Jewish & Fish (but not as a combination)

What’s going on in my food life? Well let’s see. I think I’ll start out by giving you a contextual look into my academic life. Right now, three of my four classes deal with either environmental or food, or a combination of both. My current class roster yields economic, environmental and personal feelings toward the food system. Most directly related to this section of the class is my curriculum in my History and Culture of Jewish Cuisine. In that class we dig into what it means to eat the food that we do, what attracts us to buying that food, and what personal or social institutions lead us to purchase or eat food in any certain manner. Coming from a Christian background it’s been very interesting to learn about the details of, Kashrut, or the dietary laws of the Jewish community. It really affects where they get food from, and what they put in their mouth. With the amount of limitations they have on their foods because of the laws, it is in my opinion that they are more likely to ‘organic’ then other people. I find this dynamic interesting that a whole religious population could help fund a movement in organics or local buying because of the laws they abide by. For example, there are certain ways that something must be cooked, therefore they usually purchase food items and make it from scratch. Often times, because fast food kitchens are not kosher, members of the Jewish community do not eat out. Instead, they buy from local owners of farms and restaurants because they know and trust where there food is coming from. My question is, how can we develop these religious dietary laws into someone’s life who is not practicing Judaism?

In the article I found on Grist, there is new discourse among fisheries. It is the ideology of feeding fish a vegetarian diet rather than fishmeal or fish oils. The argument stems from the idea that there is a trajectory of people eating more farm-raised fish then wild caught. This seems to make people think more about what the fish are eating and what is then going into the consumers’ body. The statistic in the article shows that even 5 years ago the average farm raised fish was fed almost 50% cornmeal. Now, they said it is in the teens. This is a definite turn in industry and makes the eating of farm-raised rather than wild caught feel much better. I like this article, because I like the idea of fish eating other natural things rather than their same species. I’m attracted specifically from a quote from bioethicist in the article that states, “If the fish thrive on this diet, don’t get sick, haven’t experienced a shortened life span or problems in reproduction, then I don’t see it as an issue. With cattle, a certain percentage develop abscesses that involved suffering and condemnation of the carcass, so you might ask yourself, if it causes that, why do people do it? Because it’s only one in 10,000. I have no idea about the health of a [carnivorous] fish [on a plant-based diet], but if there is a negative effect, even if it’s justified by economic activity, then it’s a moral issue.” For me, as an non-economics person, helps me to better understand the negative and positive expectations that consumers have of their food.

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As I sit here a…

As I sit here a quarter of the way through the semester I find myself thinking a few things when it comes the consumption of my food. First, I think of my current state of being and the kinds of foods I’ve been eating. Before this class I knew only a little about food and where it came from. I’ve heard of the local movement, and I am from a fairly rural area in Lancaster. There’s a small locavore movement occurring in the actual city, but as for suburbia? There’s not much there. My knowledge actually came from my brother, who went to a school in Maine that was fully sustainable. He brought back a lot of practical ideas for our family to grow accustomed to. I’d like to think that we have, but I realize we aren’t there yet. Let’s be honest, I don’t really live there anymore, I spend maybe 4 months all together there a year. I live here, at school. My sources of food include, Benny’s Bistro, the Caf, half-price wings after a night out at BJ’s and once and a while a trip off campus to a chain establishment, usually fast food, usually Dunkin Donuts. I do not have access to a kitchen to prepare my own meals, nor have I budgeted money to buy groceries (seeing as how I pay almost $3,000 a year for a meal plan). That leads me to the ever so popular notion that I DEPEND ON “THE MAN.” And to be honest, ‘the man’, or Aramark rather, does not feed me foods that are appropriate to living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I often get sick in my stomach. The next meal then comes from the same spot. It’s like a never-ending cycle of food poisoning. I wish that they would be a little more transparent as to how the Aramark food works. My question is, and I hope to find out through my peers’ projects, where does our school food really come from?

 

When I go about my business searching food blogs, reading and thinking, I usually never quite a vision of what I hope to find. But as this class continues and I decipher how I will benefit the most, the term equality sticks out to me. I am an advocate for equality and fairness, and as I search for the perfect article, I came across Pepsi Co. This article troubled me a little because there are two parts to its equality story. The first, I gathered from the title, Pepsi cuts 8,700 jobs; 4th quarter profits rise, obviously someone is not being treated equally. These people are being cut, so profits can be more. On the other side of the spectrum we have Wall Street’s view on the benefits as problematic (surprising, I know, but keep reading). The owner of the company is clearly doing the wrong thing. According to journalists on Wall Street, “Ms. Nooyi has come under pressure from Wall Street for a stagnant stock price and a lagging North American beverage business. She has been criticized for taking her eye off the core business of sodas to expand into healthier products, such as hummus and drinkable oatmeal.” She’s getting in trouble for wanting to expand her business. Now, I’m no business major and I realize this may be bad for the company, but I’d be proud to buy from a company that there was conscious effort to make their food supply healthier and better.

 

http://www.foodpolitics.com/2012/02/pepsi-cuts-8700-jobs-4th-quarter-profits-rise/

 

P.S. My fish sandwich in the caf for lunch was perfectly rectangular, odd?

My thoughts and Polyface Farms!

