A Product of His Environment

Check this powerful spoken word piece put together by Youth Speaks poet Joshua Merchant (Oakland, CA) and the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations about the deeply intertwined relationship between environment and health. In this short but well spoken video Josh tells the story of 13 year old boy named James, and illustrates the harsh realities of our broken food system.

These is a really important issue for me: Food justice, healing through food, nutrition, equity are all part of a bigger picture of environmental trauma that results in health disparities. As a young person, I didn’t grow up knowing much about healthy eating. My family all ate what I call a SAD Diet a.k.a the Standard American Diet. We didn’t know about food and healing and the direct relationship between diet and dis-ease. It wasn’t until I started teaching myself about the role of food in mental and physical health, that I started seeing the ways that poor diet really messed up my own ability to function at my highest level. So, for me, this is personal, it’s political, it’s environmental and it’s something that I care deeply about. I’m lucky to have access to healthy food now, and to be able to be a part of solutions to this problem in my work through science, through organizing and through art.

In this video, James soldiers through the the day to day stress of living in his neighborhood, facing hunger, violence, and over access to junk food, which are only a few of the pieces that will shape his mind, body, and soul, and increase his risk of developing Type 2 diabetes up to 20%.

Poetry heals, promotes health, and spreads awareness! Share this message with your community to look at the BIGGER PICTURE and open the conversation about Type 2 Diabetes.

“He won’t be able to differentiate
Corporate farmers from drug dealers,
similarities are too strong,
selling harmful products to innocent people
for extensive profits,
but like crack – the dollar menu is cheap,
the ingredients are addicting,
he keeps buying.”


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