Food is my passion. A passion deeply intertwined with my love for working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. What we eat is perhaps the most simple yet profound activity that links all human beings. Food can bridge the gap that is assumed between two people who grew up in countries thousands of miles apart. I have often found in my travels that friendships can quickly be conjured just by sharing a meal with the locals. I have eaten everything from iguana in Costa Rica to rabbit head in Chengdu; keeping my stomach just as open as my mind.
I grew up in a small mountain town in Colorado. My father is second-generation Italian, which made my childhood a bit out of the ordinary, at least by American standards. I never ate Mc Donalds (ever!) and I spent nearly every dinner eating home-cooked food with my family, often with ingredients grown in our garden. My eating habits changed drastically after I went to college. I did not realize how much I missed the emphasis on high quality ingredients and the pairing of eating and socializing until I went to Shanghai for a semester abroad.
Fooition is a concept that came to me near the end of my year and a half stay in Southwest China where I researched changing trends in diet and food culture. During my time there, I noticed my health and diet improved without a conscience effort to make any changes in my eating habits. I was simply eating what the locals ate. This meant symbiotic spice combinations, fresh vegetables, and seasonal food pairings that would impress even the most health-conscious chefs in the U.S. After months of learning about how to use food as a foundation for health just by talking with everyday people, from taxi drivers to stay-at-home moms, it dawned on me: there is intuitive dietary wisdom pulsing through China and other developing countries that is near extinct in our own.
I became quickly enamored with Chinese food culture, but my inclination to romanticize the food system in China was quickly halted as I became aware that more and more people were buying junk foods, KFC, and processed meats. Just as I love food infused with culture and local pride, I am equally saddened and concerned by the “food” and eating habits that are now becoming a global norm due to the exportation of the industrial food system. Of course, I also met people during my two years living in China that inspired hope; people who still place value on real foods and invest their time and energy to preserve rich food cultures.