Food Autobiography Kylie Kamba Growing up, Kylie Kamba wasn’t your average picky child. She was constantly exposed to different tastes and surprisingly; rather enjoyed them. From spicy Mexican dishes, to seafood, to homemade chicken potpie, she ate it all. One of the main reasons as why Kylie was accustomed to a broad range of foods was due to her family’s variety of preferences. Her oldest sister, Kortney, loved all cuisines from Mexican, to Italian, to Mediterranean. While Katie, her other sister, took on the tasteless side requesting buttered noodles and mashed potatoes. Her mother, Kelley was an exotic eater and wonderful chef, always trying the new type of fish the man at the deli suggested. Her father, Ken was all for flavor using garlic and spicy peppers as his sidekicks in the kitchen. With all these different preferences the youngest, Kylie was left to grow accustomed to all types of flavors. Fast forward to present day and Kylie’s food preferences have not changed much. She still isn’t a picky eater, consuming almost everything placed in front of her. However, through trial and error she has learned what she finds truly delicious and absolutely revolting. When it comes to preferences she is always on board for any Italian food. Like most people, she also loves ice cream and dairy products; cheese in particular. Also, she would never turn down a perfectly cooked steak or cheeseburger, indulging in the savory side of food. When it comes to aversions there aren’t many. Other than liver, sardines, tuna, peas, and lima beans Kylie likes most foods. To summarize these aversions, Kylie doesn't usually experiment with any organ meats or fish that have a very strong taste and smell. In Rachel Herz’s piece That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion, she discussed the consumption of insects, placenta, organ meats and forms of cannibalism. All of which are seen as revolting to Kylie, causing her adventurous side to completely halt. By this one can observe that Kylie is willing to try new foods, but not necessarily those that contradict stigmas in normal society. As for her eating habits, Kylie tries her best to eat a balanced, healthy diet. This includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and sources of protein. Kylie also tries to avoid super processed foods and items with high amounts of sugar and fat. In addition, Kylie tries to keep portion sizes in mind. Even if something is healthy, it doesn't mean you should eat a insane amount of it. Diet is something Kylie is pretty aware of and often considers in her everyday life. However, she doesn’t frown upon having the occasional ice cream treat. Kylie loves food. One of the main influences that sparked this love for food was her family. In the Kamba household, dinner is a time when the family comes together to discuss their days and enjoy delicious food. Kelley, Kylie’s mom, truly enjoys cooking and is often seen in the kitchen trying new recipes and creating masterpieces. Food isn’t just something you eat in this family, it is something that exposes you to different cultures and allows you to be adventurous. One way that Kylie is exposed to new foods is by traveling. Her mom has a passion for exploring different Caribbean islands. This has exposed Kylie to all different kinds of fish and a variety of new flavors. Overall, food is just one of the things that brings Kylie's family together. However, like most households the Kambas have a set of values associated with food. One of these values is to not waste food. With that being said, leftovers are a common thing in this household. Kylie’s father would always declare that food is something to be eaten, not thrown in the trash. Another value that the Kambas possess is the significance of Sunday dinner. Kylie and both of her older sisters would never dare to ask permission to hang out with friends or go to the movies on Sunday if it meant they wouldn’t be home for dinner. This was a sacred time for the family, where Kylie’s father would prepare a large meal for the family. There would be no rush at all as the family would discuss their plans for the following week and provide support for one another. Among these values that Kylie’s family places on food there are also more within larger culture. A specific example of these values is that those who are followers of the Muslim culture aren’t supposed to eat any products that contain pork. One taboo among the Italian culture is it is seen as rude to accept the first offering of food and one should first decline, then accept when offered a second time. In Chinese and Japanese cultures, using chopsticks is a norm, however pointing your chopsticks at someone at the table is seen as very disrespectful. Also, in America slurping one’s soup is seen as rude and inappropriate, while in most Asian cultures it shows you are truly enjoying your meal. Seen in Horace Miner’s piece Body Ritual among the Nacirema, all cultures vary in what is seen as normal and what is a taboo. This piece is mocking mid-20th century American culture, making it