Tell me if you know this feeling—it happens when you come into contact with standards so genuine and proper, you find yourself immediately shifted, uplifted, inspired, and settled on making the best choices for your own quality of life because anything less would make no sense. Do you know what I mean? No effort or work is needed, the transformation just is.
I got this feeling after meeting Doug and Genna Wolkon, the owners of Kauai Farmacy, a seed-to-cup medicinal tea farm that plants, grows, harvests, dries, jars, labels, and sells organic raw-cured herbs in the form of teas, culinary spice blends, and hydrosols. They do everything there is to do themselves (including raising and homeschooling their vegan kids) from their tiny Kauai, Hawaii farm location, which is one of the most happy, high-vibes places I've ever been.
(Side note: I think walking through a forest of plant foods inspires the oldest parts of our humanness. It makes me, personally, feel utterly grounded—like there is nothing, nothing, nothing more important to serve than the earth we walk upon. I could almost cry, I am so thankful for being brought to these moments!)
Packed into just one little acre are the 60 plant species Farmacy uses, from papaya to chile, bele spinach (AKA hibiscus), chaste, anise hyssop, moringa (a super herb that contains 46 antioxidants, omega 3, 6, and 9, 20 amino acids, 7x the vitamin C as oranges, 4x the calcium of milk and 2x the protein of yogurt), lemongrass, comfrey (can help heal broken bones), oregano, gotu kola, blue vervain, cinnamon, allspice, spilanthes (like pop rocks in your mouth!), taro, and so many more—all grown at the highest of permacultural standards. The diversity alone is a major factor of eliminating any need for pesticides—buggies much prefer mono-crops, where there's no confusion or shortage of what to infest. These are all things Doug and Genna expounded on, which is a great reason to join their newsletter if you want to up you herb knowledge.
One acre, 60 plants!
Doug says "Heal yo' self!" I love this T-shirt, I sport mine all the time!
Cacao pods—money does grow on trees.
Tea tree; Bele spinach (AKA hibiscus)
The dehydrating system.
The giant dehydrators and racks of herbs.
Genna, constantly radiating a smile.
Their standout products:
• Women's Wellness blend (tulsi, bele spinach, ginger, raspberry leaf, ginger, mamaki, hibiscus, moringa, and more) which helps balance hormones, PMS, and mood swings (reportedly even bringing some customers' fertility into effect).
• Puritea Herbal Cleanse (papaya leaf, mulberry, soursop, guava leaf, turmeric, noni, tulsi, and more) to cleanse out toxic buildups.
• Tulsi Hydrosol (totally obsessed).
• Savory Blend Culinary Spice (Bele spinach, rosemary, oregano, tulsi, tarrago, pineapple sage, garden sage, thyme—such a great addition to any ordinary salad or quinoa bowl, or even straight onto an avocado).
• Buzz Chew: an energizing herbal powder you can take a pinch of on-the-go. Spilanthes (used in natural toothpastes) gives you a pop-rocks-candy-like sensation in your mouth. So fun.
• Children's Wellness Tea: don't leave the kids out!
What I adore most about this whole situation is the philosophy that underlies Farmacy—that we are all our own best teachers when it comes to healing (the motto Doug and Genna promote on their turmeric-yellow T-shirts is "Heal Yo' Self"!). The herbs themselves will tell you how much "medicine" you need, the Wolkons say. If you're feeling headachey, pay attention! Drink water to flush out toxins. If you're feeling tired or exhausted because you're dumping toxins or you're stressed out, stop fighting it and let your body sleep. If you're feeling energized, exercise. This is the magic of any healthy food practice—it puts you in a state of consciousness where you will naturally lean toward bringing yourself, your life, your habits further into balance.
I find this with veganism, too, having observed so many people's transitions. When one's physical state improves, one becomes more open-minded and open-hearted to all kinds of new paradigms—environmentalism, alternative healing modalities, animal rights, etc.
Healing the body helps the mind get free.
I mean, look at this pic of me. At this point I hadn't even sipped the goods yet and I was already super happier and thus a better person to everyone around me—see what herbs do?!
Follow @KauaiFarmacyTea on Instagram to get happy and improve your herbal knowledge.
And use code Mahalo10 to get 10% off your purchase from www.kauaifarmacy.com. If you have a retail shop, a waiting room, a tea-drinking practice, an imbalance to heal, are in need of kickstarting a healthy ritual, or you're just a tea lover, do yourself (or someone else) a favor and get some Kauai Farmacy tea—you'll be supporting yourself and adding to a beautiful, deserving, awesome health-invoking economy (can you tell how much I love this small company?!).
