Where's WANDA in Africa & Diaspora?

Where's WANDA in Africa & Diaspora?

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Author Tambra Raye Stevenson discussed her “Where’s WANDA” book series and how the WANDA (Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture) character sparks the imagination of young girls to use food as a healing power in their families and communities.

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>> From the Library of
Congress in Washington DC. [ Silence ] >> Mary Jane Deeb: Good afternoon
ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the African Mid East Division. I am Mary Jane Deeb,
Chief of the division and I'm delighted to
see you all here. This is a very special
program we're bringing back to the library some
of the people we love. And Ms. Tambra Raye
Stevenson is one of the people who have done a great deal in her
life and has contributed in her work to a better understanding
of a region for which this division
is responsible for Africa. And she would share her thoughts
and her ideas with you in a moment. Before this, before
we get into the meat of the program I always do a
little commercial for this division and highlight the fact
that we are responsible for seventy eight countries
in the world. We're responsible for the whole
continent of Africa, sub-Saharan, North Africa and the Middle
East and the Hebraic world. So there are three sections, the
Hebraic section which connects from the whole world in Hebrew
and Yiddish like you know. The Near East section which extends
to another already the Arab world, Turkey and Iran but also
Central Asia and the Caucuses. And as I mentioned Africa
is the whole continent, we collect in the vernacular,
we serve people here in the reading room
and we do programs and conferences and exhibits. And concerts, sometimes we show
films as well and we invite scholars to come and share with them
the research and the work and the work they're doing. So that we are all kept up to date
with the developments in the region and that we help our patrons
also get a better understanding for the culture, for the
society, for the history. And today is a case in point so
Miss Stevenson will be talking about a very important aspect
of culture which is food. And food is not only to feed
the body, to keep us going but it has a great
many other implications and she will share with us. Our division is also made up
researchers of the specialists who help the researchers
and they are the ones who are responsible
for these programs. And so today Eve Ferguson
who is a reference librarian in the African section
has organised this program and will introduce the speaker. So Eve. [ Silence ] >> Eve Ferguson: Good afternoon. I'm glad to see you all
here today on what promise to be a really horribly rainy day,
but as my speaker who will come up has said when you're on a
mission the weather cooperates and obviously it did,
it stopped raining. So, what can I say about Tambra
Raye Stevenson that I'm not going to read right now except to say that she is perhaps the most
dynamic young woman I know. Always comes up with new
ideas, always doing something and when I saw little WANDA I
fell in love with little WANDA. She is a wonderfully cute
little character based on a wonderfully cute little girl. I'll let my speakers say more
about how little WANDA came about and I just love the mission and I
said, you know, this is something that we need to let
the world know about. Well, before I did a flyer or
anything she had tweeted it out to everybody and
it went all over and I understand we're
on Facebook live now. So, I love the way the younger
generation uses social media to get the word out, you don't
necessarily have to be here. Of course if you're not here
you're not going to get any of the light refreshments
that we're to serve later. So, that can't be Facebook
lived but everything else can and before I read my introduction I
just want to get everybody in here to wish Miss Tambra Raye
Stevenson a happy birthday. It's not today it was about a week
and a half ago but close enough. It's in the month of September and
so happy birthday Tambra, you know, I know that there are
great things ahead for you. Now I'll read her bio. Miss Stevenson is the 2014 National
Geographic travel of the year. An author of the forthcoming
Where's WANDA book series which creates the first girl
character exploring Africa through its foods and female
farmers to help heal her community. As founder and CEO of Women
Advancing Nutrition Dietetics in Agriculture because WANDA is
not just a name, it's an acronym. She supports equitable
opportunities for women and girls and to improve their communities
through food and nutrition. As founder of native soul
kitchen she educates, advocates and advocates for preserving
the health of Africa and beauty of African food through
lectures and workshops. And of course you can
learn more about WANDA at I am WANDA dot org
and native soul dot com. I know that upcoming WANDA
is got lots of exciting trips that she's going on and so
without any further I do I want to introduce my friend and I'll
repeat defender not offender because she defends the health of
the African diaspora community. So please welcome Tambra
Raye Stevenson. [ Audience Clapping ] >> Tambra Raye Stevenson: So
