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The “Kenny” section of Eric Schlosser’s “The Most Dangerous Jobs” chapter in “Fast Food Nation” left the biggest impression on me.  After reading Schlosser’s first hand-account of the terrible working conditions that exist in the slaughterhouses, reading the anecdotes about how these conditions have personally affected particular workers solidified how bad those conditions are.  My disgust with the American slaughterhouses system continued to grow as I continued to read workers’ testimonies.    I was even more upset by the lack of any mention of lawsuits that these suffering workers brought against their slaughterhouses.  I come from a family of many lawyers from New York and am therefore not naïve to the very litigious times we currently live in.  However, until I read these stories, I did not realize what a privilege it was to be able to bring forth these lawsuits.  Clearly, these workers do not have the money or time to take on a lawsuit against such big companies.  Seeing the good the lawyers in my family are able to do for their clients made hearing the workers’ stories even more troublesome, because I know how much they deserve.  Schlosser’s “The Most Dangerous Jobs” demonstrates how how serious of a change is needed in American slaughterhouses in order to protect its workers.  More serious unions must be implemented in order to ensure a safer worker environment for workers’ protection.

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/hunger-the-us-historic-highs

This article really took me by surprise. I thought that hunger was a past issue in America and I’m actually very shocked to find out that this problem still exists. I think this is because often time, we see hunger depicted as a third-world problem. I’ve never seen a picture or any form of media that show an American child being hungry while pictures of starving African children are all over the media and I think that this is a bit of a problem. I think there needs to be more awareness of hunger being a problem in America as well since alot of Americans (including me) take food for granted because we think that it’s a right we have as citizen of a well-developed nation and that everyone in America is getting at least enough food everyday when in reality, there actually are Americans that aren’t getting enough nutrients because they can’t afford to eat adequately.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/21/health/irpt-weight-loss-teena-henson/index.html?hpt=he_c1

 

This article from CNN.com is a super interesting personalized story that connects to our earlier studies of how diets don’t really work for overweight people. Teena Henson had a family history of overweight women with diabetes and many health issues, but still managed to fail everytime she dieted. She finally was able to lose weight when she stopped seeing her journey as a diet but more of a lifestyle change. By simply swapping out bad things for healthier foods and activities she was able to spark a great weight loss journey. I thought this was interesting in the context of our class because it shows that there are many ways to get around those studies that said how ineffective diets are, because we all could use a little faith in something that seems hopeless.

Good news and bad news. Salmonella cases have dropped 9% this year as compared to the past three year period in which cases were reported. The bad news, there has been a 75% increase in the food illness, vibrio infection, which is found in uncooked shellfish. With summer approaching, oyster season is coming. Yet, with such a substantial increase food illness caused by eating oysters, I would be careful before you order this summertime treat. Food poisoning is definitely a serious concern, with one in every six Americans contracting food poison every year. This year, there was also an increase in the amount of campylobacter infections reported. This is the second most common foodborne illness and is caused by eating chicken and dairy products. As consumers, it is sometimes hard to control our immunity to food poisoning, but I would advise to stay away from oysters! Check out the link for more information.

 

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/17/salmonella-cases-down-but-watch-out-for-other-foodborne-bacteria/?hpt=he_c2

 

Price Comparisons

For a restaurant whose food is mainly prepackaged and cooked in the microwave, Applebee’s food prices are, in my opinion, way too high. Unless you do the 2 for $20 deal, main entrees could range from $11.99 to $18.99 (according to the online menu). For a restaurant whose target population is middle class families, Applebee’s doesn’t seem to be saving them a significant amount of money compared to other restaurants. I would assume Applebee’s has the stigma of being a cheaper alternative for a nice sit down meal than a local restaurant, but it’s not actually true. Below, I compare Applebee’s prices to a few local Ann Arbor restaurants. The prices are not that much different between the restaurants, yet at Savas and Lena, the food is fresher and prepared for you, not prepackaged and shipped.

Applebee’s:

  1. Four Cheese Mac and Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders $12.99
  2. Shrimp N’ Parmesan Sirloin $18.99
  3. Double Glazed Baby Back Ribs $18.99
  4. Lemon Shrimp Fettuccini $14.99

Savas:

  1. Roasted Chicken $19
  2. Chicken Fusili $17
  3. Fish and Chips $16
  4. Miso Salmon $24

Lena:

  1. Adobo Chicken $18
  2. Carne Asada $19
  3. Braised Short Ribs $22
  4. Beef Churrasco $21

Mad or Hangry?

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/14/low-blood-sugar-makes-couples-more-aggressive/?hpt=he_t3

 

The more recently popular word “hangry” is used to describe that un-ignorable irritated feeling when you are hungry, and the ensuing havoc you wreak on everyone around you. This experiment studied how being hungry affected a couple’s aggression toward their significant others using 107 recruited couples. By cross comparing glucose levels every night with how many voodoo pins they were willing to stick into a doll that resembled their mate, the researchers were able to measure “hangry” their subjects were.

Can this study be taken seriously when there are SO many other varying factors that could make someone more angry at their spouse? It seems so, because they adjusted for relationship satisfaction. Also, I am a firm believer in a good meal’s ability to easily improve my mood.

