Battle of the Cooks and Cultural Repertoires

1)Food log: Recently in the cafeteria there were crab legs!!! I’m sorry, no one truly understands how excited my family gets over crab legs unless you sit down with us and witness the amazement for yourself. Let me create a picture for you: 1) crabs are not just boiled in water in my families’ homes, they are boiled with water and a can or two of Budweiser for added flavor (because we probably couldn’t afford Emeril’s wine), 2) we just know deep down buffet owners are complaining when my family takes all the crab legs, 3) if you don’t know how to crack a crab, you don’t have a chance…my family will show you how to crack it once and if you can’t keep the pace after…you’re lost (we don’t use those “fancy” crab crackers by the way…it’s all by hand). Eating the crab I reminisced eating crabs with my mom and aunty. I was always in charge of melting the butter and adding the tobacco sauce to make a great crab dip (this was not an honor but a way to get me busy while they cracked and merrily ate). But, anyway, sitting in the café I thought of how I had a Jarrett/Jordan family culture repertoire about how crab is prepared and it’s not a crab feast without the butter and hot sauce. How my family and I understand crab is with butter and hot sauce so I had to text my family and tell them all about it. And the first thing my mom ask was, “at your school”, then “was it good” and after telling her about how I used our sauce she surprisingly said “next time add garlic”…Something new to add on to the repertoire.

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): In 2011, there was a feud between the cooks, Paula Deen and Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain has scolded Deen for “telling an already obese nation that it’s O.K. to eat food that is killing us.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/opinion/bruni-unsavory-culinary-elitism.html).Paula Deen already has a bad reputation for her fatty Southern recipes LOADED with butter and her “hiding” her diabetes and still presenting her food. This discretion is controversial because it is as if she lied to her audience. But is she obligated to tell her personal situations, after all, our professors don’t have to tell us all of their “business”. However, because diabetes, at least appears, to be directly related to Deen’s unhealthy recipes, her audience may have felt betrayed.

Despite this deception, Deen is known for her relatedness to her audience as she is seen cooking “real” food for the “average” working class person who cannot afford “to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine“, as she tells New York Times. Yet, it is this working class portray that is another bad reputation for Deen. Deen presents “working class efficient foods” as limited to the fats. She sends a message that fats are easy and butter is a “working class” food. Personally, I understand why: fat and butter is an easily thought of and common answer to flavor. (And I know that good Southern cooking contains fat and extra good Southern cooking made by a television cook must be extra buttery). But, as my professor says, butter is not the only answer to flavor problems [and neither is salt] like curry, parsley, tabasco, and healthy oils. Oh my Biscuits and Molasses! The truth hurts! My family comes from the South and for the longest time our vegetables seemed to always marinate in meat fats…and then douse it with Texas Pete. This is just southern culture repertoire—a long lived custom that is inhibits our thinking and, as my professor says, “limits the things we imagine doing”. We are not used to using resources and tools that are not our traditional handlings and we “don’t know what to do with it [or] how to prepare it”. But is it Deen’s fault for not living outside of her traditional southern culture repertoire if that’s all she knows? Is it the consumer’s fault for over eating something that was “meant” (maybe) for an occasional meal?

My solution is that we let Paula Deen cook what she does, but tag a disclaimer on it. I’m all for the healthy foods and I am all for the fatty foods too! My taste buds know Biscuits and Molasses and there’s no turning away from that. Might as give Deen a break and add a disclaimer so that if obesity continues to rise, the consumer is deemed responsible.

Foodie and the “Exotic”: Gourmet Bugs and More

1) Food log: I don’t have many new thoughts about what I am buying and eating that is relevant to this course but I do have thoughts about what I don’t eat (at least not in the “garnished” way many food personalities on TV present it). I am talking about high-taste food or the “exquisite” and “elite” taste of the foodie, the people with of love, knowledge, and curiosity for food. This type of food is described as having “good taste”. Good taste is not necessarily gourmet as we once thought of it (the usually French, fancy expensive foods). Some of it is hand-crafted and has a reputation of authenticity and exoticism. Foodies like to new and adventurous exploration and, if I may, “taste-bud traveling” is the way of doing this. Foodies eat garnished or authentic Mexican, Creole, and other “exotic” plates. Okay by now you may have noticed the many words I put in quotations but exoticism is especially important because it suggests trying/sampling, being bold and direful, and excitement.  And these notions imply that these foods are outside of the dominant culture and the very words “exotic” means foreign or not native and the food is othered. But exotic to the place it comes from is not so exotic, it’s naturally occurring and typically, just as hotdogs and hamburgers are American. The “exotic” cuisines in America may be exotic to the country of origin it is supposed to represent because it may be not authentic at all. “Chinese” food in America is stuffed with MSG and is far from real Chinese food. Okay, so maybe the foodie will not really eat from chain Chinese food places but what about garnished “Mexican” cuisine in America is not the real corn tortillas that can be eating daily without all the tummy aches from all the bad fats and additives.

