Greek women who revolutionized the American baby food industry
Zoe Marouda-Tziola is a wonderful person. She lives in distant Anchorage,Alaska, which is the largest city In Alaska. She studied medicine, but her love of cooking, raw materials, and people won her over. She loves people and has learned to make contributions. She loves life and smiles regularly and feels proud of her origins. She is Greek and she changed the way Americans think and eat…
Zoe was born in Zakinthos. She comes from the village, Kiliomeno. The farming village is in the mountains and it is built in the highest region of the island. “It is a very beautiful place,” says Zoe with pride. She went to America at the age of four and a half together with her parents and her two siblings. “My dear uncle lived in Alaska and he invited the whole family here.”She returned to Greece at the age of thirteen and stayed there for six months. Then she went back to Alaska to get an education. She studied medicine in Texas where she met her husband, astrophysicist from Salonica, Andreas Tziola. “I got married and I brought him back here to Alaska, “ she says.
Life in Alaska is very beautiful. ‘’It has got the warmth of a small place and the facilities of a city, and so it has it all. The only thing missing is light because Alaska gets dark in December. You miss the light then. There are five hundred families here. Alaska covers two-thirds of America. We are scattered but we have a Greek church. We teach our children Greek and we follow all the traditions,” she continues. Alaska has many races from all over the world. They all feel close, just like those in New York. They exchange and share secret recipes, customs and even the language. Everyone is close and happy here, but the only thing that upsets me is the light.”
How Bambino Baby Food Was Created
Cooked, frozen and organic meals… “Everything started with my mother and father who were not educated. They were simple and poor people, but they were always generous. There was a big age difference between my siblings and me. My parents and siblings came here with one suitcase. My father was curious as to how we would start a new life and what we would do.My mother answered, ”We will feed the people of Alaska just like we feed our children.”
“I started slowly. I may not have grown up in Greece but my home is Greece. My mother showed us how to make bread without yeast, the way our grandparents used to make it. We continued making bread here in Alaska. I helped out in the family restaurant. I went to university. I used to do the cooking after school because my parents and siblings needed help. I was happy to help out and I did not feel I was doing boring work. That way I learned the difference between Greek cuisine and American. Greek cuisine is both quality and healthful. I always had in mind how I could make contributions. What could I do to make the community closer? I wanted to become a doctor. While studying medicine I realized how amazing the body is, but the mind is important. I realized how it worked and functioned. Because of my background and experience I saw something other students had not seen. This had to do with food. I saw patients in hospitals not eating their food. They were neither happy nor in the mood. Even though it was not my job, I asked if I could change the food. I spoke to both hospitals and cooks and they changed the food.Within one month, things changed. Not only were the patients enjoying their meals, but they were also feeling stronger. This is what prompted me to create bambinosbabyfood .A lot of children in America are allergic to wheat and peanuts and I wondered why this was so. I sat and analyzed why. We must know the raw materials of the products we eat. Mothers did not have the time to cook and the prepackaged food did not have the vitamins that are needed by the child. Americans have been cooking only during the past six to seven years. However, in Greece mothers do the cooking, no matter how tired they are. For Americans prepackaged food is convenient.”
Zoe works constantly. Her mind never stops…”I start at 3:00 in the morning and continue until 10:00 at night. I enjoy what I do and I like bringing my children to work.” Zoe has a boy of age six and a half, Konstantinos, and a girl aged eighteen months, Athina…”We are a family business. We all work together,” she says with pride and adds: “Little Konstantinos puts the stickers on the packages. We learn how to count there. We also read at work, enjoying both the lesson and each other’s company.”
The land in Alaska is virgin land…”The soil in America is both clean and healthful. It has not been tilled. Alaska is huge. The soil is virgin, but Texas and Louisiana used to grow cotton.Things have changed and now rice is grown. One hundred years have passed since then. The rice looks clean but on closer inspection you see it has absorbed chemicals dangerous for the human body. Alaska, however, is absolutely clean. No chemicals ae used on vegetables, except for fish bone fertilizer. Vegetables are organic and there is a lot of sun in the summer, with fifteen to twenty hours of sun per day. This is why our vegetables are sweet. We have carrots, onions, potatoes, pumpkins and now watermelons in the north where Santa Claus lives. There is a village there with hot springs. This means the soil there is warm all winter and this makes it possible to till it. The watermelons are not big and red like the ones in Greece. They are small like pink melons, but they are delicious. The people here try various things because of Bambinos baby food. They had no reason to do so fifty years ago but now they enjoy trying new food. We find what we can do differently with the passage of time. Alaska also has lots of clean and healthy fish, for example, salmon. I am the only one who has put fish in food for children. Children need fish in order to grow up without allergies. Fish also adds taste to food. With it, children learn to eat healthily. Our children’s food contains boiled carrots, celery, onions,potatoes and pumpkins. It is real food. It is cooked and frozen in the shape of a star. The star has ground vegetables, fish and meat in it. It can be heated. We offer complete meals. Children can take it and put it on their gums.The stars help children who are teething. We put the stars in plastic bags and send them to all parts of America.The meals are not only for children but for adults and those undergoing chemotherapy as well. The vegetables provide energy and vitamins. The meals are light and they reach the consumer’s doorstep within twenty-four hours.”
The Greek products that travel to Alaska…Zoe visits Greece for six days every November, collecting Greek products for Alaska. She uses Greek products in food for children. She uses oil mainly from Zakinthos and Crete, mastiha from Hios and cookies and raisins. “I use Greek products because they are healthy and organic and because I want to support Greeks,even though my business is small.” I try to bring different kinds of beans but it is a bit hard. I have to keep in mind how the products will keep in the climate of Alaska and during the trip. The weather should not be very cold because the oil will then spoil.”
Recently Zoe met Martha Stewart (https://facebook.com/marthastewart)… “I could not believe I had a good time in New York. The people are wonderful with their smiles. It was for a meeting of producers all over America. Martha had organized for the fifth successive year and I was the only one from Alaska. They get a lot of things from China and Japan. They want to increase production to give support to those who have to do with the land. We get the raw materials directly from the producers who get the seeds and plant them for us. First time in the history of Alaska do producers cultivate vegetables on a large scale.
American reaction to bambinosbabyfood is positive for Zoe. “I have meek feelings. Today Show, Hoda, Kotb and Kathy Lee have accepted me completely. They are always smiling, just like on the screen.
Cooking lessons at schools in Alaska…”We are teaching children to cook and eat healthy food, which in turn will lead to a quality life. What I started in Alaska was a surprise for everyone.” Food is a way of life for Zoe… She is a tireless, smiling traveler in taste and she gives us advice: “Life is good and we have to learn to remember its wonderful moments, otherwise we will not make progress…”