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August 4, 2009

Preserving Our Food Traditions and Our Health

You don't have to be a food expert to make a difference.

By Misty Avila

Why is it so hard to change the way we eat at home? … maybe because, after all, it’s not just about the food! My morning begins with the familiar smell of my Grandfather’s cologne as he walks past my room before the sun rises. Soon after, the sizzling sound of eggs, potatoes, tortillas, bell peppers, and carne wake me before my eyes shut again. A slight knock on the door and I know I must get up before the food gets cold; His urgency makes me believe that I might actually care if my food is cold. Waiting on the table is my delicious homemade breakfast with “ingredientes frescos” – as my Grandpa says. I cannot help but notice that I may have enough food to feed a family of four, along with my salt and fat intake for the whole day (“The best compliment to a cook is to clear your plate”). My thoughts of “less fat” recommendations get blurred as I enjoy an enchilada omelet with all the fixings. Food is an intricate part of the way my family expresses shelter, love, and care. I accept and want, with gratitude, the unspoken affection received from these meals. How is it possible that I am dreading the stomach ache that may follow? After examining my morning meal, I concluded two things. First, my family meals nourish my soul. Second, my family meals definitely tend to increase my waistline. Is it possible that deep rooted cultural traditions can continue to nourish the soul without harming the body? My community is a place where low quality, cheap food is bombarding store fronts and shelves of local carnicerias to the big-box grocery outlets. “Eat more for less” messages and products promising cultural pride are integrated into everyday food purchasing choices and incorporated into our homemade recipes. If we as a community can cultivate awareness, then we can preserve our food traditions and our health, without compromising either. You don’t have to be a food expert to make a difference in the health of your family or community. After all, if homemade food is really a metaphor for care and love, then you can bring something to the table too!

    Create Healthy Traditions in your Family

Get involved in the cooking process and share a new recipe.

Eat your vegetables for breakfast!

    Nopales con Huevos El Nopal es un alimento mexicano muy sabroso y sano. 1/2 Kilo de Nopales Picados, cocidos y estilados 2 Jitomates medianos picados 1 Cebolla chica picada 2 Chiles Verdes picados 4 Huevos Aceite

En una cacerola se pone aceite a calentar y enseguida se le agrega el jitomate, cebolla y el chile verde a que se sofrian, después se agregan los nopales estilados y por último se le agregan los huevos y la sal, se mueve constantemente para que no se peguen. From platillosmexicanos For snack ideas, download the CANFIT Healthy Snack Guide Get more Healthy Youth Recipes by

Purchase fruit and vegetables at a Farmers Market

Create a family tradition to buy fruits and vegetables at a local farmers market. You can even bring your new recipe and find the ingredients! Find a Certified Farmer's Market in California Great Resource on over 100 Farmer's Markets in the Bay Area

Become aware of the food marketing in your community.

Is there fast food on every corner in your neighborhood? Do you notice that high fat and high sugar products are cheaper? Train yourself on the marketing tactics. Download CANFIT's Are You Getting Played? to sound like a pro.

Make an active conversation about health with your family.

Ask your parents, grandparents, teachers, peers, or guardians their opinion on health. Figure out their views and share some of your knowledge (in teaspoons). Get the skills you need to talk about food and fitness by downloading CANFIT's MO Project Food and Physical Activity Handout Subscribe to the CANFIT Blog


3 reader comments on Preserving Our Food Traditions and Our Health.

Thanks Ms. Kathy Collins-really appreciate the comment. Good luck with your book.

I am writting a book about a Native American teen with ADD. She enters a program that uses alternatives to drugs to treat her. Diet and excercise are a big part. She will be living with a Native American family. The idea of preserving traditions while including healthy eating is wonderful. keep up the good works!!

thanks- was looking for markets in el cerrito

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