I grew up in an area heavily populated with first language Spanish speakers so papa rellena made Colombian hands were not too exotic over time but it was foreign from what my Colombian best friend has tasted in Colombia (“the real deal”). My grandma puts turkey gizzards in her stuffing and oxtails in her greens and my aunt puts turkey butt in her string beans. These offal foods are not “exotic” to me.  What is exotic is the Americanize cuisines that are supposed to duplicate “other” foods, not that the foods are foreign.

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): Imagine an efficient food in these ways: 1) it is good for the environment because it as an alternative to “carbon-costly beef” (clearing forests for cattle pastures cause erosion and water pollution), 2) it is twice as efficient to turn foods like hay and compost scraps into meat than cows, and 3) one male and seven females can double in size in just months! This meat is about two pounds and about the size of a squirrel. It is cuy—also known as the guinea pig. This animal is more than bizarre, efficiency. In an NPR article, it is written, “At one company, in Connecticut, imports have nearly doubled since 2008 — from 600 guinea pigs per year then to more than 1,000 today.” Guinea pig is described as tender and juicy and hard to compare—not even to chicken. “La Mar Cebicheria’s Chef Oka says cuy is ‘very oily, like pork combined with rabbit.’” (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/03/12/174105739/from-pets-to-plates-why-more-people-are-eating-guinea-pigs).

Foods that are most commonly presented on TV shows and that seen as “bizarre” and “exotic” to the United States seem to be those common foods of other countries that are common because of its benefits (accessibility and availability, cheap but high, whole nutrition, etc). For instance, it’s just like the whole cicada season in the United States. The overpopulation of the annoying plant destroying bugs all of a sudden leads to publications of cicada recipes by popular press. All of a sudden, the United States becomes interested in nutritiously, juicy bugs.  This is all proof that bizarre is not so bizarre (odd or freakishly weird) when its benefiting the environment, creating more meat for your plate, procreating more meat for your household, and all while being meaty, tender, juicy, and to the United States as compared to other countries, a novel taste.

School Lunch and Fitness

1) Food log: Today’s class has me thinking a lot about school lunch. In my high school the school lunch system had began to change. The soda machines (besides the vending machines) were taking out and we had to include a juice or a milk and a fruit with our meals. All of the milk was fat free and I remember complaining ab9out it. And I don’t even like milk! There was a salad bar, a deli line, a pizza line, a line for hot food, and a “specialty” line (which sold, I believe nachos but I can’t even remember to be honest). The point is the school was leaving room for students to have choice but still discontinued unhealthy drinks, implemented healthy rules, and also incorporated healthy options. For this school I think it was a great idea, even with the nacho line still there because the Physical Education program so not the average go to gym, run a little, sit down, and talk with your friends. We had pacer tests and we were pretested and posttested for improvements in stretches, pushups, and even a mile walk time in the park. Activity choices included things like weightlifting, power-walking, swimming, and dance unit. Now that I look back on it, all of it was fun, and all of it was a healthy way to keep me active.

Now, there are many options available in school lunch but it can be hard to eat healthy beyond the salad here on campus, well, from my knowledge. But I have to say, there are a lot of healthy snacks like plain, low fat, and non-additive yogurt.  What I am missing now is the fun I used to have in gym and the anticipation to move on to the next unit.

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): Princeton Schools Garden Program is where children grow foods in the school garden which they eat for lunch, use for culinary classes, and even implement in other lessons (in math they practice measurements with the garden). Getting the students involved seems to be a win-win situation, says Marc Bouvier, executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey. The program gets the children active, is a learning tool, and “children who grow their own vegetables are more inclined to eat them”, says the NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/07/nyregion/new-jersey/07Rgarden.html). Furthermore, Calhoun High School “students will cut [a pig] up in biology class, make head cheese, prosciutto and bacon, among other delicacies, in cooking class, and then eat them” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/06/nyregion/at-new-yorks-private-schools-rutabaga-fries-not-tater-tots.html). This school seems to be doing a great job with managing waste and using up all of the resources. But that is where the problem may lie for other schools… Resources are what private schools have room for. According to the article, public schools are more limited because they typically feed more students and have a portion of what private schools spend. But still there has even been some beneficial and effective health alterations in public schools (like my own high school).

