March 26, 2006 – What happens when We Grow Food Inc., a local farmers collective, and Treasures of Zion, a natural bath and body business, collaborate? "A day of relaxation, information, and inspiration for the mind, body and soul," according to Treasures of Zion owner Jaleba Benjamin at the "Heal and Nurture Thyself Women's Month Celebration" held Sunday at the Estate Bordeaux tennis courts.
Standing around stalls of fresh produce, handmade clothing and jewelry, Benjamin said the two organizations joined together to create an event that would promote culture, agriculture and health in honor of Women's History Month. In addition to crafts and local artwork, the small fair also featured speakers such as Dr. Iris Kern, executive director of the Safety Zone on St. John, and Dino Joseph, a certified nutritionist.
On the topic of nutrition, Benjamin said she had also brought a new food to the fair for residents to sample. "All of the food we're serving here is either vegetarian or vegan," she said. "And what I brought is called tofu fish – it's a new product on the market, and it's basically tofu flavored with seaweed, so it tastes like fish."
"We, as a community, really have to learn how to eat healthier," she continued. "That's why we decided it would be better to work with the Bordeaux farmers, because residents could stop in, learn about proper dietary and skin care, and pick up some fresh herbs and vegetables. What I'm selling, for example, is natural bath and body products, made of essential oils and proteins, because I believe that what you put on your skin is very important."
Benjamin explained that many of her products are made of shea butter, which helps soften and moisturize skin as well as prevents against stretch marks. "Some African women who have just had a baby will even heat up the shea butter until it becomes liquid and drink it because it flushes out the afterbirth," she said. "So it's a natural substance that helps to detoxify the body."
Dino Joseph, a certified nutritionist focused on preventative care, also spoke about natural detoxifiers such as stillinga, prickly ash bark and red clover, which she mixed into a tea for cleaning out the body's lymphatic system.
"Many people don't realize how much waste they have in them," she said. "And that waste will build up and nestle in the body in things called lymph nodes – this can cause things like colon cancer. Since the tea flushes out that collected waste, I usually recommend that people drink a cup about three times a day – especially smaller people, because those individuals generally have the most waste."
Dino also talked about the best diets for people with specific blood types. Those with an A positive blood type, for example, should avoid meat and dairy, and concentrate on consuming fruits and vegetables, she said. "People with this blood type should also get a lot of protein – things like grains and beans – because their bodies are generally stressed out by too much exercise," she said. "Since they also tend to be anemic, they should also concentrate on getting a lot of iron into their diets."
"I'm not making this stuff up," she added to passersby who looked at her incredulously. "It's been scientifically proven."
Kern also added her thoughts into the mix Sunday by speaking about emotional health, and how women have successfully battled domestic abuse and trauma. "Those are the women I really think we should celebrate," she said.
Kern told the story of one individual who had been sexually abused by a parent during childhood, and was emotionally hurt and confused. "We worked with her intensively over a number of years," Kern said. "And now she's in a healthy relationship, she has a daughter, and is working."
"Of course, they're not all success stories," Kern continued. "We did have one woman who had been raped and the police did nothing about it. It's really hard for those individuals, who have been raped, to be raped by the system as well. So, when we're talking about helping women, helping people, we really have to also stress that we're all in this together, that we all have to work collaboratively to protect one another."
Other speakers at the event included representatives from the Family Resource Center on St. Thomas and Per Ankh Inc., an educational, cultural and artistic organization and spiritual fellowship on St. Croix.
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