Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trust, Hope, and Haiti

I went to Haiti last week. My flight attendant benefits and fairly flexible schedule allowed me the opportunity to join my Uncle, and his family, along with a group of medical volunteers at the Adventist hospital located just outside Port-au-Prince.

I was hoping that I could be useful in some way, even without any medical training. Selfishly, I was also hoping that the trip and whole experience would be personally life altering. In a sense, I came back disappointed because I don't feel like I was able to contribute much, and I haven't had any life changing epiphanies yet. Yet...

I have a lot of questions. I question how my existence can make a difference in this world. I question how God can just watch so much distruction, so much pain. After four months, piles of rubble, tent cities, chaos, and brokenness is. It just is...

I asked Joseph, one of the translators, what it is like to be Hatian. "You have to be strong. You must be a soldier. You have to fight for yourself. Look out for yourself. Have your own weapons. Sometimes, maybe, someone will help you. But usually not. You just must be strong. Because you are alone."

The woman at the clinic says she can't eat. The nurse inquires to why. In creole, she says she doesn't have an appetite. The woman then turns and points to a large pile of rubble right behind the makeshift clinic. "My daughter is in that rubble."

Reggie says if he could take it all back he would. His english is perfect. It's because he grew up in Miami, having moved there from Haiti with his mother when he was five years old. He's back now, and not by desired choice, but due to other life choices. He was convicted in the United States and deported. He's only 26. Along with the time Reggie spent in an American prison, he spent 21 days in a Hatian prison. Hatian prisons are a whole nother hell. A small space becomes a place to sleep, a bathroom, a shower. The only source of food is if the prisoner's family brings it to them. If the prisoner has no family to bring food, the prisoner has three options; another prisoner shares his food, starvation, or fight someone for their food. Reggie says you can't blame people for fighting. It's just about surviving. In Haiti, survival is about looking out for oneself.

It strikes me how strange it is that I am walking past tent cities and garbage studded dirt streets with a convicted felon. A country with no sense of safety, and me, with no sense of direction. Ironically, I feel a sense of protection from a person that I would not easily trust on the streets of LA. But, I trust Reggie. Sometimes, you must trust people. But I wonder who can the people of Haiti trust? Can they trust that they will see the benefits of the 1 billion dollars in aid money and supplies that have been sent? Can they trust that their babies will be fed? Can they trust that their homes will be rebuilt? Can they trust that there lives will improve? Can they trust in their Voudoo gods? With no infrastructure and no leader, they have learned that they can only trust themselves.

Sabrina's clinic is constructed from tarps and poles. Everything about it is mobile. The "pharmacy" is divided between four suitcases that lie on the dusty ground. The "exam room" is made up of the 90 degree converging of a brick wall and a vertical hanging tarp. It's Sabrina's Clinic because it is organized and continues to run due to the efforts of an amazing 20-something, nurse-midwife named Sabrina. For 4 months leading up to the January quake, Sabrina searched unsuccessfully for a nursing job. Even during the recent shaky economic times, nurses have still been in high demand, but Sabrina's search proved fruitless. She felt strongly that God must have some reason for her unemployment and she leaned on the faith that God was going to do something in her life. A couple days after the quake, she got a call from someone asking if she could be at the airport in an hour and a half. She was needed in Haiti.

I ask her if she gets lonely in Haiti. Her family is not with her. She's young. She's learning Creole and French. Everything is so different. She thinks for a moment and then replies, "No. Not really. Since I came here, I believe that God has been telling me that I need to go to Him first. Not a boyfriend. Not a best girlfriend. Not my family. Instead, I need to rely on Him completely and tell him everything first. So, no. I'm not lonely." Sabrina speaks with strong conviction and a calm peace. In Haiti, she has found something to trust. In Haiti, she has found the only thing to trust.

Click here to see pictures from my trip

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blueberry Buzz

This week at Farmer's Market, we added something new; Vegan Raw Cheesecake. The flavor of the week was White Chocolate Blueberry, made by Wendy Naus, owner of Nature's Market & Juice Bar, and masterful creator of all kinds of vegan raw delicacies.

We have been introducing new items at farmer's market, not because are tortillas aren't selling, but because the compliment products actually improve our overall appeal. It definately creates more buzz around the Created Whole booth.

