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I remember a time when “healthy food” was prescribed for patients whose blood pressure was too high; whose diet needed to consist of more fiber. To my mind, healthy food was clinical, sterile, bland food on a menu medical doctors made. Cooks, however, made food that “was sayin somethin!” It was food that grew in gardens behind houses in plots as deep as a neighbor’s backyard. These gardens also grew inside brick beds lining chain link fences. It was food that produced an abundance and so was shared between neighbors, family, and friends. It was food that would be rinsed in deep utility sinks in basements–not because one needed special tools or solutions to remove pesticides, but because it provided the space that made rinsing and cutting easier.

Those were different times. They were days that included walking to the grocery store with one’s own personal grocery cart and pulling that same cart home afterwards. Those were also the days when people rode bikes to visit friends or pushed lawn mowers to cut the lawn at one’s own home; where we worked shovels to clear driveways and walkways. Those were days when children were not told to exercise because they were walking, pulling, riding, and working on real-life tasks. Gyms were sites where P.E. classes were held and basketball games contested. No one purchased a membership to a gym (unless, I suppose, when someone bought season tickets to basketball games).

Many Mansions (1994), Kerry James Marshall.
Many Mansions (1994), Kerry James Marshall.

Once upon a time when food was good, tomatoes could be eaten like apples because they were just that sweet. Once upon a time when food was good, peppers were hot, mint was fragrant, and (collard) greens were so robust one had to take a break from eating in order to pray for the great fortune of having that bite. Once upon a time when food was good, people stopped eatin that mess the doctor prescribed since he thought Jello was dessert and that bananas should be broken in half and eaten on separate mornings no matter how small the fruit. Once upon a time, the only thing we called “fresh” was (maybe) milk because calling those vegetables that grew right outdoors “fresh” would have been redundant.

…the U.S. has got to be the only place where good food had to be made healthy.

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