Tuesday, August 26, 2008

31 years of age.

"Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How will you have contributed towards a good, clean, and fair food system?"

I loved, love, and will love food.

My taste buds are traditionally Vietnamese - sweet, sour, and everything in between. Visiting the homeland at seven, I recollect mornings of sweet rice bread, fresh durain, and crisp parsley. I knew where my food was coming from.

My tastebuds are also American. Born in Iowa and raised in California, I've been an experiment to industrial agriculture. Following my mother to massive supermarkets has led to my disconnection with food producers. I've never met the farmer who procured the broccoli I loathed eating or the milk I imbibed. What was behind this “food”?

Which is why I study social ecology, or the relationship between humans and their environments, and specifically, humans and food. I see myself in ten years having understood this relationship. I will have apprenticed various farms by stewarding their environments sustainably. Upon such understanding, I will then grasp how the fruit of these environments – food – affects humans by studying holistic community health in graduate school.

It is understanding this relationship – humans and food – that more personal avenues can open, whether it be through culinary arts, research, public policy, teaching, food production, or a combination of the aforementioned. I find myself using food as a tool to rebuild American communities that have lost their connections to food, as I have in my own life. The idea is to plant seeds in these communities such that they may build and sustain themselves in sound ecological, economic, and equitable manners.

Photograph courtesy K. Meagher.

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