Tracie McMillan concludes her intriguing and bold investigation in a manner parallel to many American celebrations: she takes it to Applebee’s. As one of the largest casual dining chains, not only in the US but, in the entire world, Applebee’s has come to represent something more than being restaurant quality food. McMillan argues, in her final chapters on the work that she does in the culinary establishment, that middle and lower class diners don’t really attend Applebee’s because they think that the food is better than they could have made even themselves. They attend the restaurant because being able to spend four-times their regular dinner budget, whether it be a $20 dinner for two or $70 for a family of four, the ability to go out, sit down, and pay for someone else to do the cooking, serving, and cleaning services of a meal for you represents the American dream in some way. This point she makes is also highlighted in her discussion of the processed and boxed foods for which we have made a staple of our diets (on average in America) versus cooking a meal from scratch in the kitchen. She points out that the true time difference in making a preprepared boxed meal (like Hamburger Helper in the case of her childhood memories) and a home meal from scratch is, on average, no more than about 10 minutes. McMillan also adds that this time difference is mainly due to simple prep work, like slicing and chopping.

The “luxury” of a food that is processed by someone else has been misrepresented in American culture as easier, more time saving, or cheaper than the sum of a grocery-store-purchased-parts meal made from scratch. However, what I took from McMillan’s finale in “The American Way of Eating” is that, what we really purchase these processed and restaurant foods for is self-righteousness. We LOVE taking advantage of the fact that, if just for one night, we can put aside our responsibility as a human to provide ourselves with proper sustenance and have someone else do it for us. The American dream dictates that hard work alone is enough to reward any person with their desires, and that does not exclude their diets. McMillan’s conclusion in the Applebee’s in Brooklyn showed that most mediocre processed and restaurant foods are all about the pride of signing the pay check after a hard earned check.

 

Questions:

 

How have Applebee’s culinary practices changed since the publishing of this book?

 

How can jobs that simply “make ends meet” be adapted so that the worker can enjoy more of their life?

I recently came across a very interesting study where a group of researchers from Texas Christian University set up three different labels next to a fast food menu. “One group’s menu had no labels of any kind. The second group’s menu was labeled with the total calories in each item. The third group’s menu was labeled with the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take someone to burn off the calories in the meal.”

The study consisted of a total of 300 men and women age 18-30 years old. They divided up the participants into three groups. Each group was assigned to one type of the labeling (or no labeling) mentioned above. They all had the same options such as burgers, chicken tenders, french fries, and salads.

I expected to see pretty drastic results. In my opinion, when I see the calories noted on a menu, it plays into my decision making. Furthermore, if I were to see how many steps I would have to take to burn off that meal, my decision making would also be affected. While the study did show similar results, they were not as dramatic as I would have thought.

The activity-labeled menu study group ordered 139 fewer calories and consumed 97 fewer calories on average compared to those who ordered off of the menus with calorie labeling and those without any labels. Between these other two labeling groups, there was no significant difference between the amount of calories ordered.

This study was a good reminder to always be aware of what you are eating. While the results were not very large, smaller caloric reductions such as these could make the difference.

Here is the article: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/23/would-you-like-2-hours-of-exercise-with-that/

After our discussion last week about natural and artificial flavors, I thought I would share this article with you guys. The article is from a food blog for college kids that I’m actually really involved with called Spoon University. (Check them out if you’re interested, the articles are pretty great). This one was about food that is named something misleading and the one I was particularly surprised by was truffle oil.

 

Truffle oil is a flavor often added to French fries, mac and cheese, and lots of other dishes. I always believed that the flavoring was truly derived from actual truffles which are a strongly flavored, quite expensive type of mushroom. Because truffles are so expensive, dishes that contain truffle oil are often a little pricier, but still not as expensive as something with pieces of truffle.

 

I was shocked to find out that truffle oil does not come from truffle at all but from a random chemical called thioether that smells and tastes like truffle. I don’t plan to stop eating things with truffle oil because it’s so delicious but it’s a bit concerning that the flavor has no connection to its natural source and that we get charged extra for the false advertising.

 

Here’s the link to the article if you want to learn about other foods with misleading names. http://umd.spoonuniversity.com/kitchen/wtf-thats-ordered-foods-misleading-names/

Brubaker Dairy Farm

We have got a lot of insight on the negative conditions and qualities of the meat, fruit, and vegetable farming industry, but I just wanted to share some info on what seems like the other end of the spectrum.

I have been at this confectionary conference and had a chance to visit a Pennsylvania dairy farm called Brubaker Dairy Farm(here is a little clip with more info). From what I saw at the farm and heard from the owner and from the presentation he made at the conference, it is a nice contrast to what we have seen in class in terms of farm conditions.

The cows are treated pretty well(as far as cows go), they practice sustainable farming methods and have an anaerobic digester to produce manure as well as power, and they pay their workers well and give them good benefits. The conditions on the farm were open to the public and there aren’t a lot of secrets, which I just thought was cool to see after such ridiculous conditions in meat supplier industries.

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