I think these schools are heading in a great direction, especially since students get a lot of daily calories from school since they tend to eat breakfast and lunch as school. I think the garden is a very cool field for students and I would love is Susquehanna University could have one! There is so much farmland around here I don’t see why not…well busy college students taking care of a plot of land will probably end up more disastrous than high school students tending the land.  But if my high school did that, I would never want to leave. I would love the experience of gardening, I never have, and I would love to taste fresh foods in between classes!

Sweet-Snacking , Fasting, and Dieting in an… Obese? Culture

1) Food log: Same O’ Same O’. There is really nothing to major about my thoughts about what I’m eating or buying.  Although I am eating differently it is not because of anything about the class. I decided to stop eating sweets for my health and it was a challenge. I am a big snacker so I was easy on myself and allowed myself to snack on cereal, but not the super sugary cereals. I snacked mostly on apply cinnamon Cheerios. This was hard since I love chocolate, but I have to say I did not crave it as much as I thought I would. Though, I had impulsive responses to eat chocolate out of routine. For instance, at the Saint Patrick’s Day inspired fashion show event that was taking place in the cafeteria, one team threw chocolate coins in the crowd and I asked them to throw some my way, only to remember my commitments. It was a habit of me to dive for the chocolate and I had to catch myself. However, Friday, was the end of the week without sweets and I saw two chocolate chip cookies left at dinner. After a weeks of great salad meals, and apple cinnamon Cheerio snacking in almost every class, I treated myself to it! And without shame, until I realized that it was not two separate cookies but instead two chocolate chip cookies bounded together by chocolate frosting in the middle. I didn’t complain.

As for my less beef commitment, it has accidently turned to a less meat commitment. In staying on campus, I found myself more grossed out by the cafeteria’s chicken, and I would only eat chicken on my salads every other day in the cafeteria, when there is actual shredded chicken” and not the “chicken cubes”. Over spring break, I ate meat but still less than I would typically consume. Maybe this was inspired some of my friends who were on the Daniel Fast for Lent. In this fast it is easier to mention what they can eat: seeds, leaves, and vegetables (no sugars, starches, and all the more). That looks hard! I like my food sweetened and my punch thick!

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): When Americans think of obesity the prototype is a waddling, lazy fat person who has diabetes and who is too big to go up the stairs without almost having a heart attack. The truth is, the definition of obesity is highly dependent on Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. Obese is anyone who does not fit into the bracket of normal BMI (18.5 to 24.9). New York Times writer Pam Belluck’s point is that people may be over this ideal BMI and be in perfect health (here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/health/study-suggests-lower-death-risk-for-the-overweight.html). A lot of the arguments indirectly supported an article in International Journal of Epidemiology that claimed obesity does not affect mortality; they were: fat might be protective and even nutritional for older and sicker people, fat is only unhealthy depending on the type (belly fat is dangerous and hips and legs fat is not dangerous, in fact, the journal article said it is “negatively correlated with risk of cardiovascular disease”), and specific illnesses may not be due to obesity (Campos, 2005). As for the last argument, Belluck says “studies on specific illnesses, like heart and kidney disease, have found an ‘obesity paradox’, that heavier patients are less likely to die”. However, there is disagreement about diabetes between both articles; Belluck quotes a doctor that says being overweight “does increase your risk of having diabetes”. The journal article interest says that diabetes and being overweight are associated but there is no causal claim that obesity causes diabetes, in fact, obesity may be a symptom of diabetes since insulin promotes fat storage. In all, both articles approach that BMI should not be the only indicator of health and fitness (Belluck talks of a revision of normal BMI but the journal article disfavors BMI measures for mortality all together). Both also would agree that fat’s affect on health is conditional, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Belluck’s article says it best: “the best weight might depend on the situation you’re in.”

