Asar Hapi, 71, was loading a raised garden bed with a wheelbarrow full of organic soil when he learned that 10-year-old Jerrell Scott wasn't very fond of squash.
"You don't eat squash?" Hapi asked incredulously as his wife, Natchura, 71, looked on with a wide smile, looking surprised.
"That's because you haven't had any of ours," said Asar. "We've got squash that tastes so good you'll be asking for more. You haven't tasted it right."
The Hapis, of Oak Park, and Scott, of Chicago, were two of more than 20 volunteers who converged on a plot of land in Austin on Saturday to plant lettuce, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and other fresh, organic produce in an area known for its concentration of grocery stores stocked with cheap, processed food.
"The garden is where produce is and produce is what's vital," said Hapi, a holistic doctor and pioneer of Egyptian Yoga who said he helped rehab the careers of athletes like Chicago Bear star Richard Dent with his proven breathing techniques and emphasis on a garden-based diet.
"The problem is that we're not staying close to the garden, we're staying close to the grocery store. Most of the food we eat is processed. You eat that and sure enough you're going to have some health issues. So the more connected to the earth we are, the better."
When Scott shared his aspiration to become a professional athlete, Hapi told the 10-year-old about the time he helped Cubs legend Andre Dawson through rehab when the Hall-of-Fame outfielder suffered an injury. Hapi said the keys to Dawson's recovery were fresh produce and specialized breathing techniques.
— Michael Romain
Answer Book 2019
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