In my hands are grains of Jasmine rice: bought from the supermarket, imported from Thailand, grown by Thai farmers. Just like the bags of Jasmine rice, my grandparents and parents originated in Thailand and moved to the United States. With them, they brought over their food. The food I eat today is the food my mother learned from her mother and the food my grandmother learned from hers. It is also the food that the 67 million people in Thailand eat as well. Although I was born in the United States, I am connected to my family’s history, my mother country, and all of its people all because of food. What I’ve noticed is that rice is eaten with every meal. This is because it is the staple food of Thailand and a huge source of its economy. As a kid, my parents would get upset if I left even a single grain of rice in my bowl and threw it out. They would often tell me that I was wasting food that rice farmers in Thailand spent so much time growing and harvesting in the hot weather for extremely low pay. Of course as a kid, I didn’t understand what all of this meant. But as an 18-year-old, I now understand all the work that comes into getting food in my bowl and I realize that throwing out even a tiny grain of rice is like throwing away a tiny piece of my family’s history and disregarding the hard work of my people. Not to mention the waste of all that Vitamin B and fiber.
– Mitch Vutrapongvatans