I say, this whole moral panic about America being obese is a pious response that also overlooks many conditions, especially statistical conditions. America wants to be on top and hold more power and rank, after all it is a capitalist country; therefore, we seek ranks of highest fit people, and want our people to be highest fit to be ready for war (too conspiratorial?). Lastly, the moral panic is that Americans are rapidly getting a lot fatter but are only really gaining 10 extra calories per day (Campos, 2005). So the scare might be that Americans will continue this trend and cross the threshold into morbidly obese people, but we tend to overlook the fact that this increasing rate may level off at some point in this dieting, pound shedding work out DVD selling, health talking country. Too optimistic? Don’t know, all I know is that, compared to findings supporting how fat America is getting, these findings failed to be frequently reported in our “good story” seeking entertainment…oops I mean news.

Educating and Proselytizing

1) Food log: It is hard not to eat beef, especially at work. I work at a children’s day care center in a head start/preschool classroom and lunch usually has beef in it (of course not all the time). In order to get the children to eat we have to put a little bit of food on our plates and eat it as well, even if we take a “no thank you bite” (a very tiny portion just to try it). I usually don’t take “no thank you bites” considering I don’t usually have to opportunity to eat before work. Also, the incentive to get the children to eat if there is beef in the dish is almost always, “look it has hamburger in it. Let’s taste our hamburger.” This follows up on one of my previous blogs about how beef is considered a common and taken for granted food. Now, I am not saying that I want to advocate the day care away from serving beef, I actually respect the nutritionally balanced meals (of course nutritious doesn’t always mean healthy but at least it is teaching the children how to have a balanced meal). It’s pretty difficult for me to turn the food down, especially the beef taco chip salad dish (that I’ve only seen once so for and have been patiently anticipating on). At home I would have used well-seasoned ground turkey as always but that was not an option here and without much self-criticism I gladly munched on seconds…and thirds. How lovely it would have been if what my taste-buds really love was actually healthy and free of risks (antibiotic resistance, supporting inhumane slaughter, processed and nutrition-ridden foods…and the list goes on).

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): Jaime Oliver is an advocate for unprocessed and “raw” (meaning un-altered by man-made product and processing foods). Oliver has a cookbook called “Jaime’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals” and even has a show where he goes to different areas to educate others about the importance of healthy and unprocessed foods. Oliver is known for being unafraid and unashamed of generous amounts fatty ingredients in his recipes such as cream cheese and olive oil because to him healthy means unprocessed. New York Times says “he is not a diet cop; he’s about scratch cooking” (http://bittman.blogs.nytimes.com/?s=jaime+oliver). But the reference to him as a cop and a “self-anointed Health Nazi” and even the fact that his cook book is based on a title called “Ministry of Food” might suggest that he is ministering or soliciting a disinterested crowd that may have negative reactions, especially to an outsider. Oliver has great intentions and a passionate will for a healthily just diet and a compassionate heart for the health of people but his way of advocating may be the same of a proselytizer. People do not want to be told that their food choice is bad, that they have been doing things wrong, especially from an outsider (an English man). Even though Oliver has great intentions, his methods may not be of the best mediums.

Tradeoffs and Cosmetic Discrepancies

1) Food log: In class we spoke about tradeoffs and consumer choice; we contemplated and discerned on which of the following what we be able to trade or sacrifice based on how priorities: consumer convenience, consumer price, knowing that something is indeed organic and not natural, knowing that your food came from a small organic farm as opposed to a larger organic industry, knowing that your food is local, knowing that your food is fresh (fresh does not necessarily mean local, the railroad is pretty fast which keeps the food fresh). At first it was pretty hard to decide what to tradeoff because we expect that organic means all of these factors, but as my professor best puts it, “These things cohere ideologically but not in real life.”I finally chose to go with valuing organic over all else. I must confess, I don’t really eat organic (I only ever had half an organic hamburger and half a ruben, and an apple) but I do buy organic products for my hair. The reason I choose organic over all else is because finding products locally can be hard, so I often depend on web-shopping through Amazon, Vitacost, and the like. Also, to me, organic means healthier and more efficient or better at doing its job. For example, I prefer organic coconut oil to hot oil treat my hair and mix it with other ingredients to make a hair moisturizer as opposed to the related store bought products because its healthier and makes my hair strong not just greasy and shiny. At this moment, I don’t really care about if it comes from a small farm or an organic industry because both are “sketchy”. You can never actually know which is doing the most ethical job and which has better job conditions without visiting for yourself, and since I have no interest in finding the time or money to do that, I will play blind and hope for the best. It’s already been a struggle to buy organic for my hair: prices are high, I have to pay for shipping most of the time because it can’t be found locally, and the list goes on. I don’t believe that it’s just me being indifferent about supporting the small farms, I think it’s important but supporting small farms that are “sketchy” are not all that promising and supporting large organic industries can be good push to have organics more easily accessible. In all, I just want my products healthy and chemical free.