it's such a great pleasure to be back here at the African
and Middle Eastern reading room. I definitely see you all as
dear friends who enjoy good food and also history as I do. So, I want to start off with a small
video that I actually had prepared that kick started Where's WANDA
through a crowd funding campaign. Just to give you a quick
preview of how far we've come. [ Video and Music Playing ] So, is as what has been shared
since the last time I was here which is just two and
half years ago. I became National Geographic travel
year of sharing my personal story of really looking at
the health issues in the Afro-American community
and realizing what can we learn when we go back to what I
call the original soul food. African heritage foods and unlock
the secrets from those foods and that was my last presentation
back just two years ago in 2014 here at the Library of Congress. And so since then between
overcoming Ebola, Boko Haram, the presidential elections
in Nigeria I fairly made to track this summer to Nigeria which really prompted me creating
WANDA as a way to give back to the community in northern
Nigeria which is heavily impacted by malnutrition right now. And also recognizing that we have
shared commonalities in the struggle around good nutrition
in our communities. It's estimated that more than 3 billion people have low
quality diets that impacts eighteen of the sustainable development
goals listed by the United Nations. So, nutrition really is the heart
of our economy as well as the health of our community and so
since then having recognized that this double burden is not
simply just malnutrition in the form of what we perceive it to be. But it's also in the
form of obesity as well in many countries including
America to Africa and the Middle East are
facing this issue right now. And people are asking the question,
well, how do we make ag cool again? How do we inspire young people to go into this sector of
food security in ag? And so since then I had
an opportunity to go to the African Union Summit on food
security and ag in 2014 and wrestle with that question we had to
make a pledge how were we going to address youth unemployment. And I look within and
said, you know, with the issues going on between. As a child I did not
embrace my womanhood, I did not embrace my heritage, I
didn't really embrace my culture and I think that was
a survival technique. And I think over time having
gone on to become a mother, having gone on to realize that
yoga retreats helped as well that everything I needed was already
within me and so from there that's where I found the source of
inspiration of creating WANDA because of everything
led up to that point. So, one interesting stat that I
couldn't believe that NCD free which is an international NGO
shared that in 2015 more people die from heart disease,
diabetes which are known as non-communicable diseases than
HIV, TB and malaria combined. And these diseases
are all preventable, it's based off lifestyle, it's
based off developmental policies that create jobs in the
name of fast food chains across Sub-Saharan Africa and
Northern Africa and the Middle East. And how do we harness the potential
of the local foods, the local women and girls to be able to
provide a better viable option that improves the health and the economic outlook
for these communities. And so some of these diseases
I've already stated and the some of the risk factors I've mentioned
as well such as unhealthy diets, obesity as well as even gender
which we'll focus on now with WANDA. So, when you Google black women
in agriculture and when you're try to overcome stereotypes this is
the kind of images that pop up and I think when we think about
people who aspire to go into sports or music you have characters
that are portrayed in a really bright light, right? But when you Google things like agriculture you
don't see positive images and that really reminded
me why I choose not to go in this sector even though
I grew up in Oklahoma in a very agricultural state
cows across the street. Is that an ag town, Stillwater,
Oklahoma and surrounded by livestock and I wanted to get out of there
and I think a lot of people in the room whether here again
in America or Africa head for the city's thinking
life will be better for you. But ultimately it is the land
that is part of our survival and so it's taken time
for me to recognize that again everything being already
within me and looking at, well, how do we retell the story
through imagery, through narrative. And so I looked at these little
girls, the first is my daughter Ruby and how does my daughter's
generation have positive role models in images and narratives
that inspire them to want to be these food sheroes
in their community. And, you know, a lot goes to
dynamic women like Michelle Obama who has inspired a generation and
thinking about how do we continue to hold that torch up even after
she leaves the administration. And so the other two little girls
that I highlight is Hailey Thomas, who's a vegan chef, not even a
teen and then we had Michaela Omar who wrote this multimillion dollar
contract deal with Whole Foods, with her grandma's recipe in
selling sweet pea lemonade. Phenomenal little girls and this is
what we need for our communities, healthy food, entrepreneurs who are
