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Los Imposibles: Celebrating Latine Heritage Month 2021

Latine Heritage Month Hero Image

At Impossible Foods, we celebrated Latine Heritage Month by learning about the Latine community here in our Impossible™ familia. Read on to hear from a few members of our Latine employee resource group, ¡Los Imposibles!, on their experiences identifying as Latine, their passions and stories, and what brought them to Impossible Foods.

Ivan Zamora

Ivan Zamora and Family for Latine Heritage Month blog.

Image: Ivan with his family

Hola a todos,

My name is Ivan Zamora, and I am on the Facilities Team here at Impossible Foods. I am a first-generation immigrant; I was born in Oakland, California, and still call the San Francisco Bay Area home. I am a husband and a father to three wonderful kids. My family is the key to my happiness and drive — if my family is happy, then I’m driven to accomplish any task that comes my way.

I first came to Sand Hill Foods (now known as Impossible Foods) in November 2012 to apply for an open position. What started as a 30-minute job interview with our founder Pat Brown quickly turned into a 2-hour conversation. At first we discussed the role that I was applying for, but we soon shifted to science, which was where we really hit it off and found a lot of common ground. Pat could see that I understood how a scientist like him thinks and operates, and he knew that would be key to my role at such a fast growing company. Impossible Foods offered me the job, and the rest is history! 

I wanted to join Impossible Foods to be part of an adventure that would have a positive impact on our environment for my three beautiful kids. And in my almost 9 years at the company, I’ve found that all my colleagues share that passion for the company’s mission. In order to see a change by 2035, we must not only do our work in the office but continue to educate our family and friends. In particular, I’m focused on educating my Mexican family members so that they can teach their friends and families about climate change and the food system. As you may know we love to eat carne asada which is traditionally from the cow; I want to give them the option of having carne asada that is made from plants. If we can show them that carne asada made from plants is not only better for them but is also better for our environment, we can help minimize the amount of land and water used to raise cattle and therefore minimize the wear and tear on our planet. We have so much more to accomplish, and I’m grateful every day that I get to be a part of a company that is changing the way we think about food.

Terry Reyes

Terry Reyes and Family for Latine Heritage Month blog

Image: Terry Reyes (left), her mom (center), and her sister (right)

Hi there, my name is Terry Reyes and I am part of the Regulatory team here at Impossible Foods. I am a proud Mexican-American and like many of my fellow immigrants, I was brought to this country at a very young age looking for a better life — in my case escaping the violence that had touched my family on a very personal level. 

As a former undocumented immigrant, I faced many obstacles to pursue my dream of getting an education, specifically in science. My dream was to become a scientist and do research in the cancer field. With lots of hard work, luck and amazing mentors I was able to achieve my dream and got my Ph.D. from Stanford University in Cancer Biology in 2014. The year 2014 was also the warmest year on record (2016 now holds that honor). Although I was happy about my work in the cancer field, I decided to switch focus and concentrate on one of the biggest issues in our world: food sustainability and the environment. 

In my Hispanic culture, food is life. It’s not just something we consume to survive; instead, food plays a role in our most symbolic, personal, psychological and social activities. For Latines, food accompanies us throughout our happiest moments and our saddest moments — from the birth of a child to the death of a relative. 

As a member of the Latinx community, I feel very excited to be able to educate and bring delicious animal meat alternatives like Impossible™ Burger to my community. As an example, Mexico (my country of origin) consumed approximately 8.95 million metric tons of meat in just 2019 alone. That is why it is very important to educate and provide meat alternatives that suit all world cultures. I am honored and excited to be part of the Impossible Foods team so that our products can reach not only Mexico, but the rest of the world — contributing to our common goal of replacing animals as a food source by 2035.

Diego Márquez Barroso

Diego Barroso for Latine Heritage Month blog

Image: Diego Márquez Barroso with his family

Hi all, I’m Diego Márquez, and I’ve been an Operations Manager at Impossible Foods since July 2020. I am Mexican, born in México City. I have two wonderful children, both in college studying animation. They take after my wife Bety who is an artist (I love her madly!). We also share our home with two puffy Shih Tzu dogs. 

