S. And in Washington, DC with the number of carry-out stores selling buff fried chicken with mambo sauce, you shouldn’t be surprised that the poultry consumption in the U.S. has steadily increased since the 1900s.  Back then chicken [known as the Gospel Bird in black churches] was eaten only on Sundays, now poultry is an everyday food affair. But can eating too much of this tech-produced bird harm your health?

Mariama was inspired to find the answer to this question. “I never ate red meat, only turkey and

Credit: J. Sell, Iowa State University

seafood. In my freshman year, I saw a video called ‘Eat Your Meat,’ I never thought about where meat comes from, the video shocked me and open my eyes about food safety and how our health can be linked to how animals are treated.”

In preparation for the food fight of her young life, the honor student volunteered with Compassion over Killing, a DC-based animal protection nonprofit, to improve her advocacy skills. In DuPont Circle she practiced how to conduct a feed-in, which involves ‘standing outside of a fast-food chain that practice unjust food practices.’

And with mentoring from the owner of Everlasting Life Cafe, Dr. Baruch BenYehudah, she gained focus: “For my senior year, I chose the topic of consumption of factory-farmed meats and the poor consumer health and have Dr. Baruch as my mentor.”

Courtesy photo

“I decided to stand outside of KFC to give free literature and vegetarian food while people signed the petition,” shared Mariama. “Unlike McDonald’s and Whole Foods, KFC doesn’t set animal welfare regulations among its distributors.” She learned about the campaign against KFC on PETA’s website.

Now a senior at School Without Walls, Mariama recently presented her student project entitled “Appetite for Disaster: The Correlation Between Factory Farm Meat and Human Health,” at the the Heb Peret – The Seed Festival™ and Food Sovereignty on March 24th in Baltimore, MD.

At the forum, she reveals her findings which show factory farms are hazardous to the public’s health. Based on the ‘increase of antibiotic-resistant bacterium, the rise of viruses and diseases, and the pollution of the air and water,’ she concludes that ‘society must consider alternative solutions to factory farms, such as organic farming and sustainable agriculture, or even veganism.’ In her report she goes on to say that ‘there are no health, environmental, or moral benefits to factory farms, and deeming the practice illegal would demonstrate positive effects locally and globally.’

With her new-found media attention and speaking engagements, Mariama expresses how the project has impacted her and her family. “Before this project, I was a vegetarian and now I am even more aware of the environmental impact and source of what I eat,” she tells me. “It was little overwhelming. Majority of my friends didn’t know [where meat was coming from], they may not stop eating meat but at least choose more organic and sustainable sources and getting people my age aware of food safety.”

After watching her video project and reading the report, her family is eating more vegetarian meals and getting locally grown vegetables from their neighbor. “We don’t read eat out that much except for vegetarian foods from Senbeb Café operated by Asurae Aset Society and located at 6224 3rd St., N.W. Washington, D.C. or from the Bethesda-based Vegetable Garden.”

Given the support from family, friends and teachers, she is well on her way to be an agent of change. And she articulates her gratitude: “I am happy that my mother has always been supportive for me in whatever I set my mind to…she has done a lot to help me through the process…she is great.”

Taking her experience to the next level, she attended the Corcoran College of Art + Design where she met international journalists. Blending her passion for social change, she completed a pre-college photojournalism program where her love of photos grew. Inspired by her instructor, she explains, “I am interested in social justice issues around the world.”

As an active globetrotting youth, she plans to capture ‘controversial issues in societies that people don’t think or talk about’ through her photo lens. Applying her knowledge, her next dream adventure involves going to Uganda where American doctors are testing experimental drugs on residents without informed consent.

And with her experience and passion, she will be a great fighter for injustice locally and globally. You can view her featured photographs at Ama Seitu Photography.

Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia which is hosting the second Annual International Urban Sustainability Action Summit on April 27, 2012 at the Van Ness Campus. Stay abreast of food fights,  follow her on Twitter @tambra. And share your comments on the blog posts that mean something to you!


Fisherman Catches More than Blossoms on the Potomac

Jessie catches crappie off the Potomac River.

by Tambra Stevenson

WASHINGTON, DC—As tourists flock into the nation’s capital for the 100th anniversary of the cherry blossoms, one fisherman will be fly fishing off the west Potomac.  

Jesse, a retired residential roofer from Virginia, sits on the riverbank catching crappie while beating the tree-loving crowd coming en masse to see the blossoms. When asked about the safety of eating the fish from the river, the great-grandfather stated: “I have been eating this fish for more than fifty years, and I am just fine.”

