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

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What We Eat in The Shadows

What We Eat in The Shadows

Happy Halloween, y’all! I wanted to write something about the conversations that I have with people all of the time when it is discovered that I am a dietitian. Sometimes it’s okay, but often the comments I receive are quite ridiculous and often make me […]

Exploring Intuitive Eating

Exploring Intuitive Eating

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February 2018! The last few months have gone by quickly, with some dramatic twists and turns along the way. Now that things have settle down a bit, I want to focus on both personal and professional development. To […]

Thankfulness on an Anniversary

Thankfulness on an Anniversary

A year ago I made one of the most dramatic decisions in my life. I packed up all of my things, said goodbye to my friends and family, and moved to Los Angeles with only a vague idea of what life could be.

Shortly after I found out that life was hard as shit.

Looking back at the year, I am amazed at the number of things that happened to me and I’ve made it through. For a greater part of the year, I lived with constant stress and felt in a constant cycle of challenging situations. I dealt with not being able to work for two months and still having to pay bills (in L.A of all places), complicated friendships and relationships, friend crises, multiple car issues, the foreignness of being in a culturally different place. There were times that I questioned the long-term effect this stress was having on my mind/body and had to search for what was my “normal.”

Fortunately I have a strong support group of friends and family, and for that I am thankful. On this anniversary of moving across the country, I am thankful for so much that has happened in response to all of these crises.

Here are just a few things that the people in my life have done that I’m thankful for:

Listened to me cry on the phone about pretty much everything. Invited me over to lay down on their couch and veg out while I recovered from life. Helped me move into my apartment. Stayed on the phone with me while my car wasn’t working and I was waiting for the tow. Took a detour on our way to a concert through Orange County to eat at Canes. Sent me $50 through Facebook Messenger so that I can pay my rent. Tagged me in silly memes and pictures. Listened to me vent about the things that make me upset. Invited me over to spend a holiday with their family. Trusted me enough to let me into their life. Spent hours on the phone gossiping about guys and life. Mailed a care package with art and “Rainy Day messages” and other trinkets. Gave me hugs and held my hand. Given excellent advice about what to do in situations. Walked on the Santa Monica pier late at night in the rain to play Pokemon Go. Critiqued movies and talked about home. Braved several hours of traffic to visit me and eat spicy salsa. Spent a cloudy day lounging on the beach. Responded to my text messages when I needed them to…

Without these small moments, I’m sure I would be a wreck right now and ready to leave Los Angeles. Life in general is complicated given the local/national/global events going on, and to have personal drama going on can make things almost unbearable.

But thanks to some people located around the world, I’ve survived. And I think I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t feel like I have to struggle as much day to day. I’m excited to see what the next year brings for me.

I thank you all for being in my life and I love you very much.

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 […]