She wanted to eat better on tour and found out that taste is partly a mind game.

Rapper-singer-storyteller Dessa has a way with words:

I'm a fan, so I was excited to to run across the below video, where she uses her words to share some really practical, helpful information.


The video chronicles the journey she and her band took to eat sustainably even while they were on tour.

Lots of us might think of travel as a time off from "responsible" behavior. But hey, if you live over half your life on the road, figuring out how to eat right by your body and your values even while traveling gets a heck of a lot more important.



Turns out, what Dessa learned about eating on the road is useful for us homebodies, too.

Dessa was inspired by the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and visited author Michael Pollan to get his advice for about how to eat for a better world. (Pollan is the go-to guy for any questions about being an eater-of-food in the contemporary U.S. food system. His "Farmer in Chief" article is a great intro to his ideas about what's wrong with our food system and how to make it better).

In a nutshell, this is what she learned:

1. People in cities grow food and lots of it. And not only is food being grown in diverse communities all over the country, it's helping revitalize city neighborhoods. Many urban food producers are committed to making their food accessible to everyone who eats — in other words, to offering fresh, affordable food.

2. You can support this good work by buying local; then choose organic if it's available. Buying local at places like farmer's markets and food co-ops keeps your money in the 'hood, supporting people in your community instead of a large company elsewhere. And you have a chance to meet the people producing your food. And that's good because...

Here's the mind-blower:

3. Knowing how your food was produced will change how it tastes.

Wait, what? How can knowing about a food change how it tastes?

The psychology of taste is pretty fascinating.

It's a "dance of chemicals on the tongue," like Pollan says, and taste is also what we're thinking about and how we're feeling (as well as what society is telling us to like). Research has turned up all kinds of crazy things, like the more you spend on a meal, the better it tastes; drinks change taste according to what color they are; the weight and color of cutlery changes the taste of food; and a dish with a fancy label tastes better than the same stuff with a plain name.

If you know the people making your food are committed to helping neighbors and to treating their animals and environment well, doesn't it make sense that your meal will taste really lovely?

Bon appétit!

And while you're chewing on how to make things taste better in your life, here's a little Dessa for you.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less