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): Just as I was confident to say that I would choose organic and tradeoff all else, I have come across this article posted in the New York Times in 2007: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/fashion/01skin.html?pagewanted=all. This article urges that organic or natural does not mean healthier. An interior designer in Manhattan, Flavia Kawaja, “I mean, if you fry an organic potato, it’s still a French fry.” She’s right! But I have consulted with others and researched on what organic products are safe for my hair. I even learned that some man-made ingredients weren’t too bad (such as pantenol) and even compared websites (scientific and cosmetic) that broke down the definition, use, and precautions of certain chemicals. But still, I chose to just avoid those “good” man-made ingredients anyway by buying raw organic; however, Linda M. Katz, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors, “In fact, ‘natural’ ingredients may be harder to preserve against microbial contamination and growth than synthetic raw materials.” Again, organic doesn’t necessarily mean safe. I thought of a failed self-made moisturizing mixture made of coconut milk, some organic oils, and more that I made; I apparently used too much coconut milk which turned out to be the unattended base of my unrefrigerated mixture. Do I need to say more? I noticed that my room stunk and saw red spots forming in the clear bottle of my mixture so I threw it all away. What a waste! Of course, whatever bacterial breed that was forming in my mixture was due to unrefrigeration but what if I had a contaminated organic product?! This is making me realizing that having a raw organic priority for my hair is not the solution alone.  On top of that the article says that the FDA “never imposed a standard definition” when calling cosmetics natural or organic. I already look at the labels to determine if it’s actually organic or not but it makes me question the USDA that markets certified organics. Jane Houlihan, the vice president for research of the Environmental Working Group, says “Just because an ingredient comes from a plant does not necessarily make it safe to use in a cosmetic. Tobacco, hemlock and poison ivy are all examples of plants that can be hazardous.” I think for now I will just do more research my reading up on the organic company and not just look at the bottle. For example, I use SheaMoisture’s African black soap for my skin because I admire how their products are natural and free from many harmful chemicals, but reading that their family business is a legacy of their grandmothers homemade products made from Shea Butter Nuts and sold at the village market in Sierra Leone was very comforting. BUT then, reading to see if the raw ingredients are actually healthy. I can go on and on about this but basically, I will have a yet WIDER watchful eye (it really can’t get any wider than this…hopefully).

Cow (Not And…) VS. Chicken (The ‘90s Babies who had Cartoon Network will understand this title ;) )

1) Food log: This week I wanted greasy comfort food. I had a long day of classes and hadn’t eating all day and just as I was about to hit the “hamburger” button on the kiosk in Benny’s I thought “beef means cow” and ordered a fried fish sandwich instead. But Benny’s had no more fried fish so I ordered a fried chicken sandwich again; without thinking “chicken means actual chicken”. What I have come to realize is that I hear and accept a lot of the discourses around our beef (about the cow’s inhumane treatment, the hormones and manure in our meat, how consumer choice can influence industry, etc.), but I hear very few discourses about the chicken issue and I probably wouldn’t even accept it. Aside from inhumane chicken raising and slaughter, the only claims I hear about chicken is “Our children are developing faster…blame the hormones in the chicken”. What is it that makes beef and cow maltreatment top our discourse about chicken? I wonder if it’s a matter of quantity or quality that allows “cow-related matters” to triumph our “chicken talk”. For instance, if quantifying instances determines what matters in our discourse then we account more “cow-related issues” than “chicken-related issues”: so the list of cow-related issues (horn burning, tail chopping, acidosis, etc.) would outnumber chicken-related instances (smothering, brittle legs for weight, disease, etc.).  If qualifying instances determines this then we judge cow-treatment as more cruel, or maybe we just value the chicken diet more. I agree with the later; I think there is less discourse about chicken-related issues because we fear ridding its easy access from the American culture. This is not to say that American culture makes little use of beef (we love beef hamburgers, hotdogs, etc.), but that chicken is cheaper, especially in bulk, and may even be used more in American cuisine than beef (I don’t know this for a fact). Think about it, ever “unfamiliar” meat is compared to chicken. Frog legs: “I kind of taste like chicken”. Duck: “It tastes like chicken”. Alligator: “It tastes…chicken.” Chicken is a common food; maybe we fear that advocating eating less chicken would turn the majority against any organic food movement. Chick-Fil-A most likely would.