looking within themselves and being that source of inspiration
for not only their generation but really adults as well. And so I took time to
put this collage together because I asked one
friend the question about, can we remember anyone before the
civil rights movement that was known as a food fighter, a female
food fighter for our community? I can only come up with anything and
so I realized it is only until now that we start identifying and
start collecting the history and documenting women
in food movements and how that's another form
of owning your feminine power and being able to turn that
narrative of back in the 60s with the whole liberation
in 70s that I was that kid who got a congressional
nomination for West Point. I wanted to hightail it
again out of Oklahoma and I did not see anything related
to gender being a positive thing. And so it has taken time to really,
in therapy, to really recognize that again we need new images
to inspire us to go blaze trails in a sector that has not
been in that positive light. Because home economics most times
we can acknowledge that we thought, you know, who wants to be
Susie homemaker, right? That's not a part of the
movement for liberation for women but I now being a mom
have realized that is where the power was,
is in the kitchen. And realizing that women
have provide the first foods for the babies, they are the first
in the markets selling the foods, working the farms in many
countries and just owning again that intersection of women,
food and power in a dynamic way that wasn't really told before. But something that we needed to
escape from but really that's where the power is again now. And so for me it's been how do we
share the story of these big WANDAs to inspire the little
WANDAs in our community? And so that meant coming
up with new imagery, the women you see here are part
of WANDA either as a volunteer or a board member representing
Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Eritrea, Jamaica, America and we need
to have again new imagery that inspires a new generation. And so that means also
providing mentorship and service learning
opportunities and being able to create a safe space for
women to be able to be that full that food sheroes that they want
to be that they never thought that they could exchange between
geographies, generations and sectors to really help be that source of
inspiration for their community. And so this is me and my
daughter, Ruby, and I truly believe in this idea that when
you empower women and girls you nourish the world. And the thing is for
us to own that power as women again becomes
really important a part of that inspiration. And this is my son, Elliot,
he didn't really feel that he had a role to play
in WANDA but I had and a lot of men were asking, where is MANDA? I was like what, MANDA,
what do you mean MANDA? I'm like there go, there they go, was like why can't you just
embrace WANDA and be there for us and so the reality is I knew
that that conversation will come, and I simply ask men,
do you have a mother? Do you have a daughter? Do you have a niece? Do you have a loved one who happens
to be female that you believe that, if given the opportunity, that
she could make a difference in her community? And when they begin
reflecting on that question and realize the hard labor
that the mothers have gone through as either single mothers
or had to be doing everything even if they did have a husband,
they realize like wow, yeah, my mom deserved to be more than what
she was in her life and I looked at my own mother doing
the same thing. They make sacrifices for us,
that's what they do and I think if we just realized that as men they
become gate openers of opportunities and little boys as the same way
I can count the number of stories of men who've have already
made a difference for WANDA. And so this is a space that, again,
we have half of the population in DC alone, alone in the world are
women and so there is a strong stack that if you want to overcome poverty in the world you empower the
women and the girls to do so. And so everyone has a
role in supporting WANDA. So, Dangote of Dangote Foundation
in Nigeria made a great quote about "I believe the single most important
intervention I can support is better nutrition in Nigeria" and that is
definitely the truth given the fact that it has some of the toughest
nutrition challenges right now facing the continent. And it becomes really a prized
opportunity to be that model for everyone else in the
continent and really the world. And so when we inspire
women and girls it means about having stakeholders, people
beyond just the gender sector or nutrition sector but law and
media and economics and investments. Everyone plays a role in creating
a new pipeline of opportunity and little WANDA really is just
that Smokey the Bear that champion, who is tooting the horn
along the way of making sure that everyone creates the village
that surrounds her and supports her in providing those opportunities. And so in doing so what we
do we educate, we advocate and we innovate meaning
that it is not simply enough to provide nutrition, education but
nutrition, education that speaks of their cultural food ways. And understanding that those food
ways have not been documented in a substantial way
on the continent; a lot of the nutrition
