5 Questions for an Eater Entrepreneur: Yulkendy Valdez
Students are a critical segment driving change in our food system: they are tomorrow’s leadership, future householders, and newly-independent eaters. In a constant state of exploration, they increasingly focus on matters of sustainability and social justice, often expressing their values through food.
Yulkendy Valdez is a sophomore at Babson College. Her interview originally appeared on Examiner.com.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your food journey.
A: I’m Dominican, so food is essential to me. It goes beyond health. It’s my culture. Growing up, I was supposed to eat a lot and embrace every part of eating from cooking to bringing the food to the table. When I moved to America, food became more of a hobby. The United States opened the doors to me to an international menu of delicious foods from all over the world. Now I can try any food I want, from Mexican to Indian… My food journey is about trying to understand different cultures and the people behind them. It is a psychological experience that takes me back home and to my roots.
Q: To what extent are your food choices and purchases reflective of your personal values? Would you share a couple of what those values are?
A: I like to indulge. I value culture experiences over healthy choices. And whenever I am eating foods that remind me of home, all my stress is released, and I feel much happier.
Q: “Eating is an inherently entrepreneurial act.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
A: Of course. Food is so much about defining oneself and taking action, which is so much like entrepreneurship. It is personal, and at the same time it is a social act. It is about observing what the world has to offer and taking the initiative to try things, while bringing others along with you.
Q: Given all that you’re learning about entrepreneurship, what entrepreneurial actions or decisions have you made when it comes to your meal planning at Babson?
A: Since I am really busy, it is all about affordability and convenience. I feel that I’ve had to sacrifice eating good foods because I am no longer at home. It is great when I get the opportunity to sneak out to a Dominican restaurant or order Chinese to escape the limitations of the dining hall experience.
Q: Do you feel that through food, you have agency in effecting the food system? How so?
A: Yes, I feel like my personal food choices effect the food system. In an environmental sense, we are going through a real food crisis now. Ultimately, we will all have to make tough decisions, as individuals and collectively, in order to get our food ecosystems back on track.