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I am currently visiting my homeland of Peru. I was born and raised here – from kindergarten to college, Peru was my only home. At age 25, I moved to the United Stated to get my graduate degree and planned on returning to Peru after a few years living abroad. I eventually met Brad, who, three and a half weeks later, became my husband and just like that, I became a first generation immigrant! I never really thought of myself that way until about a month ago, when I was asked to write my “Defining Moment.” Now, I have two homelands, both with room for growth, both full of wonderful people willing to spread goodness and happiness around the world.

At first sight Lima, Peru can be chaotic, loud and cloudy. Lima is a city full of contradictions. It sits in the desert, right next to the ocean. It is the second richest land in natural resources and is still categorized as a developing country. It also happens to be GMO-free.

One of the first things I do every time I come to Peru is visit a farmers market. What used to be an everyday way of life has now become a weekend event, in an effort to remind us of where it all comes from. Foods I grew up eating (and forgot about over time) are the stars of the show. Some I loved, like lucuma, forte avocado and chirimoya, and some I avoided, like the beloved quinoa, amaranth and noni. Today, I cherish them all.

By moving away, I learned to appreciate what I have here. Cooking became comforting – a way of staying closer to home even though I was thousands of miles away. I found that keeping our culinary traditions alive was a way of keeping Peru always in my heart. In my constant search for fresh ingredients, I am reminded that no matter where I am, every civilization begins with agriculture.

Human communities, no matter how sophisticated, cannot ignore the importance of agriculture. To be far from dependable sources of food is to risk malnutrition and starvation. In modern times, in our urban cities, it’s easy to forget this fundamental connection. Insulated by the apparent abundance of food that has come from new technologies for the growing, transportation and storage of food, humanity’s fundamental dependence on agriculture is often overlooked.

All this to say, let’s share with those around us the importance of supporting our local farmers. Locally grown food not only tastes better, it was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. In addition, local food supports local farm families everywhere. For example, with fewer than one million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. Therefore, local food is about the future. By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.

Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador