A look at life at the intersections of wellness, culture, and current events


My Personal Nosedive

My Personal Nosedive

Warning: Mild spoilers for S3Ep1 of Black Mirror titled “Nosedive.” I watched my first episode of Black Mirror by accident. The show has been on my “To Watch” list for several months, especially following the buzz for the “San Junipero” episode. I heard that Black […]

Synaesthesia: What is the taste of the color blue?

Synaesthesia: What is the taste of the color blue?

This fall, the International Association of Synaesthetes, Artists, and Scientists (IASAS) is collaborating with the Art|Sci Center of UCLA to bring a series of events to Los Angeles to teach the general public about synaesthesia and bring together the international community of synesthetes. Through art exhibitions, […]

#MeToo: Sexism and Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

#MeToo: Sexism and Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

If you’re one of my readers from Louisiana, you may already be aware of the John Besh scandal that came to light this past week. NOLA.com, the online version of The Times-Picayune, released details of an 8-month investigation on the disgusting sexism and sexual harassment culture fostered and encouraged by John Besh and Besh Restaurant Group.

To say that this is a big deal is an understatement. He’s not only well known in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana, he has gained national fame through his cookbooks, restaurants and national appearances.

Offenses committed by Besh and other managers/supervisors include sexual coercion, unwelcome touches to female employees, vulgar and offensive comments, and retaliation against reports of sexual harassment. Sadly enough, this type of behavior is not uncommon in the restaurant industry.

Outside of this particular organization, there are many women (and other gender-identifying people) who would easily be able to say #MeToo concerning their experiences in the restaurant industry.

Background on #MeToo

Photo Provided by Tarana Burke to the Washington Post

Ten years ago, activist Tarana Burke created the “Me Too” movement out of an experience she had as a youth worker that has never left her heart. Her story brings to light how difficult it can be to share trauma and be an advocate for someone reaching out for help. From this experience she created a movement so that women and especially women of color could know that they’re not alone in this world to deal with the pain and trauma of sexual harassment and assault.

In light of the recent Harvey Weinstein allegations (which are now under investigation), Alyssa Milano called for people in social media to bring awareness to the pervasiveness of sexual assault and harassment (mostly against women) by making a status stating #metoo, if they had ever experienced harassment or assault.

As you can imagine, the number of people saying #metoo were outstanding. Which brings me back to the restaurant industry.

The Restaurant Industry is Sexist

It is. According to a 2014 publication by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United), the restaurant industry has the highest rate of sexual harassment of any industry (approximately 5 times higher than other industries). In addition to that, women who are chefs tend to be promoted less, earn less than their male peers, and are less respected by their subordinates.

Photo from Eater, original tweet from Jen Agg

To give you a clearer picture of the scope of the issue, I invite you to read these pieces about sexism, sexual harassment, and women in the restaurant industry:

How Can the Restaurant Industry Fix its Massive Sexual Harassment Problem?
An interview from 2014 with Teo Reyes, National Research Director at ROC United concerning the pervasiveness of sexual harassment within the restaurant industry and what restaurants can do in order to change the culture. The interview first identifies surprising results of the ROC United 2014 study (including sources of sexual harassment experienced by men), then goes into how the industry can reduce incidents of sexual harassment from customers, coworkers, and managers/owners.

Where are all the Great Female Chefs?
Considering the irony of the sexist phrase “women belong in the kitchen,” there are not many women in professional kitchen settings. The main reasons for this are sexism and the sexual harassment that make professional kitchens an unwelcome environment for women. There are many women challenging the alpha-male environment that seems to dominate kitchens and popular recognition, but we’ve got a long way to go.

I am a Restaurant Owner. Why Aren’t My Peers as Disgusted by Sexism as I Am?
Jen Agg, restaurateur and creator of the conference Kitchen Bitches: Smashing the Patriarchy One Plate at a Time, talks about the need for consumers and members within the restaurant industry to speak up about sexism in restaurants. She proudly goes to Twitter to shame companies that promote sexist cultures, and she encourages everyone else to as well. The message? If you don’t speak up, then nothing will change.

The Surprising Truth behind Sexism in the Kitchen
Chef Camille Becerra speaks about her experiences with sexism as a chef. Among them, interactions with other women who struggled with internalized sexism as a survival method in the kitchen. A line from the article regarding her experience with a male chef: “Just last year, when I was introduced to one of New York City’s leading chefs, a face that many have seen on Top Chef, he pointed at me, giggled, and asked, “Really, you’re a chef?””

9 Appalling Stories of Everyday Sexism, As Told By Women in the Service Industry
This piece is a collection of stories from women in the service industry (bartenders, waitresses, hostesses, and managers), and the truly appalling things that are done to them around the country. I couldn’t get through this one without getting incredibly furious that they had to go through this, and that there are thousands more like them who go through the same thing daily.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It shouldn’t take a scandal for us to start caring about people who work in a certain industry. John Besh stepped down from his position with his restaurant group after his dirty work came to light, but he’s not the only one out there.

We should all be actively working to combat all of the -isms that make the world a dangerous place for so many.

There are too many people who must say #MeToo.

Nutrition Basics for Beginning Roller Derby Players

Nutrition Basics for Beginning Roller Derby Players

Hello everyone, I am Octavia Hustler, skater for Angel City Derby! When I’m not on skates, I work as a registered dietitian in Los Angeles. So why am I writing about this? Batty Davis from ACD reached out to me a few weeks ago to […]

From Brunch to Obsession: Bergamot Oranges

From Brunch to Obsession: Bergamot Oranges

Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to have brunch with friends who you haven’t seen in a long time. On a recent Sunday, I did exactly that. Along the way I also found a new flavor that I absolutely love: bergamot oranges. That morning I […]

Docs to Watch: Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth

Docs to Watch: Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth

When I talk about looking at the intersections of culture and wellness, this documentary is a prime example of what I mean. Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth is a new documentary produced by Quincy Jones III that looks at health behaviors within the rap/hip hop community and how it applies to the greater community.

