By Jocelyn Ramirez
Late last year, I read a book that aligned with a huge lifestyle shift I have been venturing on for the past few years. This book was powerful; beautifully written by Dr. Luz Calvo, Professor of Ethnic Studies at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, and Dr. Catriona Rueda Esquibel, Associate Professor of Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State. This is not your ordinary cookbook, but a political, environmental, and ancestral link to the way communities of color should maintain a healthy lifestyle and reconnect to good food. As we continue to see preventable illnesses plague our families and communities, the recipes featured in Decolonize Your Diet give me hope and excitement for changes focused on healing and cultural preservation using ancestral food.
We have come such a long way from what our ancestors harvested, prepared and ate. We are so disconnected from the dirt and the people who grow our food. Reading the words of Luz and Catriona give me pride in reconnecting with plant based foods, and reclaiming the traditional dishes that have been in our lineage for generations. These changes really do start at home with our families where we have an opportunity to cut out most or all the processed foods we were never meant to eat in the first place. In today’s fast-paced society, this lifestyle may seem nearly impossible, but I believe it can be made easy over time, and by trying a few simple recipes featured in this book. The process of reclaiming our bodies, prioritizing self care along with our ancestral traditions, is an important one.
The except below best sums up the feelings of urgency and transformation that inspire me to continue to do work in my home, family, and community.
“Most Americans do not eat a plant-based diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Instead, North Americans consume a lot of sugary, fried, or fake foods like sodas, energy drinks, chips, and other bagged snacks, candy bars, and cookies, which contain considerable amounts of high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and artificial sweeteners, corn and soybean oils, and sodium. … These are multiple factors that influence the dismal eating habits of many Americans. These include lack of access to healthy, fresh foods, which is a particular problem in working-class communities of color; easy access to fast food, and junk food; advertising campaigns for sodas, fast food and junk food that target youth; and agricultural subsidies that make processed and fake foods cheap and affordable.”