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At the age of 7, when I moved to the United States from Mexico, I only knew two words in English: “The End.” Thanks to Tom and Jerry cartoons, I learned that when Jerry prevailed and those two words fancifully appeared across the TV screen, it meant “fin”, the end of my cartoon. Little did I know that the first two words I knew in English meaning "The End," marked what was really the beginning.
I learned English in under a year. My third grade year. I was tutored during my lunch hour, giving up playtime with my new friends. Instead of monkey bars and kick ball, I sat in a classroom dictating colors, letters, numbers and shapes off English flash cards.
I had a pretty normal upbringing with a typical Texas small town life and fun high school years. I traveled to Mexico every summer and helped my grandmother run her convenience store. I spent my summers cooking and sharing unforgettable moments with her. I’ve always been passionate about cooking but I never thought I could make anything out of it, except a happy husband. I tucked away my grandmother’s and my mother’s recipes deep in my memory and would revisit them once in a while when I cooked for myself.
As soon as I married and my son was born, the subject of nutrition was a main focus in our household. It was as if a light switch was flipped. I read labels, educated myself on nutrition and put what I learned into practice through family recipes and recipes I had developed.
As a personal project to organize my recipes, and to preserve those taught by my mother and grandmother, I began my blog, Nibbles & Feasts, in 2010. Never in a million years did I think it would lead me to be selected as an Influential Latina in Social Media. Never. Me? The Mexican girl that barely spoke two words of English? I was humbled and felt so blessed for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
May 2012 was like no other. A whirlwind. I was invited to Washington D.C and attended a policy briefing at the White House as part of a group of 70 influential voices in the blogging world. The event was hosted by Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) and Latina Bloggers Connect as a way to learn about and share White House initiatives with our readers.
(Photo courtesy of Rachel Matos, Latina Bloggers Connect)
We met and heard from Julie Chávez Rodríguez, Associate Director of Latino Affairs and Immigration; Alejandra Ceja, Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary, Department of Education; Lisa Pino, Deputy Administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Department of Agriculture; and Marissa Duswalt, Associate Director for Policy and Events, Let’s Move! Initiative.
As a mother and food blogger, the statistics relating to childhood obesity were astonishing. Nearly one in three children and teenagers are overweight or obese. These rates have more than quadrupled in children and more than tripled in adolescents the last 40 years. For Mexican American children, these numbers are even bleaker: 38 percent.
Unless we are able to turn around this health epidemic, this generation of kids is not expected to live as long as their parents. Overweight and obese children are at higher risk than their healthy-weight peers for a host of serious illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, asthma and certain types of cancer. Obese children already are being diagnosed with health problems previously considered to be "adult" illnesses, such as type II diabetes and high blood pressure.
With these numbers in mind I want to lend my full support for new USDA nutrition standards that promise to bring more whole grains, fruits and vegetables to school cafeterias this fall. Considering that children consume 35 percent to 50 percent of their caloric intake in school, it is important that we ensure our children receive optimal nutrition during the day.
I’d also like to thank LATISM and Latina Bloggers Connect for this wonderful learning opportunity. It was a dream come true to be able to finally meet many of the wonderful ladies I've only known via my computer monitor.
(Photo courtesy of Web City Girls)
Para español, haga clic aquí.