Food & Spirit recently sat down with Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner, Tambra Raye Stevenson, MS to chat about her visit to Ghana. Named the “2014 Nutrition Hero” by Food and Nutrition Magazine, Tambra, is a food justice advocate, nutrition educator, and founder of NativSol Kitchen designed to empower people in creating new kitchen traditions and “heal their meals.”
After practicing yoga for over a year, Tambra was drawn to re-connecting to her nutritional training but wanted to explore a more spiritual approach to food. When she discovered Dr. Deanna Minich’s, Chakra Foods for Optimum Health: A Guide to the Foods That Can Improve Your Energy, Inspire Creative Changes, Open Your Heart, and Heal Body, Mind, and Spirit, Tambra enrolled in the Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner Program. As a community nutrition educator, Tambra says, “people inherently understand what foods are good for them, however, eating is often a much more emotional experience that comes from deep within.” She goes on to explain, “Dr. Minich’s work resonated with what I intuitively knew and what I was already teaching. I wanted to be a part of a nourishing community that held my beliefs.”
Earlier this month–African Heritage Month–after having won an airline ticket from Ethiopian Airlines, Tambra accepted a last minute invite to Ghana to lecture on nutrition at the University of Cape Coast’s Medical School. Although she had originally planned to speak at a nutrition conference in Nigeria, an opportunity to meet extended family in Ghana prompted her to change her plans last minute. She explains, “this was a chance to just live with the local community, shop in the markets, and prepare traditional Ghanaian dishes like palm nut soup, fufu and sobolo.” She also took advantage of this travel opportunity by making a donation to the University of Cape Coast’s Medical School’s library on behalf of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Dean was very happy to receive this donation to assist with their growing nutrition program.
Her presentation at the University of Cape Coast’s Medical School was on how to better prepare medical students in Africa to more effectively eliminate Western diet-related illnesses. She explained that Africans who suffer from health problems like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, hypertension and kidney disease “can heal through the preservation of their traditional African diet.” Tambra also addressed the growing global obesity epidemic. Although obesity is low in West Africa, heart disease is the #1 killer (39%) in Ghana, according to current research. The Western Lifestyle–consisting of greater stress, consumption of fewer traditional foods, a lack of community involvement, and less spiritual connection–has impacted African health. Tambra’s lecture stressed the importance of:
- preserving cultural traditions like the African heritage diet;
- creating empowering media messages;
- encouraging grassroots activism to promote good nutrition;
- upgrading nutrition and medical school curriculum; and
- enhancing current policies with a focus on balancing people, planet and profit.
Tambra’s lecture was received by over 50 medical students, faculty and staff — all attentive and inquisitive. Several students asked questions and the group engaged in a thoughtful discussion about the role of economic development, power of nutrition education, need for preventive healthcare, importance of preserving culture, and connecting to the African diaspora.
Tambra considers herself a “food fighter — fighting for the freedom to feed all people good food, be an advocate for nourished communities through vital vitamins and miraculous minerals, and speak up for the voiceless veggies.” Her passion for her work is undeniable not only in her lectures, but in all aspects of her life, “my personal inspiration is leaving footprints for others to follow and to help direct their path, purpose, fulfillment, and soul completion.”
Tambra Raye Stevenson is founder of Nativsol Kitchen based in Washington, DC where she focuses on the intersection of African diaspora food, culture and spirituality. Recently she completed the Certification in Food and Spirit Practitioner Program. She has a B.S. in Human Nutrition from Oklahoma State University and a Master’s in Health Communication from Tufts Medical School and has completed her dietetic internship program. An Oklahoma native, Tambra is a trusted media source for her community on food related issues and has appeared in the Washington Post, NBC Nightly News, Huffington Post, Food and Nutrition Magazine, CBS/WNEW Radio, WHUR-FM, TheRoot.com, Pacifica Radio, New America Media, Sirius XM Radio, NBC’s The Grio, and WPFW-FM. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, trained in Dahn Yoga, and has completed the highly regarded the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s, Food as Medicine health professional training program. Tambra comes from a long line of healers and traces her heritage to the Fulani tribe of Nigeria and Niger. From her Ghanian stepfather, she learned the importance of education, spirituality, and healing traditions.
Learn more about Tambra Raye Stevenson at www.nativsol.com (launch scheduled for October 13th)