Growing Green to Grow Community

Go Green Meridian is committed to providing information and resources to empower the Meridian community to make healthy, sustainable life choices.

DSC_0455With a mission to increase awareness, connect the community, support our local farmers and businesses, and create a more sustainable and healthy life for the people of Meridian and surrounding areas, Go Green Meridian is a local chapter of Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi (GGSIM), a state-wide educational, networking, and outreach institute in Mississippi growing community around issues of sustainability by identifying sustainable initiatives, connecting those efforts, and expanding on them.

Pamela Dees

Pamela Dees

Meridianite Pamela Dees got involved with Go Green Meridian in this past spring. To her, a community garden is important because it brings so many different people from the community together, including the children, who learn about gardening while also enjoying getting their hand dirty with their family.

“There are so many knowledgeable people here who know about the plants or the bamboo teepees,” said Pamela.  “Go Green planted and tilled and everything.” The planted area Pamela speaks had been a field of high grass. “They cleared it out and made the beds; the city donated a lot of material and people in the community have donated,” she said. “So the garden has really been a community effort.

Community gardens have been growing in popularity across the nation for quite some time and have provided families who don’t have access to yard or land, the opportunity to produce their own food. In 1999, 15 New York gardens organized as the City Farms program of the group “Just Food.” They grew close to 11,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits and donated approximately half of the harvest to nearby soup kitchens and food pantries.

The non-profit Gardeners in Community Development (GICD)

of Dallas, Texas has made it their mission since 1994 to “grow people” through community gardens.

They have compiled a List of Benefits of Community Gardening, something every community, large or small, should do. That list includes:

Benefits of Community Gardens

  • Community gardens increase a sense of community ownership and stewardship.
  • Community gardens foster the development of a community identity and spirit.
  • Community gardens bring people together from a wide variety of backgrounds (age, race, culture, social class).
  • Community gardens build community leaders.
  • Community gardens offer a focal point for community organizing, and can lead to community-based efforts to deal with other social concerns.

Crime Prevention

  • Community gardens provide opportunities to meet neighbors.
  • Community gardens build block clubs (neighborhood associations).
  • Community gardens increase eyes on the street.
  • Community gardening is recognized by the many police departments as an effective community crime prevention strategy.

Cultural Opportunities

  • Community gardens offer unique opportunities for new immigrants (who tend to be concentrated in low-income urban communities) to:

– Produce traditional crops otherwise unavailable locally,

– Take advantage of the experience of elders to produce a significant amount of food for   the household,

– Provide inter-generational exposure to cultural traditions,

– Offer a cultural exchange with other gardeners,

– Learn about block clubs, neighborhood groups, and other community information.

  • Community gardens offer neighborhoods an access point to non-English speaking communities.
  • Community gardens allow people from diverse backgrounds to work side-by-side on common goals without speaking the same language.

Youth

Community gardens offer unique opportunities to teach youth about:

  • Where food comes from
  • Practical math skills
  • Basic business principles
  • The importance of community and stewardship
  • Issues of environmental sustainability
  • Job and life skills

And,

  • Community gardening is a healthy, inexpensive activity for youth that can bring them closer to nature, and allow them to interact with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way.

Food Production

  • Many community gardeners, especially those from immigrant communities, take advantage of food production in community gardens to provide a significant source of food and/or income.
  • Community gardens allow families and individuals without land of their own the opportunity to produce food.
  • Community gardens provide access to nutritionally rich foods that may otherwise be unavailable to low-income families and individuals.
  • Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acre than traditional large-scale farming!
  • Community gardens donate thousands of pounds of fresh produce to food pantries and involve people in processes that provide food security and alleviate hunger.

Health

  • Studies have shown that community gardeners and their children eat healthier diets than do non-gardening families.
  • Eating locally produced food reduces asthma rates, because children are able to consume manageable amounts of local pollen and develop immunities.
  • Exposure to green space reduces stress and increases a sense of wellness and belonging.
  • Increasing the consumption of fresh local produce is one of the best ways to address childhood lead poisoning.
  • The benefits of Horticulture Therapy can be and are used to great advantage in community gardens.

Green Space

  • Community gardens add beauty to the community and heighten people’s awareness and appreciation for living things.
  • Community gardens filter rainwater, helping to keep lakes, rivers, and groundwater clean.
  • Community gardens restore oxygen to the air and help to reduce air pollution.
  • Community gardens recycle huge volumes of tree trimmings, leaves, grass clippings, and other organic wastes back into the soil.
  • Community gardens provide a place to retreat from the noise and commotion of urban environments.
  • Community gardens provide much needed green space in lower-income neighborhoods which typically have access to less green space than do other parts of the community.
  • Development and maintenance of garden space is less expensive than that of parkland.
  • Scientific studies show that crime decreases in neighborhoods as the amount of green space increases.
  • Community gardens have been shown to actually increase property values in the immediate vicinity where they are located.

Go Green Meridian provides the community with an informative website and facilitates special events and workshops and meets every month to discuss ongoing sustainability initiatives in Meridian and how to better serve the community.

“I’m not from Mississippi and I haven’t had a garden myself and it’s a good way for me to meet people,” said Pamela. Even though we’re all in the community, we stay in our own comfort zones. A community garden presents a good representation of what community can be with the diversity of age, gender, race, culture, social status, everything.

 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO IN YOUR COMMUNITY (From United We Serve):

ADOPT A PLOT AND VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME:

Each community garden has unique by-laws and requirements. However, most provide a plot of land and some training in exchange for a time commitment and a small fee. Find the garden near you and get involved. For first time gardeners, a wealth of information is available online.

DONATE HARVESTED FOOD TO LOCAL FOOD BANKS:

Many community gardens provide fresh fruits and vegetables to local food banks and churches. Find a local food bank and enlist others in planting a row for the hungry.

WORK WITH SKILLED LEADERS TO ASSIST AT CHILDREN’S OR CLASSROOM GARDENS:

The effects of community gardening are particularly pronounced among low-income children with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Volunteer at an organization or a school garden that specifically targets youth. Once screened, volunteers help in the garden, offer nutrition courses, provide administrative support and more. To connect with the right group, call your local high school or search for community groups like Seattle-based Cultivating Youth.

ORGANIZE PUBLIC EDUCATION PROGRAMS AT YOUR COMMUNITY GARDEN:

Partnerships between local schools and community gardens are blossoming around the country. If you already work at a community garden, consider inviting local students in or running a free workshop over the summer for low-income youth. There are resources and manuaLs available to help design a curriculum.

CREATE A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY GARDEN:

Sharing successes and identifying best practices will help foster the sense of community at your garden and keep people involved. There are many tactics, both high and low tech, for sharing information. Consider starting a community notebook at your school garden or creating an e-newsletter outlining opportunities for service and issues for advocacy.

HELP WITH GRANT WRITING OR FUNDRAISING ON BEHALF OF THE GARDEN:

Fundraising can pay garden rents, buy new tools, support service projects and keep the garden growing. Online resources can help you navigate the world of private foundations, individual contributors, and old fashioned bake sales.

