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Tonya Kay

Tonya Kay photo courtesy Tonya KayTonya Kay is an actress, TV personality, professional dancer and danger artist living in Los Angeles. A vegetarian of 28 years, vegan for 18 of those and raw vegan for the last 11, Tonya Kay pioneers the green health movement with appearances, publications and green media (available at KayosMarket). Watch Tonya Kay's self-produced web series The Eco Tourist on EcoHearth's Eco Tube. You may have also seen her recently on TV's My Ride Rules, The Tonight Show, Criminal Minds, Glee, House MD, Secret Girlfriend and American Idol with Rhianna. She has performed live in STOMP, De La Guarda, with Panic At The Disco, Kenny Rogers and in countless music videos and commercials. Look for Tonya Kay in the new Muppets Movie, starring in MTV Network's Video Game Reunion, playing a lead in the scripted animal-activist feature film, Bold Native, performing the voice of Green Girl in the raw vegan superhero animated film Rawman and Green Girl and performing burlesque live in Hollywood, California, almost any weekend. In 2012, Tonya Kay will star in the films Off World and Within The Darkness. For more on Tonya Kay, visit her website.

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Eden’s Apples and Other Forbidden Natural Delights
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:00  |  Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry

Soursop Fruit in Dominica photo by Ken BosmaIt is a banana. It's not a banana. It is a banana. It is not a banana.

Warning to all my fellow raw-fooders: tropical travel with ruin you forever. For after three weeks on the remote Caribbean island of Dominica, only 26 miles long and 15 miles wide, I sit in Lincoln Park, Chicago, trying to convince myself the thick-skinned, seedless, yellow piece of food I just paid $1 for at the coffee shop is indeed a banana.

It's not a banana.

The last my taste buds remember, a banana was a small, often bite-sized fruit, ripe only when fully brown and soft as jelly, erupting with multi-dimensional flavors—sometimes aromatically figish, sometimes undeniably hibiscus. But this... this food I am eating now I think is some kind of artificial syrup pressed into an elongated phallic shape, created in a laboratory to match the taste of Runts candy—America's accepted standard for fruit taste. I am ruined forever.

How can I forget the farmer's market in Roseau (with a population of 10,000, Dominica's biggest village)? I asked to taste a mango, ended up eating the entire thing, and when negotiating price, the vendor charged exactly what the Earth had charged her that morning. This happened repeatedly, this gifting of fruit—handfuls of yellow island "cherries" or bundles of sugar cane pushed into my hands. Tell me now, with flavor, freshness and generosity like this, what health-food salad bar can compare?

And what about the roadsides, practically polluted with jelly coconuts? So available are these bowling-ball-sized treats, the locals commonly carry machetes for impromptu hydration breaks. So abundant are these delicious rocks in the sky, the Pirates of the Caribbean ll & lll movie producers shooting here hired an official coconut cutter to protect the unaware noggins of cast and crew. And so fresh and clean was the green coconut's tonic water, I fear that I may never be able to stomach the over-sweet and pesticide-dipped Thai atrocity again.

If that weren't enough, this equatorial paradise spoiled my palate with an array of exotic new fruits, picked right from the tree myself. Count on two hands: the consciousness-altering fresh cacao pod, the feathery vanilla-like cass pod meat, the cinnamon/date-flavored chapotilla, the similar-textured, brown, golf-ball-sized tambrine fruit, and the luscious mango/pumpkin-flavored mame apple (known to the locals also as "apricot").  But even the more common fruit fare in the States is reduced to factory flavors when compared to Dominica's in-season watermelon and powerful pineapple.

Still, by far, nothing lifted the proverbial produce veil from my eyes nor had a deeper affect on my total being than one oddly shaped, smallish, spiked, iguana-green fruit blob; when eaten, soft as a mother's breast, pulp the color of dawn...with a texture stringy and almost transparent and as lightly sweetened as heaven's iced tea. These statements might not be FDA evaluated, nor is the potency of said effects legally regulated, but my personal research confirms in repeated double-blind studies that this strange fruit, called soursop, is officially a dangerous aphrodisiac, as well.

How can one go back to limp raspberries in a plastic container after this?

So I beg you, raw-fooders and produce-lovers alike, give up your gardens, abandon the farmer's markets and stay as far away from the southern Caribbean as possible. Leave the life of wandering and compulsive perpetual travel to those of us who have already bitten Eden's apple, dooming ourselves to a destiny of dining dissatisfaction and fatal fruit snobbery.

So until I can return to the volcanic coasts of some tropical jungle, eating precisely the way climate, season and location dictate, I shall somehow try to relish a bag of baby carrots. But as far as bananas go, this spirit is unbroken, and Dole—and their "organic line"—can kiss my Dominican pawpaw!

[Sign up to be notified each time Tonya publishes a new Clean and Green Everyday blog entry on EcoHearth. See a complete list of writing by Tonya Kay on or visit her Clean and Green Everyday blog. – Ed.]

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Comments (7)add
Written by Tonya Kay , June 03, 2009
Mangos and tropics and the delights of food straight from the earth ... it is too good to be true. Oh, wait - that's my life. Thats YOUR lives.

I've known many raw fooders and permaculture idealist friends whom eventually decide that they would rather create paradise from the virgin ground up rather than face social/political obstacles in the city. I've also known people get to a certain point in their lives when they are simply ready to see paradise thrive, rather than be compromised. That's why those few do permanently relocate to the islands or whatever their version of paradise is.

But I have to admit - I love the city! Where don't I love, actually? Being a traveler for so long, I've learned to love locations like one would a sibling: siblings have good qualities and bad qualities - you love them for the good and let the bad go. Every city is the same: parts good / parts bad. I choose to concentrate on the good. It's not just a travelers' philosophy, it's a life philosophy.

Anyway, what I love about the city mostly is my ability to make a living performing in valued venues! Paradise islands don't necessarily have that to offer! Maybe we all are really living in our own personal versions of paradise. We chose to live where we do after all. Why would we not make it paradise?
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Written by darrick , May 30, 2009
I love the way you write Tonya, I pitured the coconuts especially.
so what stops people from spending most of their time in the tropics? money? family? both?
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Written by skinnydevil , May 30, 2009

In the words of Miles Davis, "It's all about style..."!
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Written by Buffy , May 30, 2009
So true!!!

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Written by perkunas , May 29, 2009
...I don't mind...I can live out of Eden's apples...oh mama,gently spiked words you have use...
very welcome danger is... if comes combined with fruits, aphrodisiac mental waves and a tight pawpaw ;)
scream to the wind before heading to paradise again!
thanks by the way...
that ocean breeze and fruit smells are as lucid as that happy mango dirty face :)
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Written by Joanna Steven , May 27, 2009
I love it! I went to Texas last week with my husband and I got some mangoes from a Mexican trucks. Oh my god! They were amazing!! People were eating Texas shaped waffles in the hotel lobby and I was elbow deep in mango juice. I have a friend in Dominica, I sent him your article :)
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Written by Wendi Dee , May 27, 2009
Excellent article and writing style!!!

I want to taste of the forbidden fruit, too! ;-)

Lots of love to you,

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Eco Tip

Take a “stay-cation” or vacation closer to home. Reduce your carbon footprint by staying home for vacation. If you do travel, stay as close to home as possible and use public transportation to reach your destination.  >More tips...

Eco Quote

Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we. - Michel de Montaigne, translated   More quotes...