As I stood watching Kyle, my classmate, cook the meat, I saw the look of dismay on Pa’s face. Pa was the owner of the hostel we were staying in and he is a member of the EcoVillage in Cloughjordan. I had noticed that Pa paid close attention to our every move when we were in the kitchen. “Roxanne, why did they not go to the local farm for the meat?” When I heard Pa ask this question, I felt like we had failed him. At first I did not understand why, but as we pulled out of Cloughjordan on our last day, I had a new appreciation for the lessons he was trying to teach us. On this trip, we have really been able to immerse ourselves in the Irish culture by cooking our own traditional Irish food. It was not that Pa did not trust us, he just wanted us to see the relationship between food and the environment.
Breakfast for dinner was an eyeopening experience. At first, we picked out a traditional package of bread that was mixed in with about fifty other loaves. However, just as we were leaving we saw the freshly baked loaves of bread that smelled remarkable and we decided to buy these instead. I think in American culture we tend to take the easier route and buy name-brand foods. In the Irish culture, food is valued when the food is healthy, fresh and full of rich nutrients that are often missing from many store-bought items. When I overheard Pa expressing his disappointment that we did not go to a local farm to buy the meat, I told myself that this was a learning experience for all of us. I came to realize that he was actually just opening up our eyes to see the importance of paying attention to our actions such as the types of foods we buy. Our thought process is not always the quality of the food but rather what is readily available, such as packaged meat. Our first thought was not to go to the local farm and purchase meat. I did what I do back home and that is go to the grocery store. From the start, Pa was educating us all about the importance of reducing waste and seeking out healthier options that are better for you and the environment as well. Irish culture is characterized by people who take pride in the freshness of their food by growing it on their own or seeking out local farms. As Pa waved goodbye to us on our last day, I saw a man who was pleased to get the opportunity to shift our thinking about food in Ireland. I will always remember Pa as someone who taught me to be more aware of my decisions, because my decisions do affect the environment.