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"Sheauxing” New Orleans the other side of food with Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods

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Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Food | | New Orleans, Louisiana
(InthekNOwla) -- NEW ORLEANS | We’re more than sure that most of you are well aware of the importance of a healthy and balanced diet…fruits, grandma’s fried chicken, vegetables, mama’s baked macaroni and cheese, water, daiquiris and snowballs…Yep, we know…it’s not always so easy to keep up with the healthy part.

See, with eating being such a favorite pastime of us InthekNOwlians, it’s easy to forget that most of the things we are putting in our bodies are not the best for us. Couple that with the lack of healthy eating options in the city and you’ve got yourself a mini epidemic. It’s sad to say, but many times, it’s easier to find a McDonald’s or Burger King in some of our neighborhoods rather than a grocery store with fresh produce. Tack on the cost of the fresh produce, and hell, if I got to feed my family of four, my $10 is gonna go a whole lot farther at the McDonald’s…sad, but true.
Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Food | | New Orleans, Louisiana
Yes, there are several farmers’ markets, but again, they can be quite pricey and many of residents don’t have a means to get to them. Instead, everyone should have access to fresh, affordable produce no matter what their background may be.

Well, InthekNOwla, we found just the people to make that dream a reality, Thaddaeus and Tamara Prosper of Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods, “a family owned and operated company that’s trying to address the food desert situation in New Orleans by taking over blighted properties in underserved neighborhoods and converting them into gardens or urban farms to serve those communities.”

Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods is for everybody…rich, poor, white, black, young, old. In essence, it’s for New Orleans, to make her and her citizens healthier. The ultimate goal of Sheaux Fresh is to establish a garden in every neighborhood city wide, thereby reducing the number of blighted properties and creating something viable for the community.

Aside from eating good food, Sheaux Fresh’s co-founder, Thaddaeus, has been growing his own food for years. He said, “I started growing my own food years ago while living in New York. We moved up there after September 11 to do some work, but when that didn’t work out, we fell on some hard times. There was a garden next to our house that had been overgrown for years. So one day, I got the motivation to grab a shovel and start turning it over and planting it. By the time winter came around, we had so much food that we really didn’t need to spend much of our budget on food.”
Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Food | | New Orleans, Louisiana
“We moved back to New Orleans and a month later Katrina hit. There were so many people in dire situations all over the city that needed food that we started going into our own pockets and garden to help feed those people and we kept running short. So our current push of Sheaux Fresh grew out of that need for there to be more accessible and affordable food in our neighborhoods. To have people here struggling to find something to eat when we have 320 growing days out of the year doesn’t make sense, especially considering we have plenty of space. There’s plenty of unused land; we just need to capitalize on it and help ourselves out of this situation.”

As word got out of the Prospers’ garden, people started offering to pay for their produce and Thaddaues decided to make the garden bigger. And guess what? The demand only continued to grow to where the Prospers knew that if they continued to expand their garden in the backyard, eventually there would be no backyard. So, there was only one thing to do, right? Yep, build another garden, but make this one for the community.

“We owned another piece of property about a mile from our house in a neighborhood that lacks access to a grocery store,” Tamara explained. “And for individuals that don’t have transportation, it’s hard to take your groceries on the bus or spend money on a cab because that cuts into your food budget. So if you don’t have that access, then your only options are the corner stores or fast food establishments where you have to substitute junk food for real food. The lack of availability of fresh food contributes to the overwhelming health problems that our community faces. The garden will allow people to be able to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families right in their neighborhood.”

She added, “Although there’s a big movement locally and nationally for locally grown organic food and healthier lifestyles, people in some communities can’t even get to that step. We’re trying to make it so that people can have fresh food available to them at a more reasonable price. We don’t have to add the price of shipping the produce from California or add that middleman price from selling it from the farmers to groceries stores to you. Everything’s already there: grown, produced, and sold right here.”
Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Food | | New Orleans, Louisiana
The location of the new garden is in an area of the city that desperately needs access to fresh food. And with plenty of people out and about (there are churches, three elementary schools, and one high school all within walking distance of where the garden will be), the garden will definitely have a strong customer base to support.

Not only are the Prospers taking this piece of property and turning it into something beautiful and productive, they also plan to do other educational things to further invest in the community. “Aside from growing food, we also want to make the garden a place where we can give workshops once a month and give advice on planting and the like. We also plan on having children come over on field trips and actually going to schools and doing workshops with the students to really get the kids involved because we know from marketers that if the kids ask for it, then parents will at least see about it. So the kids get the knowledge of healthy eating at a young age. It’s not to say that they won’t not to say that they won’t like chicken nuggets anymore, but they may become more knowledgeable about their food choices.”

And Thaddaeus and Tamara’s three children are testaments to this fact. Having had the garden since their oldest child was still a baby, their young taste buds are already accustomed to the tastes of the squash, green beans, carrots, pickles, and cucumbers. “We have to tell our son not to eat all of the tomatoes,” said Tamara. “He’ll pick them in the yard and just eat them. Being able to recognize what’s better for you is easy once you know what’s better for you. If kids know what it is and they think it’s good or fun, they’ll try it and not just say, ‘No, I don’t eat that.’”

To help them on their mission to bring affordable, fresh food to New Orleans, the Prospers have started a Kickstarter where anyone can donate to Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods. Even though the goal of $5,000 has been reached, you can still donate to give them a little extra boost. The deadline is Friday, August 26 and all donations over $1 are accepted.

“There are a lot of people working with us on this project which is great,” Thaddaeus said. “I think people recognize what we’re trying to do and they want to help make it become a reality. We’re working with SENO (Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans) who are connecting us with a lot of people. We’re also working with the Tulane City Center on developing the buildings for the urban farms. So what we’re hoping is that this farm will be beautiful and also very efficient in producing food that other people will come in and help us reproduce this around the city.”
Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Food | | New Orleans, Louisiana
Tamara added, “We want people to be able to get away from being so dependent on the corporate food system. There is so much available for people to grow their own food. It’s just a matter of having the time and money to make it a reality and this has become our number one mission with Sheaux Fresh.

“We also try to do everything as organically as possible,” Thaddaeus added. “And hopefully as we continue to expand and build more gardens, the growing medium will be totally organic. So not only will we be able to produce fresh, healthy food, but also food that is free of pesticides, growth hormones, and things of that nature.”

Well, we don’t know about y’all, but we sheaux are ready for some Sheaux Fresh Food.

As Tamara noted, “If you give people choices and you make those choices convenient to them, they will make better decisions."

Check out Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods on the web at, follow them on Twitter, and fan them on Facebook.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 August 2011
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