RESOURCES:

Go Green Meridian

Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi (GGSIM)

United We Serve Corporation for National and Community Service

Gardeners in Community Development

Mama’s Hillside

2010 First Place Prize

Tallahatchie Riverest

William Faulkner Writing Competition – Poetry Division

 

Mama swings her pail down the path,

close to the perilous edge where

kudzu and sumac climb, searching

for something to  strangle. Today,

bulldozers rest, their metal arms

 

 

and sharp cupped hands enduring

the idleness of Sunday. Come

Monday, they’ll crank back to life,

dig up the remains of the hill

and the path Mama once traveled.

 

 

In the gorge, two brown lizards scoot

across uprooted terrain. Now

sparrows build nests underneath

interstate trusses. Their babies

fling back their heads, beaks open,

 

 

throat jumping with each pleading chirp.

They grow deaf from overhead traffic.

Last summer, milkweed and redroot

scented July. Soon diesel fumes

and decapitated stumps will

 

 

replace Mama’s Tarzan’s vine she

swung on as a backwoods  tomboy.

Beside me, Mama crawls to where

her hillside drops into the gorge.

“Hold my legs,” she says, hanging over

 

 

the edge, trusting me with her life.

Winding her fingers through twisted

bramble, she gathers blackberries,

passing them up for me to fill

our pail. When she inches back up,

 

 

she holds the biggest blackberry

between two purple-tipped fingers.

“The best in the county,” she says,

before slipping the fruit into

my waiting mouth. The juice is both

 

 

sweet and bitter. I reach for more.

Mama takes my hand, leads me back

down her path, full pail swinging by

her side. Don’t  be greedy,” she says.

“They won’t be here same time next year.”

blackberries

The best in the county

 

 by Richelle Putnam (See more about Richelle here)

St. Paul’s Music Series — Revitalized

St. Paul’s Music Series swings into its 2014-15 season with jazz, piano, Christmas brass and a new look.

The revitalized series includes two concerts that start at 5:15 p.m. for after-work enjoyment, complete with hors d’oeuvres and libations. All of the concerts are held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Meridian.

e first concert of the series kicks off Sept. 25 at 5:15 p.m. featuring Allison Jenkins and Swing Station. Vocalist Jenkins, with Tim Avalon and Jimmy Jarratt, bring old favorites and new jazz to listeners. This concert is sponsored by Magnolia Steel Co., Inc.

The rest of the season includes:

October 16, 2014

John Christopher Adams — From Opera to Broadway

November 20, 2014

Ian Hominick — Pianist

This concert in Memory of Tom Johnson

December 18, 2014

Capital Brass Christmas Concert

January 15, 2015

Marta Szlubowska — Ensemble Polonaise

February 12, 2015

Impromptu Piano Quartet

April 25, 2015

Carey Smith & Friends

The first and last concerts are at 5:15 p.m. The other concerts are at 12:05 — perfect for a lunch getaway and listeners are encouraged to bring their favorite eats.

Please visit the St. Paul’s Music Series Facebook page.

 

 

 

The Trials of Booger Tyner

 

Recipient of the 2012 William Faulkner Literary Award (Third Place)

 

Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Agent Buford Oliver scanned the giant oaks and hickories reassuring himself they would protect everyone from what was about to happen. He gave his rookie partner a thumbs up, closed his eyes and pressed his hands over his ears as young Claude Landry was about to get his first taste of blood in the dangerous world of liquor-law enforcement.

Seconds later squirrels leaped, and birds scattered.

Dirt, rocks and splintered wood rained down around the two agents and the sheriff’s deputies that came along to witness the show.  Along with dirt and rocks came shards of scrap medal and the musty stench of rotten corn mash and stale whiskey which was all that was left of the oldest moonshine still in Mississippi.  Buford Oliver was obsessed with this moment since the day he strapped on the state issued revolver, and swore to uphold the badge.  Six sticks of dynamite finally put the crown jewel in his career, and marked the end of an era in which the Tyners dominated the illegal whiskey business in Mississippi since the end of the Civil War.

Two months later Booger Tyner stood before Judge E. William Douglas in the Circuit Court of Bougahatta County and pleaded not guilty to manufacturing illegal whiskey. The cocky kingpin of the illegal liquor business in Mississippi winked to his fans in the courtroom that came to witness the final aftershock from the blast of Agent Oliver’s dynamite.

Cars and pickups with red mud caked on their fenders and bumpers filled every parking space in Mashula, Mississippi.  When latecomers claimed the bank’s parking lot, bank President Lester Pullin cussed about it to bank employees as if it were their fault but never called a tow truck.

Across the street from the courthouse in a café called Mam-Maw’s Kitchen, Rebecca Drew doubled her usual menu to accommodate the crowd where patrons shared tables beneath wobbling ceiling fans stirring hot steamy air and cigarette smoke into a vanishing vortex.  Once an old Jitney Jungle, the diner now emitted a blended aroma of fried chicken and cornbread and onions and hamburgers.  Behind its squeaky screen door advertising Barque’s Root Beer, a coin operated Bougahatta Journal dispenser leans beside the upright cooler where Rebecca kept her deserts.

Rebecca served homespun goodness but she was always short of help. Her one waitress, Faye Martha Mazingo was hovering at seventy years old. Faye Martha went about her business of taking orders, serving food and humming Your Cheatin’Heart at her own pace and not about to get in a hurry.  The court crowd made no difference to her. But Mam-Maw’s was the only show in town save for the Dixie Oil station out on the bypass where all they served was fried chicken tenders and something they called tater-babies.  Greasy as the chicken and tater babies were, the overflow from Mam-Maw’s usually made their way there to eat.

Otis Drummer wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to make a few extra bucks off the trial.

He dug out his familiar CLEARANCE SALE signs, placed them in the window of his dry-goods store. He cut the prices on slow moving items and jacked up the prices up on hot items.  People joked about Otis’s little ploy but it worked.  Besides Otis wasn’t the only one to exploit Booger Tyner’s day in court.

The bookie at Sammy’s Pawn Shop gave odds on Booger’s conviction.  The only person in town who was not doing things differently that day was an old one-armed man everybody called Uncle Big’n.  He sold boiled peanuts out of the back of an old green Dodge pickup. A hand painted sign on the side of his truck read “P-Nuts Boiled or Parched.” The day he retired from the GM&O Rail Road Uncle Big’n laid claim to the corner where a century old water-oak provided shade from the July sun.  A claim nobody challenged.  Uncle Big’n was massive at six foot three in his prime. His one arm punched the strength of two but the former railroad foreman was now bent and thin from birthdays and years of toiling on the bridge gang.  His creosote stained overalls hung limp and baggy from his shoulders.  Too many cans of Prince Albert smoking tobacco caused him to fight for breath as he spent his days in a lawn chair beside his old Dodge where he allowed customers to pay and make change on the honor system.

Every morning an old black man named Theodore was waiting for Uncle Big’n with two cups of coffee from Mam-Maw’s.  The two old railroad veterans spent their days together reminiscing and planning the fishing trip they knew they would never take.  They laughed at the police when they threatened Theodore with a citation for riding his motorized wheelchair in the street, but their threats were hollow and they knew it.  Local reporter Mary Grace Spicer of the Bougahatta Journal penned a scathing editorial about Theodore being a traffic hazard but retracted it after the black funeral home withdrew its ad in the paper.

