Lessons from Sprouts, the Grocery Store

Nutritional Yeast: Bridging Communities Everywhere

I had an amazing incident at the grocery store which is just now starting to hit me. Today, I needed to stock up on a few bulk items while I was in Sprouts. There was an older woman of color who I had just recently passed who came down the aisle while I was tying up my nutritional yeast. I would guess that she was about 65 or so which means she was probably older as I’m a horrible judge of age.

“What’s that?” she asks.

“Oh, it’s nutritional yeast.” She repeats the words back to me with the most adorable look of curiosity on her face. “Is that healthy for you?”

“Yes, it is,” and in the fashion that I do when it comes to all things eating, I gave her a passionate list of all the different ways that I use and abuse poor nutritional yeast. I told her how I especially like it for adding a nutty cheesiness to vegan dishes or salads.

“Hmm, where do I get some of that?”

I escorted her to the bin and she started to tell me about a chicken casserole she was planning to make. She asked me if I thought it would work well in that. I, of course, exclaimed “Oh yes! It would taste great with chicken and tortillas!”I then asked her how she was going to make it, and “advised” her on which step to throw in the nutritional yeast for best results.

Now, at the time, I didn’t think too deeply about this interaction. I’m all about talking about cooking and the different things I use around the house. It’s one of my favorite topics. Just ask my poor partner who must listen to me debate whether to use lucuma in the smoothie or not every morning (actually, that’s not a debate I’ve ever had outloud, I don’t think!)

But as the evening has worn on, I feel like the Universe blessed me with the chance to talk to this older woman, this woman who has lived on the planet for many more years than I, cooked many more years than I, struggled and loved and lived much longer than I have. But today, this woman treated me like a wise elder, with respect and a deference that is amazingly humbling. Who I am to tell this woman how to cook or what to eat? Who am I to vouch for anything “healthy”? Still, how amazing that she listened. With gratitude and openness, she listened to what I had to say. How amazing that maybe tonight she is cooking chicken enchilada casserole and it tastes better than she has ever tasted before. Maybe tonight she will think of me and say thanks.

To that little old woman, who in a way that I don’t even fully understand yet, has humbled me and made my night, I say, “Thank you.”

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