The Okra Pod Cast

Grand Mother Okra (featuring Mehmet Oztan and Vivien Sansour)

September 15, 2020 Chris Smith and Rebekka White Season 1 Episode 2
The Okra Pod Cast
Grand Mother Okra (featuring Mehmet Oztan and Vivien Sansour)
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Grand Mother Okra: In our previous episode, titled  Motherland okra, we explored okra’s West African origins with our guests Michael Twitty and Jon Jackson. In this episode we accompany okra on its journey northward to hear how okra is used and celebrated by our friends and neighbors of Middle Eastern descent. We are happy to welcome three wonderful guests, who tell us about their experiences with okra, its uses, and who share with us the stories that connect okra to the people and the culture they love and carry within them.

Meet our Guests

Suzy Salwa Phillips
has been cooking amazing food ever since she was a child in Lebanon.  She shares a love and passion for good ingredients and delicious spices with her attentive staff. Visit her restaurant or find her food truck at Gypsy Queen Cuisine. Follow Suzy's work on Instagram and Facebook.

Mehmet Oztan is a Service Assistant Professor of Geology & Geography at West Virginia University, where he works on projects related to preservation and documentation of West Virginia’s and Appalachian Region’s agrobiodiversity, seed stories, race and culture of seeds, racism and discrimination in seed industry, advocacy of food diversity, and adaptation of seeds to changing regional climate/growing conditions.
Mehmet is co-owner of Two Seeds in a Pod Heirloom Seed Co, a small, family-owned seed company that specializes in Turkish heirlooms. His dedication to seed and food preservation is inspiring. Learn more and follow along on Instagram and Facebook.

Vivien Sansour is the founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library and the Traveling Kitchen Project. Both initiatives work to bring Palestinian seed heritage back to the dinner table. Vivien was born in Palestine and grew up in Bethlehem. She has spent time in the United States, including in North Carolina! Vivien Sansour is a powerful story teller and talented writer. Follow Vivian's work on Instagram.

We hope you enjoyed the music outtakes from, The Okra Song, courtesy of Hot Tamale.

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Your Co-hosts

Chris Smith
is a seed saver and permaculturist who loves to write. He is executive director of the Utopian Seed Project, a crop-trialing non-profit working to celebrate food and farming. His book, The Whole Okra, won a James Beard Foundation Award in 2020. More info at and or on Instagram.

Rebekka White
is an okrapreneur, artist, and lifelong learner. She believes in planting seeds and growing visions. Her work is committed to building a village that respects and values the contributions of all its inhabitants. Contact her on Instagram at the_wildokra_projects

Suzy Selwar Phillips
Mehmet Oztan
Vivien Sansour