Heads turned as Uncle Bign’s kindly demeanor went sour. A sight seldom seen, a seething anger filled the eyes of the gentle man as he watched a black Crown Victoria with three antennas and an Alabama tag pull into the sheriff’s parking lot.  Uncle Bign’n yelled at the two Mississippi State Alcohol Agents.  “Do y’all really believe that Alabama tag is fooling anybody?”  The agents ignored the old man and the large black lab that wandered up, sniffed the Ford’s tires and then trotted across the street and peed on the constable’s pickup.

“Dang whiskey agents. A dog won’t even pee on your tires. What does that tell you Theodore?” Uncle Big’n mumbled as he waved at Booger and his lawyer entering the courthouse.

The nine o’clock trial drew a dedicated mix of supporters and adversaries of the defendant.

Most of them got there two hours early filling every seat in the courtroom.  Scary looking men chewing tobacco leaned against the walls and crowded the steps. It wouldn’t be long before the air conditioner would offer little reprieve in the century old courthouse.

At precisely nine o’clock Judge Douglas took the bench, flanked with the American flag on his left and the Mississippi State flag on his right.  A large medallion bearing the state seal hung on the wall behind the judge’s chair and a stick-on NO SMOKING sign decorated the front of the Judge’s bench.

Judge Douglas summoned a female deputy to his bench, and whispered to her. She waded into the spectator section filled with young men and women with tattoos wearing tee-shirts advertising everything from a Hank Williams Jr. Concert, to Vacation Bible School and Dale Earnhardt.  The Judge ordered the deputy to escort a young girl with a screaming baby out of the clammy smelling courtroom.  A well-dressed young woman with reddish hair claimed her empty seat among the rag-tag crowd of onlookers as a loud crack of the judge’s gavel brought the courtroom to order.  Proceedings moved fast from that moment.  Spectators were treated to more detail than drama as the trial proceeded without incident. Booger sat motionless as the state’s witnesses, one after the other made their case to the jury.

Booger’s defense for the most part was no defense.  He opted not to take the stand hoping the jury would somehow find him not guilty, or maybe reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.  If nothing else, he hoped for a hung jury. Deputies and state agents pounded Booger with damning testimony for two grueling hours before the jury retired to consider its verdict. And then the waiting game began.

A few people tip-toed out of the courtroom for a smoke or a drink, but most of the crowd stayed glued to their seats still anticipating the drama they came to witness. One exception was the well-dressed redheaded woman.  She left the courtroom picking her way through the curious gathering, not to be seen again.

Rivalry in the courtroom between Booger’s kin and his enemies made Sheriff August Murphy nervous. Very nervous. He had seen this mood in the courtroom during murder trials. Today was different.  The Tyners were a different breed. They thrived on trouble and contempt for the law.  Raised eyebrows and stares between the Tyners and those who rallied for Booger’s conviction had the potential of turning ugly and violent if the stares made contact.  The Sheriff, his five deputies and the two state troopers he requested for extra security would be hard pressed to contain the situation if the Tyners got rowdy.

Sheriff Murphy noticed an elderly lady in the rear of the courtroom with her Bible in her lap, her head bowed and praying silently. He prayed that the Tyner clan would to go back to the swamp and take their pals with them before they stirred up trouble.

Booger read the mood of the courtroom too.

He knew Crazyhorse, J.W. and the rest of his cousins were capable of creating serious chaos if things went bad for him. But he couldn’t worry about them for now.  His mind dwelled on the twelve men and women on the jury. A chiropractor, a black school teacher and a preacher called Brother Bernelle worried Booger but the jury was what it was and there was no turning back.

Booger peered out the window at Uncle Big’n selling peanuts.  He must be close to ninety years old Booger thought. He feared he might never see the old man again after today. He tried  to focus on the view from the window but his eyes kept racing from the window to the clock and then to the door which the jury would march through and announce where he would spend the next ten years of his life.  Time stood still for the tormented whiskey maker. His eyes raced faster, bouncing uncontrollably from window to clock to door.

For the first time in his thirty four years, Booger felt helpless and out of control, especially with an empty space in his boot where a little five shot .38 had always been his constant companion.   He knew this day would come.  It comes for every moonshiner sooner or later.  It wasn’t jail he feared.   It was the thought of being torn from the woods and the muddy waters and the blue skies of Bougahatta Swamp.  He feared what would happen to his cousin and best friend Billy Maynard Crosby, a challenged kid who depended on Booger for his very livelihood since his parents died in a tornado.

With the testimony over and the jury out, Mary Grace Spicer and revenue agents Oliver and Landry had mentally begun their celebration. The agents gloated and patted themselves on the back as Mary Grace giggled and patronized the two men.  Mary Grace fancied herself as some sort of local celebrity who began crusading against moonshiners when she started dating Brother Bernelle.  She was focused on Booger and the guilty verdict which would validate the story she had been sitting on since the day the agents busted him and dynamited his still.

Chatter from spectators faded as the bailiff entered and announced,

“The jury has reached a verdict.”

Every eye was on the jury foreman. Speculation was rampant in the courtroom and tension stretched from wall to wall with the Tyner clan on one side and Booger’s antagonists on the other. Somewhere in the mix sat a few innocent onlookers who just came for the entertainment. When the last juror was finally seated, the bailiff stepped up to the bench, gently nudged the judge on the shoulder and said.  “Wake up judge. The jury is in with its verdict.”

Judge Douglas composed himself to conceal his short nap and whispered. “Which case are you talking about, boy?”

“The Booger Tyner case, your honor.”

Judge Douglas sat up in his chair took a swallow of water and said. “Yes yes. Of course Booger Tyner. Old-man Jug Tyner’s grandson.  Jug Tyner made the best shine money could buy.”

A sharp crack of his gavel called the noisy crowd to order. The gray haired old judge leaned back in his chair, tugged at his bowtie and then commanded. “Read the verdict of the Jury Mr. Forman.”

Booger gazed at his lawyer but the stoic stare on his face brought no comfort to a man who was seconds away from either walking out the front door a free man or being escorted out the back door in handcuffs.  .

“We the jury find the defendant Burkett G. Tyner also known as Booger Tyner guilty as charged.”

A few folks in the courtroom cheered but most booed. Again the Judge rapped and demanded order. Mary Grace and the two agents gloated at the bailiff’s words, hugging and shaking hands at news of their victory. Mary Grace sneaked her phone from her purse and sent a text message to the newspaper office.

Booger sat motionless and pale.

His mind flooded with memories of the years he spent with his grandfather who he called Papa Tyner tending the whiskey still that made the Tyners a good living for four generations.  He recalled the night Papa Tyner let him run his first load of shine in a plain-jane V-8 Ford he modified to outrun the law.  And then there were the painful memories.  He would never forget the night his mama woke him up when he was seven years old and told him his daddy blew a tire on a run to Memphis.   A young lawyer named E. William Douglas delivered the eulogy at his daddy’s funeral.

