Growing up in the states, we seem to have the mindset that everything we grow is the best and healthy. That there is only one category of corn, bananas, cabbage, apple, strawberry. You get the picture.

However, growing up in the states and having a diverse family is probably one of the great blessings in my life that allow me to be more aware of food and where my food come from.

About five years ago, my family and i took a trip to my mother’s home: Korea.
It was just before high school so i was around 14 years old. But i was no stranger to the idea of the various vegetation and dietary habits that are different between the two countries. (US and Korea).

My first few weeks there I realized the very limited amount of fast food restaurants in the city. Sure, i would see the occasional McDonalds or Burger King, but these fast food chains were limited and only in one area. (Ironically enough, near the US military base)

At 14, i knew eating my vegetables were a good thing, but it didn’t mean i liked eating it. However, i quickly had to swallow that fact and try the various types of vegetables. And when I mean various, i really do mean it.
Kimichi is one of the main dietary side dishes in the Korean diet. Its basically pickled cabbage. They’re considered Napa cabbages.
And then i was introduced to another type of cabbage. There were so many different kinds of cabbages!
Sadly enough i thought there was only one: The Napa cabbages the kimchi was made from.

Probably one of the most eye opening experiences i had with food (Besides eating it) was actually going to the market with my great aunt. It looked like a farmers market, but HUGE.
There was variety of different vegetables and a variety of a specific vegetable.

The food variety was a shock to me. There was more than one kind of vegetable? I heard of different kinds of potatoes, but it almost correlated to the cabbage. There was more than one cabbage?!

Another thing that occurred to me was the diet itself. Because there was such a variety of vegetables, it allowed for various dishes to be made! And surprisingly enough, most of the these dishes were delicious! (Don’t get me wrong…there are a few where I wouldn’t eat again…but I like to say i tried it)

Coming back home from Korea, i realized how much of an impact the diet i was on while in Korea and the variety of food that was available in the local supermarket!
My mom and I usually shop for usual grocery items at the local military commissary. But for vegetables, my mom and I go to the local Asian market. Thought they sell various cabbages and other vegetables year round, they sell fruits based on the season!
I think its a great thing: its keeps me mindful of where my food is coming from and when they’ll taste great!
(Like my class example: Strawberries in the Summer, Pomegranates in the winter)

The Asian market does sell different variety of cabbages, but not nearly enough as the market in Korea. Why?
Its a pain to ship and the cabbages go bad.
So the market tries to sell local grown vegetables or if the specific vegetable is in season, they’ll ship it out.

Since being in college its a huge eye opener.
I’m limited to specific food groups and what I’m able to eat or buy.
At the moment, I’m stuck eating a limited about of things.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stick to it after college.
If i happen to move to a place with a decent kitchen and fridge, I plan on buying more local and organic stuff. Things that i liked and learned while at home and the habits of buying in season food items.
In season and local food clearly tastes better than food imported somewhere else and out of season.

Kimchi

Water Kimchi

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3 responses »

  1. hahah.. i truly can relate to your experience.. i grew up with green vegetables in all my meals and it was like a culture shock at first to me! how can people diet be sooo different! i got to US and got introduced to fries, pizza and burger in every meal! compared to eating it once a month! WHAT A CHANGE!

    Chitra :D:D:D

  2. Grace Betts says:

    It’s so weird that all of us never seemed to take into consideration food diversity. With all the different types of food out there, it should be treated specially by area and season. We as humans (mainly Americans) are so out of sync with our natural environment, it’s sad. Obviously, it’s great to have ‘whatever’ I want, whenever I want it, but it’s not going to be the same as having it in season, or not traveling thousands of miles to get to my mouth. This is something I will be focusing on a lot more once I’m living on my own.

  3. Maggie says:

    So, I just read through this whole post, and my favorite part was when you brought up your class example about pomegranates. That was so funny when you said that every time winter comes around, all you think about is getting to eat pomegranates.

    On a second note, KIMCHI!!!! I think its amazing how you find something, which I find so disturbing, to be so delicious. Haha.

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