Ever since I moved out of the USA I don’t really care what I eat. Mind you, I don’t drink soda, nor do I drink excessively or eat tons of junk food. I barely eat any junk food at all, actually. However, there’s plenty of pizza in Buenos Aires. It’s a great place to just pack on the carbs. The city has a lot of Italian heritage and it reminds me of how Los Angeles is permeated with Mexican culture everywhere (though that’s a different topic, since LA was once indeed a part of MX….). There are a lot of sweets, and I’ve developed a slight sweet tooth here.
I don’t know how much of the food here is genetically modified, but I know it’s far less genetically modified than in the states. I noticed this during my first month here, when I would buy a lot of groceries and they would rot a lot faster than I’m accustomed to. In the USA, it’s typically for a family that is economically able to, to buy enough food for a week or even two at a time. It’s common to expect produce to last a bit, maybe an entire week. I once bought lettuce in Mississippi that lasted about two weeks without showing any signs of rotting (it wasn’t organic, I was rarely able to afford to organic food in Mississippi). Here, I remember things would start rotting on the third day. Cheese here doesn’t last as long, and restaurants serve smaller portions.
The pizza here tastes homemade, as do many of the sweets, such as alfajores. Milk here is sold is small one litre cartons and the taste begins to change in about 3-4 days once you open it and put it in the fridge. This is why I now only use powdered milk. And speaking of milk, at about the age of 22 I stopped be able to drink milk in the USA. I won’t describe the reasons why (use your imagination, folks!) but my body would just see the gallons of milk and scream NO! In Argentina, I’ve been able to down submarinos, and have once again enjoyed the joy of lattes, adding some milk to espressos, and making hot chocolate with fresh milk. Is it because the milk here isn’t treated with hormones?
In my neighbourhood, which is considered middle to upper middle class, there are few obese people. In working classes neighbourhoods, there are a bit more, but not like in the USA. Is it because of choices?
I walk a lot more here. I walk to the bus stop, the metro station, the grocery store. I walk everywhere. The city of Buenos Aires even has health events in random spots all over the city, and when you eat at a restaurant, something about the food feels different (besides the smaller portions).
I write about this because in the USA, people are busy fat-shaming others instead of working to make systemic changes to the food choices people in the working class have to make regarding what they put into their bodies. I grew up in a weight conscious family, and if I gained a few pounds I was always quickly berated by someone in my family. We were privileged enough so I could make healthy food choices, and I never had an excuse to eat off the dollar menu because “there are rice and beans in the house, and go make yourself a salad if you’re hungry.” After living in Mississippi, where I met white people who made less money than I did (for the first time in my life) I realized that the time spent on fat-shaming others is better spent on contacting legislators and calling out Monsanto. Not only that, fat-shaming has detrimental effects on women and children, who are expected to fulfill exaggerated beauty ideals, but who are often not provided with safe spaces in which to exercise, who are subject to harassment in streets and gyms, or who aren’t economically independent enough to pay for expensive gym memberships or to live in areas safe enough in which to ride a bicycle, walk, or run without fearing for their lives.
As for food choices in the South, I was always a strict vegetarian. I didn’t care about the weird looks. It was my choice to make. Some people didn’t have it, and that was their deal. I’m lucky to be here, for all the crap people like to talk about Latin America, Buenos Aires is quite safe enough to make healthy choices. It’s common to just cook with friends instead of eating out, and you end up exercising here whether you choose to or not.