Food and Freedom Riders: Kyoka Akers

“Change comes one person at a time,” says Kyoka Akers, one of the first Live Real Real Food Fellows. Kyoka, 27, is, in every sense, trying to “live real,” and inspire her Bessemer, Alabama, community to do the same.

Kyoka is preparing to embark on the 2011 Food and Freedom Rides tomorrow, with other young leaders who feel the same way: that to live and be alive should not come at a cost of what’s on your plate.  Good, healthy food should be available to everyone.

Kyoka Akers is a household gardener, who deals with herbal medicine.  She says she is in “a state of educating [herself] to be able to spread the information to [her] community.”

Her ideal food system would do away with processed foods.  We should “retrain ourselves to eat healthy food,” she says. All the chemicals in the foods we eat may make food taste good. Artificial flavors are the flavors this country was raised on. But in Kyoka’s garden, “nothing else is on this tomato except this tomato.” Many Americans have not even seen many of the fruits that they say are their favorite flavors.  This conditioning to eat artificial flavors is the opposite of living real.  Kyoka says, “I just want to be able to know that my food was grown in this ground and that I’m just eating this food as is, without anything added to it.” Her favorite foods are real foods: greens, which include turnips and collards.

The people who inspire her include her mother.  “She is so fun; if I could, I would take her with me on these rides.”   More heroes include the people who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Despite facing the risk of danger, “they still did it, they were willing to step out and get that.”

She is going on the Food and Freedom Rides intending to do the same.  She knows the ride might symbolize something huge, bigger than color – unity and change for everyone. She calls it a “once in a lifetime experience.”

From the trip, she is hoping to gain knowledge to bring back to her community, because the one thing she feels her community is missing is knowledge.  As Dr. King had a dream, Kyoka’s dream is “to see healthy people – physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

Roy Frias