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by Francisco G. Gómez

Miss Danna Cristaldo
Miss Danna Cristaldo

How many teenage children you know are conscious about what food they put in their bodies? Parents’ work schedules and getting children ready for the day’s commitments can be daunting and very stressful, to say the least. Most families take the quick way out for breakfast, boxed cereal swimming in pus filled hormone ladened un-organic milk, some bleached bread toast made of gluten and a gazillion other chemical ingredients parents may never have questioned or even knew existed. Some children are just left to figure it out for themselves. Is it any wonder why childhood obesity, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, lethargy and a whole host of other maladies plague children today? The point being that it is amazing to find a child who is cognizant of the affects bad food has on the body. Enter Danna Cristaldo, a young lady no different from most children, with the exception that she is very concerned and careful about what she eats everyday.

On Saturday, April 23rd began the first part of our Common Ground local food series in New Brunswick, N.J.. We gathered at the George St. Coop off Livingston Ave. for a culinary presentation on how to prepare different types of salads. The room was filled with adults, with the exception of Danna sitting at a table with her mother, waiting for their vegan wraps to be prepared at the veggie bar.

I was curious to learn why she had come to the presentation, and much to my surprise found out that the Coop’s menu had brought her there. I asked Danna where she was from, and she told me Bound Brook. I said wow, you’ve come a long way to find organic veggie food. She said there are no such places like the George St. Coop in her town and that’s why she convinced her mom to bring her.

Danna and her Mom sitting at the table
Danna and her Mom sitting at the table.

Danna then began to tell me of her decision to become vegan at the age of twelve, two years before. She said that there are many challenges in keeping a vegetarian lifestyle, given that she comes from a family that isn’t vegetarian, but that her family supports her convictions in keeping her body healthy by eating locally grown and in season food. Obviously this young lady has thought deeply about her food choices.

I asked her what she wanted to do when she finished college. She said she wanted to work in the food world, perhaps even become a chef. Although she came for the veggie wraps, she stayed for the presentation and by the look in her eyes, was very happy she did. Danna signed up to become a member of our seed library and was thrilled that she could be part of Raíces’ eco-culture projects in the future.

It was truly a pleasure to meet such a young, conscientious child who took it upon herself to question the foods she eats and see the respect she has for animals that she understands are part of who she is. We here at Raíces applaud her efforts and conviction in choosing to eat healthy and her desire to be ecologically sound in body and mind!

If like Danna you have a child that is interested in alternative healthy food choices, please make it a point to attend our Common Ground food series. Learn more about it here:


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