Living a healthy lifestyle is incredibly important to me. I want to give you more behind-the-scenes information that prompted me to get into gardening. As a Christian, I wholeheartedly believe in 1 Cor 6:19-20 that our bodies are temples and we honor God by taking care of them. 

Needless to say, I’m fiercely protective of what I put inside my body. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, and I don’t do drugs. I’m team healthy living. Life is way too short. These bodies weren’t made to last forever. I’m interested in the quality of life, not quantity.  So I do my part by making sure I live a healthy lifestyle so I can make the most of my time. It makes absolutely no sense to live a long life and you’re too sick and miserable to enjoy it. 

My family and I have had our fair share of health scares and my dad passed away from colon cancer at the age of 43. By the way, I just turned 39 last month, so as I rapidly approach 40, I realize more and more every day how young my dad was when he passed away. Now, what I’m getting ready to say may upset some folks, but I’m going to say what I have to say, so I hope you stick around to hear a different viewpoint if not feel free to change the channel. You do you.

I don’t have ANY faith in doctors, especially ones that I don’t personally know. That title means absolutely nothing to me. Give me a nutritionist any day. Much of this is due to the condescending and dismissive attitudes I’ve seen in how my family was treated as well as my very own personal experiences. 

Many doctors are more interested in writing prescriptions and giving as many injections as possible so they can increase their bottom line instead of trying to teach their patients how to build and maintain a healthy immune system through diet and exercise. They could care less if you have an allergic reaction or die because they aren’t the ones that have to suffer the consequences of their incompetence. I know this first hand because this has happened to me as well as my friends.

I have some friends that are doctors and scientists who actually left the medical field altogether or started their own practice instead of working at these so-called prestigious hospitals because they wanted to be in a position to actually prevent or cure the ailments people faced, not just treat the symptoms.

However, in the medical field, you make more money by treating the symptoms rather than providing a cure. We ALL know how important diet and exercise are. You don’t need a Ph.D. to realize this information. Yet, during all of the hours that students spend in training to become doctors only 19 hours were dedicated to nutrition and health and disease.  By the way, that’s not even mandatory. That’s crazy low compared to the number of hours you spend in becoming a doctor, especially considering how important it is to have a proper diet and exercise. 

By the way, you never realize how much of a joke it is to have health insurance until you really need it. I had “good insurance” Blue Cross Blue Shield and still ended up in so much medical debt that I had to file for bankruptcy. So not only did I think I was going to die but then I had to endure condescending doctors who dismissed my pain,  then find out that my great insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield) found every loophole in the book to avoid paying for procedures they initially stated that they would pay for.

Anyway,  thinking about the struggles and crappy care my family has received throughout my life, then personally dealing with dismissive doctors who never cured my pain and incurring astronomical medical bills led me down the path of truly focusing on diet and exercise as my key to staying in good health. I went into debt trying to get well when a nutritionist was able to cure my issues by identifying what I was deficient in and boosting my levels up so I could enjoy life again. I didn’t need those insane pills that made me sicker than before I went to see the doctor. I didn’t need surgery. 

Take control of my health

One of the main reasons that I decided to start a garden is to take control of my health. Many pharmaceutical companies are recognizing the increased shift to people paying attention to their diets and are seeking natural or less invasive treatments (Chinese medicine) to cure their problems. If folks stay healthy that’s going to mean a decrease in sickness right? So now these pharmaceutical companies have started to focus their attention on doing things to manipulate our food supply.  

Did you know that 10 food companies produce almost every food we buy? I don’t know about you, but that’s disturbing to me. In fact, it’s amazing to me how many brands/products that we deem safe in the United States are banned in Europe. That should not be the case. There is NO reason why these harmful chemicals are allowed into our food supply. There has been an increase in ingredients like Carrageenan, MSG, certain food colorings, bovine hormone growth and a variety of other additives being incorporated into food without us even knowing it. 

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In the US, GMO food is allowed to be on the shelf without being forced to disclose these facts and/or if there are rules they are not being enforced. For example, Carrageenan thickens, emulsifies, and preserves foods and drinks. It has been linked to bloating inflammation and colon cancer, and a whole host of other side effects I won’t bore you with, but you can Google it.

The bottom line is that there’s absolutely no reason in the world that any of these additives and preservatives need to be in your food. Companies are literally adding these additives and preservatives that they know cause people to be sick just so the food can stay on the shelf longer.  

Having the ability to grow your own food using non-GMO seeds will enable you to eat fruits and vegetables without worrying about harmful preservatives or pesticides being included in your food. 

Great way to exercise

Plus, gardening forces you to step away from the computer and to venture outside. It’s a great stress reliever and a great way to exercise. You can lose 300 calories per hour when you garden.

Reap what you sow

It’s incredibly satisfying to reap the benefits of your hard work. This may sound corny, but there’s something incredibly rewarding when I go into my little garden and pick the herbs, fruits, or vegetables that I want to use. I was able to make a lot of really tasty dishes and  I’m going to actually leave a couple of the recipes on the website so be sure to check it out (especially the zucchini spaghetti).

Now some of you may be thinking, “Ok, great I want to but I don’t have the knowledge, resources or space.” 

No worries, I got you. By no means am I some sort of gardening guru or gardening whisper but I will introduce you to some of the gardening resources on the Hustle in Faith website.