Running along the western board of the District, the Potomac River is home to the cherry blossom tree as well as bass, panfish, crappie and catfish. Perfect for fishing, the weekend weather was calm and clear. Within minutes of sitting with Jesse, he caught a beautiful crappie.

Released back into the water, the crappie dines on a diverse diet of zooplankton, insects, and crustaceans, which keeps it lean.  According to the University of the Wisconsin’s Sea Grant Institute, one serving size (3.5 ounces) of crappie is low in calories, fat and protein compared to bass and catfish.

For some fishing isn’t just for recreational activities but a way to feed the family. And before Jesse, the Virginia Algonquians in the 1600s fished along the Potomac (which is a European spelling of an Algonquian name for a tribe subject to the Powhatan confederacy).  Known as ‘the place where tribute is brought,’ the river filled with fish fed nearly 20,000 tribesmen before being enslaved or slayed by infectious disease or war from the English colonizers.

Fish or Seafood Calories % Fat % Protein
Bass (Small & Largemouth) 104 2.6 18.8
Crappie 79 0.8 16.8
Catfish (freshwater) 103 3.1 17.6

Source: University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Instiute

And in less than two days, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will kick off its ground-breaking Centennial events running from March 20th to April 27th. Winding along the tidal basin, cherry blossoms bloomed earlier than expected due to the short winter season. So festivities have have begun earlier this year.

This year marks the centennial celebration of the cherry blossoms, which were a gift from Tokyo, Japan to Washington, DC in 1912 “as a living symbol of friendship between the Japanese and American peoples.” And horticulturist, Dr. David Fairchild, of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s foreign plant service was instrumental in cultivating the blossoms to ensure their viability on the East Coast.

Before sitting down with Jesse, I spoke with one of the tree trimmers for the U.S. National Park Service under the U.S. Department of the Interior. “I must love trees because on my off day I trim trees too,” said the tree trimmer, “but sometimes I get tired of looking at trees.” He shared how he works throughout the year to cut the dead branches and remove from nearly 15,000 trees. For photographers and tourists this means a picture perfect snapshot of the blossoms.

Tourists and local residents can fish for their supper like Jesse off the Potomac. And for ten dollars, they can get a DC fishing license at area vendors such as One Stop Benning Corporation located at 4443 Benning Road in northeast Washington.

Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia where she is completing the didactic program in dietetics. You can follow her on Twitter @tambra.


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Raw Food Chef Shares His Path to Healing His Community

by Tambra Stevenson

WASHINGTON, DC (March 18, 2012)—While most people celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with green drinks and friends, a small group dined on raw greens from cabbage to kale prepared by Chef Heru, a trained electrical engineer by day and a raw food chef by night.

In honor of the House of N’Golo’s founder, Amensa Sheps Teker, Nkechi Taifa, Esq. and Dakarai James Kearney opened their northwest home with a special libation and featured a pan-African- inspired raw food menu of African herbal broccoli, spicy kale salad and African pepper cabbage.

Additional special guests included Dr. Baruch Ben Yehudah, owner of Everlasting Life Cafe, Rev. Ivy Hylton, owner of Serenity Healing Arts and author of Journey into Inner Peace, W. Bruce Willis, author of the Adinkra Dictionary, and Yirser Ra Hotep, founder of the YogaSkills Method focused on Kemetic yoga.

The menu creator, Chef Heru, teaches raw food classes for the House of N’Golo to the continue tradition of showing raw foods using traditional African spices to heal the community. In his herbal broccoli recipe he uses spirulina (a sea plant protein) along with moringa, an African spice. The moringa comes as crushed leaves containing all essential amino acids and rich in proteinvitamin Avitamin Bvitamin C, and minerals.

For his kale salad, he adds fresh ginger (which is used as an astringent in the Caribbean), lemon to create alkalinity in the body,                                                                                            and garlic to boost immunity. His Amensa savory pie is walnut pate layered with plantains, avocado, caraway seeds, and sundried tomatoes.

Influenced by his mentor and the cultural shift in the city, he began his journey into raw foods: “After the 1970s there was a wave of people reconnecting with their history, and a spiritual and cultural movement to bring traditional African systems to the forefront in bridging the gap between people of African descent in America and on the continent.”

For Chef Heru, food comes from a spiritual source. “We are spiritual beings having human experiences. The body uses the different colors of food for a nutritional and spiritual connection; so when you eat junk food, your body and spirit doesn’t function at an optimal level.”