I feel compelled and qualified to to say something to my (vegan) network about the growing unrest over the continual police shootings of black men. You may not know that it was my interest, research, and work, since adolescence, in anti-racism and social justice activism along with my degree in American Studies (history through the lens of race, class, gender, and sexuality), that eventually led me to go vegan.
As people with the practiced ability to change our habits for a cause, we vegans have a role to play in the trajectory of civil rights and race relations everywhere. But while there's been a spike in outrage, sadness, and demand for change with all the recent shootings, I also see that people have no any idea of what to actually do, besides hashtag #blacklivesmatter and pressure political leaders for something, unsure of what.
Anything we ask of the government will surely be metered, imperfect, and lengthy to institute. So like every other historical social justice movement, change must occur by conscious individuals modifying their own behavior—sacrificing time for education, gatherings, brainstorming, discussion and debate, implementing change, embodying change, influencing others. Legislation and policy follow the people, not vice versa.
While our community leaders and local governments improve their policies, protocols, use-of-force training, and whatever else might one day create more equality in the public sphere, we can work on our hearts and minds, laying the foundation for a widespread, fundamental, permanent shift toward justice for all.
PLEASE NOTE: By no means is the following a comprehensive list of solutions to heal America's racism, but a start for people who want to help, but don't know where to begin. And by no means am I claiming to speak on behalf of any community, but rather from my experience and learnings as an anti-racism activist. And finally, by no means am I focusing on black history because I think any one else's history is less important, but since the current events have specifically to do with police racism and black men, I focused on resources about African American history.
5 THINGS EVERYONE CAN DO TO HEAL AMERICA'S RACISM
1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE GAP
Admit, at least to yourself, that you probably don't know too much about the experience of people of color—unless you have, over great lengths of time, repeatedly put yourself in environments where you are the racial minority, away from the watchful eye of white society. Admission is the first step to recovery.
2. READ & WATCH
Educate yourself on African American history. If you don't intentionally seek out the history of all peoples of color, in fact, you can not possibly know American history at all, nor the real context and implications of race today. To get you started, these are just a few of my most beloved, mind-blowing, life-changing resources that cover a great span of time.
• The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
• Race Rebels: Culture Politics, and the Black Working Class by Robin D.G. Kelley
• Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; Narrative of Sojourner Truth; The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader: Ida B. Wells
• Watch documentation of anti-racism activist Jane Elliot's "Blue-Eyed Brown-Eyed" workshops—they are some of the most powerful demonstrations of the insidious nature of racism on both the "superior" and oppressed sides. See what happens when she discriminates against a group of people based on eye color, lowers her expectations of them, and breaks their confidence as they live down to those expectations:
• How Racist Are You? Part I (11 min)
• The Angry Eye (51 min)
Purchase the "Blue-Eyed" documentary on Jane Elliot for diversity training purposes here.
Because of the intersections of race and class, our schools have become largely segregated once again. We have to integrate ourselves if we want our generation and the next to be brothers and sisters. If you or your kids have extracurriculars, hobbies, or after school activities, for example, try doing them in a neighborhood you wouldn't normally venture to—not once or twice like you're on some exoticized safari, but for extended periods of time—to build relationships, friendships, networks, and communities. If this sounds scary to you, the problem of racism and its effect on your life should be appearing clearer. See #1 again.
4. STOP SUGAR-COATING
Stop telling kids that "everyone is equal" and start explaining America's history of inequality, what's going on in the news, and—outrightly and clearly—why racism is sick and wrong. Teach your kids to identify and stand in solidarity with just causes, collectives, ideas, and people.
5. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVISM THOUGHTFULLY
Don't toss around trendy hashtags nor assume you know what any community needs or wants, or what is good for them. Some of the most useless activism I've seen happens when outsiders come into a neighborhood and start offering services that have nothing to do with the real needs of the community. Listen, read, and find out what the many different voices in the community are saying, and only then become a soldier for what you find fair and just.
Comments? Please leave a note below:
How freaking cute is this?! Hoppy the Helper has gone overseas!
The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids (AKA Il Piccolo Cucchiaio or "The Little Green Spoon") is coming soon in Italian, so super exciting.
Tell your Italian friends, family, and cousins they can order here and get cookin' in the cucina with their bambinis, yay!