Was it worth it?  Hell yes he thought.  He stood before the court for doing what Tyners had always done, making whiskey, good whiskey to quench the thirst of those who booed as well as those who cheered his arrest.

The judge rapped his gavel once again, chastised the audience for their disrespect and then ordered Booger to rise and face the court.   “Burkett G. Tyner, the jury has found you guilty of manufacturing illegal whiskey. Your grandpa Tyner stood before this very court fifteen years ago.  The jury found him not guilty. I’m afraid, young man, that you have not been so lucky.  This offense is a serious breach of the laws of Mississippi and will not go unpunished in Bougahatta County.  I hereby order you to pay a fine of one dollar and sentence you to serve three days in the county jail. Sentence suspended.”  The judge then locked eyes with Booger, pointed his finger at him and declared. “And don’t ever let me see you in my courtroom again.”

Stunned and confused,

Booger asked his lawyer if he heard the Judge correctly. Equally stunned, the lawyer breathed to Booger. “You are the luckiest man I ever represented.”

Booger’s first-cousin Crazyhorse plowed through the crowd, grabbed Booger with a bear-hug and shouted.  “Let’s celebrate Booger.”  More cousins and friends from the swamp lined up to hug their celebrity. Blood flowed to Booger’s face once again as he anticipated his life after moonshine.

The praying lady shouted.  “Halleluiah!”  Hugged Crazyhorse and Booger and then shocked   Mary Grace with a bird finger in her face.

Word from the bench spread faster than the two unwelcomed agents could make a dash for their car.  “Good riddance!  Take Mary Grace with you.”  Uncle Big’n shouted at the two agents.

With a bag of peanuts in his hand the old man called to Booger.  “Come on down here Booger and have a free bag of peanuts on me.

Booger’s cousin Billy Maynard pushed his way through the crowd of hero worshipers, slapped his cousin on the back and asked.  “What you gonna do now Boog?”

“First things first B.M.  Right now I’m going to take Uncle Big’n up on that bag of peanuts. I haven’t eaten in three days.

After three weeks, Booger mustered the courage and returned to the spot where the famous Tyner whiskey still once stood.

Squirrels were still storing nuts for the winter and birds were still singing just as squirrels and birds always do.  Unlike his life, the dynamite was but a small interruption to their lives. Leaning against the same hickory tree that had protected the agents from the blast, he pondered his family history. He slid down the smooth bark to rest on the moist Bougahatta soil and pondered his future.

Booger thought, the still was destroyed and rebuilt at least a dozen times in the last hundred and fifty years and he didn’t intend for his life to change, but he made a vow to Judge Douglas and he did intend to keep it.  With his decision made, Booger slowly rose and announced to this faithful cousin. “B.M., the world ain’t seen the last of Booger Tyner yet. We’re setting up across the line in Chickaloosa County out of Judge Douglas’s jurisdiction. The Killabrews are all gone and there is no competition there. We’ll open a café in that old gin building over there as a front and put the new still down in the swamp behind it. Let’s go”

For the next two weeks Booger and B.M cleaned and remodeled an old cotton gin in Chickaloosa County for the home of Booger’s new enterprise. A hand painted sign on sheet of plywood nailed to a light pole read, BOOGER’S BURGERS & BAIT NOW OPEN.

With the new restaurant open for business, Billy Maynard was stocking the worm bed with night-crawlers when Booger told him, “From now on I’m gonna sell my bait and feed the folks here in Mashula all the burgers and catfish they can eat.  It won’t be long before I add a fine jewelry and ATV repair shop right across the road from the gin.”

“Yeah Boog. I can see it now, Booger’s Fine Jewelry and ATV Repair. How about a tire shop too?

B.M.’s words  barely cleared his lips when a lady carrying a bulging leather briefcase walked in.  Her auburn hair twisted tightly into a bun matched the dark scarf around her neck. The sound of her high heels resonated on the pinewood floor as she zeroed in on the table where Booger chopped onions.

Booger was no rookie at spotting trouble. He knew she wasn’t there to eat catfish or to buy bait.  He began wiping his hands down the side of his jeans as he watched the prim and proper lady advance down on him.

Pointing to the large black iron pot on the stove, Booger greeted the lady with the grin that most women could not resist.  “Afternoon ma’am. I’ve been cooking and stirring and tasting this gumbo all day.  Best you’ll ever eat. Grab a chair and I’ll fix you up a bowl.  On the house.  Or maybe you’d like to try the house special, one of my Booger Burgers with extra cheese.”

“Are you trying to bribe me?”

The stone-faced inspector replied as she flashed her health department ID.

The laminated ID card meant little to Booger but he replied.  “Not a’tall ma’am, but you don’t look like you’re dressed to set a trotline.  Iced tea with that gumbo? I would offer you a beer but the state won’t issue me a license. Besides that you don’t look like the beer type. Sorry I don’t have any wine to offer you either.”

The inspector clutched her ID card tightly and told Booger.  “I’m not concerned with your beer license or no beer license.  I’m Ms. Killabrew.  I’m here to inspect this bacteria farm you call a restaurant.

Looking around at everything he had left after his costly trial, an angry Booger told Ms. Killabrew.  “Go right ahead with your inspection Ms. Killabrew. The minnow tank’s out back and kitchen is right over here by the worm bed.”

Cutting her piercing eyes toward B.M. and the worm bed she replied. “Yes Mr. Tyner. I see that quite clearly.”

With pen and clipboard in hand she cruised Booger’s place, making no attempts to mask her dismay. She stopped occasionally and placed her finger tips near the fixtures but was very  careful not to touch anything as she worked her way from worm bed, to minnow tank, to kitchen and finally back around to the dining area.   From time to time you could hear a not-so-subtle gasp and obvious UH-HU.  Occasionally she would look at Booger, roll her eyes and shake her head as she worked her way to the end of her checklist.

Ms. Killabrew paused at a dining table and picked up a bottle of Tabasco sauce with two fingers and held it at arm’s length she demanded. “Why is this Tabasco sauce not in the refrigerator Mr. Tyner?”

As Booger’s cool demeanor was stretched to limit he answered. “Refrigerator?  Are you kidding me? There ain’t a germ on the face of the earth that could survive in that stuff.”

Booger hesitated with a sneaky grin spreading across his face

He asked her. “Wait a minute, are you kin to them Chickloosa County Killabrews?

Careful to avoid eye contact, she cleared her throat and answered. “My relatives are of no concern here Mr. Tyner.”

“Roscoe Killabrew made the second best moonshine that ever came out of the woods.  Him and my grandpa had an agreement.  When one of them got put in jail the other would go bail him out.  Good fellow Old Man Roscoe was.  Back in the old days when river sand, got scarce, he’d send Eugene over to borrow some from Papa Tyner.  He always paid him back. No ma’am.  Papa Tyner never worried about Old Man Roscoe Killabrew for a second.” Booger paused and chose his words one at a time.  “Them boys of his. Well that was a different story.”

“River sand?” She asked.

