As I was growing up, my mother was the breadwinner of the family and my father was the one to stay home and take care of me. Well enveloped into the middle class lifestyle, we did our fair share of fast food and eating out, broken up with some dinners made at home. Both of my parents just wanting us all to be fed and full, meant that every meal had to be quick, simple, and appease my fathers limited tastes. So, for around 8 to 10 years of my life, my diet consisted mainly of: Hamburger meat (in it’s various forms), chicken (processed ‘nuggets’ or otherwise), powdered cheese mix (in it’s various ready-to-be-prepared boxes), peanut butter and jelly (staple), and an assortment of canned vegetables. Notably, this food is not only limited, but incredibly bland and one dimensional.
When my dad was growing up, he lived in a very low income family with a mother who worked in a diner in the south side of Chicago. By growing up being fed in that fashion, my dad only has taste buds for greasy spoon diner food (… or pizza). If a dish has too complex of a flavor or involves an ingredient he’s never tried, he will barely touch his meal. All this leads back to is, I ended up growing up on much of the same foods he did because he saw no need to try anything new. This very much effected my willingness to try new foods when I was younger, leaving me to binge on things because I couldn’t fathom finding anything else (PB&J’s for lunch 4 years straight, anyone?)
Thankfully, my taste buds found solace in Seattle’s awesome asian community. One of the things my mom could force my dad to eat would be an assortment of Eastern foods. Where we lived in Seattle, was a prime area for locally owned Teriyaki, Chinese, Vietnamese, Sushi, Pho, and Thai restaurants – authentic as we could get, and absolutely delicious. Because most of the best ones were family owned, they usually went to the local farmers markets to collect their ingredients for the day. Meaning that I could try new and incredibly varied things every visit.
Learning the different uses for different cabbages, all the different types of noodles, and the variety of vegetables really spawned a love for cooking as well. With this new interest, I turned to the main resource I got all my information from as a child – the TV. Flipping between Animal Planet and Food Network, I collected a wealth of knowledge about flavor combinations and even more types of ingredients. How come my dad didn’t seem to know that there are other types of potato aside from white baking potatoes?
After taking this class and shopping for myself consistently, it all started to come together. When we go to the store we are only offered such a limited selection of all the fresh foods. Even within the processed foods, they are all made out of the same things (chemicals and corn). My dads tastes are conditioned to the epitome of our limited options. This is something I feel driven to fight against. As a self proclaimed ‘foodie’, I see it as a real shame that we don’t promote a uniqueness to our food. By moving myself off of the processed stuff to healthier options, it is obvious that fresh local food always tastes better than out of season transported food.
Through most of my comments and blog posts, I keep mentioning that I want to start a garden. The more we learn in this class, the closer that idea comes to fruition. I want to be more sustainable and I always want better food.