THE STORY BEHIND #FOODBEYONDBORDERS
Being born into such a strong food culture in Sri Lanka, it has been hard to get away from the variation, variety and veracity of food. As a child, whenever I left any food on my plate, my parents like all parents used to give me the cliched line "There are so many children around the world starving". In response, I used to make drawings with the food on my plate and the four-year old me would sassily reply, "Why don't you give them my food?". It was years later, while studying International Development did I realize that the answer to that question was not that simple to execute globally. As a teenager, I silently rebelled against food convincing myself that eating was a waste of time. The ascent of body image, airbrushing in a world where size zero was hero, and Beyonce's "Bootylicous" and Meghan Trainer's "All about that bass" was back in the future, food wasn't the first thing on my mind. Ironically, it was after starting College halfway across the world, in the midst of not having time to eat, and learning to cook which was a combination of intuition and Skype sessions with my parents did I start to explore the culinary world in my own effort to understand its sheer diversity. Living in Montreal, Canada during the my first few formative adult years and being exposed to the multicultural, multiethnic, multireligous mosaic which makes up the Canadian culture, I was drawn how local yet how global the food conversation was. Having friends that made food from divergent corners of the globe, although they themselves had very different ancestral roots, having colleagues that enjoyed eating out at both fancy places and more so at street food carts, I had entered my own melting pot of food. Then, working as an Intern for the World Health Organization on the Prevention on Noncommunicable Diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, I was exposed to the facts and figures that encapsulate the evidence of diet being a major modifiable risk factor in the prevention of what is killing 60% of the world today. Now, in Dental School, learning the biochemistry behind the metabolism of food and how much "we are what we eat", I am beginning a professional journey of being informed of the importance of diet in oral health and social well-being and the imperative need to educate patients on this essentiality. Some kids, have selfies on their phones, I have food. So #foodbeyondborders was not created to merely share good looking pictures of food that will make your mouth go gaga. I promise you it will undoubtedly make you want to lick your phone screen when you see the food we share. But more so as a storytelling platform of the diversity, beauty, and the health behind food we know and love, and the food we are yet to discover. It is about being bold enough to merge different food cultures and create our own entree. It is about discovering healthier ways to still devour the food we love. It is about being well informed of the ingredients in the food we eat and of healthy serving sizes. It is about embracing the differences in foods, which is what makes them all so similar. It is about using this substrate of life to break down the political, social, economic, gender boundaries and borders we as humans have created for ourselves. Because food is borderless, it doesn't discriminate, it doesn't hate, and most of the time it is prepared with love. So join me as I venture out from fancy diners to soup kitchens, from street food carts to food drives, from Asia to America, to bring you stories of #foodbeyondborders. This is the food peace.