Something for all of us to think about during Black History Month (and all year) is the fact that structural racism and destructive economic policies in the United States have deeply affected the relationship Black Americans have with food, the land, and agriculture. People who have such a rich history of growing food, creating varied and healthy cuisines, and using herbal medicine have often been deliberately separated from that knowledge over the past 400 years. Therefore, part of building wealth and health in communities is establishing Black ownership of these systems. This ownership involves access to land, knowledge, and fresh food offerings in communities.
Because of this, our social justice highlight and donation for this cycle is the African Heritage Food Co-op, which is looking to expand and establish a location in the heart of the Buffalo Fruit Belt at 238 Carlton Street!
Here is their vision statement from their website:
Our vision is to create a world where inner city “neighborhoods” can become Communities. Where NO ONE goes without HEALTHY AFFORDABLE food options. Most importantly a world in which we can create Ownership and employment opportunities IN and FOR the COMMUNITY.
In short: A community seeing a problem, attempting to solve it themselves but lacking resources to do so.
Building 238 Carlton will be an economic engine for a community which will hire 60 individuals and provide healthy food options within walking distance and reinvest in other cooperative businesses, further providing opportunities.
We started in 2016 as a community share, branched out to mobile markets and created a brick and mortar facility in Niagara Falls. COVID derailed our efforts, but we are now ready to continue our pursuits and would love your help.
The African Heritage Food Co-op already has a location in Niagara Falls as well as a Co-op garden on Edison Street in Buffalo AND a farm in Franklinville! Part of the Co-op’s mission is to offer programs that teach young people about agriculture as well as entrepreneurship. The Co-op also believes in offering employment opportunities to people who need them most: those who have been incarcerated, experienced addiction issues, or had interruptions in education.
We’re donating a portion of our sales this month to the African Heritage Food Co-op.. Want to contribute to this endeavor with us? Use this donation link to help this important project become a reality!
Want more information about the Co-op? Check out their website or check out this WGRZ article and video interview with founder Alexander Wright!
Since we’re offering a collaboration for Valentine’s Day and the spring, it seemed like the perfect time to give some local business love to Bru Apothecary!
Herbalist and Bru Apothecary owner Nnenna Ferguson describes her business like this:
…a magickal botanical wellness boutique for healing and restoration. This is an intuitive and communal space for reclaiming wholeness - mind, body, and spirit. Our artisan teas and tonics are infused with ancestral alchemy. Our mission is to create access to key sources of health and vitality.
In short, this is kitchen medicine. We believe everyone should have the essential tools for plant-based wellness in their home. Bru Apothecary products are hand-crafted in Buffalo, NY by community herbalist Nnenna Ferguson.
Herbalism can and should be accessible to all human beings. Communing with the plants is integral to our survival and prosperity. Every offering in this boutique has been crafted and curated with intention and guidance.
We can certainly speak to her Original Bru (olive leaf, rose hip, star anise, wild cherry bark) - it imparts a sense of overall wellness and also tastes great! Nnenna’s other offerings include Fire Cider, Elderberry Elixir, and many herbal potions. An abundance of options to help you nourish your body and maintain a state of wellness!
We know supporting this business will help you’ll also feel supported in your health, heart, and soul!
Since our new Soul Salt Soak has warming and aromatic cardamom, we thought that a great pairing for showing some love would be these soft and chewy cookies full of warming spices! These cookies (which happen to also be gluten free and can be made vegan) also have an extra boost of magnesium from the almond flour, dates, and pecans, and even the blackstrap molasses adds some extra magnesium, calcium, potassium. Perfect to make for your sweetie, your kiddos… or for yourself!
NOTE: If you love spices, feel free to add more ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom!
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream together butter, date paste, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pecans, and salt. Add to butter and sugar blend a little at a time and mix well.
Drop 2-inch balls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet (If you have parchment paper to line your cookie sheet, it will help the cookies come off really easily) and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 12-13 minutes, watching to make sure they don’t begin to burn on the bottom. Remove carefully with a spatula - they will be soft and chewy! Cool on wire racks. Enjoy with people you love!
