Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Goat Boobs and Chicken Butts: My Day on the Farm

                As I drove down a muddy road towards the farm, I was given the opportunity to think about what I would be experiencing today. Going in I knew I would be milking a goat and making goat cheese. I did not know what else we would be doing, but it turned out to be a great day. My first experience with the farm was a baby goat running up to see me and the others in the class. The older goats were trying to get through the gates to us. This got even crazier as a few of us decided to start giving the goats some alfalfa treats. They were so excited when those treats came around. A few of us collected eggs from the chickens. All of the eggs were quite warm. Many people made a comment about this. As we were working around the animals, some questions came up.

                One question that stuck with me was about drinking goats’ milk. As a few of us were preparing food, we started to discuss how strange it is that we drink the milk of other animals even as adults. Humans are like all mammals, in that we need to nurse as infants. We are supposed to drink milk from our mothers when we are just born. However, this is where we differ from any other mammals. We continue to drink milk even after we have passed our young stages of development. On top of that, we drink the milk of other mammals. Why do we do this?
                Humans are such strange creatures. We like to think we are above other animals, but are we really? We use animals for food, just like every other carnivore or omnivore. Our animal instincts are not as evolved as we think. We choose to eat the unfertilized eggs of a bird species, and drink the fluid of pregnant goats and other mammals. As an idea, this sounds quite absurd. As a sociologist, it is interesting to look at the food choices of people. Even though a large percentage of the human population is lactose intolerant, people still ingest cows’ milk. Why are humans so apt to eat food that goes so far against our natural instincts? Maybe we just want to get as far away from our animal side as possible.


When I first came to college, I had never before met a vegetarian (let alone a vegan).  But fate would have it that my closest friends would be vegetarians and vegans, and so I was exposed to a good amount of education about the benefits of abstaining from meat and animal products, while also being informed of the less-than-moral state of the factory farm industry.

After a couple attempts to give up meat for good and join the ranks of my friends, I found that I just wasn't good at it.  Perhaps it was a lack of self-control, but I think it was mostly the fact that I thought about meat differently than they did.  Growing up in a farm town, I was used to seeing livestock out in the open and my family buying locally-raised meat.  And, frankly, I didn't see what was so horribly wrong about eating meat that was both ethically and locally raised.  So I had these two sides of the spectrum--one side not opposed to meat, the other side informed of the environmental and health impacts of eating meat--that eventually cultivated my current diet, sometimes referred to as "flexitarianism."

A flexitarian is an individual who maintains a primarily vegetarian diet while also occasionally indulging in a few buffalo wings or a nice pot roast, (which I certainly can't easily turn down).  And while many full-blown vegetarians would say that this diet is a cop-out, there are still many benefits that come along with a diet that only occasionally includes meat, including a freedom from synthetic vitamin supplements, lowered risk of heart disease (and even cancer, so I've heard), a responsible reduction of one's carbon footprint, and a lack of stress when eating out.

Even though vegetarians often clash with flexitarians, I still believe it is a diet that comes with multiple benefits.  Since significantly cutting back on my meat consumption (and trying to limit that meat I do eat to only ethically and locally raised meat), I feel happier, healthier, and more environmentally conscious.

(But, in case you'd like to see the vegetarians'/vegans' argument against flexitarianism or just eating meat in general, watch this.  Truth be told, it's quite on point.)