books are coming from America, from
India, from the UK. But again how are we documenting the
knowledge of the nutritional value of these foods and making sure that
not only are the future nutritionist on the continent is getting that
information but also those who serve after the immigrant community here
in the US and in Europe as well. And using technology
to fuel that scale and impact becomes really important. We were just at Microsoft
winner just this past weekend and using the artificial
intelligence and being able to create instant messaging for
people that ask questions related to food resources in
their community. It becomes a real key opportunity
to see the intersectionality of technologies to drive
the change that we need. And so in visiting Nigeria
and in sharing little WANDA, I went to a Steam International
in Abuja and the kids are awesome. Ramatu Saani is the
head schoolmaster there and the girls had phenomenal
questions from diabetes to gluten-free issues. And wondering can they tune
into little WANDA on Saturday as a cartoon and it just gave me
new ideas about what can we do in providing a creative educational
but entertaining narrative for them to use storytelling as a means
of educating them in a way that they really grasp
the information. It's not simply enough to spit out
a lecture but putting and packaging in a way that has a gender lens, a
cultural lens is really important and lies at the heart of how
we develop our programing for little WANDA and the
Where's WANDA series. And so in visiting one of
the parents who's a dietician at the local hospital in Abuja, she
shared how they're using local foods from cinnamon to garlic to turmeric
to cloves to tamarind as a means of providing a nutritional
prescriptions to their patients. And she was saying malnutrition in
the pediatric unit is not as high of an issue as diabetes
is rising there. And so that was very telling
about what needs to happen and shifting our focus in preparing for a healthier workforce
tackling NCDs. And so that means how are we
preparing the next leaders to be able to understand nutrition
whether they're in medicine or pharmacy or whether they
are community health workers. Everyone needs to be able to embrace
nutrition and little WANDA helps to champion that and make
that intersectionality to inspire the next generation. And systems changes is with
that from looking at it, from a healthcare lens we see farm
farmers rating incorporating their food products within the hospitals. We also see that with the cultural
lens of meeting to make sure that we have the cultural foods
available that it's not enough just to say that we have farmers' markets but how those farmers
markets providing foods that are culturally
relevant to that community. And everyone plays a role as I was
sharing in terms of stakeholders from those in government to
those who are family and friends and sharing resources
among ourselves. But most of all I find that
is the self-talk that we say to our ourselves of saying
that well am I able to be that food shero in my community? And what you say to yourself
matters in making that first step to creating the change
that you need. And so this is the dietician at the Abuja hospital
that I was referring to. A lot of the hospitals have
about three dieticians, they're busy round-the-clock, they
take calls even on their cell phones when they're even at
home and so a lot of the information is not documented
when they provide patient education. And so that's another opportunity of how do we start creating
nutritional educational materials that is culturally
relevant, that is factored in. There are local food
ways and also the fact that there is a nutrition transition
happening in the community with the new soft minerals
which we call soda here and the Indomie [phonetic] noodles
that we call Ramen noodles here. All of this is also
changing the food patterns and also the health
outcomes for the community that has to be factored in. And so I had the opportunity to
visit one of the IDP camps in Abuja and Moringa was growing in the camp. Many of the folks where coming from
the north where they were farmers but had to flee because
of Boko Haram. And so in providing again
educational materials that can benefit Africa and
the Diaspora our creative team out of Lagos help to create
these informatics materials such as Mama Moringa. I provided the content and they
provided the creative design about how do we start
talking about the local foods. We call them super foods here
once they come to America but these are readily
available, low-cost, health options available
already in these communities, but they simply may not
know the nutritional value of what they have already
within their own community. And so it becomes really important of how can we start providing
cultural-based nutrition information and a character that can help
provide that championship that these little foods
need, these local food needs. And so these are some of the women,
that Ramatu, our other board member with WANDA helps to
bring together the… It's a coalition of Muslim women who
assist with the IDP camp in Abuja and I had seen a child
eating dry Ramen noodles and it was pretty alarming
as a nutritionist to see that and I said we cannot leave
without providing a proper meal. And so we, you know,
