My mother Andrea Zamarrón lived most of her life in Mexico on the family farm where they harvested everything from corn to beans, and had livestock. Since she lived and worked on a farm with her parents, she learned a great deal on farming and harvesting techniques. She prefers organic choices because back in her farm, they grew their crops fresh and organic. My mother’s desire to grow our own organic food drove our house to always have the home garden. My siblings and I have grown accustomed to having those fresh vegetables and fruits we grew in our garden, and learned from my mother how to grow the organic friends. It has definitely affected our choices when shopping for vegetables or fruits. She also mentions how medicine wasn’t as available over in Mexico as it is here. She was taught and learned many home remedies, with some involving some of the plants they grew. For example, Manzanilla(chamomile) tea helps with stomach flu, cramps, and nausea. Another curious home remedy we still use today involves using a brick. She explains that by warming the brick up on a fire and wrapping it in a cloth, the brick warms it up to a desirable temperature and is good for treating pain in the joints and also serve as a stress reliever when put up against the body.

My mother and her nine brothers and sisters grew up with very little resources and often had to find creative ways to reuse items and share among the siblings. She brought over many of the practices she learned and did over in Mexico to the United States. She explains how her mother rarely threw anything away; the only things were thrown away were things that couldn’t be used for anything else, even the scarps of food would be used as compost. Her mother wasn’t just a farmer, but also a gardener who loved flowers more than anything. She would plant all types of flowers within her reach. She knew what plants to go inside and outside, and what type of treatment the plants needed.  Dealing with so many plants both inside and outside, my grandmother came up with a lot of creative ways for the plant pots. She would often use metal cans that once held canned food, strawberry jars, or any found material that was capable of holding dirt and a flower. The food jars not only apply to plants, but can also be used to store food. This tradition was passed to my mother, and even today as I head off to my apartment in Chicago, my mother often pack me food or salsa in jars.

Growing up, my mother Andrea and her siblings lived very humbly. Since it was a very large family, it was difficult to maintain especially when it came down to food. They had a very limited variety of food. Their primary meal included beans, rice, and tortillas, which is still the traditional meals we eat at home. Although now she has access to more food than before, she still reminds us the importance of not wasting any food and serving oneself in small portions rather than in large quantities. This is something my siblings and I have always kept in mind.