humbly in health at the american sugar refining factory

green smoothies American Sugar Refining Factory

I am a Yoga instructor and Holistic Health Coach in Oakland, CA. Recently I was asked to table at a Health Fair event in Crockett, California. I received an email from a company who was hired to organize the event for factory workers. The event was paid and the time commitment was only three hours. I was given a list of guidelines, one of which included a fairly strict dress code. I was asked to wear long sleeves, close-toed shoes, and no jewelry. I would be making green smoothies, sharing recipes with people and promoting my services as a health coach. I was pretty excited! This was one of the first times I had been invited to work at a Health Fair. I honestly wasn’t even sure how this company got my contact information.    

I decided on a spinach, mango, banana and almond milk smoothie. This is one of my favorites and it’s pretty easy to make. Also, this smoothie is non-dairy for those with allergies or intolerances. I took apart my Vitamix and printed out an email list so people could sign up for my mailing list. I was all set except I had no idea where Crockett, California was!

I followed Google maps towards Sacramento to the American Sugar Refining Factory. I really did not know what to expect! I parked and had to sign in at the front of the building. Next, I was given a hair net, hard hat, steel-toed shoes, and goggles. I waited for someone to come get me to escort me to the room where the health fair took place. There was one other woman, a massage therapist who joined us. I think we were both a little confused and felt a little out of place. I even felt a little silly wearing the “uniform” we were given. We followed this man through the entire sugar factory. It was loud, the air smelled sweet and everything was dusted with a thin white layer of sugar. I was fascinated! I had never been inside a factory before. The Health Fair was in the cafeteria of the American Sugar Refining Factory. The factory workers were mostly men. The event took place during their lunch break. Other vendors included, massage therapists, insurance agents, someone giving flu shots, and a trainer from 24-hour fitness. Each table had a “healthy” question in which the workers’ answers were entered into a raffle. 

The factory workers sampled my smoothies and were delighted by how delicious they tasted despite of the green color. They were friendly and talkative. Some people were even eager to share how they’ve changed their diets or lost weight. Many of the men and women were surprised to know that spinach was a key ingredient in my smoothies. As a health coach and regular green juice/smoothie drinker, I realized that this is not the norm for most, at least in rural Crockett. 

As I chatted with the factory workers, I found myself laughing and sharing too. Some of them work 11-13 hour days to support their families. They seemed like such a loyal, honest and hardworking group people. I introduced myself to all the other vendors. We exchanged business cards and made plans to keep in touch. All the vendors and almost all of the workers signed up for my mailing list. Some were interested in private yoga sessions. I was excited about all of this of course, but even more excited about the connections I made that day. I felt happy and humbled by the whole experience. I learned that I should not have passed judgment about the event, the people, or even the uniform. I would be honored and overjoyed to be invited back to the sugar-refining factory.                      

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