took some of the funds from the crowd funding campaign
and provided a meal for everyone. And it was really beautiful down
to the jollof rice to the oranges, the bananas, the water with
chicken and vegetables in the meal. And you know it was a hot proper
meal that we also provided through a local caterer and so
to me compared to the Plumpy'Nuts that are provided to address
severe malnutrition I acknowledge that that is a different status. But if we can do things in a way
that helps build the local economy and also introduces the local
foods that is a win-win situation for everyone in my opinion. And so creating healthy
eaters is the other part that little WANDA champions. One of the professors
out of Nigeria said that the Nigeria soft drinks have
been shown to be high in sucrose, fructose which are much higher
than the brands in South Africa. And already in South Africa
more than seventy percent of the population is
either overweight or obese, and that's really problematic when
we think about the projected number of 42 million is to have
diabetes by 2030 on the continent. So, what is the intervention
that will happen? Who will be that food
shero in the community to help turn these numbers around,
that's the question that we ask. And again the Trojan horse is
in the name of job development, bringing fast food
into the countries. Case in point, when I was in South
Africa last year the local KFC was open for breakfast and they had
motorbikes to transport your food and they were open around-the-clock. We don't even have that here. So I was like oh my God
that's like a real issue and so I thought again how
do we compete again a David Goliath battle? And really little WANDA competing
in the David Goliath battle between these large multinationals
and…and how can they actually start directing resources in a way that supports the local food
economy in a meaningful way. And so again the education
in going to the camps, going to the universities and the
schools, meeting with the parents, doing teacher training workshops,
providing information on millet. We have here in Tiger nuts,
they were just very impressed and they were like the nutritional
value of their local foods to know that they can help tackle different
disease states and they're low cost and available on the street
easily just for a few Naira. I think that was very powerful
for them to able to recognize it. In millet, one of the, it's about
Nigeria's one of top producers of millet commonly found
in northern Nigeria where you can make the
Flo donono [phonetic] which is a milk millet
dish available either in the Ruger [assumed spelling]
which is the village or also through one of the well-known
chains Habib's yogurt. It's a very nutritious drink and
when we think about, you know, consuming this particular
product it actually has a lot of pre and probiotics. Tiger nut definitely has prebiotics
and so when we're thinking about the new frontiers such
as the microflora of the gut. Having foods that help
provide healthy bacteria in the gut becomes really important
and these two foods help to do that. And so in introducing the story,
I have a copy of one of the books that we had prepared in
Nigeria and I just want to share the opening letter that
we provide to the little WANDAs. We say the Where's WANDA series
is made especially for you, we need superfood sheroes who
will help our community heal with our heritage foods and
that's why little WANDA matters to find the healing and
beauty of African Foods to nourish our community. And through her travels in Africa, little WANDA meets female farmers
also known as big WANDAs who grow and share African heritage foods
to feed and heal her people in Africa and the Diaspora. And as part of the WANDAs wisdom, you realize that all we
need is already within us and we hope you'll enjoy
the story and share with your family and friends. And most of all being inspired
to celebrate your heritage and learn and prepare the foods. And so with every story we actually
highlight a real female farmer and a little girl and so we took
the journey to Kano Nigeria to meet with Salama Togarber who runs WFAN which is the Women Farmers
Advancement Network. She is by far a great example
of what a WANDA woman is. She runs a women's cooperative, they
make their own Made in Nigeria rice. They also produce groundnut
oil; they also produce kulikuli which is made of groundnut. Think about peanut butter cookies
before it had white sugar in it, that's what the kulikuli is. And so it was just fascinating
and phenomenal to be greeted by just a room, outdoor room full
of women bringing, who were happy to first be graduating
through a training program that WFAN was having. But also unveiling their new rice
product that they've been making for Nigeria, and so little WANDA who in this story I
highlight my daughter Ruby. Part of every story is about how
do we take a different woman story and turn it into a children's book,
and so this first story really is about my journey of finding my
heritage in Nigeria and being able to capture my story of my grandma
having diabetes and my curiosity as a kid wanting to know the
answer on how to help heal her. And my father who passed
coming to my dreams to tell me what the secret was which was everything I needed
