Tag Archives: immigrant

there is no food in the stores

One of my first big observations coming to America, was finding that there was no food in the grocery stores. I arrived in Boston for work, and the hotel where I was staying directed me to the nearest shop. It wasn’t a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and I found a place full of packaged dead ‘nutrition’ as far as the eye could see. There were also produce meant to resemble vegetables and fruit, but it was looking all kinds of genetically modified and lacking the correct color.

I left with a pack of Ramen noodles.

People from back home in Norway, or friends would ask me “How is America”? I would tell them “there is no food in the stores”.

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It took a while for me to navigate my new home, but it seemed unfair to me that only those with the means could afford decent food to eat, while the rest were doomed to feed on additives and junk. Normal food seemed like a basic human right to me, not something you had to earn as it comes straight from mother earth.

I also noticed how people seemed to be eating out all the time, and family breakfast or dinner wasn’t a top priority anymore. It made me sad. Oddly enough a few years later I discovered how the Standard American Diet was also called the SAD-diet.

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A consequence of all this SAD-diet eating was off course that I, along with many Americans, started battling harder to keep my weight down as there were so many hidden calories in the food I was consuming. I went to the gym as before and tired to monitor what I ate, but it was noticeably harder to keep my weight stable.

It wasn’t until I had kids that I realized that so many things are wrong with the way Americans make and consume their food. I had read Fast Food Nation while doing my Masters Degree in Australia – but little did I know of how far down the rabbit whole went.

It wasn’t just some fast food chains, it was Fast Everything.

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the starting point

Growing up in a small town shapes you. My grandparents had a picture on their wall – from a trip visiting relatives in Minnesota – that said: “In a big city there is lots to see. In a small town there is lots to hear“. It kind of sums up my childhood.

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This aspect of growing up in the countryside made and broke me: Everyone knew everyone and what they were up to. As a target for bullies and popularity alike I changed between being the object of love and hate, and the outcome was not always pretty. Mostly it made me determined to leave and ‘show them’. That I could become something. Other than this person who’s reputation preceded them.

So I did. I left my small town in Norway, did my degrees in England and Australia, before working in corporate America and starting a life as a wife and mother. Coming to the United States seemed like the perfect final destination. Growing up I watched the endless lights of Hollywood movies, and thought America is where people could be themselves and make a new life. The kind of life I craved.

But America is nothing like the movies. Sure there are the accents, the big signs and buildings, but the movies don’t show you the endless poverty people suffer under, the racism, sexism, the horrendous animal agriculture and all the pollution that follows. It doesn’t show you that Native Americans are still waiting for an apology for the genocide they experienced.

So I chased a dream to the end of the line. And now I miss my old town. I miss the connection with the people that sometimes is lacking in the big city. I miss the fresh air and some honesty. Even the kind that hurts you. Because sometimes the only way to grow is to feel the pain as you stretch.

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