Before working at Impossible Foods, I worked for Nestlé for 20 years (on several products and businesses) and got the opportunity to travel around the world (mainly Europe and Asia), and even live in Brazil. All of these experiences working with people from other countries gave me the opportunity to explore new cultures, foods, habits, and different ways of thinking that challenged my engineering mind.

From the beginning of my time at Impossible Foods, I’ve worked with amazing people and experienced diversity, respect, and a completely different way of working from my previous jobs. This role has allowed me to create systems, standardize processes and solve some really challenging problems — all while getting to know different people, cultures, and ways of thinking. We have great plans to continue improving our operations, but the most important thing to me is building a better future with wonderful people who share the Impossible mission. 

José E. Liquet y González 

Jose Liquet for Latine Heritage Month blog.

Image: Jose presenting research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Hi, Everyone - My name is José, and I’m on the microbial research team at Impossible Foods. I was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Growing up on the west coast of the island, I was surrounded by mountains and beaches, which influenced me from an early age. Mayagüez is a paradise in my eyes, but even when I was a kid it was facing a lot of environmental problems. 

This inspired me to study science and work to help society. I went on to study Environmental Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, and performed several projects aimed at solving environmental problems in Puerto Rico. My research projects ranged from biofuel generation to biodegradation of explosives with soil fungi — all aimed at helping the people of Puerto Rico. This passion led me to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where I studied plastic biodegradation in soil. 

 Coming to Impossible Foods was a dream come true — the idea of reducing the contamination of meat production by providing a better and cleaner meat product is brilliant to me. My role at Impossible Foods has been the perfect way to apply my passion of using microbes to solve environmental problems. As a Senior Research Associate in the Microbial Research group, I work across disciplines to understand yeast physiology, explore heme extraction methods, and improve our products. It is an honor for me to be the first Puerto Rican working for Impossible Foods, and I am proud that the company lets me share and celebrate my Caribbean and Latino roots.

Angela Mendenhall

Angela Mendenhall and Family for Latine Heritage Month blog

Image: Angela roasting Hatch Green Chilis with her husband and baby

Latine, Latino, Latina, Mexican, Hispanic, Latinx… Despite how you choose to categorize this group, my question has always been: Do I fit into it?  I did not emigrate from a Latine country.  Neither did my parents, or their parents.  I don’t speak the language. Honestly, I can barely order food or get directions.  And now that I took my husband's name, even less of the first impression attributes tie me back to this community. 

I’m 75%+ Mexican.  My paternal grandparents and their ancestors never had to emigrate because they were always from the Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona region; formerly Mexico.  The same is true for my maternal grandfather.  They became part of the United States generations ago without having to relocate.  

When my paternal grandfather was raising his children he made a conscious decision not to teach his children, including my father, Spanish. My Dad remembers him telling his kids that it would be a disservice to them. They needed to be “American” and only speak English. I don’t think I am unique in this experience.  The “whitewashing” of the world has caused many diverse people to “willingly'' give up the language, traditions, etc…  

For me, the one thing that always brings me back to my Mexican roots, and reminds me that I am part of this community is the food. I remember making tortillas with my grandmother, and I learned and perfected my red and green chili from “in the family” recipes and teachings.  This is one area of our culture that we have maintained and passed down.  To this day, I still prefer Hatch Green Chilis, freshly roasted. I source a box or two every year from a Colorado/New Mexico farm and roast them myself. In the tradition of passing down the food culture, I’ve taught my husband and kids. We do this together, and enjoy the food.

Working at Impossible Foods has opened my eyes to how our food culture can evolve and still hold true to our roots. With the introduction of Impossible™ Pork Made From Plants I am super excited to experiment with making my green chili vegan this year! The Impossible Burger has already allowed me to make my red chili, enchiladas, and many other traditional dishes vegan. As Pat Brown (our founder) has said, if you are asking someone to give up anything they love about “meat” you have already lost the battle. With these products I haven’t had to give up anything I love about these dishes.

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