"Yo, I’m not going to die young": A chef's journey from diabetes diagnosis to community health

Salon talks to Chad Cherry, founder of Refresh Live, a farm-to-table and food education program in Florida

By D. Watkins
September 7, 2017 10:45PM (UTC)
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Struggling with the task of maintaining a nutritious diet, especially when finding the time to properly plan a healthy eating schedule, can feel almost impossible. And what are we supposed to eat when we do find the time? Markets are exploding with GMO foods, unpronounceable chemicals and in some cases even tainted vegetables, so I'm often left scratching my head as I wander the aisles of the grocery store. But all hope isn’t lost. I recently sat down with Chad Cherry, a chef and the founder of Refresh Live, to talk about solutions.

Refresh Live is an organization focused on developing community education and empowerment programs to combat food disparity, address food deserts, and bring a farm-to-table and organic lifestyle to income-challenged areas.


“I start in the culinary community when I became a Type 2 diabetic [at] 26, so I was pretty young, and I always say I took an unscheduled vacation," said Cherry. "I didn’t get to pack no bags; I spent a month in the hospital, and when I came out, I was like, what do I do now?"

Cherry said his doctors told him "everything I couldn’t eat," but didn't really offer him a blueprint for how to live after his diagnosis, so he had to learn.

"I was like, yo, I’m not going to die young, I’m not going to have any of the side effects of diabetes," he said. "So I started cooking myself.”


Cherry figured out how to save himself, and then started Refresh Live so that he could do the same for others. Watch our full conversation to learn more about clean eating and how we all can be healthy.

D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project. Watkins is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America” and "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir." His latest book, "We Speak For Ourselves: A Word From Forgotten Black America," is out now.

MORE FROM D. WatkinsFOLLOW @dwatkinsworld

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Chef Chefs And Cooks Culinary Diet Eating Food Health Organic Original Video Refresh Live