I had been wanting to get into gardening but I never had the space for it. I was pretty ecstatic when I bought my condo because it’s got a nice size balcony and gets a nice amount of sunlight.  I knew I wanted to start a container garden but I wasn’t quite sure where to start. 

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I kid you not, it was during this time that I got one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve gotten in a while. Someone gave me an herb garden from Gardenuity as a housewarming present. The timing of this gift was perfect! 

This was the perfect gift for me because I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I didn’t know what container I should use, what herbs I should choose, and the list goes on. Gardenuity thought of everything! These are gardens that are literally built to thrive in smaller places. Your garden grows in grow bags that are designed to help your herbs, plants, and vegetables thrive. So anyway, I loved this garden so much that I plan on purchasing more from this company. 

I’m really looking forward to next summer because I’ll have even more time. I really LOVE being able to pick my own produce and herbs from my own balcony rather than going to the supermarket or produce store.

Now I know some of you may be wanting to start your own garden but you may be living in a space where that just isn’t possible or an area that’s considered a food desert. For those of you that are not familiar with the term food desert, a food desert is an area that lacks grocery stores, fruit, and produce stores and does not have any farmer’s market so the residents in these areas don’t have access to healthy foods like fruits and vegetables so they can maintain a healthy diet. 

I’m sure it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that food deserts are more common in Black and Latino communities. Many of these areas don’t have a Mariano’s or a jewel or any of the major grocery stores the residents in their areas. They don’t have the transportation or the money to even get to these stores let alone have money to buy groceries.

Therefore, many residents are left to literally go grocery shopping at a Convenience Mart or gas station. By the way, convenience stores in poor neighborhoods are totally different from those in affluent neighborhoods. Convenience food stores in poorer areas are stocked with processed foods better known as junk food and sugary drinks. 

If you don’t want to go to these stores then you have fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s to choose from.  Without having access to healthy foods, fruits and vegetables are why many people in these areas tend to have health issues. Don’t even get me started about the fact that residents in these areas also have to contend with air pollution issues as well.

Oftentimes, residents in these communities aren’t able to identify bad ingredients that they read on the packages. Quite frankly, many times residents are just looking to survive so they may not be able to afford those fruits and vegetables and that’s not right.

Community Garden

As one of the richest countries in the world, it’s incredible to me that this is even an issue. Yet, here we are. So one way we can alleviate this issue is by creating a community garden.  A community can come together by allocating a space of land and planting a variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Working together on a common goal can help strengthen the ties within the community. Residents could petition to have land allocated for the garden or have everyone pay a portion and buy the land that could be used for the community garden. Having this garden within the community would save the residents money and the hassle of having to travel outside of their community to gain access to the herbs, fruits, and vegetables they need. 

I’ve seen firsthand how impactful a community garden can be for these communities. A couple of years ago, I got to take the road trip of a lifetime with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). A few years ago, back in 2011, which feels like ions ago. General Motors sponsored some journalists and I was one lone blogger to attend the NABJ convention in Philly. 

Along the way, we got a chance to do community service projects across the country until we made it to Philadelphia which is where the convention was being held. One of my favorite projects was the community gardens project we did in Ohio. A lot of folks had written this area off. The city was clearly not investing any money in this area. It was really nice and inspiring to see this community garden right in the middle of abandoned buildings and vacant lots.  It was really nice being able to help them create and plant birdhouses in an attempt to further beautify the garden. I enjoyed speaking with the residents and they were incredibly proud of their garden. 

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I feel like Chicago needs to have more community gardens. It’s unfortunate because the areas that do have these community gardens are mostly in affluent or gentrified areas and not in the areas that would truly benefit from a community garden.

I would love it if everyone had the ability to start their own garden. If you’re listening to this episode and you’re unable to gain access to fresh produce, be sure to check out the website for more resources. 

There are companies such as Fresh Moves Mobile Market which is literally a company that converts buses into supermarkets that drive into food desert areas allowing the residents to go grocery shopping on the bus. 

There’s another company called Goodr run by Jasmine Crowe, her company prevents food waste by picking up the surplus food from restaurants and organizations that otherwise would have ended up in landfills instead of to those who really need those meals to survive. I’m going to leave a link to the interview she did with Waste 360 because it’s absolutely fascinating how she got her company off the ground. 

Diet and exercise are incredibly important to ensure that we live the extraordinary lives that God wants for us. The key to making that happen all starts with the fresh produce that comes from a healthy garden.

Check out these articles

These top companies make a lot of food buy.

America’s Medical History w/ the Black Community

America’s Food Supply Issue

This Black-Owned Business Is Bringing Plant-Based ‘Soul Food’ to Black Communities

Gardening Resources

Planting a revolution

Meet Jasmine Jefferson, founder of Black Girls With Gardens


Zucchini Spaghetti

Herbs from my awesome garden!

Can we say yummy?!

  • 2 Zucchini
  • 2 small Roma tomatoes
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon Orgeano
  • 4 Onion
  • 4 small sweet peppers
  • 1 pack of McCormick Spaghetti Seasoning Mix
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic salt
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • Pepperoni (optional to taste)
  • Chop up all the vegetables except the Zucchini
  • Mix the vegetables in a bowl and include the spices
  • Using your zucchini maker create zucchini spaghetti noodles
  • Place everything into a deep skillet. Cook for 5 minutes on top of the stove on 350 (keep stirring until everything is hot.
  • Add Zucchini noodles to the mix
  • Then you’re ready to eat!

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