Just Food Conference 2014

just_food_conference_poster_url_final23New York City: Will you be at the Just Food Conference on April 5th and 6th?  I’m going to miss it (physically and emotionally) this year. Just Food is a non-profit organization based in New York City that empowers residents to create and sustain agricultural projects in urban areas.  I was part of their Community Chef program and co-led a workshop at last year’s conference. This year, the conference is undergoing a new format that includes a day of intensive programs in addition to the workshops.  It’s a great place to learn about what’s happening in local food & food justice, meet new people and get involved in your community. Registration details can be found here and scholarship details here.

P.S. Love the flier!

Restorative Justice in Education

Image via Nation of Change

Image via Nation of Change

My dear friend Lizz passed along this article on restorative education in Oakland city schools. The article tells the story of a young boy who acted out in class. The typical response would have been automatic suspension, which is discussed in the article as creating a school-to-prison-pipeline. What happened instead?

A series of dialogues were had that included the teacher, the student, the restorative justice worker and the student’s mother.  I won’t give away the details or the ending but what a concept!

I am the product of an urban public school system that included on-site police presence (a trailer located in the school parking lot) and after my graduation year, installed metal detectors at all door entrances. Violence was a daily occurrence, one that, as students, we were desensitized to.  Disciplinary action was as common as the sound of school bells ringing. Poverty, drugs, domestic violence, abuse and food insecurity were issues that many students were grappling with but no one seemed to take into consideration. Restorative justice takes these systemic oppressions and realities as factors into the causes of violence and emotional disturbances and creates a transformative  and inclusive space for healing.

Restorative justice embracess community involvement as a primary resource rather than relying on the state to take action.  It takes both the victim’s and the offender’s views into consideration. On a physical level, the thought/concept of restorative justice relaxes my muscles and removes tension from my body. As a person of color, I hold in my body present and past trauma of systemic violence. In this sense, I am sure restorative justice as a practice brings beneficial health effects to the people it serves.  Restorative justice is indigienous, holistic and brings peace and power to the community by the community.  Aché!

38 Days and Not a Drop of Coffee

Photograph by Julius Schorzman

Photograph by Julius Steersman

I LOVE coffee. Soy Cubana, what can I say? I love the smell, the taste, the warmth, the feel good buzz I get after a big cup or a tiny espresso.  I love the ritual of brewing, serving, and the conversations that follow. Growing up Latina, being served un cafecito was a way of welcoming  a guest or savoring the end of a delicious meal. However, I’ve found if I drink coffee daily for an extended period of time I start feeling fatigued.  And slightly anxious. No bueno.  I’m still figuring out what exactly is happening but from time to time, I take a break.  I had it hard this time around! My friend and fellow health coach  Melissa Danielle recommended I get some coffee substitutes. (Yes, health coaches need health coaches too-hello!) I ended up with Maté Lemon tea and Teccino herbal coffee.  They really helped! Maté does have caffeine while Teccino does not.  Needless to say, I got over the hump  and went from my original 30 day goal all the way to 38 days. Then I had a nice cup of Philz coffee, decaf Organic Swiss Water Peru.  Your health is a journey and you have to try different things along the way. Is there something your body is asking you to take a break from? How long will you do it? Who will support you along the way? Here are some possible choices: dairy, meat, caffeine, sugar, alcohol.  Let me know how it goes and what you discover!

It’s So Easy Being Green


Two weeks ago I tweeted this photo of my soon-to-be green juice.  I’d been feeling sluggish after all the rich foods, parties and crazy weather of the holiday season (and it wasn’t even Christmas yet!).  Nope, I wasn’t strictly juicing. Nope, I wasn’t going vegan (though I do this from time to time). Nope, I wasn’t saying no to

all the decadence the holidays bring.  I was ADDING this juice to my life for 7 days because I needed an extra boost. I’m about to do it again through the New Year and wanted to post the recipe for y’all.

‘Tis The Season Green Juice (serves 2)

2 celery stalks

1/2 cucumber

Handful parsley

Handful spinach

1 pear (cored and seeds removed)

1/2 lemon (peeled and seeds removed)

1/2 cup water

Juice and enjoy! The lemon really gives this juice a refreshing, lemonade spritzer taste. Let me know what you think!

