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  • Ahshreyah R.

Daphne Juste Sharing Her Shopping Experience in Her Neighborhood

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

Daphne discussed the difficulties of shopping in a black mid-income neighborhood in Brooklyn.

“I think there needs to be more that we can do as a community to ensure our neighborhoods are reflective of the kind of life we want to live and the kind of future we want to create for ourselves and the future generations.” ~Daphne Juste

Daphne Juste, a director of education and training for the health department, is a New York state resident living in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, her entire life. She has seen how our neighborhood has changed throughout the years and, more importantly, what hasn't changed. Ms. Juste has always been observant of her health and eating habits, but over the years, has become more aware of the health benefits of organic and balanced eating. Ms. Juste shares, "I am a conscious eater; I eat foods that allow me to feel energized and alive. I try not to eat foods that drain my energy or cause me to feel liturgic, like fast foods, sweets, heavily processed foods, etc. So, I'm very particular with what I buy and where I shop," when asked what her typical way of eating is. Ms. Juste also states, "I understand the importance of portion control and paying attention to what the food is doing to my body as I eat." She agrees that there is a lack of organic and quality brand foods in the neighborhood. This has affected her tremendously as she must leave her community to get the essential food items she needs to prepare her everyday meals.

Relating Daphne's experience to topic

Over the years, Ms. Juste's diet has changed. She grew up an omnivore but, in her thirties, decided to become a vegetarian, which lasted for ten years, before she returned to eating meat due to becoming severely anemic. When asked what helped raise her awareness about organic food, she expressed, "a couple of things. I have been educating myself, even with a lot of YouTube videos. Also, I think having good conversations with like-minded people is so helpful in holding me accountable to the information I've been exposed to, and we exchange ideas. And my journey being a vegetarian led me to eat organic. I'm like, ok, I'm eating meat again, but I still need to stay healthy and eat it in moderation. I need to be responsible for what I'm putting in my mouth because it will ultimately feed me life or death. So, I had to make a shift." As Ms. Juste became more conscious about what she wanted to eat and its impact on her health, she realized that the foods she now wished to consume were unavailable in her neighborhood.

In predominantly black neighborhoods, you don't often find organic food options. You have to look hard for organic options; even when they have them, it's minimal and overly priced. Ms. Juste shares a story about a time she decided to pick up some organic items in a grocery store nearby, sharing, "I remember going to a grocery store in another neighborhood that was predominantly black. I was running an errand in that area and decided to stop quickly and pick up some organic items, and there were none. I asked a worker there, "do you guys have an organic section?" he literally sent me to a shelf where there were just three small items on it." When asked where she typically shops, Ms. Juste answers, "I rarely shop in my neighborhood. I usually have to shop in more gentrified neighborhoods because I find the quality of food is better. For example, I use blueberries in my smoothie every morning, but I cannot find organic blueberries in the neighborhood." She continues, "It's frustrating because you shouldn't have to leave your neighborhood to get quality foods, which is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. I know people who live in Cortelyou who just walk to the grocery store and can get quality food. In contrast, I must take the bus, train, or car, which comes with the added headache of looking for parking. It's a whole ordeal and very time-consuming."

Ms. Juste added, “I feel like one of the things about eating healthy eating is one aspect of having a healthier lifestyle. But you also must think about whether you are exercising and managing your stress levels. All these things are things that can help you have a healthy life. Food is the most foundational basic but mental and spiritual health are important. All these factors are necessary, a building block for us as a community to live longer and be in good health.”



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