“Oh, that’s what we called sugar in moonshine business. Doesn’t really fool the law but it keeps them wondering what we’ll come up with next.” He answered with an innocent but sly grin that only Booger Tyner could get away with.

“What do you mean about the boys?” She asked.

Booger took great pleasure in reminding the high hatting inspector that her kin were cut from the same cloth as the Tyners.

Booger told Ms. Killabrew about the clan.  “Junior never had lick of sense. Drank himself to death.  Lamar was bad to steal. Nobody knows what became of Runt. He shot a fellow over a jug of moonshine, left this part of the country and never been heard from since.  Eugene was a cut above. Best one of them Killabrew boys.”  Booger paused again in search for the right words. He looked down and said. “Too bad he got killed in a gunfight with a bunch of revenue agents.”

After relating the painful story to her, Booger regained his charm and snappy wit. He grinned and told her. “He had the prettiest little-ole skinny daughter. When he came over to borrow sugar from Papa Tyner I used to pick at her about her red hair. That was so long ago.” As his grin faded from slyness and charm to melancholy Booger finished his story.  “I gave her a tiny arrowhead I found down by the creek. Not sure what became of her either. Somebody said she and her mama moved to the Coast after Eugene got shot.”

“And just what makes you think Roscoe Killabrew’s whiskey was second best?”  She snapped.

“Cause didn’t nobody make better moonshine than my grandpa.  If you don’t believe it, ask Judge Douglas.” Booger answered.

“Well that explains a thing or two. Did you ever try any of Mr. Killabrew’s whiskey?”

A little shocked and a little amused Booger replied. “Oh no ma’am. Not his or nobody else’s.  Papa Tyner told me that stuff was made to sell not to drink.”

With a sniff of her turned up nose, she replied. “Like your gumbo? Now Mr. Tyner if you don’t mind I have work to do here.”

After what seemed like a lifetime to Booger and B.M., Ms. Killabrew completed her inspection of Booger’s café and then sat down at one of the tables, opened her laptop and pounded on the keys.  Booger tried to ignore the woman with the power to padlock his business.  Waiting for her comments was like waiting for the jury all over again. She finally called Booger over and told him.  “I’m giving you one week to clean this mess up. I will hold my report until I see how things look around here like next Friday.” She handed Booger a list of her demands, closed her lap top and walked out with the same stiff pace as she had walked in.

Billy Maynard kicked the side of the worm bed and told Booger.  “That’s got to be the meanest woman on this earth.  She’s meaner than Mary Grace and more dangerous than six sticks of dynamite. Move this. Move that. Get the worm bed away from the stove. I don’t care what she says Booger, I ain’t about to wear no hair net. And I wash my hands every day.”

B.M. double checked his hands and said. “Next thing you know she’ll demand we stop making our own stink bait out of the left over catfish nuggets.”

Reassuring his cousin that everything would be alright Booger told Billy Maynard. “Maybe not B.M.. She did give us a second chance.”

True to her word, Ms. Killabrew returned the following Friday wearing the same scarf with her auburn hair draping like silk over her shoulders.  She ditched her business attire for a pair of well-fitting jeans and her makeup was a little glossier. She took a quick look around and shocked Booger with a brief but subtle smile and nodded her head and told Booger.  “I knew you could do it Mr. Tyner. I see you moved the worm bed outside. That’s a good start.”

Bewildered by her remarks Booger asked her. “Does this mean I pass your inspection?”

“That’s not what I said.”  She retrieved a folder from her briefcase and said.  “We’ll see. There is one more thing.”

Her attire and compliment was encouraging to Booger, but B.M.’s words about her bounced around in his head.  “Ma’am if you will just tell me what I need to do to pass this inspection I’ll—–.”

“Yes, but before I do, could you tell me more about the shootout where Eugene Killabrew was killed?” She asked

Booger thought there must be more here than just nosey curiosity. He told her. “It’s not a story with a happy ending ma’am.  If you must know I’ll tell you.”

“I must know.” She said with a determined tone.

Booger cleared his throat more than once giving the redheaded lady time to change her mind about hearing the details of a deadly shootout. But she never offered to back out.  His voice was soft and reluctant as he related the tragic story.

“Uncle Big’n told me all about it. He was helping Eugene run off a batch of shine that night.  They didn’t know it but a whole pack of alcohol agents were hiding in the woods about to hit’em when they heard a gunshot.  It was in the winter time.  Uncle Big’n figures it was probably somebody night lighting a deer but the agents thought the Killabrews were firing at them and then all hell broke loose. When the smoke cleared Uncle Big’n had a load of buckshot in the arm. Almost bled to death.”  Booger hesitated to give her one last chance to call it off and then he finished the story. “And Eugene was dead. Uncle Big’n swore they never fired a shot at the lawmen.”

She looked Booger in the eye and asked. “Do you believe your uncle?”

Relieved that the story was finally told he breathed a sigh and answered her. “Oh he ain’t my uncle ma’am.  Everybody just calls him that. Uncle Big’n never told a lie in his life.  He had no reason to lie about this. The judge said Uncle Big’n had suffered enough with his arm shot up the way it was and dropped the charges against him.  That man hates revenuers until this very day.  Say, do you know what ever became of that skinny little girl with the red hair?

She ignored Booger’s question and then answered. “Before I can complete my report there is one more thing.”

What is it going to take to get this woman out of my hair Booger asked himself?

“I must try a bowl of your scrumptious smelling gumbo and see if it passes my taste test Mr. Tyner.”

“You mean my gumbo?” He asked.

Booger served the health department inspector a generous helping of his shrimp gumbo and he handed her a bottle of Tabasco sauce from the refrigerator and replied.  “It’s on the house ma’am. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to see to it that B.M. washes his hands. He’s finished stocking the worm bed and it’s time for him start frying the fish.” With a twinkle in his eye Booger replied. “Oh, and just call me Booger.”

The auburn-haired beauty slowly removed the scarf and what Booger saw dwarfed the blast that wrecked his still.   A homemade necklace with a tiny arrowhead hung around her neck.

Ms. Killabrew slowly lifted the spoon to her lips and tasted the spicy concoction then replied. “And you may call me Genie.”

Booger found his way to the kitchen, closed the door and told B.M. “In the morning I want you go see Earl in Greenville and tell him I won’t need that load of river sand after all.”

The dazed and star-struck Booger took a deep breath and walked back out to the dining area to face his destiny.

 

by Ralph Gordon (See more about Ralph here)

 

featured photo compliments of Free Digital Photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Note to the Younger Generation – From Someone Still Young at Heart!

Hooped skirts were a must for the well-dressed teen-age girl in the mid 1950s,

1950s-fashion-new-lookthe hey-day of our oldest generation.  It was a day when starched petticoats on clotheslines waved in a passing breeze. The memories of our youth, of Hula Hoops and friends at school who were expert in hip gyrating loops.

We reminisce the days of our youth and are delighted to tell our grandchildren our favorite memories,

of black and white saddle oxford shoes, bobby socks, poodle skirts and Evening in Paris Perfume. We captured the image in our mind of sock-hops in the school gym and how we jitterbugged to popular tunes. We watched boys in dark denim jeans with slicked backed ducktail hair, teenage Elvis wanna-be’s.

