Going to the supermarket with my mom was always an adventure; every time I went, my mom would teach me something new about how to choose the best watermelon or what to look for when choosing apples. Our dinner table was always crowded with such a variety of fragrant Taiwanese dishes from noodle stir-fry to homemade dumplings. Ironically, even though I grew up with such an appreciation for and awareness of good food, I still remember that my favorite McDonalds kids meal was a four piece Chicken McNugget with sweet and sour sauce and a small fries or that at In-n-Out, I only liked eating cheeseburgers with no onions. My older sisters even remember the times when we went to Jack in the Box or Carls Jr. and ordered onion rings with a chocolate shake. Trips to fast food restaurants were as equally exciting as trips to the market. I was so easily taken in by the promise of the toy included in the happy meal or the soda that my mom let me drink. Now, I would never go near one of these fast food restaurants because I know how unhealthy the food is and wasteful and unethical the companies are, but as a child, getting McDonalds for lunch and then going home for a nice dinner later never fazed me because in my mind, anything that tasted good was “good.” The contrast between nutrition levels in the food didn’t matter to me, and for my mom, it was quick and simple. Fast food was our backup plan if we were in a rush, and now as I think about my childhood, I wonder how an upper middle class family with easy access to local, fresh produce could also resort to and view fast food as a “meal.”
Anyway, now my family always goes to our local, weekly farmers markets and shops at Trader Joes. My mother and I are vegetarians, and my older sister is vegan. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, my sister and I always make an array of vegan dishes and desserts for our guests to try along with their turkey or prime rib and hope that our small yet steady attempts to introduce more fruits and vegetables to my extended family members will influence their food choices. How did we become so conscious of our food? It started when my sister became a vegan and introduced me to the horrors of factory farming and the process of making my childhood favorite chicken mcnuggets. From there, everything just fell into place; as a family, we started exploring baking and cooking, and I gained a new appreciation for vegetables and grains. Food was no longer something I took for granted and viewed as just another meal; I had a choice, a choice that could not only affect my health but also the health of the environment, the welfare of other people, and the future of our planet. With every choice I make when I eat, I can only hope that more and more people are realizing the choices they have about food. Therefore, through this ASB, I hope to gain a better perspective of how people plan to introduce more healthy, nutritious foods to people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status and move our country away from its obsession with fast food.