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): It’s clear of how unsafe of beef is due to the maltreatment of cows in the industrialized food industry, but what about our chicken? Beyond the fact that chickens are victims of inhumane slaughter, they are injected with antibiotics to fight of infections from being in overcrowded, diseased clusters. According to Nicholas D. Kristof’s article on The New York Times, there is arsenal, Tylenol, and Benadryl in our chicken. Also the chickens are exposed to feather meal, which contain “banned antibiotics like fluoroquinolones”. These antibiotics cause an antibiotic-resistance in humans. It’s ironic: humans inhumanely harm chickens but chicken can harm humans. Kristof said, “Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans annually than AIDS, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America”(http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/05/opinion/kristof-arsenic-in-our-chicken.html). Chicken is such a common, cheap, and easily accessible meat that the public doesn’t want to hear why they should not buy it. Kristof made a great point saying chicken is cheap food but it causes more cost from antibiotic-resistant infections. There is hope; according to Stephanie Strom’s article, there may be an alternative to antibiotics in meat: oregano oil. There has been debate about doing this because it “requires maintaining high standards of sanitation in barns” and a “good nutrition program” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/science/chicken-farms-try-oregano-as-antibiotic-substitute.html?pagewanted=all). “Also, there has been an increased awareness in food diners to have antibiotic-free meats. Krisof noted that, “In a nationwide telephone survey of 1,000 adults in March, more than 60 percent told the Consumer Reports National Research Center that they would be willing to pay at least 5 cents a pound more for meat raised without antibiotics.”Lesson is: it’s not just beef! Chicken is the issue too.

Jim Crow and Food: The Injustice

 1) Food log: Wednesday I was so happy about the cafeteria food. They served: sweet potatoes, cabbage, green bean casserole, beans and rice, collard greens, jambalaya, corn bread muffins, FIED CAT FISH, baked macaroni and cheese…(phew God help me! And I ate it all proud to say!) It was a celebration of Black History Month! Out of excitement I told my friend that I am already proud of my heritage but eating that food (which by the way tasted great for café food, the best meal served!) made me even prouder in that moment because of our food. To my surprise she said, “And what food is that? Slave food?” I argued that it’s not slave food it’s our heritage but then she made a great point that what our race have grown from in this country was slavery; she claimed that Black people were fed these foods and stuck with it. Truthfully, I don’t know the accuracy of the later comment and I don’t have the facts but it is true that Black heritage in this country has come from slavery. It may not (or may, I don’t know) be that Black people were fed certain foods, but I think the injustice lies in the fact of accessibility and affordability. Minority populations tend to have lower-incomes than majority (White) populations so they can afford and access cheaper diets. A pan of baked macaroni and cheese can feed two people for a whole 5 days (7 if you stretch it), frying chicken is cheaper than caviar (too extreme? Well then cheaper than a T-bone), and most of these foods are the processed foods with cheaper calories. I don’t know all the exact connects to slavery and Black diet but it is definitely an unjust relation.

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political):  All Coke and Pepsi facts come from this interesting article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/opinion/when-jim-crow-drank-coke.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

Wow! So the story in a nut-shell goes like this: Coca-Cola used to literally put cocaine in their soda in the 1880s. Middle-class Whites drank it from fountains that were in pharmacies, then it was bottled and Black people had access to it. The White newspaper complained that “negro cocaine fends” were raping their White women so then Coke used caffeine and sugar. For this, I think it is interesting in a twisted way how middle-class Whites made cocaine in Coke a social problem by scapegoating Black people and claiming that White people are in danger. But, moving on with the history, Pepsi began advertising using popular Black figures such as Duke Ellington; soon Coke was associated as being the White while Pepsi (Black) the image. What’s ironic is that now Coca-Cola has funded the NAACP and the NAACP chapter in NY refused restrictions on soda. Shocking, but then again, not so shocking. The food industry is a “twisted” situation as a whole because it tries to dominate. For example, industry consolidation has allowed companies to grow bigger and stronger and more powerful so that smaller funded organizations (perhaps like the NAACP) would buy into leaning on their support with confidence. Only thing is, this can lead to path dependence (an expected beneficial situation gone sour); just like with farmers. Farmers depended on the higher ups for support, they aren’t doing so well. What is to be said about this: 1) So what; let the past be the past, 2) the NAACP should drop Coke? Just from the facts that I have now so far, I do think the racial issue should be left in the past, but I don’t think the NAACP should have Coke’s name tagged to their because of the correlations of soda’s sugar and obesity. I just hope the NAACP doesn’t turn up like the farmers that signed their agricultural lives over to the big food companies…(like one of my previous blog says)…stuck.