Just Food’s Newsletter Feature

MarianandAndrewThis year, I had the opportunity to participate in Just Food‘s Teen Chef Community Program as a mentor.  I worked alongside Andrew Chandler (pictured on the right) for the 2012 season at Malcolm X Community Farmer’s Market in Bed-Stuy.  Andrew and I featured a new vegetable recipe each week to prepare and serve the market shoppers and passers-by.  I provide recipe handouts, veggie tip sheets and bookmarks for the kids.  Mentoring youth through food is something we can all do.  Take time to cook for a young one (or an elder) and see what conversations come up.  Just Food featured my work in their October newsletter, which you can read here.  Good look, Just Food!

P.S. 10/27 is our last market day of the season, come through! We’re at Malcolm X. Blvd between Chauncey and Marion from 10:30am-12:30pm.

Make It Last


This beautiful bounty is from last Sunday’s market in Jackson Heights.  It’s such a wonderful time of year at the farmer’s market. I want to buy everything in sight but know I won’t be able to eat it all. What’s a market-loving girl to do?  I began blanching my CSA greens on the advice of a good friend.  I was worried about my excess kale and collard greens going bad. Now I have a nice stack of greens waiting to be eaten in the winter.  I wish I would have read this before I blanched, but oh well.  I am also taking a workshop on how to ferment foods and hopefully a canning workshop as well.  By purchasing & preserving your fruits & veggies now you:

-ensure yourself a bit of sunshine-y flavor in the cold, winter months

-help farmer’s economically by providing them with income  for their winter hiatus

-get to  pretend you live on Little House on the Prairie w/modern amenities.

I will post more on my food-preservation adventures as they unfold.

Brooklyn Food Conference 2012

bkfoodconferenceSo many great conferences happening, and this one is FREEEEE! The Brooklyn Food Conference is happening Saturday, May 12th at Brooklyn Tech High School. Food policy, fracking, cooking demos, midwifery, food & faith, farmworker justice and so much more. You can also order a yummy lunch for $8.  Hurry, there is limited space!  Register here now. See you there!

Harlem Wellness Day!

413908_10150779318694940_644424939_9400004_352002433_oThis Saturday, April 28th, the good people of Duke University Alumni are hosting a FREE Community Wellness Day in Harlem. Yours truly will be conducting a “Healthy Food, Fast” cooking class.  You know those times you come home from work tiredddd and don’t want to spend an hour and change cooking dinner? I’ll show you how to get it done in under 30 minutes, deliciously.  Other topics will include How To Talk to Your Doctor, Ways to Reduce Stress, Get Fit at Home and lots more. And did I mention it’s FREE? See you there!

Sarah Steingraber on Anti-Fracking

IMG075 Photo: Marian Isel Wellness

I had the opportunity to hear anti-fracking activist Sarah Steingraber speak at SUNY Oneonta on Thursday.   She is a biologist and a poet (what a lovely mix) and says that our current environmental crisis is a human rights issue.  That’s right!

Fracking is a form of extreme energy extraction. Drills dive down a mile deep into the ground’s surface. Tons of chemicals have to get dumped in to make this possible (bad) and tons of caca gets seeped into our water (worse) and can remain this way for THOUSANDS of years. This can toxify our water, land and our bodies.  What else will be left??

Sarah has a new book out called “Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis”.  Sarah named her son after abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy. She compared the fight against fracking to the fight against slavery. Lovejoy did not believe in “phasing out” slavery.  He demanded that slavery come to an end IMMEDIATELY. Sarah applied this view on the fracking fiasco occuring upstate. We have no time  for building “safer” forms of this abomination on nature, it simply has to not happen and a sustainable national energy plan needs to be put into place. Wouldn’t that be a better use of our time and energy? (Pun intended)

This is how bad-ass Sarah is. She recently received an award for $100,000 and she donated it ALL to the cause.

Act Now: The Town of Middlefield needs help fund the appeals process of their recently won NYS Supreme Court case to keep fracking out of their town. Find out how to send your tax-deductible contribution by clicking here.

Farmworker Justice Rally This Sunday

301702_335034619888187_131584656899852_973097_1788389543_nStand in solidarity with farmworkers this weekend by demanding Chipotle  sign the Fair Food Agreement. This agreement increases farmworkers pay by 1 penny per pound of tomatoes picked.  McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Whole Foods and most recently Trader Joe’s has signed on. What’s taking Chipotle so long? This is a company that claims to serve food with integrity. Let’s help them align with their motto!

When: Sunday April 15, 2012 at 12pm noon

Where: Chipotle and 17th Street and Broadway, NYC

Photo: www.foodchainworkers.org