They are a part of our past, found in faded photographs tucked away in dusty albums along with our 45 records;

1950s_womens_clothesElvis, the Shirelles, Everly Brothers, the Diamond’s  “Little Darlin’, ” Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill,” Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Good,” and the Platter’s “Twilight Time.” They were the popular tunes once played on tabletop jukebox while we sipped Coca Cola waiting for our latest heartthrob to walk by. Our faces were scrubbed clean; a touch of pink on our lips and ponytails that flounced when we walked down the school hall.

These photos are our memories

1950s-fashion-2of malted milkshakes, banana splits, and a frosted glass of root beer and Coke Floats at the downtown drug store soda fountain. They were the happy days of our youth, a day when the word pot was a cooking utensil and weed was a Saturday choir in the yard; when a dime bought an all-day seat at the movies, where the good guys wore white hats and Hop-A-Long Cassidy, Roy Rogers, Tonto and the mark of Zorro flashed across the silver screen.

Before we knew it, ballerina flats, straight skirts and sweaters were the latest fashion and perms that curled our long locks. Happy memories tucked away wait expectantly to revive our youthful past with a storyboard of photographs and woven tales of grandmother and grandfather ‘s life and their stories of growing up, their memories of church, and baptisms and rebirth, and God’s ten commandments that assure eternal life.

So if you hear us laugh when we are alone in a room, don’t worry,

we’re just reliving our youth.

 

 

 

 

June Davidson book cover image copy

June Davidson

 

 

June Davis Davidson is the author of Country Stores of Mississippi, Images of Meridian and coauthor of Legendary Locals of Meridian. She is a member and former board member of the Mississippi Writers Guild and currently serves as the Meridian Chapter head. June is member of Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education and is listed on the Mississippi Arts Commission as a literary artist.

 

 

 

Photo Resources:
Poodle Skirts
Vintage Fashion Club

 

Top Ten Reasons to Support Locally Owned Businesses

Join Southern Roots Magazine in supporting locally owned businesses to create and build economic development in East Mississippi and West Alabama.

The following comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a national nonprofit organization working to strengthen independent businesses and local economies, and is reprinted here with permission.

  • Local Character and Prosperity

In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.

  • Community Well-Being

Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.

  • Local Decision-Making

Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

  • Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy

Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.

  • Job and Wages

Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

  • Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

  • Public Benefits and Costs

Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

  • Environmental Sustainability

Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

  • Competition

A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

  • Product Diversity

A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

© Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

EMBDC President Wade Jones Resigns

In a Press Release, the EMBDC Board of Directors

stated that the Board has accepted the resignation of Wade Jones as President of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce/economic development organization for Meridian and Lauderdale County. Bob Luke, Chairman of the EMBDC Board made the announcement and said the Board believed it was a good decision for Wade, EMBDC and the community.

A native of Greenville, Mississippi, Wade graduated from the University of Mississippi and since February 2001 has served as EMBDC president. During his tenure, EMBDC’s regional economic growth initiatives included Young Professionals of Meridian, a Small Business Development program, and Leadership Lauderdale. He stated at this time, it was appropriate for him to pursue alternative career tracks.

EMBDC MISSION:

To empower a diverse leadership culture to achieve economic wealth through excellence in education, new investment and the nurturing of existing business and industry.

The East Mississippi Business Development Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that serves as the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development agency for Meridian and Lauderdale County. Formed in late 1996 by a group of visionary business leaders, the EMBDC serves the City of Meridian, City of Marion, Lauderdale County, and over 1,400 dues-paying members.

 Southern Roots Magazine wishes the best for Wade Jones in his new endeavors and EMBDC in its search for a new president.

The Truth About Yoga

Greetings, friends!

I am thrilled to be apart of the Southern Roots family. I hope that together, we can help discover, create, and promote all of the wonderful experiences that East Mississippi and West Alabama has to offer you!

September is National Yoga Month!nanney

Yoga has been my passion for a many years now and I find it such a rewarding element in my life that it’s hard for me not to share it with you.  Due to it’s roots in eastern religions, I have found that when mentioning the word “yoga” around these parts, it can bring about an air of uncertainty and hesitation mainly due to a lack of understanding.

Yoga is not a religion! It’s an ancient art form combining movement and breath.

You can believe anything you want to and still practice. National studies comeout everyday highlighting all of the benefits a yoga practice can bring you. It has been linked to helping children with ADHD, autism, sensory processing disorders, and yoga has been shown to help adults with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and neurological disorders. Practicing yoga also has demonstrated an increase in bone density, decrease in blood sugar,  decreasing the risk of heart disease–and the list goes on and on.

Nanney2

In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services designated September as National Yoga Month, one of a select number of national health observances.

The purpose of having a whole month dedicated to yoga is to educate, inspire, and motivate people to achieve a healthy lifestyle. This initiative has led to a grassroots movement that becomes bigger and bigger every year. Yoga studios, teachers, and organizers around the globe are encouraged to offer free yoga classes and events in their community so everyone gets a “taste” of what yoga looks and feels like.

Common myths about practicing yoga are that you need to have good balance, be able to touch your toes, and wear specific yoga clothing to class. None of that is true! Some benefits of practicing yoga is that you increase balance,  flexibility, and strength.  As long as you are comfortable and can move around freely without being too restricted, you wear whatever you want!

On a personal note, in honor of National Yoga Month, I have decided to partake in an instagram yoga challenge hosted by three well-known yogis (Kino MacGregor, Kerri Verna, Laura Sykora) to promote and educate others on the benefits and beauty of yoga. Each day for the month of September I post the “pose of the day” pic (selected by the 3 women hosting the challenge) to instagram and facebook. This month’s challenge is called “Balance Basics” and it’s not too late to join in on the fun and participate! To find out more about this yoga challenge, check out my instagram account @HippieofHealthCare82 or email me and ask me specific details. If you don’t have insragram and have no idea what I’m talking about then that’s okay, too–email me!

If you have never tried yoga because it’s just too scary, intimidating, or weird, I encourage you to at least give it a shot this month. Just one little class. I think you just might find out that it gets a lot of hype for a reason.

Below is a list of yoga studios in and around Mississippi and Alabama. If you live in an area that does not have a yoga studio or you think does not offer yoga, email me and I will do my best to find something close to you. Also, if you know of any additional studios or places where yoga is being offered in your area that I  left off this list, please message us and let us know so we can add it!

I look forward to sharing with you tips, topics, education, and insightful information on health and wellness stories around Mississippi and Alabama. If you have a particular topic you would like me to focus on, please message us and let us know!

As always,

Namaste,

Jennifer Nanney

bio pic 1

You can do yoga anywhere!

