In continuation of our Voices series, we asked Tucson youth what they want to change about the food system in Baja Arizona.
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1. My family and I own a business. Called La Tuana, it is local and we focus on making fresh and healthy tortillas. I’m always looking for great tasting food that is also healthy. I don’t think local food is appreciated how it should be. I am very interested in teaching kids my age about healthy eating. I would also love for schools to start giving us food that is actually healthy for us.
—Jonathan Moreno, 15, Desert View High School

2. Every week my mom and I go to farmers’ markets and pick out fresh fruits and vegetables. I feel like I should eat healthier than I do, but I am more aware [now] of what I consume. I would like to see less fast food and more farmers’ markets. I want more people having gardens, and using different ingredients, experimenting with different foods. I want to see the people rise up and take control over our food system again.
—Justice Mastrianna, 16, Sky Islands High School

3. The number one thing I would like to see is more native plants being grown and consumed. They are an important part of the desert and they consume substantially less water. I would also like to see more fast food chains incorporate local and organic ingredients in their food. If things like this happened, people would be healthier and our environment would be healthier.
—Noah Jeppson, 15, Sky Islands High School

4. I am currently working at Wilko and The Abbey as the pastry chef. I would like to see more fresh and locally grown ingredients become more readily available, not only to restaurants but also to home cooks. I think that even though many people do have access to [these ingredients], many aren’t aware of it. To me, increasing awareness is key.
—Caitlin Gilliland, 16, Catalina Foothills High School

5. I apprenticed for the Community Food Bank’s Youth Farm Project. Now that I have a little more financial independence from working, I’m making an effort to support my community through buying and eating locally. As a culture that doesn’t gather to eat together at the table, we’ve lost a deeper connection with our food. Going to farmers’ markets and local restaurants and CSAs, we are reinstating a lost connection with what we put in our bodies.
—Riley Johnson, 18, Tucson High School (alum)

6. At home, we have some chickens so we cook with their eggs a lot. We don’t buy much junk food and we rarely ever go out to eat. I notice that when I’m out with people I tend to eat worse. I guess that’s just because I don’t pay as much attention to what I’m eating. In the food system, I want GMO foods to stop being produced, because eventually they’ll take over the crops and all the small farmers will be crushed out of business.
—Emma Waddell, 15, Sky Islands High School

7. I worked at the Felicia Ann Cutler Farm in Tucson a couple of summers back. Practicing sustainable growing—using non-GMO seeds and no chemical fertilizer—makes you feel like you’re making a difference. I want organic food as far as the eye can see. Big corporations need to change their unsustainable methods of making food. The only way to make a change is by spreading the word and casting a vote for organic food at the supermarket.
—Reed Lavenski, 18, Sky Islands High School

8. I am the owner and founder of Philabaum Urban Farm. I start native vegetable plants, using seeds from Native SEEDS/Search, and sell the plants at local farmers’ markets. I don’t consume refined sugars, or genetically modified foods in any form. I try to stay on a plant-based diet, getting most of my protein from grains and legumes rather than animal proteins. However, I will still devour a pop-fried chicken from Lucky Wishbone.
—Wyatt Philabaum, 18, Sky Islands High School (alum)

9. I’d love for food to not be sprayed with pesticides and herbicides and for it to be grown locally so it’s always fresh and doesn’t use so much energy and fuel for transportation and storage. I’d love for cows not to be fed with corn because they can’t digest it so it just sits in their stomachs. Chickens need to be able to roam around instead of being stuffed inside a cage.
—Emma Randolph, 17, Sky Islands High School

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