Diana, Jonathan & Crystal

  • Diana, Jonathan & Crystal, Tucson, AZ

“If you wanted to go out to the plaza after church you had to make the tortillas. Everybody made tortillas on Saturday. It was part of sweeping, washing the dishes, and doing the chores.”

Diana’s story:

I was originally born in Arizona but was raised in Mexico in the Sonoran states. I came here when I was eighteen after having grown up in Mexico. I came to further my education, to learn English because I had gone to school in Mexico my whole life. The American dream I guess.

This factory came about because my son had food allergies. He had to go on a whole grain diet, no refined flour. I had to come up with a recipe for a Mexican tortilla, a real tortilla because we were used to the white ones. We finally came up with the whole wheat and olive oil tortilla. I was just making them out of the house for family and friends at first, and then the recession hit and my husband lost his job. I started selling in a farmers market, and next thing you know I’m in Sprouts.

We made tortillas growing up; we were forced to make them on Saturdays. It was part of becoming a teenager. If you wanted to go out to the plaza after church you had to make the tortillas. Everybody made tortillas on Saturday. It was part of sweeping, washing the dishes, and doing the chores. My mom stayed behind at the time, she was happy about it but my dad wanted to keep me in the house and build a little store for me. I was like, “No I’m leaving” and they followed right after. They’re here now. I think I always knew I was going to come back to the U.S. I wanted to study here, and everybody talked about coming to the U.S. Over time, we came and we were amazed at all the stores. The drive thru! We wanted to go to the drive thru, little things like that. I knew there was a drive thru but I didn’t know at the University of Arizona you could go and get a slice of pizza. I was just amazed at all the food. We couldn’t get it like that in Mexico. There, you would go and get a quarter pound of beef and cook it, you had to cook everything.

I was amazed at how much schools had here. Schools back there are so poor. That’s what really struck me, the structure, not the education. I think the education back there is much better, way, way better compared to what they have here. When I went into the University of Arizona with very little English, my SATs were so high just because of what I learned over there in high school.

Kids are spoiled here. There’s no such thing over there. Schools baby them too much, they don’t learn, they don’t know how to write. We used to write all day, you had to learn how to write. There was no such thing as an open book test. Over there the whole country has the same book. Here, they get sheets of paper. It’s a whole different ball game.

We went to live in Mexico for a while so my children could get that experience. Now they can appreciate the abundance here, and they will forget it – but they got to learn what it feels like to not have everything at Walmart and Costco. They got to appreciate the culture. Their aunt still makes cheese at home, they have six cows. We still get fresh flour from the milling stones there. I want them to keep it in their memory, but you can see the difference in their maturity compared to other kids because of what they had to go through over there. They learned how to work. We made them work just like I had to work. My sister and I had to get up on the roof and prepare the food for next season. That’s just part of a Hispanic family. Everybody pitches in, everybody. They have to do it too. I can’t let them forget Spanish. Don’t forget your food and your beans. That’s what you grew up with, your beans every night. I didn’t feed them as much as my mom did. It’s just, don’t forget your language. We speak Spanish at home. The kids speak it fluently with no accent.

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