• Toni

The Corner Store & Candy Lady

Updated: Jan 16

I think many of us share a first love, the neighborhood corner store. 4 for $1 chips, Hot Crunch Curls, Now & Laters, Chico Sticks, Honey Buns, Pork Skins, Sour Pickles, Nehi Pop, Frooties, and we can’t forget the Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea (Rest In Peace Trayvon Martin).

Don’t get me started on the Candy Lady’s house!! Going to her house after school to get a pickle dipped in kool -aid, cheese fries, and an icy cup. Walking up the street with your cousins and friends to get Nachos, Hot Cheetos with meat and cheese, and plastic sandwich bags filled with candy all from the neighborhood Candy Lady! These foods and snacks tasted SO good and was inexpensive. Not only that, I think we associate such a large amount of pleasure with the corner store and Candy Lady’s house that we vividly remember these days and hold these memories close to us.

You must know, as Black people, we have an interesting diet. Before slavery, we ate our cultures food; colorful fruits & veggies, & used herbs from the ground as seasonings. Things shifted during slavery; we ate whatever was available to us which usually consisted of remaining scraps thrown to us from the malignant white people. To make this trash of food better tasting, we began using seasonings, high in salt, for better taste. After slavery, we continued to eat unhealthy scraps of food with unbelievable amounts of salt and sugar, partly because there were limited resources in the urban communities: less grocery stores/fresh markets and more corner stores. Not much has really changed.

Have you noticed the ratio between corners stores and grocery stores/holistic markets in the neighborhood of Black and Brown communities? There’s typically a 5:1 ration of corner stores to grocery stores in the urban areas of cities. As you know these corner stores carry foods that are high in salt, sugar, and artificial flavors depriving the consumer, which is usually Black and Brown individuals, from the key nutrients we need for optimal physical, mental, and spiritual health. These same foods that are high in sugar are linked to depression, hyperactivity, ADHD, & withdrawal symptoms, just to name a FEW side effects (Samuels, 2019).

Come to think about it, corner stores are a huge part of our community and culture, but have you realized none of them were ever owned by US? Most corner stores are ran by Middle Eastern family’s that barley speak English. And have you ever seen them eating the foods they supply in THEIR stores? Me either. Why? Probably because they have their own cultural foods that are in alignment with their body’s needs and actually makes them feel good and think clearer.

*Why everybody profiting off us BUT us?

Some will say it’s a person choice to consume those foods but let’s take a deeper look.

We know that inner cities and highly melanated residential areas are typically underfunded in every area possible and lack massive resources. One of those resources being money. Granted sometimes we don’t prioritize our money, but that’s another blog.

Between low paying jobs, childcare, bills, and other life expenses, money tends to be scarce. Some will mention link or EBT and although that can be a great assistance, buying mainly fruits and vegetables for a family of 4 or more is not logical for our community. Fruits and vegetables have a drastically shorter shelf life than foods that can be put in a cabinet or freezer, meaning a person would have to go to the grocery store multiple times a month, and most families cannot do this because of transportation or job-related duties, to get more healthier foods. The processed foods that have longer shelf-life and can be stored in freezers and deep freezers tend to lean on the unhealthier side, but they get the job done. It’s a double edge sword where you either eat healthier but spend more money and time at the store OR be more efficient and effective with your money and time while consuming things your body views as toxins.

So what can we do? Things we can do is increase our water intake. The hold that fruit punch, sweet tea, and pop has on our taste buds contribute to the recurrent diagnosis of diabetes. Although me talk mad shit about white peoples unseasoned food and bland drinks, they aren’t dying from high blood pressure at the percentage Black people are and they aren’t being diagnosed with diabetes at the alarming rate of Black people either.

Something that many may not think about is being cognizant of when it’s time to vote people in office for your city. It is important to vote for people who actually care about YOU and that’s usually someone who looks like you and this is an area that we can, and must do better in. When we take the time to vet these local politicians and actually vote, it could be an easier process to change when it’s someone who grew up in your neighborhood and community in office.

Try fasting. I know many people hate that word but to consistently expose your body, mind, and spirit to toxic foods & liquids deteriorates your brain cells and body at a faster rate. Giving your body a break head and there is a must.

Another thing many of us won’t like is to significantly decrease our liquor intake. Liquor stores take up so much space in our neighborhoods as well and they aren’t typically owned by us either. Liquor attacks the liver, and the key function of the liver is to rid your body of toxins, the liver cannot do that if it is in constant contact with alcohol. Too much alcohol can also dehydrate the body.

This blog was NOT to shame, guilt-trip, or blame us but to educate, bring awareness, and better ourselves even in the slightest way.

Let’s recap:

- We discussed a little bit of our diet pre-slavery, during slavery, and post-slavery.

- We slightly went over how the system is created so we consume more unhealthy foods than not (more corner stores than grocery stores & higher prices for healthier foods).

- We gave a few alternatives, preventative measures, and dietary changes.

All in all, we must shift our eating habits and diet. What we eat effects our mind, our body, and our spirit. This can be a difficult task due to the many systems, barriers, and prejudices toward us and our community. I encourage you to research more about the foods you are digesting and feeding to your family. Do what you can, baby steps are still steps.

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Love, Toni

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