Moral Distance: Immigrants, Slaughter, and the Move from Farm, Factory, then Plate

 

1) Food log: “The immigrants are taking American jobs!” I’ve heard this claim so many times and I was happy in class to have read an interview with Bryan Tolar, the president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, which would prove otherwise. There are complaints about a decrease farm labor because of the capture or fear of being captured of immigrants, yet there is 10% unemployment in America. Tolar said there has been promotion of these jobs through Georgia Department of Labor but people are just not showing up (http://www.npr.org/2011/07/02/137572612/cost-of-georgias-immigration-laws-passed-to-farms). Why? Because the work conditions suck! There is heat without air conditioner, there are insects that you have to fight off, there are long hours of bending over to pick crops, etc. You’d think that the majority of unemployment would withstand these conditions but, according to Tolar, apparently not. Recently, I think a lot more about the long train of hands that touch my food, and it is pretty sad how we expect the immigrants to do the “dirty work” to get the food on our plate and then blame them for taking our jobs (sounds a lot like Hitler blaming the Jews in my opinion). Speaking of filth and tyrants, now whenever I eat one of my favorite fruits (tomatoes) I cannot help but think of modern slavery (not human trafficking but agricultural slavery). I already knew that farm labor conditions for immigrants were horrible, but I didn’t know that people actually  stored immigrants in a back of box trucks with no bathroom, threatened them, made them pay for cold showers and food, and deprived them of large amounts (let’s say “ only” $55,00) in fair pay! Shame on you Caesar Navarrete! (http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2009/03/politics-of-the-plate-the-price-of-tomatoes) Unfortunately, this is not a one-time case, these instances are real. As I bit into my tasteless tomato slice I became mad all over again thinking, “This flavorless water came from slavery!” Not even worth it!  

I must admit, eating while thinking about eating is a bit uncomfortable; it bridges the moral distance that create from the brutal realities of the farm and factory to our plates. Eating dinner is supposed to be associated with joy and laughter, and I still have that but with a pinch of guilt (especially from knowing that my eating habits probably won’t change much with the budget I’m on!).

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political):  Right when they are born, piglets are slit open and their testicles and tails are removed.  Those who remain living on the line get scolded and their necks cut open while on conscious. Those who are unfit for food have their heads banded on the floor, hanged for a slow death, or thrown in carbon dioxide for a slow death. Right when they are born, male chicks are grinded in a machine or packed and suffocated in trash bags while still alive. Female chicks are de-beaked and sick chickens have their necks broken while alive or are clubbed to death. Cattle are de-horned (horns are burned off) and it is no guaranteed that stunning will kill them so some have their throats slit and their limbs cut off while alive and conscious. Fish have pop eyes from decompression and are crushed (even the non-target sea creatures caught in the netting process). Those that are farm raised are crowded in places where there is not enough water to share. …A slow death.  …All without pain killers. Animals feel pain too (from Farm to Fridge by Mercy of Animals; seeing this happens only makes his realer so watch at YOUR OWN RISK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ju7-n7wygP0&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dju7-n7wygP0&has_verified=1). This is why I would prefer humane meat (livestock that have been raised under healthy and merciful and kind treatment and that have a quick, and that the best, painless, death).

But then I come across this bold statement thought up by ex-rancher and now vegan Howard Lyman and I don’t know how to think of it: “At the end, Lyman got to the heart of the ethical question when he asked, would the Holocaust have been OK if the Jews had stayed in 5-star hotels and been fed lavish meals before they were escorted to their deaths? This to me sums up the moral conundrum that people such as the Nimans must face. Last night, I became more convinced than ever that humane meat is an oxymoron.” (http://www.appetiteforprofit.com/2010/05/21/why-humane-meat-is-an-oxymoron-the-lyman-v-niman-debate/). If Lyman’s scenario is considered should we think about plants and seeds? They are, in a way, captured and stored unwillingly (as compared to slaves) for a death (they are living organisms after all). I don’t know… I do believe that moral distance should be bridged so that people are aware and educated and think about their food, but I don’t believe animals should be compared to humans: they have a right to live a painless life but not the guaranteed right to live until they die of natural deaths. I think Lyman is going too far.  Does that make me a hypocrite? To some I am sure, but I believe God gave us the earth and we have the responsibility to care for it and use (and yes we have uncared and misused) but meat is here and declared “clean” (as all foods) by Jesus himself (and He even broke fish and fed a crowd fish). So…I think this Holocaust imagery is hyperbole.