 

Find the Perfect Yoga Class

 

JACKSON AREA:

 

Butterfly Yoga

Jackson, MS

601.594.2313

StudiOM Yoga

Jackson, MS

601.209.6325

 

TaraYoga

Flowood, MS

601.720.2337

 

JoyFlow Yoga

Ridgeland, MS

601.613. 4317

 

SOUTH WEST MISSISSIPPI:

Blue Heron Yoga of Mississippi

Summit, MS

601-810-7534

 

Stillwater Studio

Brookhaven, MS

601.320.0417

 

HATTIESBURG AREA

The Yoga Room

Hattiesburg, MS

601.264.1485

 

Downtown Down Dog

Hattiesburg, MS

601-261-3033

 

Shanti Yoga and Counseling

Gulfport, MS

228.235.5047

 

River Rock Yoga

Ocean Springs, MS

228.818.4522

 

Earth Path Yoga

Bay Saint Louis, MS

228.424.8705

 

Natchez Yoga Studio

Natchez, MS

601.446.9899

 

Bliss Yoga

Columbus, MS

662-902-0656

 

Firefly Yoga Studio

Starkville, MS

662.769.5303

 

DELTA AREA

Harmony Yoga & Wellness Center

Greenville, MS

662.332.8823

 

Delta Yoga

Cleveland, MS & Clarksdale, MS

662.902.2677

 

Southern Star Yoga

Oxford, MS

601.513. 0001

 

MERIDIAN AREA

Thrive!

Meridian, MS

601.207.4450

 

ALABAMA AREA

Kula Yoga Community

Mobile, AL

251.202.9642

 

Sterling Hot Yoga Works Mobile

Mobile, AL

251.471.5775

 

Point Clear Yoga Center

Fairhope, AL

251.928.9442

 

Fair Hope Yoga

Fairhope, AL

251.455.9359

 

Yogafly

Auburn, AL

334-707-7503

 

Yoga Gem

Montgomery, AL

334-202-2305

 

Shoals Yoga

Florence, AL

256.702.3022

 

Inner Sunshine Yoga & Wellness

Opelika, AL

334.787.2110

 

Yoga Fire

Madison, AL & Huntsville, AL

256.399.9642

 

East Wind Yoga

Roseville, AL & Auburn, AL

www.eastwindyoga.com

916.613.9337

 

Center for Yoga & Ayurveda

Anniston, AL

256.328.4500

 

Yoga Bliss

Tuscaloosa, AL

205.246.3314

 

Cajun Shrimp Casserole

2 lbs. large fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 /4 cup butter

1 small red onion, chopped

1 /2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 /2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1 /2 cup chopped orange bell pepper

4 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup frozen sliced okra

1 T lemon juice

1 1 /2 tsp. salt

1 can of cream of shrimp soup

1 /2 cup dry white wine

1 T soy sauce

1 /2 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 cups cooked long-grain rice

1 /4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish with parsley

Melt 1 /4 cup butter in large skillet over med-high heat.  Add onion and next 3 ingredients; sauté 7 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic, sauté 1 minute.  Stir in okra, lemon juice, and salt; sauté 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in soup and next 4 ingredients until blended.  Pour into a lightly greased 11 x 7 -inch baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.   Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned.   NOTE: cooked shrimp may be used.  Add right before soup and do not continue to cook.

Leighannelocalflavor

 

(Worth all the details!!!!  This is the recipe I used when I auditioned for Master Chef in 2009)

 

 

Coconut Oil: The “New” Super-food?

Coconut oil’s popularity continues to increase here in 2014,

and as a result it seems like everyone has something to say about it. Since we have been writing and publishing research about coconut oil for over 13 years, it is time to update our article on common myths surrounding coconut oil.

First, coconut oil is NOT new!

It has been a staple in the diets of millions of people for thousands of years. So when you read someone stating that coconut oil is some new fad, or that the information regarding its health benefits is all “hype”, you are reading one of the many myths being spread around on the Internet by those who are seemingly too lazy to do some basic research, or type “coconut oil” into the search field at PubMed. While it is decreasing, bias against coconut oil is still prevalent today, and people will write from this bias without eIven investigating the historical uses of coconut oil, or the vast amount of research conducted on coconut oil, particularly the medium chain fatty acids it contains.

But the myths being spread around the Internet are not simply from those who have a bias against it. Many people trying to jump on the coconut oil popularity bandwagon are also propagating some myths.

So here is a look at some of the most common myths routinely found published on the Internet today:

Coconut Oil Myth #1: Only Virgin Coconut Oil is healthy – Refined Coconut Oil is bad for you

FACT: ALL coconut oil you can buy online or in stores is healthy. This myth persists primarily because of the saturated fat bias (see below). The reasoning is that coconut oil must be bad because saturated fat is bad, therefore the health benefits for coconut oil must only apply to virgin unrefined coconut oils, which somehow escape all the nasty things saturated fats are blamed for.

However, anytime you can purchase coconut oil, you are purchasing the healthiest oil you can cook with since all coconut oils have medium chain fatty acids that are healthy and that do not break down when heated. The other options offered in today’s market for cooking oils are more than likely less healthy than coconut oil, and might even become toxic if used in cooking.

The one exception would be hydrogenated coconut oil, but we are not aware of any hydrogenated coconut oils being sold as edible oils in the U.S. market. If you live in a tropical country, there is a chance that hydrogenated coconut oil might be manufactured and sold in your location. Coconut oil is hydrogenated to keep it solid at higher temperatures. In its natural form, coconut oil is liquid above 76 degrees F. and solid below that. That is why we call it “coconut oil” and not “coconut fat”. In North America and many other places, coconut oil is almost always solid, making it technically a “fat” and not an oil. But in tropical climates it is almost always liquid, making it an oil. So there is a history of hydrogenating the small unsaturated portion of coconut oil in tropical climates to make it a solid. But the dangers of trans-fats are well published now, so I think even in tropical cultures this is rare today.

Speaking of liquid coconut oil, a “new” product did hit the shelves of many health food stores in 2013 called “Liquid Coconut Oil”. It is being marketed as a coconut oil that stays liquid even in your refrigerator. This product is actually “fractionated coconut oil” where most or all of the saturated lauric acid has been removed. It has been marketed in the past as “MCT Oil”, and not as coconut oil. It was more of a dietary supplement in the past. While we do not believe this product is harmful, it is a manufactured product, and actually a clever way of marketing a “left over” by-product, since lauric acid is the star fatty acid chain in coconut oil, known for its powerful antimicrobial activity. It is only found elsewhere in nature abundantly in human breast milk. You can read more about the clever marketing of “liquid coconut oil” here: Is Liquid Coconut Oil that stays Liquid in Your Refrigerator Real Coconut Oil?

As far as refined coconut oils, the most common method used to refine coconut oil in coconut oil producing countries is via the RBD process: Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized. This process renders a neutral flavor and smell due to a steam deodorization process. The “bleaching” part does not involve bleach like you use in your laundry. It is a clay that is used to filter the oil of impurities. Some of the nutrients will more than likely be lost in the refining process, but it does not make the oil unhealthy. If you can find out if the refined coconut oil was refined using solvent extracts or through “physical refining”, choose the physically refined coconut oil. There is some concern that oils using solvent extracts could leave residues in the oil. But even so, those residues are probably very small, if present at all, so even these coconut oils would be healthier than toxic trans fats or polyunsaturated oils for cooking.