was already within our heritage. And so I turned that into
a storybook and the idea is that every book hops to a different
country being either Kenya or Benin or South Africa and highlight who
are those champions on the ground? What are their local foods? And how can the help not
only their communities but really our communities
everywhere? And so in the first
opening we have little WANDA who she's always curious
wanting to know what's going on and so she eavesdrops because
that's what she does, nosy, and she wants to know what's grandma
or Nana and her mom talking about. And so in designing the
characters I went back and forth with the designer but I wanted
to have relatable characters that people can say, hey,
that looks like my Nana. And it was important for me that
little WANDA had a little Afro with the whole big care natural
hair movement and again realizing that that wasn't something that I easily would've
done back in Oklahoma. I would straighten my hair
the moment I got off the plane but embracing again all
that are ready have within. And so the pictures on the back
of her uncles who she later goes to visit and she overhears
her mom talking to Nana that she had just came
from the hospital and had learned that
she has diabetes. And so WANDA didn't know what to
do about this and so she thought about how did we get to this
place and she started to think because she's very cerebral. She was thinking about all of the
different foods Nana has been eating down to the soda and down to
the cakes and the pastries and it reminded my grandma. My grandma loves going to
Brahm's dairy store in Oklahoma and every time I knew she always has
some kind of sweet around the house and she was always
offering that to us as well. And at that time I didn't
have a clue about nutrition, I didn't even know it
was a field at the time and so I'm enjoying the
sweets just with my Nana because that's what we did together. Not realizing that, you
know, perhaps they contribute to her complications of
diabetes in her dying later and for me it was a moment
of being able to share that through the magic
apron that WANDA gets which is her great Nana's apron
that she finds in her trunk that this becomes her way to
travel and to be on a journey and explore how can I find
a cure for Nana's diabetes? And so the father actually
looks like my dad and I thought it was really
important to have the visuals that come to mind like Africa in the
backdrop versus the princess theme that the designer first
one is like, no. And I thought about how important
dreams are and how, you know. There is a beautiful story over at the American Indian
Museum called the Little Boy and Seven Grandfathers and the
power of dreams become opportunities of where you actually
find the answer, that's when spirit speaks to you. And so it was so important for
me to capture that in the story about the power of spirit as
another form of communication and as a way to unlock the answer. It wasn't something
that could happen in the daytime only unless
she's in a meditative state and so dreaming it's kind of
like that same meditative state that I was capturing through
the story with the communication that was happening between
her late father who died and talking to her in her dream. And so when she puts on her
apron she is able to travel to different countries and so
she travels to Northern Nigeria where she is greeted by two
gentlemen Ashru and Yussif who are real friends of mine who've
helped me to travel to Nigeria. And I asked them how do I get
the secret for Nana and we go on this journey exploring parts
of Africa, parts of Nigeria and they were like I know
who you need to meet, big WANDA who is also known as Mrs.
Garba who I later met this summer. And so through that conversation
of being with big WANDA, little WANDA learns about
different foods such as millets and in the book we actually have
characters for all the foods. So in this case, she needs
Mamadou Millet and she learns about the power of millet and
how to prepare the dish in order to feed that to her family. And it was so important that
the farmer looked as gorgeous as Mrs. Garba did when I met
her and contrast the imagery that I showed you when you Google. Because again, we want
to show empowering images of women embracing their foods
and becoming stewards of healing and health and unity
that our community needs. And so for me I would want
to be like a big WANDA like Mrs. Garba after meeting her. So, I just wanted to just end
and share how important it is that we have positive
narratives for our children. When I think about the
characters that we have now like Ronald McDonald who
promotes, yeah, another choice of foods I wanted little
WANDA to be in that dynamic of David and Goliath battle. You can give with this or
you can't give with that but little WANDA's where it's at. And it's really important
that we have characters that represent our children who are to be the future food
sheroes of our communities. And so I just want to thank
everyone who's come out for those who are interested in that Where's
WANDA book series we will be having those books available
online and also for November which is diabetes month is when we'll have another
book signing opportunity. So I just want to thank
the Library of Congress for having WANDA here today
