Comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish’s relationship with food has changed drastically throughout her life. There were the days when she was an involuntary vegetarian, eating bean burritos from Taco Bell because that’s what she could afford. Then came the days of indulgence after she started making money. “Food insecurity is a real thing for me,” she tells ESSENCE. “Something I’ve experienced the majority of my existence. I would say the last five years have been more like, ‘this is what I’m going to eat.’”
These days she’s eating consciously with her health in mind. An injury to her meniscus in 2019 was the push Haddish needed to make some changes.
“I was having a hard time getting around, then I was like, ‘Okay, she gon’ eat better,” she vowed to herself. “‘She gon treat herself better. We gon do better, period.’”
Doing better included taking vitamins to get the nutrients she might have been missing in her diet. As a user of vitafusion women’s Gummy Vitamins for years, Haddish became a brand ambassador in 2020 as a way to encourage her community to make better choices for their health.
“I only like to talk about products and things that I actually use and I actually enjoy. I’m very authentic in that way,” she says. “It’s really not about the money for me. It’s about promoting better health and better life for people.”
Haddish knows firsthand that money affects our food choices in a real way. It’s the reason she wanted to be involved with vitafusion Gummy Vitamins’ partnership with Why Hunger. Vitafusion will match donations up to $100,000 during Why Hunger’s annual Hungerthon on Nov. 23. The aim is to help them reach their goal of raising $1 million to “tackle the root causes of hunger” and provide long-term access to nutritious food.
One of the solutions to making that happen is planting fruit trees in local communities with The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. This initiative was of particular importance to Haddish.
“When I was homeless, I used to eat off of people’s pomegranate, passion fruit and orange trees,” she says. “I’ve noticed within the last 15 years, at least in my hood anyways, all of these fruit trees have disappeared. They cut them all down. There used to be fruit trees all up and down the street. There’s no access. It’s like where’s the fruit? Where is the free food?”
She adds, “[Why Hunger] is doing something about that and I’m with that.”
This past July, Haddish restored some of those missing fruit trees, planting them at the Pico Union Project, a community center in one of Los Angeles’ most racially diverse and economically challenged neighborhoods. Planting is not just something she does for the community, though. It also serves as a spiritual function in Haddish’s life.
“[Gardening] is another way to feed the soul, to heal the soul,” she says, stating that she believes the practice can be of particular use to Black people in this country.
“We deal with a lot of trauma, a lot of pain. I think it’s genetically passed down, all the fears of your parents, you absorb all of that,” she says. “I feel like when I’m in that garden, a lot of my pain goes away. A lot of how I feel about things are resolved. I feel like gardening is magic. I feel like we’re magical people. To be able to take a little seed, just like a thought, plant it, water it, give it the nutrients that it needs, watch that thing grow and then it be able to feed you is so powerful.”
Haddish says that while she has and still utilizes a therapist, there is something healing about being in nature that Black Americans know something about and could benefit from.
“Let’s be honest, we grew most of this nation. We’re the original farmers of this land and we didn’t get to reap a lot of the benefits from what we sowed. And I think it’s about time we get to it.”
A woman who is determined to realize all of her childhood dreams, the comedian and actress says she plans on eventually opening a grocery store to help Blacks people get their just due.
“That’s why I want to open up that grocery store so we can use Black farmers, Black vendors,” she says. “Get that dollar circulating in our community and get back to our roots and looking out for ourselves and in that way slowly eliminate systemic racism. If they can control how we eat and how you live…We got to take control of that.”
Taking control of what she eats through her garden has helped illuminate some truths in Haddish’s life as well.
“[Gardening] has taught me how to stop and pay attention. It makes me reflect on myself,” she says. “I’ve been gone for a minute and I went home and I saw there were all these weeds in the garden. And I was like, ‘Man, I got to pull all these weeds. As I’m pulling those weeds, I’m like, ‘I got a lot of weeds in my life.’ People that might be sucking away the nutrients. I was like, ‘Okay, I see you God. I’m going to have to do some weed-pulling in my existence.’”
That’s the power of nutritious food. It has the power to feed us both physically and spiritually. It’s only right that we all have access to it.
You can learn more about Why Hunger and their partnership with vitafusion Vitamin Gummies, here.