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  • Ahshreyah R.

Aharon Ben Keymah Sharing His Expertise on Organic Farming

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

Aharon Ben Keymah discusses organic farming and its impact on the community.

"If we don't take control of our resources, we'll forever be controlled and given the scraps." ~Aharon Ben Keymah

Aharon Ben Keymah, founder of THE UAI -Teaching Humanity Excellence Urban Agriculture Initiative, a holistic, youth-based organization created on August 15th, 2016. THE UAI's mission is to teach people how to incorporate and build sustainable organic farms in urban communities. Aharon was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and is now twenty-seven years old. When asked how he got into farming, Aharon shares that he was a problematic teenager and used to get into a lot of trouble, as he used to hang out in the streets selling drugs. One day he got caught with a firearm coming out of Chicago on his way home to Cleveland. The courts sentenced him to community service. He was allowed to choose the location and decided to work on his father's farm Rid-All Green Partnership. Working on the farm gave Aharon time to reflect on his past decisions. He was questioning himself a lot, like "why was I selling drugs? why did I choose this route? and why are all my friends that are on that are on the same path dying or going to jail?" because he wanted to understand why they were making those decisions.

Furthermore, on his way to the farm, located in the hood, he noticed how sickly and zombie-like the people looked, which only made him ask more questions. Aharon realized that the poor food choices and habits of the community were a major contributing factor to the people's negative thought patterns, experiences, and overall health. He also realized there weren't enough young role models speaking about making good life choices and educating the people on how to live a healthy lifestyle. "So, I took it upon myself to say we need more young leadership speaking on important issues in the community. And that's when I created THE UAI. From there, it's been an uphill battle eradicating food deserts and educating our people so we can elevate our consciousness," he stated. THE UAI teaches people the importance of non-GMO and organic food, how to grow it themselves, and how to make lifestyle changes. Also, Aharon speaks to the youth on his trials and encourages them to take a different path.

Relating the subjects experience with topic

The lack of organic and quality food affects the community's mental and physical health. When Aharon was asked why it is important to eat organic foods, he explained, "The things you put into your body affect your health. With non-organic farming, many seeds are genetically modified, and harmful chemicals are sprayed on the crops. As a result, cancer, auto-immune diseases, and mineral deficiencies are more widespread among Americans, especially Black Americans. People are not getting the proper nutrients from their foods while ingesting harmful chemicals from pesticide residues on the foods." Plants depend upon the soil for health, just like your body depends upon the immune system. If the immune system is weak, you are susceptible to disease. Whereas if you eat natural, mineral rich foods, it builds your immunity and strengthens your body, strengthening your defense against disease and viruses. Aharon feels, "If we had healthier food, we would have a better mentality and be able to change our environment. But because there's no quality food and real resources, there's just distress and desolation. The effects of crime, violence, and disease are all side effects of this lack." Suppose the black community can get more quality and nutritious foods, proper education, and resources into our neighborhoods. In that case, crime and violence rates might decrease significantly, and diseases will substantially reduce due to lifestyle changes.

There is an inequitable distribution of organic food to different neighborhoods. Aharon explains when asked how food is distributed from farms, "There is a term called redlining, which the markets distribute produce according to income and access to resources. Refusing to service low-income areas." He continues, "The way food is distributed in the city is it goes to the food terminal, and the first to get the fresh produce are the top stores (like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods). Then the second-tier stores (like Kroger and Giant Eagle) buy from them after the food doesn't sell within a week. Lastly, it goes to third-tier stores found in low-income neighborhoods. So, when people buy the product from third-tier grocery stores, the nutrient value is deficient because from the time it was harvested to the time it got to the plate has been so long that nutrient degradation occurs." In some areas, like impoverished neighborhoods, they do not receive access to full-service grocery stores creating food deserts. Redlining and food deserts are two circumstances unfortunately impacting low-income neighborhoods and seriously impacting community health.



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