and I'm open for any questions that you may have as well. [ Audience Clapping ] >> Eve Ferguson: So now you
all kind of see what I mean about being dynamic but I'm going
to jump in front of everybody and then we'll take couple of
questions to ask a question about I hear little WANDA is going
Sweden where she would be talking to the Somali community there
about some of the Somali things that make your some [inaudible]. >> Tambra Raye Stevenson:
So the beauty of WANDA, we're building this really
first-ever pan-African women's network from farm to fork so we
have WANDA board members in Sweden and in Ghana, here in
America and other countries. And so we were invited once
learning about WANDA to come there to recognize world childhood
obesity day is October 10th. And so it was an opportunity for
us to help facilitate a workshop on the migration and the
food environment and how does that impact childhood obesity. And so we will be at Upsala Health
Summit being able to share the story of WANDA and how do we connect
African Diasporan women in Europe to this movement and
become the champions that our communities
need there as well. >> Eve Ferguson: Okay, so
can we take some questions to the front, okay. Janet. >> Great. Personally I'll
just sail through all. Food is a global issue, on mind,
body, spirit, everything is related to what is within our bodies so I'm
really proud of what you're doing. I have worked in the health
food industry and very much want to support your cause as well. I work in media and I will
definitely be getting work out on this. >> Whatever I mention is my son, I'm so proud of him,
seventeen years old. He wants to go into
the food industry, he can't go [inaudible]
he is also concerned about nutrition and
I think he would be. He actually works at KFC currently,
he's probably not [inaudible]. He's also looking for
[inaudible] family business, an African food business. Regarding the multinational
business is likely KFC, I know they can vary their menu. >> Tambra Raye Stevenson: Yes. >> I think it's important to be
advocates and suggesting some meal, you know, selection [inaudible]. It's just, you know, for
[inaudible] that work you're doing. We got do in it another way or. Tambra Raye Stevenson: Yeah,
it definitely can happen in both directions, you know, having
worked for commerce department, recognizing that we want to support
local small businesses and I'm now on the DC food policy Council where
we're supporting local food economy. It's definitely coming
in at both angles on how do we support the small
businesses in the community that makes up majority of
the business in America and really across the world. And at the same time how do
multinationals do a better job of providing a range of healthier
options and many of them are having to do that just on
a competitive edge. We see what's happening
with McDonalds right now, many of their shops are being
closed and I formally worked there. That was my first job actually
in high school and so because of that I've been able to recognize
that we all have to play a role in supporting little WANDA. Because along her journey she
may get tired and she wants to grab something what are healthier
options for her along the way. And so that's everything for
big WANDA to big corporation. They all play a part in her
nutritional status for sure. >> Thank you so much. >> Tambra Raye Stevenson: Yes. >> Mary-Jane Deeb: [Inaudible]
want to learn the [inaudible]. I want to ask you about the
individual items; so for example, I could not pay what
farmers are doing nobody because for example here may not be so easily available
like say DC or Oklahoma. But they may have other
[inaudible] maybe, it could be [inaudible],
it could be [inaudible]. So are you suggesting that
certain foods be incorporated in a general diet or I think that locally grown foods [inaudible]
should be the dominant for any diet. >> Tambra Raye Stevenson:
So for instance millet, sorghum they actually are
being grown in the Midwest and there are more ethnic
crops like African Western, African vegetables being
grown locally as well. So part of it is, yes, number one
how do we cultivate those ethnic crops, USD runs the ethnic
crop block rate program and those foods are being grown
here locally in the DMV area. And at the same time those
foods are being exported out of the continent here as well
just packaged as superfoods and so for me the conversation
about ethnic foods. I think taking a visit to Ellis
Island is a very fascinating because it just shows how
foods it seemed very exotic at one point are so
normalized now on. And I think that's kind of
the frontier we're heading when it comes to African foods. It really is when we
think about just from the economic development lens, what is happening globally we've
gone from Latin America to Asia and so really Africa
now is the next frontier over the next 50 years
even documented by the World Economic Forum. So you're going to see
that that transition happen in more investments in
the gastronomic landscape of African foods and
that will be reflected in the speciality food
markets space. When I go on food show visits
and hopefully, you know, when I see these shows, you know, it's like Italy looks
like a food mafia. And hopefully over time Africa
is not the size of Gambian, in these food shows in
