Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA (TED Talks)
Watching this brought me to tears a little. YES. Here’s the thing: When I moved from AL to SF Bay, I lived in Bayview (later Tenderloin and finally Oakland). It was like what Ron describes, a barren wasteland with little or no fresh produce. At the time, this didn’t affect me as much, since I wasn’t aware of the consequences in having Taco Bell, KFC and other fried food/drive thru options as the only available meal. Food was simply a need to fill my growling stomach, and I was happy that it was cheap.
Not too long after I moved, I started gaining a lot of weight. I simply attributed this to my bike riding and muscle gain, but it wasn’t that alone — I was prone to headaches and my cramps were more intense. Still, I thought little of it. In grad school, the blinders are up and you tend to focus on the tasks at hand, not so much, in my case, on personal health. Upon graduation, I moved back to AL and I live within access to fresh markers and such. However, my bad eating habits followed me, so I was slow to incorporating more vegetables and fruits in my diet. In time, my headaches got worse and my body started to feel as if it was operating on it’s own and I needed a change.
About a month ago I decided to slowly incorporate fresh produce into my diet. I was thankful for access to markets around my apartment, so I could easily buy food and incorporate more variety into my overall diet. To be sure, it’s a bit expensive, but compared to what I used to shop for — chips, cookies, various unhealthy snack foods, soda — it sort of evened out. Instead of Doritos, I bought broccoli, spinach and carrots, instead of sweet crackers, I opted for cucumber, plantain and bell peppers. I started out small. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. When I say I felt a gradual improvement, I really felt it. My headaches are getting less and less painful to almost nonexistent, my stomach cramps less intrusive, my body feels …dare I say it, a little freer and my head a little clearer. I’m not advocating for some kind of revolutionary change in one’s way of living right on the spot, I’m still working on this, steadily.
What I am doing is in-between drawing or running around for errands, if I am thirsty, I drink water instead of soft drinks, or in other cases, I boil tea (to tone down my coffee intake). When I need a snack while watching TV or perusing through Tumblr or Youtube, I snack on carrots, broccoli, and cut cucumber slices. It’s amazing how you integrate it: instead of a cookie it’s a cut bell pepper. It’s slow, small, basic choices, and it’s a choice that is divided by class and money, because I can afford to pay for this b/c I don’t have access to a garden.
But there are plenty of people that live on my street that can’t afford to by fresh food and it is killing them. What Finley is proposing isn’t some revolutionary idea, it’s day-to-day basic needs of EVERYBODY. When I tell you how cleared up the body feels after eating fresh, raw produce, it’s addictive. You do feel better, you feel less sluggish and you hate your body less. It affects all aspects of your life because it’s that fundamental: You make smarter decisions, you’re more active, &c.
In any rate, I apologize for this random statement. I just wanted to add my personal take to this talk and why it matters so much right now.