Lady Gaga, Queen Elsa, and Mushy Mushrooms: Food as Art

"Food is everything, and nothing." For Samantha Lee, food is a means of artistic expression, and a way to convince her two children to eat healthily. Samantha has gained a measure of fame due to social media, especially Instagram, as she displays her amazing food creations to the public. Samantha practices kyaraben, similar to the Japanese tradition of bento boxes, for her children, photographs the outcome, and posts to social media, along with instructions so her followers can make their own at home. Bento boxes are Japanese lunch boxes in which parents create an elaborate scene with food. Samantha has created a variety of masterpieces, including cartoon characters, pop stars, and scenery of famous landmarks. She also makes cutesy animals in order to make healthy food more appealing to her kids. Samantha uses a variety of mediums, but uses a lot of rice, noodles, seaweed, vegetables, and eggs, in order to promote healthy living.
New York City
Let it go, Let it go!
In an article I read about the making of bento boxes for the creating of the definition of motherhood in Japanese culture, the making of the bento box reflected on the mother herself, and her status as a mother. Mothers felt the pressure from the school, as well as other mothers, to make elaborate lunches to take to school. Pressure was felt by the children as well, as they had to eat everything in their lunch (leaving food behind was not an option.) In this sense, bento boxes were a part of ritual, as children had to have them in order to be normal, and could be stigmatizing, as children who did not have them were viewed by their peers as weird. 

Because of the greater number of working mothers, as well as stay at home dads and single dads, bento boxes are becoming their own industry. Parents who did not or could not put forth the effort could buy pre-made bento boxes in grocery stores.

In my opinion, Samantha Lee's work has nothing to do with pressure and competition, but is just a way to show her kids she cares, as well as a way to get them to eat healthier foods that they normally would not eat. I think its a beautiful means of expressing oneself, while working with food, so I decided to try it out for myself. You can figure out which one belongs to me ;).
Tortilla mushrooms with a pepperoni sun and ladybug
Lady Gaga, with hair of egg
Gangam Style!

to hell with the last meal, just kill me already!

I would like to take a minute to reflect on the idea of the last meal...

First let me describe what I would ask for if I were on death row and facing the final breath that next morning...

I am very close to my mom, my Nana and my aunt so I would ask for my favorite dish from each of them to be prepared all in one meal. Every Christmas my mom makes breakfast casserole for the two of us and it is by far one of my favorite dishes that she makes. Eating this would allow me to reminisce on all of the Christmases that I spent with my mom eating breakfast, opening gifts from Santa, and watching the Macy's Christmas Day Parade. The best dish that my Nana makes is turkey dressing on Thanksgiving. I am very picky so she makes a special dish for me that has no onions, only celery. She always thinks that it has too much sage, but my taste buds go to heaven every time. And last but not least, I would have my aunt's broccoli casserole. She says it is a pain in the ass to make, but it is so worth it every Easter Sunday after church.

As you can tell, all of my favorite dishes come along with the holidays which make them even more special than if they were separated from that time of year. I believe that these foods symbolize memories and traditions that my family has been doing within the last 10 years which is why I have such strong ties to them. A holiday without one of those dishes would be weird...

Can I play devil's advocate for a second though? Can I contradict myself too?

Yeah? Okay...Check out this video!

Even though I have my entire death row dinner planned out, I cannot say that I agree with this program. Why should a death row inmate who committed murder, for instance, be able to get something they actually want, that is satisfactory to them before they take their final breath? They sure as to hell were not thinking about the repercussions of their actions while stabbing their ex-wife in the chest over child custody issues, so I still question: WHY? I do not like to think about the fact that our tax dollars are paying a nice meal to be prepared for someone who no longer contributes to the system and deserves to be on death row. Maybe that is because, at the end of the day, food is just food to me--it is just natural, if that makes sense. I do not think about food on another level of how important it is to people, to my family or even to myself. I mean sure the breakfast casserole on Christmas morning means something because it is a tradition, but at the same time, it is still just food. Maybe I'm wrong for thing this way, but I like playing devil's advocate and it is really hard for me to get over the fact that a death row inmate gets such a privilege.

What do you think? Is is fair for an inmate to receive such treatment? If you were in the situation, how would a last meal be significant to your life--or would it be?

mic check 1-2, 1-2

They say we should be eating more raw foods. That's all I needed to hear to whip up another batch of cookie dough.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I have this problem fascination with taking pictures of everything. I guess deep down sometimes I worry that I will experience this wonderful life and I will forget everything. I guess you could blame that on movies like 50 First Dates and The Notebook. However, in all this picture taking I have become a huge fan of the hashtag: #FOODPORN. What does this mean, you ask? Well, I'm no professional social-media user but I've accepted it as taking pictures of  all things edible.

