Feed on

With the turn of the new millennium, the United States desert industry has been transformed with the rise of Frozen Yogurt franchises.  Consumers— me being one of them— have hopped on to the bag wagon of this “healthy desert” and have become loyal and dedicated customers.  I cannot exactly explain why there is something appealing and inviting about a product that is advertised and natural.  I believe this can be attributed to the weighted obsession our society has with the association between healthy and organic.  But when looking at the facts, is there any truth to this?

Eric Schlosser calls this organic versus artificial debate into question in  “Why The Fries Tastes Good.” He raises the argument that “a natural flavor is not necessarily healthier or purer than an artificial one.”  Therefore, why is it that in America there is a taboo between artificial and organic flavoring?  People have increased their food budgets solely so they can incorporate “natural” and “organic” flavored foods, despite the fact there is no health difference between these foods and artificially flavored ones.

In order to stay relevant, frozen yogurt chains have taken to advertising their flavors as “natural” and more “organic” than their competitors.  However, as asserted by Schlosser, “Natural and artificial flavors are now manufactured at the same chemical plants, places that few people would associate Mother Nature.”  Therefore, is it a testament to our society today that we are so committed to buying a product solely based on its label?   I cannot deny that I love natural frozen treat—perhaps this is because I am a product of America.

Question #1: What other foods are questionably labeled as natural?

Question #2: Do you feel that you are more attracted to foods that are labeled as natural?

Question #3: When considering advertisements, do products highlight the “natural” quality behind their products?

There was a lot of mention of fecal matter in fast food restaurant products, and I was curious as to how common the concerns in the film were. I found this article that discusses a study about the amount of fecal matter in fast food soda. According to the study, Coliform bacteria was detected in 48% of the beverages. Coliform bacteria is a bacteria that commonly grows in feces.

Apparently there is only been one outbreak due to soda, however there are many cases of ‘gastric distress’ that goes unreported. I’m not sure how concerning the statistics are in terms of health, but it is still kind of gross.

Learn to Cook!



This presentation for UC Berkeley professor and food researcher Michael Pollan (he wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma) discusses the importance of cooking at home and how it effects health and diet. This is very intriguing because it highlights how marketing, corporations, and mass production made cooking seem like a burden rather than a necessity. It is seen as something that can be easily outsourced–by chefs, restaurants, and fast food joints. He argues that health doesn’t come from what you eat or where you get it from, but just by cooking something by yourself. Self production is the key.



Those multi-colored things, the flat things we use to carry our two tons of food, that’s right, the trays in the dining halls, GONE! I have been to the dinning hall since last semester as a last resort for food with a friend; by the way I used a tray. But this semester when I visited Besty Barbour on a complimentary guest swipe I was surprised to find out that there was not a tray insight. This change ins’t particularly relevant to me but I was interested enough to ask why this change occurred. University Housing had a meeting with the parents of students that attend the university and whose children eat at the dining halls, first I’ve heard of this. In short the major reasons why the university decided to fade out the use of trays were to reduce the amount of food they is wasted and over consumption. I think that this a a great step toward making a difference on campus about the privilege of food. I have always thought that people waste some much food that could be used by someone who really needs it. In the hopes of preventing further over consumption I believe the removal of trays is a good idea. This means that students would have to repeatedly go back and forth for plate after plate, I’m not to sure that people would actually do this because I think obesity and laziness go hand and hand sometimes. The removal of trays, something that is supposed to make life a tad bit easier, for someone who only gets one cup, one plate of food, and one bowl of fruit would not be the happiest person after this change.

As I was writing my primary source paper, I came across an interesting French Legend about a band of robbers during the time of the plague in Marseilles. Apparently while everyone was sick in the bed with the plague and barely conscious, a team of thieves decided to take what they wanted from whomever they came across. It’s believed that they concocted a special recipe that protected them from the contagious plague. A mixture that included rosemary,lavender, rue, sage, mint, cider, vinegar and wormwood (whatever that could possibly :) ). Of course they were eventually caught and sentenced to death; but fortunately they were pardoned due to they giving up the above recipe that they washed their face and hands with before coming into contact with the infected people. Thus their lives were saved by a recipe. Who would have thought?

I recently came across a CNN article that examines the cost of healthy eating. It interested me because it really pertains to our final project. The article tells of a study where the team looked at over 2000 studies that compared healthy and unhealthy versions of food – for example, lean beef versus fattier. It also compared diets that were plentiful in fruits and veggies and those that consisted of processed foods. The study included information from ten different countries (they converted food prices into dollars and adjusted for inflation).

Their results showed that the biggest price difference occurred with meat, averaging 29 cents more for the “healthier” versions per serving. The food groups that showed the smallest price differences between healthier and unhealthier versions were grains, dairy, and snack foods. Overall, for one day, the price difference for eating healthier would be about $1.50 more.

