Immokalee is an area where healthy food options are limited — sometimes called a food desert or food swamp— in Collier County, Florida. LeGrand Caribbean Market is an oasis in that desert, at least for the large migrant population that shops there. They are people who work long hours, live in shared housing without their own kitchens, and speak as many as nine different languages — including Spanish and Haitian Creole. Franck LeGrand Jr. speaks all of them.
LeGrand runs the food market that his late father ran before him, in part because he knows the community relies on it and also because he wants to continue his father’s legacy. Franck’s dad was a migrant worker once himself. Franck LeGrand Sr. immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti when Franck was a boy and worked in the fields for 20 years until he saved enough money to start his own business. Franck remembers getting up in the wee hours of the morning as a child to fill his dad’s cooler with ice for the day and occasionally going into the fields with him when he was young.
The migrant life is a hard life with many things to worry about so there isn’t a lot of time to stop to consider the best food options. That is a challenge Franck is chipping away at through his interactions with people in the community at his market. He’s even worked with Blue Zones Project to redesign his market to nudge his customers toward healthier food options. It’s complicated and a slow process, but Franck relishes every small victory, even if it’s just a worker grabbing a piece of fruit for a snack instead of a bag of chips or a bottle of water instead of a soda. Franck knows better than anyone that food choices are affected by so many aspects of life and that changing regular habits isn’t easy. But he also knows change is within reach when you start making small changes one at the time. “I just had to change the way I eat and exercise more,” he said.
Franck lost 100 pounds in a single year and found a new lease on life. And he now uses his story to inspire others in his community.
Franck’s Path to Weight Gain & Weight Loss
Franck turned to food and began emotional eating out of grief. In 2011, his father was killed tragically in a car accident while running an errand for the store. About a year later, his wife and child died from childbirth-related complications.
Continue reading Franck’s story here: After Losing 100+ Pounds, Grocery Store Owner Promotes Healthier Options – Blue Zones
Additional topics in the Blue Zones newsletter this morning:
What We’re Reading:
- Okinawa produced the world’s longest-lived people. Among their secrets: Hara hachi bu, turmeric, and purple sweet potatoes.
- Another reason to call your friends today.
- A nutrient-rich diet can contribute to a healthy immune system.
- Studies show that a diet high in pro-inflammatory ingredients, like processed meat and refined carbs, could increase a person’s risk of heart disease by 46% and stroke by 28%.
- We’re making: Avocado Soft Tacos
Blue Zones Projects in Action:
Corry Area Primary School has added more physical activity, nutrition education, and mindfulness into the classroom and has been designated as Erie County, PA’s first Blue Zones Project Approved school.
A new Blue Zones food initiative in Forth Worth, TX, will help some local families in their efforts to put healthier food on their tables this winter.
They’re a staple in the Blue Zones diet, and a staple in the pantry. Try a new bean recipe this weekend!
Maya Nut Morning Brew
Centenarians in most blue zones regions drink coffee daily, sometimes up to two to three cups a day. Tea, both herbal and green, is also a popular beverage. For those who need or want to avoid caffeine, however, Maya Nut Morning Brew is a caffeine-free, nutrient-dense alternative to coffee that can be prepared in the same manner. The flavor is mild with notes of cinnamon or mocha; it does not have a bitter aftertaste, and it can be made hot or iced. Even though it is caffeine-free, people report a natural energy boost after drinking Maya Nut drinks.
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These 11 simple guidelines reflect how the world’s longest-lived people ate for most of their lives. Download and print this reminder to hang in your kitchen (or save paper and keep it on your phone).