In this documentary, it was illuminating to watch rappers and hip hop artists like Paul Wall, Fat Joe, The Game, Common, and others talk about unhealthy behaviors that are perpetuated within the rap scene that lead to the untimely deaths of loved ones (including a spot about Heavy D) or to their personal health crises. As consumers of music, we often focus on the flashy parts of their lifestyle and the persona that they bring to the stage, then completely forget about the person. This documentary gives a very real view about the hopes, fears, and experiences that rap and hip hop artists have in trying to maintain a (holistically) healthy life.

Public health and sociology topics are also quite prevalent in this film. There are statistics about food deserts, the increased prevalence of non-communicable illnesses (like Type II Diabetes or heart disease) among minorities and children. The development and changes of African American food culture from slavery to the Great Migration to the North and West are also mentioned, and how we (as African Americans) still can maintain our connection to our roots through food and lifestlye.

The underlying message of the documentary is “Health is the new wealth.” The material wealth that is so valued in society is secondary to your own health. Spiritual, mental, and physical health are so valuable and can change your quality of life and how you perceive the world and achieve success. Meditation and self-awareness as a practice is something that is highly recommended through the film- research supports that meditation is beneficial in stress relief and can positively impact your life. Urban gardening can help build community and foster the development of skills that can help you in other aspects of your life.

There’s so much more that’s mentioned in this documentary that I would love to tell you about, but I want you to watch it for yourself. As a nutrition professional who watches many food documentaries, this documentary was distinctly different from others that I’ve watched. There’s no fearmongering, there’s no shaming, and the overall message and advice is positive and about increasing self-worth.

Overall, I loved this documentary!

Check out the trailer below, and if it sounds interesting to you – check out the documentary!

My friends at the UN: A reflection on Charlottesville

My friends at the UN: A reflection on Charlottesville

Seeing the events in Charlottesville, there were many topics that I could have easily written about in response. I could have written about racism, the President’s responses, or the hypocrisy in defending hate speech that leads to real violence against other people. Or, I could […]

Advice on making a lifestyle instead of a diet

Advice on making a lifestyle instead of a diet

In 2009, Michael Pollan published a book called Food Rules. It’s a relatively short book that has 64 bits of advice on what to eat and how to eat. Some of the advice is useful, depending on what your life circumstances are. Some of the […]

CONFIDENTIAL: Why everyone needs to have a secret project

CONFIDENTIAL: Why everyone needs to have a secret project

Today I’m working on a secret project. I’m very excited about it, and I’m putting a lot of effort into making it, but it’s a secret. None of you will find out right away what it is. Some of you may never know what it is. And that’s fine.

I think you should have a secret project too. Here’s why:

Good secrets are fun.

Isn’t it nice to have an air of mystery about you? To feel like a superhero who hides their identity, knowing that while you may appear to be this average person during most of your time, you do extraordinary things in secret? Think about it. Would Superman be as interesting without being Clark Kent? Would we relate to Spiderman so much if he weren’t Miles Morales/Peter Parker? Would Nikita be as effective with her plans if she couldn’t seamlessly integrate herself into different situations for intel/assassinations (yes I know she’s not a superhero, but she’s a badass). No! Become a superhero, keep a secret!

Secret projects take off the pressure.

Sometimes I tell people that I’m going to do a thing, but then I get a lot of anxiety about making it happen. I feel obligated to finish something not because I want to finish it, but I don’t want to disappoint whoever I told about my project. When I’m asked by someone “How is X thing going?” it makes me feel slightly shamed if I haven’t made enough visible progress to tell them about it. So if I don’t tell people about the project, there’s no pressure! They don’t know that anything exists! You can finish your secret project as quickly or slowly as you want to (or not at all).

When you tell people, you may be less likely to do it.

Bizarre, right? There is some research suggesting that telling others about identity-related goals (like I want to become (insert occupation or lifestyle), or I’m going to learn how to do (insert skill).) may make you less likely to accomplish them. From what I’ve read, sometimes when you tell people about what you’re going to do, the praise that you receive from others make you psychologically feel like you’ve already accomplished your goal. If you’ve accomplished your goal already, then why work on it so hard? Before you freak out that you already told someone about what you want to do, you should know that some studies suggest that accountability may be beneficial for achieving other goals.  The brain is very tricky. The best thing for you to do is to figure out what goals you can tell people about vs which ones you can’t.

Secret projects are fluid.

When I have a secret project going on, I find it easier to go with the flow when compared to a defined project. I don’t feel compelled to do something a certain way. Any new step in my project feels exciting because I have no expectations towards what it should look like – it just takes its own form! Earlier this week I was reading Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to Philadelphia’s University of the Arts on making good art. It talked about how you should be a person who doesn’t know what you’re doing and who doesn’t know the rules, because it allows you to go beyond what is conventionally thought as possible or impossible. I feel like secret projects defy the rules. Secret projects have no rules! Secret projects have potential, and you should just go with it!

Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash

I hope this inspires some of you to start your own projects. Begin a project that’s half of an idea, or extremely personal to you. A wish, or something new. Put all of the energy that you want towards it, and don’t feel like you’re being judged for not accomplishing/finishing/forming it fast enough. Do it because you like it.

Find your secrets.

WIRTW Roundup – July 7, 2017!

WIRTW Roundup – July 7, 2017!

Yikes, it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, yeah? I’ve been busy *and* unmotivated so that’s fun. On the bright side, I became scrimmage eligible in roller derby recently and got to see the Deftones and Rise Against this past weekend!  I’ve also […]