By Dwight Hobbes
Renee Barron believes in self-help health. Firmly. And will tell you how to go about it. From the ground up.
In a most matter-of-fact, comfortably casual tone, Barron explains the importance of taking personal responsibility and accountability for what goes on with your body. “If you don’t take care of your health, no one else will.”
This outlook motivated her to become founder of Zahanati. “[It’s] a health and wellness promotion agency. We started an organic urban youth farm over at JD Rivers [in Minneapolis] this past summer. I [established Zahanati, Inc.] to address the Black health crisis, starting in North Minneapolis because it has the highest health disparity.
“And I’m from North Minneapolis, you know, I grew up there. So, we set up the urban youth farm to work with the children and teach them how to work with the earth, eat healthy, identify medicinal herbs, things like that. We didn’t get the funding. So, I’m in the process of trying to decide [whether] to close it down or what have you.”
In the meantime, she’s moving forward, doing the groundwork to set up an online business marketing herbal dietary supplements that help build up and sustain the body’s immune system. The brand name is Natural Medicine Woman. “I’ll also be [making the supplements available] at the coop market in St. Paul.”
While Barron is gearing up to put her plan in effect, she already has the website www.naturalmedicinewom an.com up and running, an attractive, family-oriented advertisement with contact info for the health-minded who want to know more about how they safeguard their health. “I’ll be adding [at the site] an online newsletter. And setting it up so products can be purchased at the website.”
She has also put the social network Facebook to practical use, creating the page Zahanati, Inc. for her nonprofit organization to promote health and wellness. A visit to Zahanati, Inc. will clue you in on some of the ingenious ways Barron puts into practice her methods of homemade healthcare.
As an example, there’s an entry instructing how to make your own deodorant, using coconut oil, cornstarch and baking soda. “I make my own laundry detergent, which doesn’t use dangerous chemicals that can get into your pores. And it gets clothing much cleaner. I make my own personal-care and hair products. It’s healthy and saves a lot of money.”
A salient point these days, what with the economy showing no signs of turning around anytime soon. Barron adds, “If you know Black women, we spend a lot on our hair. I don’t have to.”
There’s also an entry, complete with accompanying YouTube video, “How to make Vegan Ice Cream.” On first hearing, one might be reminded of the Keenan Ivory Wayans satire, I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, in which Clarence Williams III plays a Black nationalist who gets so carried away with the benefits of beans that he sells — out of his storefront shop — nothing but food made from beans, including bean soda, which may be good for you, but tastes nasty.
Barron’s vegan ice cream has no such drawback. Her 17-year-old daughter Jasmine — a big time ice cream fan — readily attests, “It doesn’t taste very different from the other ice cream. The only difference is the name on the container. It’s just as sweet, and better for you.”
Renee Barron has more helpful hints on how to adopt a do-it-yourself health regimen and has compiled them in an in-progress manuscript. When it’s completed, she’ll see about putting a book on the market. Meanwhile, she contents herself with offering Natural Medicine Woman, practicing a saying borrowed from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“Your health,” says Renee Barron, “is your wealth.”
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.