2012’s been quite a year!  Perhaps most notably, this is the first year since the founding of the U.S. that 'babies of color' outnumbered White babies.  
But it’s no joke that half of those babies will develop diabetes.  That they have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.    That the diet-related diseases among young people of color are both a symptom of and a contributor to a broken
economy: one that values profit more than the lives of people or the planet.

The mainstream media will tell you it's their poor food choices.  It will tell you that all teenagers care about is the newest video game and and Justin Bieber.  
It will tell you that teenagers are lazy, violent, selfish, ignorant.

We know that this isn’t true.  We see their promise every day, and we’re inspired.

Thousands of young people are stepping into their power, transforming local food systems at school, on urban farms, and in their own kitchens. 

  • Matt learned about nutrition because his Mom got sick; now he’s a leader with Philadelphia’s Urban Nutrition Initiative.
  • Salvador started cooking for his siblings after his parents got deported; now he runs EAT GRUB with Oakland’s Planting Justice.
  • Celeste joined Bring Healthy Back in February, to give up junk food for one month. She kept at it, and today, she's cooking healthy meals for her family.
These young people and their peers are courageous, compassionate, and committed.  They are leading their communities today, and they are our hope for a resilient, just, vibrant future.

We believe in them, and we need you to believe in us.  At Live Real, we're dreaming up new programs to lift up their leadership, to help build their power, to make sure their voices are heard:  
  • training for Real Food Ninjas to understand the political economy of food, and organize their own communities for real change
  • Youth Media Crew who use art, culture, and new media to tell their own stories and engage their peers in change
  • policy campaigns that demonstrate our collective power and transform our lives for now and for generations to come.
Please join us, and help make our dreams come true.    

Live Real for Life! 

Navina Khanna
tw: @liverealnoworg


By Maya Salsedo
    Today was an inspiring and moving day. We had an emotional start at the border of San Diego and Tijuana. From there we drove up to south LA to meet our friends at the Social Justice Learning Institute. When I learned we were headed to an ‘institute’ I imagined an overly air conditioned building with minimal windows and bleak colors. Upon arriving I was surprised to find that the Social Justice Learning Institute was a half-acre community garden. At the Social Justice Institute we met seventeen year old TK who told us about what he is up to, down in Inglewood.  The garden grew out of a program for Black young men who as TK put it “Are stereotyped negatively.” The program has empowered young Black men to change the way their communities see them. These student then passed on the gift by engaging Latino youth, Asian youth and girls in community building programs.

    Last year was a very important year for TK and his peers, Tk told us, “There was an incident involving Black and Brown students.” TK feared this would alter the already fragile relations between Black and Brown students. So these youth decided to take action, they held dialogues where students could address each other and these issues respectfully. What a crazy idea! ;)

    After sharing with the group that his program was gearing-up to plant 100 new gardens in their community, we told TK about the Youth Food Bill of Rights and Rooted in Community. TK was excited to feel like part of a national movement and decided to sign the Youth Food Bill of Rights. He said he had been to conferences before but “I hope I can come out in the winter” for the Rooted in Community Leadership Summit. As we prepared to hit the road again, TK invited us to pick some tomatoes and sent us off with hugs! It was great to meet such an articulate and powerful young man who draws his strength from making a difference in his community.

    So, back into the Food and Freedom van we climbed on this shockingly hot day in LA our destination-Community Services Unlimited (CSU). CSU began as a program of the Black Panther Party in LA around the same time the original Freedom Rides took place. We arrived at their Mini Urban Farm an oasis in a concrete jungle dwarfed by the USC  coliseum. We were greeted by CSU Staff and youth who told us and other community members about the work they do and opportunities they offer. CSU Director Neelam Sharma described a workshop she facilitates which gives youth a chance to draw connections between their diet and behavior. Lawrence DeFreitas, a staff member at CSU told us all about how youth’s personal goals for health and wellness are directly tied to the goals for health and wellness of the community. Lawrence noted that when youth draw connections like this, they are more self determined and community minded.

    To end our afternoon at the CSU Mini Farm we toured their garden and sipped beautiful teas made from herbs on their site. The most outstanding part of the tour was, by far, the Banana trees they have that were just dripping with fruit. Bananas weren’t the only exciting bit of their farm they had everything from eggplant to native strawberries, cheremoya to zucchini and Zapotec heirloom tomatoes. Their herb garden was bountiful as well; I got to smell and taste things I had never heard of before like pineapple mint, cinnamon basil, all spice and curry leaf! CSU isn’t only growing food, they are growing their community and many up-and-coming leaders in the Food Justice movement.

    Our busy day ended with a beautiful dinner cooked by our dear friend Ozomatli, he prepared for us special Tamales from Michoacan. They were amazing, we may be on a tight schedule as Food and Freedom Riders but we certainly can make a little time for a home cooked meal and wonderful company.
Maya Salsedo
18 Santa Cruz/Oakland, CA
Rooted in Community
Live Real