By: Ricardo M

I have learned so many things about food systems in the last two years as a Youth Seed Enterprise (YSE) participant with Trellis for Tomorrow, some of which shocked me. It made me rethink what I eat every day. Our food system is very harmful to the environment and us, but it is also very unstable. For example, millions of animals a year endure very poor conditions just for our consumption. I am not a vegan, but I do understand why a lot of people are. The meat industry contaminates just as much as the whole transportation industry, with as many gaseous fumes being emitted from meat factories as cars in the roads. This is why we have to change it as soon as possible because if we don’t, our life on earth will end sooner.

I am from a place called Guatemala, located in Central America. I moved here when I was 9, so I understand how both America and Guatemala produce and distribute food. In Guatemala, there were not many supermarkets. Most of the food was found in small marketplaces. On whole street blocks of tents people would sell fruits and vegetables of all kinds, along with complementary spices. I found less heavily processed products besides the usual different types of chips. Needless to say, I am sure that the fruits and vegetables also had some pesticides in them as they do in the US.

When I moved to the US, I was amazed by how many products were on neatly stacked shelves with a lot of colors and shapes. It was truly a whole different food experience. But now after years of consumption and ignorance, I have learned the cost of those things. The cost of having tons and tons of ‘food’ stacked next to each other, the cost of cheap and colorful products, the cost of GMO and pesticide fruits and vegetables. I learned the cost of our food system, and it’s not sustainable.

Our food system needs to change, and that change needs to happen now. We can start by eating more organic food. And even better, growing our own food, just like we do in the YSE program. Gardening helps us to make a connection with earth and what it can give naturally. Most importantly, we need to understand why we have to change, why we have to create a completely new system in which we all get freshly grown food and make this world a better place…literally.