Alondra, Riverside, California
Organic Food: The Closest I’ll Ever Get
I can safely say I established a strong relationship with food from a very young age. Although food in my family revolves around Mexican Cuisine, the production of the food as well as the impact it has on my health is valued more. My parents’ lifestyles in the past helped me changed my perspective overtime on the foods I eat and helped me create a strong passion for the meals that I cook.
Early in my childhood, I was under the care of my aunt since my parents worked long hours. My diet consisted of raspados, shaved ice with syrup, as an after school treat and cold pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch with a small can of Minute Maid Lemonade. These were the type of snacks and meals my cousins ate daily, which allowed me to believe that this was the ideal diet. I came to the conclusion that fast food was better food because it tasted good, was fast, and convenient.
However, after the first two years of elementary school my mother started to pick me up from school and her meals were different. As opposed to my aunt, my mother’s strong passion for Mexican food was not heavily influenced in her eating habits. Happy meals were replaced with vegetables and fish, breakfast included a cup of freshly squeezed vegetable juice, and sweets became a rare sighting in my household. I refused to eat a plate of salad and even went as far as to go to the bathroom and pretend I was sick. Dinner was a long process of waiting for the oven to be ready and the salmon to be nicely cooked.
My reaction to this change was one of stubbornness and disappointment. I kept thinking to myself, “this is disgusting, this isn’t right”. The food did not taste familiar and therefore was not good for me personally. My mother insisted that our relationship with food should be strong and something we value and hold dearly rather than see it as an unimportant part of life. I did not understand her reasoning until she spoke to me of her life growing up in Mexico. A lifestyle that I wish I had experienced, and that today I hope to experience as well.
My mother changed her eating habits when she came to the U.S., but not like most people do when they move here. Unlike my aunt, my mom was disgusted by the fast food in the U.S. and was surprised by the sights of canned food and the different taste that meat and milk had compared to the taste back home. Milking cows at dawn and slaughtering livestock hours before dinner was the lifestyle she had at her family ranch in Mexico. Moving to the U.S. drastically changed the close relationship she had to food, which revolved around caring for the animal and the quality of the meat. The closest relationship to food she feels she can have now is buying fresh produce from local farmer markets. That sort of mentality eventually passed on to me. Grumbling when seeing a plate of salad for dinner and hiding when she wanted to give me fresh squeezed vegetable juice in the mornings quickly went away.
Having experienced two different diets as a child allowed me to realize what my relationship to food was and the passion I had for it. I wanted to experience food the way my mother did, have the quality of food that she experienced and the lifestyle that she held. With those influences I began to watch what I ate and become more aware of the foods I consume. This mentality has helped me grow a strong relationship to the foods I eat and I hope to pass these influences on to others and help others become aware and care for their relationship to food and realize the impact it has on them.