We also have been putting up more signs. This week, we needed to a sign for the cheesecake. Brenda created a masterpiece in her painting studio, aka, the trunk of the toyota corolla. Here are some pictures and a short video of the experience.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


There is way to shake hands.
To look people in the eye.
To do what's right.
There is a way to ask what if until it becomes what is.
There is a way to take on impossible opportunity.
To replace hassle and haggle with learn and listen.
To make people look forward to the process of buying.
And to make it less of a process.
There is a way to replace no we can't with yes we can.
To fix problems even before they arise.
To be bold and humble.
To go from good to great.
To never look back.
There is a way to pour everything we have into everything we do.
There is a way to treat people better.
There is a way to make a better tortilla-
Created Whole. "Eat it Straight".

(adapted from a magazine ad)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Straight Up Goodness

A popular brand of tortilla on the market today claims on its package to be "The finest ever made!" Flour that has been stripped of almost everything needed for good health is sometimes referred to as "fine" flour or "refined" flour. Maybe Created Whole should call theirs the "coarsest" tortilla ever made. "Coarse" flour with all the vitamins, fiber and nutrients found in the whole wheat berry is definitely superior in taste, quality and health benefits.

Check these ingredients of the major Whole Wheat Flour tortilla brand manufactured by La Reina, Los Angeles, CA.

Ingredients: Whole wheat flour, water, soy bean oil, salt, baking powder (corn starch, sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), Mono and Diglycerides, calicium propionate, and bicarbonate, guargum, and dough conditioner (L-Cysteine).

The ingredients in Created Whole Wheat Tortillas:
Wheat, water, oil, salt.

Fresh. Simple. No surprises.
The only "eat it straight" tortilla!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fabulous Fat

Some people have passed by Created Whole Tortillas because they glance at fat content or see what type of oil that we use. The following is from a section of the book Core Performance Women by Mark Verstegen and Pete Williams

Contrary to popular belief, fat will not make you fat. Unfortunately, thanks to the aggressive anti-fat marketing campaigns of the 1980s, most people believe that if you eat fat, you become fat. There's some truth to that, of course. Not all fat is good, and too much of anything will contribute to additional body fat. But fats are crucial to good health and the makeup of cell membranes. Fats are needed for the absorption of certain vitamins and antioxidants: vitamin A (immune function and wound healing), vitamin D (bone health and general well being), vitamin E (involved with the workings of vitamins A and C and helps to protect the cells), and vitamin K (normal blood clotting function). Fats release energy slowly, keep the body satiated and regulating blood sugar, thus lowering glycemic response to other foods. Research also confirms that fats send signals to the brain that then make us feel full. Good fats provide powerful nutrients for cellular repair of the joints, organs, skin, and hair. Special fatty acids, specifically omega-3s (EPA and DHA), found in fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil, also help with cognitive ability, mental clarity, mood, PMS and memory retention, and they have strong anti-inflammatory properties. These essential fats are often overlooked. The fact that their name incorporates the word essential means that they must come from the diet. I cannot stress too much the importance of incorporating these fats into your diet on a daily basis or choosing a fish oil or omega-3 supplement to complement your diet.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday!!!

Today marks the first anniversary of Created Whole Tortillas. May 1, 2009 was the first day that we made tortillas. It was so nerve racking because we didn't know if the recipe would work on the machine, and in a larger scale, and also so exciting because we were finally seeing the product that we wanted so badly to come to market actually being made. I am realizing and believe that start-ups are a combination of the most rewarding and stressful ventures to be involved with. To be in business after a year is milestone. Hearing the positive customer feedback, receiving more online orders, getting into our first LA store, and a new farmer's market that is starting in Bakersfield have been so encouraging. Encouragement that we, as business owners, have needed. The successes have come in between struggles.

Having full time jobs and also an "entrepreneurial baby" is often overwhelming, and would be impossible without the dedication of those directly involved. Tim and Brenda showed dedication once again this past week by waking up at 2am, and driving five hours from Vegas back to Shafter to set-up tortilla production. Lately, a lot of craziness like that is happening, but if that's what it takes right now, that's what we are going to do. It's great to be able to say Happy 1st Birthday Baby Company. We'll keep making our wishes and working to get there!