Eating the Buddhadharma: On Mindfulness, Nutritional Racism, and Food Justice

I recorded this for Turning Wheel’s 2012 food justice series in response to the ad I saw while walking down University Ave in Berkeley CA this summer 2012…

…and wanted to repost it for Sistah Vegan. Go here to follow Turning Wheels’ Buddhist oriented food justice series. For the hearing impaired, Turning Wheel transcribed it.

9 thoughts on “Eating the Buddhadharma: On Mindfulness, Nutritional Racism, and Food Justice

  1. Hmmmm. I don’t like this ad for a number of reasons: 1. milk has been known to contribute to diabetes…… 2. I am vegan and am not into dairy ads anyhow 3. if they are going after the “african-americans are more prone to becoming diabetic”-thing that I have heard before, well then, ok – different people have different needs – and I am not stating that with insensitivity – I know, for example, a lot of people of African ethnicity also are more prone to having sickle cell anemia. And a raw foodist who is a WOC also told me that it is not good for people of African descent to use soy in their diets, either – by-and-large, because of a propensity to have thyroid problems. But does this mean that other people of other races might have the same issue? Sure. But I don’t know if this is really “racism”, is it? I want read more of what you are saying so I can get what you are seeing and can try to understand where you are coming from with what you are trying to say.

  2. Sorry about all the comments – but I spoke too soon. I am watching your video, and now I am like -ohhhh… Yes, I totally agree with you. Totally agree. Good for you. Yes, I also have heard that many people of African descent are lactose intolerant. yes, it is quite an ignorant ad. Thank you for posting this – it is very well-thought-out, and very interesting. Thanks.

    1. No apologies necessary. When I saw your first comment I was wondering if you had not watched the video yet; or, if you did, maybe I had not explained nutritional racism and structural racism well enough.


  3. Breeze, if you were given the option of replacing that bus stop ad with another dietary-nutritional poster aimed at people of African descent, what message/image would you craft?

    1. Good question. I suck at marketing ad pitches and am unable to be ‘concise.’ I can tell you what I’d want the content to convey and then have to have a marketing ad specialist make my suggestions concise.

      (1) water drinking is great. But one has to realize that not everyone has access to clean water, so the poster would have to explain that the water, if possible, should be filtered if you live in an area in which the tap water is polluted or even pumped with fluoride and bleach.
      (2) I would recommend drinking ‘green’ juices that are not laden with sugar, as the poster says to stay away from juice, but that is misinformation. Juice is equated with “sweet” and “processed” liquids like apple juice, orange juice, grape juice. They could propose green juices like kale, celery, spirulina, wheatgrass that are low on sweeteners.
      (3) a dairy replacement could be soy milk, but the ad would have to explain in moderation, and that the source of soy milk should be from sprouted soybean and organic. They could also recommend hempseed milk made from hulled hempseeds. I just had an 8oz glass this morning with 1/2 c of hempseeds blended in my Vitamix and it provided 22g of protein, a powerhouse of Omega 3-6-9, magnesium, iron, phosphorus etc. And they could explain the growing hemp is really great and far less ‘horrible’ then the amount of focus placed on ‘soy milke’ as a dairy replacer.

      And then the ad could also talk about access to these alternatives, and in particular, if they are targeting communities of color, acknowledge food apartheid as one of the reasons why so many have better/easier access to soda and fake juice over clean water and dairy drink alternatives.

  4. Yup. It is tough to come up with a campaign given all the structural access issues. Would probably have to be accompanied by a an initiative (but, as you and others on this blog have discussed, somehow, just somehow-ahem- there “isn’t money for that” but there is for fast/junk food companies to set up shop).

    Diluting 100% fruit juice is an immediate approach. I drink “half and half” OJ/lemonade and water. “The other half and half” might be a slogan. 😉 for a more immediate, one-time campaign. Don’t know. It’s an interesting exercise nonetheless.

    As you said, weaving this nutritional message with one of food politics would be ideal. I can only imagine the outrage-and the posters “mysteriously” disappearing.

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