As far as “virgin” coconut oils, there is absolutely no difference between “extra virgin” and “virgin” when it comes to coconut oil, like there is with the olive oil industry. They are simply different labels for the exact same coconut oils. Some people want to promote virgin coconut oils as “seeing no heat in the process” as a superior coconut oil, but there are no published standards identifying an “extra virgin” quality, and research actually shows that traditional coconut oils processed with heat have higher amounts of antioxidants. (See: New Research Highlights High Antioxidant Activity of Traditionally Made Coconut Oil)

Coconut Oil Myth #2: I cannot use coconut oil because I am allergic to coconut oil

FACT: Most food allergies are due to the inability to digest proteins, such as gluten (found in wheat), casein (found in dairy), protein found in tree nuts, etc. The coconut is technically a tree nut, but protein is found in the meat of the coconut, not in the oil.

Therefore, if one has problems digesting or eating coconut oil, it is highly unlikely that it is due to an “allergy”. It is more likely due to not being able to digest fats well, or possibly to the detoxification properties of coconut oil which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, skin eruptions, etc. These are typically NOT allergic reactions, and can be minimized or even eliminated altogether by reducing the amount of coconut oil one eats to very small amounts until the symptoms don’t occur, and then gradually increasing the amount over time.

Coconut Oil Myth #3: Coconut oil is good for certain conditions (like Alzheimer’s and Dementia), but long-term effects are not known and there is a risk for heart disease because coconut oil is a saturated fat

FACT: There are plenty of epidemiological studies on coconut oil in native populations, and saturated fat has never been proven to cause heart disease. Sadly, this myth has been around a long time and still persists today, even though it is not true! This is the basis of the coconut oil bias.

The benefits of a high-fat ketogenic diet in curing epilepsy was first developed at the Mayo Clinic in the 1920s and used extensively at John Hopkins Hospital. This high-fat diet rich in saturated fats has been documented as curing epilepsy in children where drugs failed. But as the lipid theory of heart disease gained popularity after the 1950s and influenced the government to adopt a low-fat dietary guideline in the 1970s, children and parents who benefited from the high-fat ketogenic diet were frightened into believing that if they continued such a diet, it would lead to heart disease.

Today, the ketogneic effects of coconut oil are well-known and coconut oil’s tremendous impact on those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia are well documented, and can no longer be denied, just as the ketogenic diet has cured epilepsy for many years now. Unfortunately, the myth of saturated fat — and by implication coconut oil — causing heart disease is a myth that continues today, scaring people who receive tremendous benefits from consuming coconut oil into thinking they may have a higher risk of heart disease if they continue such a diet. The lipid theory of heart disease, however, is losing popularity in the light of real evidence-based science.

One of the most exhaustive studies on saturated fat and heart disease was published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled: “Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease”. The study reviewed many other studies over a period of 5 to 23 years covering 347,747 subjects. Their conclusion: “A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD”. The abstract is found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648.

A similar meta-study was conducted and published in May of 2013, analyzing the existing medical literature regarding dietary fats and heart disease in the journal Advances in Nutrition. This study correctly vindicates the negative bias against saturated fats found in coconut oil and dairy products:Several recent analyses indicate that SFAs, particularly in dairy products and coconut oil, can improve health.” (See: Study: Saturated Fat Not Associated with Risk of Coronary Artery Disease, Coconut Oil and Dairy Fat Healthy)

Read more research on saturated fats here.

As far as coconut oil specifically, Dr. Conrado S. Dayrit in the Philippines published a comprehensive study looking at the evidence of saturated fat from coconut oil and cardiovascular disease in populations consuming large amounts of saturated fat in the countries of the Philippines, Polynesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia and found no link between coconut oil consumption and heart disease. His study was published in 2003 in thePhilippine Journal of Cardiologyhttp://www.coconutoil.com/DayritCardiology.pdf

In another study,

Dr. Janaki Gooneratne in Sri Lanka conducted what is probably the largest study ever undertaken examining the relationship between coconut oil, cholesterol, and heart disease. Her research studied almost 1,000 people in Sri Lanka and included factors such as socio-demographic data, family history of disease, and lifestyle.

She studied associations between selected heart disease risk factors and coconut oil intake using the Chi-square test, and further examined the data in a multivariate model adjusting for potential confounding variables. The data was analyzed using SPSS statistical software. The results of this extensive research concluded that consumption of coconut oil at levels up to 16.4% of total energy per day had no heart disease risk on the local population. (Note: for a standard 2,000 calorie diet that would equate to about 2.5 tablespoons of coconut oil a day.) Dr. Goonerante believes that this extensive research is one of the first studies of this magnitude on dietary coconut oil ever conducted anywhere in the world. Read more about her research on coconut oil here.

What New Coconut Oil Myths Are we Likely to See in the Future?

As coconut oil continues to gain popularity and continues to have a greater impact on people’s health, often producing better results than expensive pharmaceutical drugs, and without all the side effects, expect these attacks and myths to continue, and probably new ones to pop up. But just remember that coconut oil is a natural food that has nourished billions of people around the world for thousands of years. It cannot be patented, and hence it is unlikely there will ever be clinical studies funded of the same type that pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars to complete for patenting and getting their drugs approved by the FDA. Therefore, it is unlikely that the FDA will ever approve any health claims for coconut oil.

However, the health benefits of coconut oil are becoming too well-known to continue ignoring, and we saw signs in 2013 that drug companies are looking for ways to mimic the effects of coconut oil in patentable drugs. This has actually been occurring already for many years now with lauric acid, the star component of coconut oil. Lauric acid is frequently extracted from coconut oil to make into other drugs and products that can be patented. The significance of coconut oil then is trivialized in favor of expensive drugs.

What we saw in 2013, however, was interest by drug companies in the area of the ketonic effects of coconut oil, as research continues to be published on the benefits of a ketogenic diet, including its use as an effective cancer treatment. This same ketogenic effect in coconut oil is seen to be at least partially responsible for stopping or reversing Alzheimer’s Disease. So drug companies are anxious to develop drugs to mimic these effects, and we saw some of that begin in 2013. (See: Study: Coconut Oil Could Prevent Neurodegeneration in Diseases like Alzheimer’s)

So we can expect the mainstream media and Big Pharma to invent new myths condemning coconut oil in favor of their drugs in the future, count on it!

 

by Brian Shilhavy
Health Impact News

About the authors: Unlike many people who write about coconut oil by simply reading about it, Brian and Marianita Shilhavy actually lived in a coconut producing area of the Philippines for several years. Marianita Jader Shilhavy grew up on a coconut plantation in the Philippines and in a culture that consumed significant amounts of coconut fat in their diet. She later went on to earn her degree in nutrition and worked as a nutritionist in the Philippines. Brian Shilhavy also lived in the Philippines for several years with Marianita and their 3 children observing firsthand the differences between the diet and health of the younger generation and those of Marianita’s parents’ generation still consuming a traditional diet. This led to years of studying Philippine nutrition and dietary patterns first hand while living in a rural farming community in the Philippines. They are authors of the best-selling book: Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people’s lives and how it can change yours!

Copyright 2014 Health Impact News – permission to reprint fully granted.

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