In honor of President’s Day, all of us at City Fruit wanted to write about an American president who had a known affinity for eating or growing fruit. While it is true that some presidents are forever linked with a certain type of fruit (as the rest of my coworkers have wonderfully written about) my mind immediately went to a song I first heard when I was 13 written by a hip hop duo from NYC, named Dead Prez. In 2000, they released their first album “Let’s Get Free”, and somewhere in the middle of the album was a tracked called “Be Healthy”.
At the time, I was extremely confused by this song. I didn’t understand why a group whose first nine songs were all about capitalism and power structures in America would then throw in a song about eating healthy. I mean, read this second verse:
“Lentil soup is mental fruit
and ginger root is good for the yout’
Fresh veg-e-table with the mayatl stew
sweet yam fries with the green calalloo
careful how you season and prepare your foods
cause you don’t wanna lose vitamins and miner-ules
and that’s the jewel
life brings life, it’s valuable, so I eat what comes
from the ground, it’s natural
let your food be your medicine (uh huh)
no Excederin (uh uh)
strictly herb, generate in the sun, cause I got melanin
and drink water, eight glasses a day
cause that’s what they say”
While my mom was already very committed to making us kids eat healthy, a simple song like this by a group I thought to be extremely cool made me think more about this topic than my 7th grade health teacher ever could (on another note, the only reason I had heard of cholesterol when this same teacher asked about it was because of the Tribe Called Quest song, “Ham ‘n Eggs”). My mom even made green callalloo out of Amaranth after I asked her what it was.
While I haven’t listened to Dead Prez in quite some time, I have kept tabs on their lead singer, Khnum Ibomu, as he has remained quite active in advocating for youth to live and eat healthy. In 2013, he wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called, “7 Ways to Eat Good on a ‘Hood’ Budget”. He was interviewed about it on NPR and has been touring the country under the banner “Healthy is the New Gangsta”. While the experiences Khnum talks about do not match my upbringing, I love reading his pieces and hearing his thoughts as he was (and still is) cool, and thousands of former 13 year olds heard his songs and saw his messages and, at least, took a minute to contemplate what he was talking about. We need more voices, and more diverse voices, using their platform to spread a positive message like “..true wealth comes from good health and wise ways..”
Happy President’s Day Everybody.
By City Fruit Harvest Coordinator Luke Jesperson
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