Earth Day Awards 2016: Ana Zabala Promotes Healthy Eating Habits

Thursday, June 02, 2016
Globe Study Abroad

Earth Day Award
Ana Zabala, Bogotá, Colombia
Colegio Rochester, 2016

Ana created a booklet to promote a rainbow diet in order to implement Slow Food’s “Good, Clean, and Fair Food” campaign in daily diets. Slow Food is a nonprofit organization seeking to counteract “fast food and fast life.” The varied colors ensures the intake of an array of nutritious substances each day. Ana explains the components of goodness, cleanliness, and fairness that should be associated with all foods as, “GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food. CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment. FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers.” Ana has hosted an Eat-In, in which each attendee prepares a nutritious meal from scratch. She has invited the local farmer’s market to her school and organized a student field trip to a local organic farm. Ana has received awards from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. She is president of Model UN, a writer for Eco Watch and Whole Foods’ blog, and she has been trained in dancing for nine years. 

Q) Tell us about how you became interested in promoting healthy eating habits.

A) The reason I became interested in promoting healthy and thoughtful eating habits is food’s political and ecological relevance. Through our food choices, we can shape the food system, which is the basis of any society. Currently, the food production and consumption systems are unsustainable in social, economical and environmental aspects. The first time I realized this was in August of 2013, when here in Colombia, farmers and peasants organized a national strike protesting against the lack of support from the government and the consequences of the FTA with the US which favored imported products coming from industrialized agriculture and multinationals seeking to monopolize the food supply. Citizens joined the protest with a campaign that promoted thoughtful eating habits, the call was to ask ourselves where did our food come from and support our fellow farmers by buying national products.

Q) If there were one thing you could predict about the future of science, what would it be?

A) Science, at one point, will have to start establishing nature’s behavior as a role model.

Q) Tell us about your favorite teacher, how have they supported or inspired you?

A) Her name is Pamela Ospina. She is the Landscape Architect of the school. She’s part of the school’s sustainability committee, teaches architecture to High School kids, and leads a group of “Eco Heroes” in Elementary School. She has been very supportive whenever I’ve came up with projects or activities. She is an innovator with great analytical skills. However, I think the greatest thing I’ve learnt from her is the importance of kindness, and how environmental and social advocacy come down to that: being kind to others, which can be practiced in the smallest gesture as well as in the biggest project or mission. Actually, she was the one who wrote the recommendation letter for this award.

Q) How has NSHSS played a role in your academic career?

A) With this project, I reassured the path I want to follow in life. I was completely convinced that environmental and social advocacy through education and community involvement is what gives meaning to my existence. Specially, positive activism through food. After this project, there is no doubt that my academic career will be dedicated to contributing to the transformation of society into a more sustainable, just and thriving one.

Q) What is your fondest memory related to your work with Slow Food?

A) Traveling to Milan in October 2015 as part of the delegation of Colombia that went to the Terra Madre Youth. This event, the first of its kind, brought together young farmers, fishermen, producers, cooks, academics and youth from over 100 countries worldwide for four days to work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production in order to feed the future.

Q) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A) Working in a project, probably here in Colombia, that supports and promotes  sustainable agriculture and small-scale farmers, and contributes to the maintenance of peace in the post-conflict scenario of the country.

Q) What do you plan to study in college?

A) I will go to College of the Atlantic in Maine to study Human Ecology; the investigation of the relations between humans and their environments. At this college, students have the freedom to build a curriculum that is right for them and explore interdisciplinarity. 

Q) What do you hope for this year’s incoming High School Freshman class?

A) I hope that in their High School experience, they find that which gives meaning to their lives.

Q) Outside of your environmental advocacy involvement, what has been your favorite / most enjoyable aspect of high school?

A) The huge role that arts play on our education, specially dance. I couldn’t have explored dancing and other forms of artistic expression in the amazing way I did anywhere else, not even academies.

Q) What do you do to stay organized / focused?

A) Relax and don’t overload myself with occupations and information. I always work at one thing/project/goal at a time. I write to-do lists all the time. Also, I make sure I have a space in the day in which I don’t do absolutely anything and just lay in the grass or in bed or play music.

Q) How do you relax? What’s your favorite hobby?

A) I meditate, dance, write, listen to music, play guitar, walk, bike or take care of the garden. My favorite hobby is dance.

Q)  Do you have a motto? If so, what is it?

A) Improvisation is life.

About the Earth Day Awards

The NSHSS Foundation has partnered with the Captain Planet Foundation (CPF) to encourage environmental stewardship among high school students globally through the Earth Day Award competition. Prizes of $500 are awarded to high school students in recognition of environmental stewardship, leadership and volunteerism expressed through the Earth Day projects submitted for the competition. The project was launched in 2013 and is open to all high school students annually.