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December 25, 2008

Eden Good Mixes Food, Faith and Fun in Vegan Cooking Show

The Humane Society of the United States


Eden Good, a community program putting food and faith into action with a cooking show out of Northern Va., promotes the healthy benefits of vegan cuisine and highlights recipes that are not just healthy, but good eating.

Bonita Bolden, Debra Carroll, Red Jackson, Lucy Bolden, Dietra Brandon, Sheryl Hinds and Carla Bowman are the women behind—and in front of—the program.

Fueled by the principles of healthy living from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the team created a cooking show that ministers to anyone and everyone looking to adopt a healthier and tastier diet.  On the air since 2006, Eden Good can be seen on cable stations in the Washington, D.C., Metro Area. 

The HSUS interviewed Bonita Bolden, executive producer for Eden Good.


The HSUS: How did Eden Good start? What was your inspiration?

BB: After the overwhelming response from one of our health and wellness programs held at Community Praise Center SDA Church in Alexandria, Va., it was important to provide a support system in the form of vegan recipes and demonstrations to help program participants maintain their new lifestyle. We decided to take it a step further and develop the vegan cooking show to reach a broader audience in dispelling the myth about vegan cuisine and fostering the idea of a healthier way of living. Hence, "Eden Good" was born.

The HSUS: How has your faith influenced your mission?

BB: It was faith that allowed us to believe that whatever we undertook, God would provide the necessary provisions for the vision and mission to come to fruition. We continue to strive in that vain as we promote this longstanding health message of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is a major undergirding in all aspects of healthy living.

HSUS: What was the initial reaction to Eden Good?

BB: The public's initial reaction to the Fall 2006 launch of Eden Good's premiere season was quite positive and encouraging. In general, folks enjoyed the simplicity of the foods, the humor of the show's hosts, and the valuable information received all in that short time frame. It truly exceeded our own expectations.

HSUS: Promoting vegetarian and vegan cooking has its obstacles. People are resistant to change, and food issues can be very sensitive territory. Ask some folks to give up their meat, and a wall goes up. What has been your experience with this?

BB: It's true that change is not readily accepted when it comes to food, and yes, there are challenges to introducing vegan cuisine. 

But, despite the myths and the taste buds, our approach has always been to educate, not to force-feed. We do feed you! And we introduce dishes and recipes that are familiar to what people already eat—the recipes are prepared to appeal, not to repel.

HSUS: What message do you find breaks through when speaking to people for the first time? Is it the obesity issue? Is it showing quick, tasty, healthy meals that work in real life? Both?

BB: It's both, depending on the audience. But in reality, when it comes to food, people want it tasty, quick and easy to prepare, and not costly.

HSUS:  Have the issues of factory farming conditions—animals kept in inhumane conditions—such as battery cages and tiny crates, and the use of antibiotics and hormones in raising animals for food—come up in your discussions?

BB: When we do our community presentations, it provides a more suitable vehicle to expound more on such issues. A half-hour TV show does not allow for anything more that a quick, fast-reading informational blurb on your screen or a verbal "reality check" from the on-air host.

HSUS: Through The HSUS's Animals & Religion, we promote the idea that food and faith are interconnected. People of faith can make a difference for animals, the earth, themselves and others through healthier food choices. Through your work, do you see people making food choices based on their faith? 

BB: In general, one's dietary choices are not governed by their faith but rather by some acute health condition or by habit. Because the crew members of Eden Good are primarily practicing Seventh Day Adventists, they practice the Adventist philosophy of living out your faith in all aspects of life.

HSUS: Can you share an example of how you have seen someone change their life through changing their diet?

BB: Yes indeed! Ms. "You-Go-Girl," who went through the CPC health and wellness program two years ago, entered on screening day, using a walker, having 13 medications as part of her health regimen, and, as "senior," was dealing with some weight issues. But, by the end of the one-month program, she "ditched" the walker, decreased her medications to fewer than five, and continues to experiment quite enthusiastically with vegan cuisine for everyone to try.

HSUS: Is there a cookbook in the works?

BB: Not presently in the works, but it is on our radar.

HSUS: Where can we see Eden Good in 2008?

BB: Literally speaking, you can see us on District of Columbia cable TV, Alexandria Virginia cable TV, as well Prince George's and Montgomery counties (Maryland) which are coming on board soon. However, where we see "Eden Good" in 2008 is expanding our viewing area, developing and distributing the cookbook, and developing a curriculum and nutritional lifestyle program for our underserved and urban middle and high school populations.

HSUS: Is there anything you would like to add?

BB: We feel very passionate about the nutritional lifestyle of all people living on the planet. And since Eden was a place where perfect living, health and food existed, we believe that we all need to return to an "Eden" frame of mind where we are our governed by the idea of putting the best in us to get the best out of us. This is a faith journey—opening ourselves up to all the things God has to offer for us to live more closely aligned to Him.

HSUS: Thank you so much for your good work. Many blessings to you and everyone who makes Eden Good a success. We can't wait to see what 2008 brings.

Watch Carla and Red make a delicious corn chowder on an episode of Eden Good on YouTube.

To f
ind out more about Eden Good, go to the show's website, or send them an email.

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