Why I’m Leaving Peru

Inside the Global Effort to Keep Perfectly Good Food Out of the Dump

This piece originally appeared on Food Tank, my food-first blog, and it is reposted here with permission.

My wife and I moved to New York in late 2007, with no intention of ever returning our home country of Peru. But a few months earlier, we began to notice a steady stream of people coming into our home. They were all people who had been displaced from their native countries, either by war or natural disasters, or by poverty or persecution. In most cases, the people entering our home were fleeing one of the world’s most dangerous places, Syria.

From my previous travels in the Middle East, I knew that warring countries like Iraq and Syria are where the most refugees arrive. I also knew that while these people can endure war, they will die before they survive. But I could not understand why so many were arriving in our home country at all.

And so, many times a day, as I read the papers, or watched the news, I would come back to the home-sweet-home of my wife and I and, staring into our dining room windows, would say to myself, with the same sense of shock and disbelief any visitor to the land of my birth would feel, “Why? Why would any person voluntarily choose to flee their own country to live under the bombs of my country?”

In the winter of that same year, a friend of mine, one of our restaurant partners, told us about a new restaurant he had seen. One morning, a truck came to our doorstep, and inside its trunk were three dozen fresh chickens, which he had bought in our small neighbor country of Peru. He had come to our house to give the chickens to us because he had heard that Peru has terrible food, so he was giving us a free gift.

As this story has unfolded over the years, I have shared it with many of my friends, both from Peru and in the United States. They all have something to say, a variation on what we thought, a variation on what we

Leave a Comment