He goes on to say: “Ancient African systems such as the Yoruba, Akan, and Khemetic share about the direct connection of the divine self, and food is part of the spiritual development of people.”

Ancient systems like Yoruba, Akan,  Khemetic talk about the direct connection the divine self and food is one component of the spiritual development of people.

After studying electrical engineering at the University of Delaware, he moved to the District after landing a job with the U.S. Navy and later took graduate studies in engineering and telecommunications at the George Washington University. He later received his training from Dr. Llaila Afrika in naturopathic/wellness and African herbal science from Dr. Kofi Asare of Ghana and iridology of Dr. Paul Goss.

“In the 1980s, I attended the ‘Know Thyself’ lecture series by Anthony Browder, a renowned Egyptologist, who brought speakers into the District as part of the wave,” shard Chef Heru, “Also WR Radio1450 AM (which is now Radio One) had a lot of cultural, spiritual, and political discussions.”

Inviting people on this pan-African raw food adventure, Chef Heru is completing a cookbook with 108 raw food recipes with information on the electromagnetic properties of the food and the spiritual essence of nutrition.

Hosted by O’Natural, Chef Heru will be one of seven raw food chefs preparing culinary dishes of southern, African and Caribbean origin  for the Raw Food Feast and Fundraiser at the Ideal Academy located at 101 T Street Northeast Washington, D.C. on May 5th from 1:00 – 6:00pm.

Tambra Stevenson is the student representative for the D.C. Metropolitan Area Dietetic Association is hosting its annual meeting at the George Washington University. Learn more at www.eatrightdc.org. Stay connected  with Tambra by following her on Twitter @tambra.

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As a special feature of DC Food Justice for Women’s History Month and National Nutrition Month, community leaders in the food justice movement will be showcased. This month’s focus is on the role of women in advocating for their communities to improve quality of life through food and nutrition.


by Tambra Stevenson


WASHINGTON, DCIn saluting women making a difference in the food justice movement, this week’s food fighter is Evelyn Crayton, EdD, RD, LD, a pioneer in opening doors for women in the field of nutrition. I met her during the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program National Conference  hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC in February.

Standing in the middle of the room, Dr. Crayton made an announcement that Auburn University in conjunction with Dominican University were offering Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways, a new program through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her goal is to increase the number of Extension Agents and people of color in becoming Registered Dietitians given the changing landscape in nutrition to have the credentials.

With only 3 percent of African-American Registered Dietitians in the United States, creating more opportunities like the ISSP are critically important to combat the diet-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension in the most impacted communities, mostly of color.

One door was opened for Charmaine Jones, a student at the University of the District of Columbia, working for the public policy office of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  After not being selected  for a dietetic internship through the DICAS system, Charmaine applied and was accepted into the ISPP because of Dr. Crayton. As an alternate route to sit for the Registered Dietitian exam, ISSPs are more affordable, flexible, and still provide the preceptor-led experiences giving students up to three years to complete.

Presently there are more students pursuing the field of dietetics than there are slots available for dietetic internships. For instance in 2009, 4799 applicants applied for 2503 openings leaving a 50% match rate, which is the lowest in computer matching history for dietetics and not getting lower each year. That contrasts the 73% match rate in 2003. Once accepted many programs want tuition paid up front and don’t accept federal loans, or offer financial assistance leaving students, particularly of color, in a pinch.

Sharing her impact by our food fighter, Charmaine states: “Dr. Evelyn Crayton is not only a mentor, but an angel from heaven who whispered, “Never to give up on your dreams no matter how tough the road seems ahead.”

A Louisiana native, Dr. Crayton serves as the assistant director for family and community programs for Alabama Cooperative Extension Services based at Auburn University. In bringing her on to the new post, Dr. Sam Fowler, Extension associate director, rural and traditional programs stated: “She is internationally recognized for her work in both nutrition and health. We feel that Dr. Crayton will be able to provide very effective leadership for both family and community programs and that both of these important areas will continue to be part of our core programs in Extension.”

Graduating in the 1960s at Grambling State University, the proud mom of three and wife of 40-plus years received her dietetics license and later earned her master’s degree in dietetics in 1972 from St. Louis University. Afterwards she gained 5 years of clinical nutrition experience working St. Louis-based hospitals.  In the ‘90s, she earned her doctorate in vocational and adult education from Auburn University in 1991.


Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia where she was selected a recent Verizon Scholar.  She can be reached via Twitter @tambra.


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