that it does explode and there are more local food
entrepreneurs in that space as well. >> Eve Ferguson: I
did want to just add that I actually met Tambra walking
across the field with a basket full of African vegetables
grown in the United States. And she gave me a couple and
said go home and try them like it was gardner [phonetic]. >> Tamba Raye Stevenson: Yes. >> Eve Ferguson: Gardner
[phonetic] and some little. >> Tamba Raye Stevenson: Cheap leaf. >> Eve Ferguson: Yeah and I
went home and cooked them all. They were delicious, you can get
millet and yes Whole Foods go to the bulk things, you can get your
own millet, I grew up eating millet in East Africa and I
like to eat it now. So you don't have to wait
for it to come and sell you, you just have to seek it out. And previously Tambra has given us
some information about the programs that seek to grow African
vegetables. I know they have amaranth; amaranth
is a grain I think they're trying to go grow teff in the
United States now too. >> Tamba Raye Stevenson: Yes,
so there's local farmers here and that's part of WANDA. We try to…I operate kind of
like a talent scout at this point. Identifying what WANDA women are out
there who are doing dynamic things that really most people
don't even know about. We have Gail Taylor who
has a CSA right here in DC, where she's growing ethnic crops. We have Yall Gidisi
[assumed spelling] who is growing ethnic crops and
they're expanding what the work that they're doing as well you. >> [Inaudible] production of
foods that someone wants to grow and grow here in the United
States and you also talk about Monsanto and [inaudible]. >> The GMO food? >> No, [inaudible] I'm not talking
[inaudible] the genetically modified food [inaudible]. >> You sure that. >> [Inaudible] and so they're
introducing other seeds from other parts of the world. Just be aware of that danger,
that, we could be [inaudible]. And there's some recent
[inaudible] plans to bring and destruct [inaudible] Monsanto. And they continue to
grow [inaudible] that their seeds [inaudible]. The argument that [inaudible]. So you have to be aware and
everyone has to be aware of that danger, the dangerous. >> Eve Ferguson: You know I want
to add one thing and that is that when you reference the
drug companies, the companies is like Pfizer and Lilly
are all over Madagascar in the rain forest taking the
natural medicines that you can find in the rainforest and pulling,
identifying their chemical compounds and creating the chemical compound. They are not only clearing out
the rain forest in Madagascar which is a problem for the people
who've lived there and depend on it, but they are creating
synthetic versions of what you can get naturally. So, people need to do their
research about what they are eating. Some people think tofu
food is great, tofu was genetically
modified and highly processed. You really have to do your
research on your food. I know, I see a big WANDA here,
there's a big WANDA back… How many big WANDAs are here? That's great. I'm going to call myself a big
WANDA now because I grow food in my backyard and I eat it. So last night I made something with
turmeric roots, ginger, lemongrass and the peppers out of mine and
tomatoes are out of my garden. Those are some of the things you
can do to know where your food comes from because you grow it. >> Tambra Raye Stevenson:
So I do want to give a shout out to Lolo [assumed
spelling] who is on our board. She's in the back from
Acts Accountability which has been behind the US
movement of bring back our girls and also Miss Africa USA,
Francis Aduko is here as well who also is a new founder of an
NGO empowering girls in Nigeria. And so I just want to
thank them for being there. >> Eve Ferguson: Can you stand up? >> Tambra Raye Stevenson: Yes. Can you please stand
to be acknowledged, so now [inaudible] is in the house. [ Audience Clapping ] And so we were all just last week at the United Nations General
Assembly meetings and so it's so important to have our generation
be a part of the leadership that our community needs
and being able to speak out and be a voice to the issues. Because when we look at the issue of
intersectionality of not just women in America but black
women, African women, the numbers change drastically
about health and economic outcomes. And so having the voice of
those women who are tend to be marginalized in the media and in these larger conversations
becomes really important. And for me even down to little
black girls having a voice as well becomes really
important of what are their needs and so that's why little
WANDA is so vitally important to give a positive image
for our girls to say, hey, I can be a change maker in my
community, food can be a healing and an empowering way to do so. And I'm going to do that with little
WANDA because I am little WANDA. So thank you so much and I hope that
you join us in the conference room for more conversations and snacks. >> Eve Ferguson: And healthy snacks. >> Tambra Raye Stevenson. Yes. >> Eve Ferguson: Healthy snacks. Thank you very much for coming. And you can just make your
way to the conference room. I will go round open up the side
door and enjoy some healthy snacks. >> This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at LOC dot gov.

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