Makes at least 2 dozen large cookies.
* Ingredient Substitutions
This recipe can be made vegan. To replace the butter, we actually used Miyoko’s cultured vegan salted butter made from cashews. You can also replace the two eggs with 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed mixed into 6 tbsp of water and allowed to stand 10-15 minutes. (The flax eggs will work in this recipe; however, know that the cookies will be extra soft!)
To make this recipe nut free, all purpose flour or gluten free flour blends can be used instead of almond flour, and leave out pecans.
If you do not have dates, replace the 8 dates + 1/2 cup sugar with 2 cups of sugar.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s a good time to think about emotional health. This celebration of love brings up reactions ranging from total delight all the way to resurfacing relationship trauma. And it’s important to take a look at how days like this that are promoted by our culture resonate in our emotions and, yes, even in our bodies. Especially in our bodies.
And of course you know what we’re going to say next… magnesium is part of these reactions in our bodies! Like many other reactions, the relationship between emotional health and magnesium is one that goes in both directions: our magnesium levels affect our emotional health, and our emotional health affects our magnesium levels.
Much of this is about our relationship with stress and our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. Our sympathetic nervous system is the system that activates our “fight, flight, or freeze'' response when we are in danger; our parasympathetic nervous system is the system that returns our body to a sense of calm so we can resume normal functioning. However, when we are constantly exposed to stress or danger without the opportunity to process it or achieve a sense of safety, our bodies and emotions can get stuck in a constant state of sympathetic nervous system activation. This causes a cascade of physical effects in the body, particularly where magnesium is concerned..
In The Magnesium Miracle (2017), Dr. Carolyn Dean writes that “Adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol (elevated in chronic stress) deplete magnesium. Stress causes elimination of magnesium through the urine, further compounding magnesium deficiency. ‘Stress’ is such an overworked word, but we all suffer physical, emotional, and mental stress every day, and every bit of it drains magnesium” (p. 14).
What does this have to do with Valentine’s Day? Love? Relationships? If you find yourself in a negative, toxic, or even abusive and traumatic relationship with a partner, friend, or family member (or even an overly-critical and negative self-talk relationship with yourself), it can cause your body to lose magnesium. Which then makes it more difficult to manage stress and maintain emotional health in the future.
For a little more on how this works, Dr. Dean goes on to say that “When the adrenals are no longer protected by sufficient magnesium, the fight-or-flight hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline become more easily triggered. When they surge erratically they cause rapid pulse, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations. The more magnesium-deficient you are, the more exaggerated is the adrenaline response” (Dean, 2017, p. 14).
All of this sounds pretty terrible, right?
The flip side of this, however, is the hopeful side, because this negative-feedback system is reversible! If you are in a state of emotional health (having a loving and supportive partner, family, and friends) or cultivating love for YOURSELF, it may actually help your body to maintain your magnesium levels and, consequently, better physical health… leading to better emotional health because then you are able to manage stress better in the future, making this a positive-feedback loop. “Magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes muscle tension, and lowers the pulse rate, helping to reduce anxiety and panic attacks” (Dean, 2017, p. 14).
How can you make this happen? Some of it is nutritional - you can eat magnesium-rich foods and/or supplement with magnesium. (And we have just released our new Soul Salt Soak with rose, cardamom, bergamot, and vetiver for emotional grounding and easing anxiety.) Other healthy ways to calm the nervous system include deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage, acupuncture, reiki, EFT tapping, or getting out into nature. So... on Valentine's Day, be sure to show some love to your parasympathetic nervous system!
Dean, C. (2017). The Magnesium Miracle (Second Edition). Ballantine Books.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to share news and information about our products as well as research-based information on magnesium that we have found useful. We are NOT medical professionals and do not intend this post to be taken as medical advice. Our products are not FDA approved or approved for medical use, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please be sure to consult a medical professional with any questions about utilizing our products along with your current health regimen!