Growing Back My Roots

By Sandra Salazar

Imagine if tomorrow, instead of being woken up by an alarm clock, a rooster was outside of your window calling out to announce the day. The early mornings did not include a quick drive-thru latte, but milking the cow for a simple coffee with breakfast. For many individuals, our current fast paced lifestyles and hectic schedules do not allow us to live as simple as other life times have. For myself, this way of life does not lay too far down my family lineage.

Yucca, Platano, Maiz and la bacas were my fathers favorite things that were available to him and his family on their farm in Villavicencio, Colombia. My father, Mauricio, was raised in a very unique setting. His upbringing allowed him to learn from the land and grow a strong relationship his environment.. A shared meal was a common practice among family, friends and neighbors which affirmed trust, comfort and confidence. Hunting, fishing and gathering food often replaced trips to the store to casually purchase frozen dinners. His hard work and dedication and the great lengths his community went to help developed a deep appreciation for every meal that was given. He grew compassion through every plants he cared for, love through every drop of water he gave. These feelings are rooted so deeply that they never truly left him but as worlds of change occurred, they became buried. As a seed rest dormant waiting to be brought to life through the nutrients of water, I believed there was something that needed to refuel my father to bring him back to life. I feel many people so often forget where our food comes from and the importance of witnessing that.

Sandra and her dad, Mauricio
Sandra and her dad, Mauricio in their yard taking care of the platano tree they planted together. Platano is the spanish word for banana or plantain tree. Plantains are in the same family as the banana but are more starchy and less sweet than the banana. One of my favorite breakfasts are pan seared plantains with sour cream.

When my father left Colombia to move to California, many changes occurred to adapt to his new life. In America, with food so plentiful and available it was easy for him to lose his respect for the meals he ate. As bad habits grew worse, I molded into them easily. As a young girl, my thought of food did not go farther than the fridge and microwave; I severely lacked appreciation of where I was getting my food and what meals I chose to consume. Overweight and unhappy, I turned to my father to ask him for advice: “how were you so happy as a child?” Luckily this sparked something in me and as I grew older, I grew closer to my roots. We began growing a small garden in our home and having family dinners more often. Learning how to grow food was not only beneficial from the vitamin rich food it provided nor the healthy, active lifestyle it encouraged but I received something a little more special: I not only grew a deep connection and appreciation for food but also to those who grew it- my family. It is easy to forget the importance of breaking bread, we must remind ourselves that it is necessary not only for our body but also for our minds and souls.