Visit the Grand Army Plaza farmers market in Brooklyn on any given Saturday, and you’re likely to find my favorite food movement hero: my mom. She’s not a farmer. She can’t always afford to buy organic or fair trade. And she does not know who Michael Pollan is. Yet for over 25 years, my mom has been serving up a daily feast of colorful fruits and leafy greens, handcrafting shrimp and chive dumplings on Sunday afternoons, and slow-cooking economy-size batches of spicy and savory mohinga on a shoestring budget.
My mother is the reason that I believe another world is possible. Growing up with her home cooking, I learned that eating food that expresses my identity, culture, and history can be a powerful act of self-determination. Despite the pressures for us -- as working-class immigrants -- to assimilate into the homogeneous industrial food system, my mom chose instead to celebrate our food culture and its diversity of whole foods. She sent my sister and me off to school with steamed rice, sautéed gazun yuet (water spinach) and see yu gai in our lunchboxes. Many of the other kids had string cheese and Lunchables.