seem extraordinarily odd, when in fact it is just showing American culture in a different light. This piece shows that what might seem weird to one, is a way of life for another. Regarding food, everyone has a variety of experiences and memories. For Kylie, one of her fondest memories concerning food occurred when she was in the seventh grade. On a weekend trip to Chicago her mother declared they were going to the Taste of Chicago, a food festival in the middle of the city. A day full of eating and trying new things; who wouldn’t be excited? Kylie vividly remembers going to several restaurant stands and experiencing different cuisines and flavors. From Mexican street corn, to potato pancakes, to fried raviolis, she was in heaven. Along with memories, we all carry with us experiences that changed the way in which we eat and think about food. During Kylie’s senior year she attended a graduation party of a friend named Chloe. It was well known throughout the school that Chloe was Greek, always taking trips to Greece and talking about her family’s unique celebrations. Although Kylie had tried a variety of cuisines, Greek food was not one she had been very exposed to. While scanning the food table she noticed an item called a gyro and decided to give it a chance. Within the first bite she was hooked, eating a second one as well. When later told that she had eaten lamb Kylie was shocked, thinking her whole life that lamb would be gross and unpleasant. Through this specific experience Kylie learned that you truly can’t judge food until you have tried it. Over the years food has changed, and not in a good way. Foods are becoming more and more processed. They are becoming "made", not grown. The documentary, Food Inc. shows just how bad things have gotten. By exposing big companies and showing where our meat and produce is really coming from, the creators of this film have really showed its audience how much things have changed. As an informed eater and student, Kylie is aware of these problems and changes. This has caused her to ask the question; where is my food coming from? After taking the course Eating Industrial at Michigan State University, Kylie had gotten a step closer to answering this question. This course had allowed Kylie to take a closer look into our society’s current food system. From exploring food additives and the science behind making our food taste good to the misconceptions of genetically modified foods, Kylie had seen it all. In addition to these topics Kylie also learned about the secrets of factory farms, the truth behind vitamins and supplements, the working conditions for migrant farmers, and even the new technologies surrounding food. All of these topics really sparked Kylie’s interest and made her excited to go to class each day. However, learning all this information didn’t just go to the back of Kylie’s head. On the contrary, it changed how she saw food and how she chose to eat. Ever since taking this course Kylie couldn’t look at meat the same way. The treatment livestock experience in factory farms is not only cruel, but also inhumane. This caused Kylie to seek out a new lifestyle of eating less meat. Kylie wasn’t so sure if she could cut meat out of her diet in one single step. So instead she decided she would slowly try to eat less of it. This meant replacing big steak dinners with a large salad and a small serving of steak on the side. She gave veggies burgers a shot and ended up rather enjoying the taste. She experimented with veggie tacos and enchiladas and still was hooked on Mexican food. Kylie learned that taking small steps everyday to limit her meat consumption really wasn’t that hard. Kylie also learned that just because a specific food is healthy doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious too. All you need to do is be a little creative with your cooking. Kylie learned this first hand when trying one of her professor’s many healthy recipes. This specific recipe was called magic banana ice cream. The only ingredient needed was bananas. Kylie read over the directions skeptically; bananas are not ice cream, she thought. But after blending the frozen bananas the recipe called for she was shocked. This simply fruit really did have the creamy texture and sweetness of ice cream. Our current food system is not substantial. It is filled with processed foods that can truly affect our bodies in really negative ways. Our meat industry is not only unsubstantial but also disturbing. In order to change the way our food system is currently operating the first step is to educate people. Kylie’s course provided her with the information needed to change the way she eats. Taking small steps everyday to change the way you look and eat food can be very beneficial in the long run. If Kylie learned one thing from the course Eating Industrial it was to be curious about her food. Ask yourself, where did my food come from? Who picked it? What treatments did it go through? Is it healthy? Was the environment damaged in any way while creating it? Don’t just eat food, think about food.