 Preferably, I would like to see mouth-watering and delicious things but we can just draw the line at edible because as I have learned in just the first few days of class everyone draws the line somewhere in what they will put in their mouth.

Here is a list of things my classmates and professors dislike to put in their mouths:
  • Tomatoes
  • Lima Beans
  • Spinach
  • "Fishy Things"
  • Potato or Tuna Salad
  • Maraschino Cherries/ Cottage Cheese
  • Eggplant
  • Olives
  • Steamed Cabbage
  • Melons
  • Cheese
  • Egg Salad
  • Broccoli
  • Super Market Pastries
I learned of this list on our first day of class and thought to myself "I better write this down" especially considering we will all be cooking for one another at the end of the class. Another thing I learned was how to make a pot out of newspaper and plant cute little baby seeds in them.

                                                    Cara (left) models our newspaper pot maker. Above is an example of one of the newspaper pots made and Below is a few of the students filling the pots with soil and seeds.

In the class I'm taking this spring term called The Meaning of Food my biggest hope, aside from learning about food- where it comes from, how it effects us, what the implications are involved with food, etc.- is that my instagram friends don't get annoyed with all my pictures of the different types of food-related adventures I'm documenting. Such as the instagram picture I posted of what I would like to call #PREFOODPORN.

"Can you guess what kinds of seeds these are? #themeaningoffood #springterm" 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Welcome to Food and Society

Welcome to the blog for our spring term class on food! You'll find a description of how to write a good blog post here and a link to the final food presentation for the class here. For tomorrow's class, think of possible names for the class blog and comment on this post to let me know you've been added as an administrator.

Final food presentation

Final Food Presentation

Your final project for this class will consist of preparing some kind of dish to share with the class and giving a presentation on this food. You may do the final project alone or in groups of two. Final presentations will take place during the last week of the Spring Term, May 19-22.


For your presentation, you need to explore your food from four of the following seven areas:
Personal biography
Philosophy and ethics
Culture (religion, tradition, ethnicity, etc.)
Science (environment, nutrition, ecology, etc.)

Your presentation should last approximately (7-9 minutes). You should have an outside source for each of the four areas you choose, as well as drawing on at least two class readings/films, making for a total of at least six sources for you presentation. On the day of your presentation, you must turn in a 1-2 page outline and a bibliography.

Food preparation:

You will have access to Kate and Robyn’s kitchens if you need to prepare your dish. Please let us know ahead of time if you will be needing to use our kitchens. You should try to prepare enough of your dish so that everyone in the class (14 + 2 instructors) can have a sample.

Friday, April 25, 2014

What makes a good blog post

Writing a blog post should be different from writing a paper that only your professor will ever read. If your blog posts read like a regular paper, you are not taking advantage of this format. Here are some specific things we'll be looking for:

- Readability: Is this a piece of writing that someone might read even if they were not being paid to do so? Does it have a hook? Does it convey information in an entertaining, humorous, interesting way?

- Accessibility: Can someone without the benefit of our class enjoy and understand this post? Is it filled with jargon or terms that most people wouldn't understand? If it uses such terms, does it give a quick and easy definition?

- Connection to class content: You should refer to course readings, content, videos, discussion, etc. You should do so in a way that is easy for those not in the class to understand. This might mean translating complex ideas into a few sentences, a useful skill to have.

- Creativity: A blog is a place to try out different formats. Make a list. Write a post from the perspective of a car or a bug or a tree. Imagine a conversation between a factory-farmed pig and the person about to eat it. Be funny. Be smart. Be weird. Be creative.

- Interactiveness: Okay, that's not a word, but who cares? Do you find links to interesting content for your post? Do you include pictures or images or videos? Blogs are a uniquely interactive format...use it.

- The basics: If you misspell words, use bad grammar, forget punctuation, etc. etc. the whole world will know. Your writing will be out there in the world. No one wants to read a blog post that's sloppy. Try to make it clean.

This is an opportunity to try out a whole other type of writing. Take advantage of it!