As the Sociology of Food class moves along I see a few different aspects I’d like to talk about. This week, these two have been floating through my head. This is the best way I know to organize my thoughts, so here goes.

Economics

I literally changed majors from business to sociology just so I can get away from economics, politics and the capitalist ideals and here we are discussing them again. I have a hard time understanding the point of all of it, and to be honest I feel like sometimes I check out. I have this ultimate wish that everything could be separated, that of all things the economy didn’t decide how or with what my food is made of. I think it’s repulsive that a few people, the 1%, dictate something as important as the nourishment in my body. But that’s obviously on the most general level

Processed Foods

My brother attended the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor Maine for this undergraduate. There, they studied horticulture and the whole idea of sustainable living, locavore culture and what that entails. As he returned home for breaks, he would share with us what he’s learned in the past. Now, I can’t say we are fully sustainable and do all things organically right, but my family has been making a conscious effort to buy local, organic foods. We’ve been trying many new things like quinoa, buying our groceries from the local market, eating at home more, and making more of an effort to make our own delicious, natural and healthy foods. My other brothers are both chefs, and have shared what they have learned about cooking meals with my father as well. All in all, at home we try our best not to eat processed foods that come from a factory, but rather build our own fresh meals.

 

Polyface Farm

                After reading the chapter in Pollan’s, Omnivore’s  Dilemma, about Joel Salatin’s farm in the Shenandoah Valley, I decided to do a little more investigation on exactly what happens at the farm. I went to their website and did some snooping around and found exactly what was mentioned in the book. It lays out the processes by which they use for all of their animals from cows to chickens and from pigs to rabbits. I am in love with the quote that is stated on the website in their mission statement: “We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.” I enjoy this quote best because it really utilizes their theory of a symbiotic relationship. Every part of their farm relies on something else so that it can survive. A fundamental, sociological ideology that matches would be functionalism. Every part has its duty, and at the end of the day each person survives because of another. It’s a beautiful thing, and becomes even better when it happens naturally. I recently went to the doctor and while I was being checked out he was asking me questions about school and what I was learning. I shared about my sociology of food class, what we’re learning and the book we’re reading. He automatically reacted with an “I’ve read that book.” He’s actually traveled to the Salatin farm to see how they farm. Since then, they’ve started applying what they learned to their very own acreage and now have meat chickens, egg chickens and their own sustainable garden. It was thoroughly inspiring that one farm, Polyface Farm, could make such an impact. I am excited to hear more about the locavore movement and how it is become a social phenomenon.

Food Blog Review!

According to Grist’s blog entry on February 1st entitled, “No, that’s not snow. Pesticides California’s Central Valley,” many of the fruits that come from this region aren’t necessarily the best for us. In the article, it describes from the point of an activist the problems she faces dealing with the farm owners of California’s central food providers such as oranges and other fruits that are shipped to the rest of the world. The problem these activists have is with the use of pesticides on the fruit to make it look perfect.. too perfect. As they use more and more of them it contaminates the local drinking water. The water could be filled with the fertilizer that keeps our fruits looking like wax pieces. Another issue they’ve found in the region is that of the groundwater pollutant, nitrate. The quote from the article says, “This combination of fertilizers, animal factory waste and old, leaky septic systems cause high levels of nitrate that exceed state and federal health standards and can cause death in infants and cancer in adults.” This has become a serious issue in Central Valley California. They’ve found serious health issues for the people of the region, even including rashes after showering. The poverty stricken area is forced to buy bottled water to make up for the lack of clean drinking water but not without a financial burden. As I’m reading this article it’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like to not be able to go to the sink and pour a glass of water, and not worry about if I’m going to live or die because of it. It’s not fair to the residents who are more than likely working those exact fields that the dirty water is escaping from. Something must be done for these people. I understand groundwater would be difficult to clean up. But the state of California could definitely help its resident by providing subsidized water bottles for consumption, rather than seeing its population become sick. According to my friend, who’s been in charge of Charity:water club here at SU, his statistic is this; 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water in the world. Don’t you think in the most powerful and developed country in the world, we could at least off our citizens that?

 

 

No, that’s not snow: Pesticides coat California’s Central Valley

Food Log 2/3

As we continually learn about the effects of our natural animal system against our own food systems I consistently seem to get sick in my stomach.  As a carnivore, I’ve always enjoyed a good cheeseburger, steak, chicken tenders, pork loin, ribs, you name it, I’ve mostly likely enjoyed it. As I bit into my delicious hunk of meat, not once did I really think of where it came from. For me, it was a source of protein that was needed for my sustainability. I’m an advocate for this: God put meat on this earth for me to eat, so why wouldn’t i? My problem as I eat meat after these last few class periods is not actually the fact that I’m biting down into a once living creature, but rather what has this animal been through that could be affecting me. The alarming facts are this, there is too much other stuff in my meat than the actual meat from the animal. Corn used as filler makes me sick. After watching the animal activist videos in the last week, it makes me wonder why I would ever want to eat a piece of pork from an animal that has been laying on the ground of a meat processing plant trying to fight for its life? I mean this in the least self-absorbed way possible, but how many germs do I encounter from eating it? I’m all for eating meat, but why do the animals that so willingly give up their lives for our benefit get treated this way? Why would I eat an animal that has been contaminated with germs, bacteria and diseases that I could potentially get. Immediate solution: stop eating meat.