Depleting Our Breads and Exhausting Our Breeds: Poor Divested Consumer

1) Food log: Okay, so this class has definitely allowed me to think about what I put on my plate. I have been eating meat-free (except for eggs of course) for breakfast and I am totally okay with it (since the cafeteria’s meat is not usually my first choice anyway). However, because of the few choices of “attracted” looking meats at dinner, I was forced to choosing the meatloaf over the “imitation” chicken nuggets that I bit into (then disposed of). (I said this class allowed me to think about my food choices more, not necessarily implement a 360 change in my eating habits. And as stated in my previous post, I never vowed into not eating beef, I just want to try not to eat it as much as possible). I even thought about my unintentional vegetarian meals such as the delicious quiche strata from the cafeteria. It had two of my favorite ingredients in it: cheese and bread. I thought about how unnutritious this very “nutritious” dish was (tongue twisted). The story of bread alone is testimonial of how our food has been depleted of nutrients. It is almost impressive how larger companies scared people away from home-cooked bread by claiming it to be unclean, low, and risky to health. It’s pretty ironic: a very limited science has claimed home-baked bread “risky” and consumers turned their chins up at the “low” home-bread makers who could not compete with the “safer” and “cleaner” technologies that the higher-ups were using; now, a very developed science has proclaimed factor-baked breads empty of nutritious value and it may be possible that consumers will turn their chins up at the store-brought bread buyers. Is it possible that people will go from “knowing where their food comes from: a clean factory” to “knowing where their food comes from: a healthy home-oven”? I think not! Sorry. See, people may be able to afford switching from buying baby formula to breast-feeding, but switching from room-temperature, plastic-wrapped bread to warm, clothed-covered bread is expensive and not to mention largely time-consuming. I think in our society (especially being one that has both genders working outside of the home) have little time and patience for that. And our low-income and poorer consumers just cannot afford the nutritious healthy calories. Until I “make bank”, I will continue to eat my plastic-wrapped bread that I love so much, with a multi-vitamin supplement on the side, of course.

2) “Foolitcal” (Food-Political): Breads are being depleted of nutrition and breeds are being exhausted from existence. Agricultural biodiversity is the practice of genetically modifying seeds and actively breeding for genetic variation. While variation and diversity may sound like good terms it may not be so good for our future. Sure, we reserve seeds for backup supplies in seed banks, and it’s true that we feed more people with the modern food system, but food security is threatened. What if a plague comes and sweeps out our food banks and vaults? And more logically, what if our human-altered seeds and breeds cannot sustain the drastically changing climates? Some farmers already have to find new ways to sustain their livestock that have not been able to adapt to the drastic climate change, and humans are the reason they no longer can adapt to it. I am not talking of global-warming, it’s actually quite simpler: some plants sustain in wet climates better than others, and some livestock sustain in hotter climates than others. The problem is that human hands have bred livestock away from those adaptable variations. In fact, the article “Animal Genetic Resources: A Safety Net for the Future” by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) says that traditional breeds (those unaltered by humans) “are generally more resistant or tolerant to diseases, and more resilient to temperature changes.” Now, heat stress had impaired reproduction of livestock and genetic erosion (disappearing of livestock with unique genetic make-up) continues in many ways (disease, impaired reproduction, etc) http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/al383e/al383e00.pdf. Just maybe if we can make “unhuman-altered” food sources as popular as “sliced-bread”, spread awareness, brand it, and then convince supermarkets to put it on the shelf, these foods can be the new and successful “breast-feeding trend”. Of course, there would be some issues with low-income and poorer consumers not being able to afford the higher prices for the better calories but no one got rid of the cheaper calories (they would still be a choice). In fact, this strategy would create more choice and make it more accessible and available to low-income consumers. At least our consumers will be less diverted of choice and health.