For more information, you can find the article here: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/05/healthy-eating-costs-you-1-50-more-a-day/

I found the juxtaposition of the Mexican immigrants, the middle class fast food workers and the corporate workers was very interesting.  It shows how different the lives for the working class, the immigrants who are in the slaughterhouses, and the people who are in charge of running these facilities.  The filmmakers make the distance that exists here is a visual one in order to exaggerate the difference that exists in real life.  The immigrants are in the dark a lot of the time like when they are crossing the border and when they are in the van.  However, the executive of the company is always in sunlight as well as the middle class workers are in slightly dimmer light.


I believe that this difference is also paralleled in situations in the lives of each class occurring at the same time.  For, example when the immigrants are in the slaughterhouse the fast food worker was eating with her family.  Also when Don is investing the UMP plant some of the immigrants are also working in a slaughterhouse.  Another similarity occurs when the workers at the Mickey’s are planning a robbery and when Don visits the rancher and the rancher calls the taking of his land, robbery.


Yet later in the movie it is shown that both sides have problems.  These problems are essentially the same.  They all have families and loved ones they need to support.  They also both have jobs they need to keep in order to survive.  Fundamentally, they are in the same situation as well because of these similar problems.  They are trying to live the best they can and to survive with the jobs they can get.  Despite the movie separating these people using film techniques like lighting to show the existing class differences.  However, the movie’s plot ultimately unites the classes.  They are all in the current fast food system in the U.S. with all of its problems and are nearly powerless to change them alone.

Questions for Discussion

  • Does this movie present the only possible perspective on the food system or is it biased towards the negative side?
  • If this is the true reality and we are as hopeless to change it as the movie describes, what can we do to make a better future?
  • Should we band together and act as one or try and influence those already in power by doing things like writing letters as one of the students in the movie wanted to do?
  • Or maybe a combination of the two is the solution?

I thought this is an interesting article because it’s usually us Americans that judge foreigners’ food but this article talks about American food that foreigners hate. For the primary source paper, I wrote about how certain food is considered “fancier” just because it costs more such as asparagus and lettuce. However, I don’t think you should use food to characterize fanciness because just like this article shows, food is an objective matter and food that one person find tasty might not be so tasty to another person.


Obama Visits Zingerman’s!


The most exciting food news in Ann Arbor today was that President Obama visited Zingerman’s! Specifically, he ordered a Reuben. At the Golden Apple Awards tonight, President Mary Sue Coleman said she had spoke to the White House about why Obama likes visiting Ann Arbor so much (this is his third visit during his presidency). In addition to our great student body and accommodating event team, the White House mentioned Obama’s love for Zingerman’s. It’s incredible how one restaurant can have such a big buzz. On it’s lowest level, food can just be a means of sustenance, but it also has great cultural significance. Zingerman’s is one of the staples of Ann Arbor; something all incoming freshmen look forward to and all alumni miss greatly. They even sell Zingerman’s t-shirts in maize and blue, showing how synonymous Zingerman’s is for our university. I’m sure the Reuben is about to get even more popular!

The Language of Food

Even in the Victorian Era, adolescent girls felt the pressure to be thin. Whether from their mothers or peers, it seemed that thin was the way to go. In the reading “The Appetite as a Voice,” Brumberg suggests the social pressures of society on adolescent girls may have been a contributor to anorexia and it wasn’t just about being physically thin. There are much deeper social implications.

While anorexia nervosa was a highly prevalent problem among adolescent girls during the 19th century, the causes were often documented to be actual physical problems. Physicians would only focus on the physical examination and would disregard the young girl’s own narratives as unreliable. I think that this only made the problems worse. Ignoring the victim’s concerns only further reinforces their insecurities. In addition, when physicians couldn’t get the whole picture on what was wrong, they would immediately go talk to their mothers. Unlike today, there was no concept of patient-doctor confidentiality at this point and that made things even worse. They would continue to keep quiet as their mother would then be the ones to speak for them.

Victorian girls really didn’t have much say when it came to examinations, so it is no wonder that they turned to using their appetite as a voice. Not only that, but society largely saw “dainty” and “demure” as ideal characteristics of young women, further suppressing their voices in society. Since their body was the only thing they had control over, they used their eating habits as a way to express themselves. By not eating and being thin, women were thought to be of high moral character. Eating was seen as a sign of lack of self-restraint and was connected to many other unpleasant things. Food was linked with digestion and defecation, both things women never wanted to be associated with. In addition, over indulgence with food was connected to physical ugliness. All of these factors only led to young women being even more hesitant to eat and made matters worse.

Food and femininity went hand in hand. They didn’t have much control over what they did outside the home, so they turned to food, which was one of the few resources available for them to manipulate. By controlling their eating habits, girls could control how they looked to others and assert their social class. Being thin was a sign of high social class and etiquette. It was also expected of girls to be eating in such restricted ways as a sign of morality and intelligence. Young women used food as a language to express themselves as they were largely suppressed, but society’s expectations and the lack of understanding by physicians only exacerbated the problems that a majority of young women struggled with during the 19th century.


1. Do you think society’s unrealistic expectations of women and body images were more prevalent in society during the Victorian age or now?
2. What do you think is the cause of anorexia nervosa still being prevalent in our society today even after more than 200 years of societal and cultural changes?

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »