"Hay comida en la casa", or "There's food in the house" is a ubiquitous phrase uttered by countless Latinx moms and grandmas over the ages. It's the exasperated plea of a mom who doesn't see the need for you to be out in the streets wasting money on inferior food when you could be home with her, eating delicious freshly prepared food that she has lovingly made for you. It's the source of much youthful eye-rolling but as you mature this phrase starts to make a lot more sense.
Hay Comida en la Casa is the mantra that will help you reduce food waste, save money, and live more intentionally.
Living is expensive- a fact that's hard to appreciate in a culture where you may live at home well into adulthood. You might be earning a decent income or going to school and still have the support of mom's cooking and/or laundry and/or grocery shopping etc. It really isn't until you move out on your own and maybe start a family that it starts to sink in. Adulting becomes a verb.
That's when this idea of comida en la casa can become the touchstone that holds you to a very simple way to stick to your sustainable aspirations: Reducing food waste. Reducing money waste. Slowing down and being present in your life. Connecting to your roots. Valuing the labor of those who came before you.
The truth is that for Latines (Latinas/Latinos) who grow up in the U.S. as we achieve success in life we begin to place a stronger value on American ideals than those we learned at home. It's easy to overlook the sustainable behaviors, foods, products, and ideas that we were raised with and we replace them with ones that completely ignore us as human beings.
Think about your imaginary list of what you "need" to be more eco-friendly. I bet it includes buying the reusable bags they sell at the supermarket checkout, recycling, carrying your own straws, forks and spoons with you, using a reusable water bottle, eating organic, driving an electric car, etc. Those are all things I absolutely agree with. BUT. It fully ignores simple concepts that you already KNOW because you were raised with them.
You know reusable bags because it doesn't actually matter what the bag looks like. All bags are reusable. You know reusable bags because your mom or your grandma probably has/had a collection of mesh bags with a sturdy handle in bright colors. You know recycling because everything has a use more than once in a Latinx household. It gets reused before it ever leaves the house. You know fresh and local produce because our taco toppings are basically an entire salad, we love our fruit stands, our eloteros, and I bet your mom or your tia has a thriving collection of plantas lining the driveway.
The truth is you already have the knowledge you need to take action towards a more sustainable lifestyle. You don't even need to look much further than mom's kitchen to get started.
You do not actually have to go out and buy all the things the yoga-posing, water-bottle-toting eco-influencers are saying you have to have in order to live sustainably. You really, really do not need more things. Start with what you know because you heard it ten thousand times: Hay comida en la casa. It tastes better. It's made fresher. It wastes less.
And if you don't know how to make your own? Go ask your mom to show you how she makes food. Hold on to that knowledge and treat it with the holy respect that it deserves. I can tell you from experience that unless you do it five hundred times, you're not going to remember how many cups of water you'll need to make arroz when your mom or your abuela is gone.
Hay comida en la casa is more than just a phrase. It's a call to use what you have. It's a way to connect to your roots. It's a different way to say "I love you and I packaged that love up and it's waiting for you in the kitchen". And it's also a way to hold space for culture while maintaining a steady course on your sustainable path.
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