Monday, December 30, 2013

What's for Dinner?

What are you serving for Christmas dinner?  This question was asked before the table had barely been set for Thanksgiving dinner.  We are creatures of habit - turkey for Thanksgiving, ham for Christmas, something liquid for New Year's Eve and cleansing January 2nd.  However, this year I wanted to do something different than the traditional copycat dinner normally served for Christmas dinner.  Having been raised in a vegetarian household, the meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas look very similar, but this year it was time to break out of the mold.

I spoke to my mom about the possibility of making a vegetarian dish which is totally different from our usual vegetarian turkey casserole.  The dish is called "Almost Beef Wellington with Madeira Sauce" and features a staggering amount of mushrooms (the more the better!) and mouthwatering Madeira sauce.  My mom asked me to find a substitute for the Madeira and so I decided to use Balsamic Vinegar after doing some internet searching.  As the recipe does not make very many servings we had to make several of the pastries, but it was so worth the effort!  Turned out we actually made too many which resulted in many happy people taking leftover pastries home.

Since this recipe was created by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) it calls for vegan margarine and the use of Morningstar Farms faux steak strips.  While I am definitely for the ethical treatment of animals, I also believe in the ethical treatment of my body and eating good food.  Therefore, we used real butter from Tillamook.  Due to Morningstar Farms, owned by Kellog's, who does not want us to know what is in our food and supports the use of GMO's I wanted to find a substitute for the faux steak strips.  However, I was unable to find anything palatable or a company which supports labeling GMO’s and also makes a good steak substitute.  I went ahead a purchased the Loma Linda brand faux steak strips, but you could easily substitute with making your own gluten steaks, using Seitan or foregoing it altogether.  Once we had figured out all the ethical and good food options we were ready to begin cooking!

Here is where I would show you pictures of the mushrooms, onions, garlic and steak all sautéing together to create a rich, hearty filling.  Or perhaps images of the balsamic vinegar reducing and becoming this deep, velvety sauce.  However, we were having so much fun whipping potatoes, filling pans with rolls, cooking squash casserole, combining ingredients for cranberry salad… I completely forgot to start snapping shots along the way!  One tip if you are going non-alcoholic and using the balsamic vinegar, you should definitely cut the amount in half of what is called for compared to the Madeira wine.  I also used sweet onions for the filling instead of shallots due to how much I was making and trying to cut down on costs.  It turned out beautifully!
Example of what dish looked like
You will have to believe me when I say the dish was a great hit.  The filling was hearty and filled with flavors; the sauce was deep, rich and added the perfect tones to the dish; and the pastry was the perfect flaky, golden brown.  From the leftover filling we made stroganoff and from the leftover sauce I will be making beef bourguignon.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Campaign in Retrospect: Part 2

I'm mad.  I'm furious that Washington state residents stood up for the right to choose who you want to love and marry (

I'm enraged that Washington state residents felt we have the right to ingest the finest green whenever we wish (  

However, Washington state residents decided to give into the fear mongering that large corporations presented and chose to remain in the dark about what is in their food.  At this point I have to stop and scream - ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!  When you break it down logically, it does not make any sense. Why would people who believe everyone deserves the right to choose to marry whom they want and ingest pot turn and suddenly say, "No!  I don't want to know what you're putting in my food"?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Campaign in Retrospect: Part 1

The little blue flyer inviting people to a discussion on the upcoming Let Me Decide initiative showed up at our favorite coffee house one day and I recognized that a piece missing from my graduate school work was the political nature of food.  I decided to attend the meeting and see how I could become involved.  The meeting was dynamic, fun and definitely aligned with my goal of obtaining more exposure to food politics.

The initiative was referred to as I-522, Let Me Decide, and was created with the goal of requiring all genetically engineered (GE) food to be labeled.  It was a first tier labeling initiative and would only require foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, or those which had been genetically modified, to be labeled.  The people leading the charge months before the campaign group ever arrived on the scene was Food & Water Watch and numerous grassroots volunteers, coordinators and other advocacy groups.

"Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping the global commons — our shared resources — under public control.  We envision a world where all people have access to enough affordable, healthy, and wholesome food and clean water to meet their basic needs — a world in which governments are accountable to their citizens and manage essential resources sustainably" (  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup: the Conundrum of Thanksgiving Traditions

The paper is beginning to look aged and food spotted; it contains the recipe for an amazing squash recipe shared with me by my lovely Tennessee 'mama'.  The ingredients are fairly simple, but the taste is comfort to the core and each time I eat it (only during the holidays) I can visualize sitting in the basement in Nashville, TN, crowded between friends, laughing, sharing and enjoying mounds of food and blissful company.

Cream of Celery Soup

This year as I stood in the grocery aisle and picked up the Campbell's Cream of Celery soup can I begin to question holiday traditional recipes and the ingredients we use for them.  If I alter the recipe will I be altering 'perfection'?  Will I be scoffing at tradition?

I read the ingredients...
  • Water
  • Celery
  • Chicken stock
  • Wheat flour
  • Modified food starch
  • Contains less than 2% of: vegetable oil (corn, cottonseed, canola, and/or soybean), salt, cream (milk), soy protein concentrate, monosodium glutamate, flavoring, potassium chloride, mustard flour, chicken fat, dehydrated onions, yeast extract, beta carotene for color, xantham gum, soy lecithin.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Diving In

“The kind of society that would waste this much food is one that doesn't value the earth or the products it produces. It's in our own personal detriment to continue the process.” -Dr. Timothy Jones

Every year in America we throw away 96 billion pounds of food. 

The meal consisted of pasta with cream sauce, spinach, and chicken and a salad made from lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and green onions. We did not pay a dime for it, the taste was fantastic and the produce was fresh and... It all came from the dumpster.


I was first introduced to dumpster diving after watching the documentary Dive! and was horrified with how much food we waste in the United States and Europe. I was shocked by how many people would not go hungry if we reduced our food waste.

The Department of Agriculture estimated in 1996 that recovering just 5 percent of the food that is wasted could feed four million people a day; recovering 25 percent would feed 20 million people. Today we recover less than 2.5 percent. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Finish Line and New Beginnings

Two years and a summer is how long it has taken me to finish graduate school.  Stuffing my brain with information on cultural studies theories, theorists, ideas, principles and writing until I could not see the joy in writing any longer.  I stepped away from this blog for a bit because it had seemed so much a part of me and so related to my grad school work I could not see the pleasure in it any longer.  I also needed to try and remove my advisor's voice (no offense Julie!) and begin reclaiming my voice in my writing.  However, on June 16th, I received my Master of Arts in Cultural Studies (MACS) degree and have decided to start writing again and focusing on my passions surrounding food advocacy, food politics and food in general.  Stepping away from so much of the school papers and academic writing style and returning to writing with the goal of starting a conversation, engaging people in discussions surrounding food and food systems.  There is definitely a lot to talk about out there right now!

This being said, I want to share the final pieces of my graduate school work - my final literature review paper (all 30 pages of it in it's original double spaced format; reduced to single spacing!), my presentation from the MACS conference including my slides which accompany the speech and a bit of critique surrounding these pieces.

Our class's MACS conference was a fifteen minute speech per student summarizing two years of work.  The forum was open within certain boundaries and I chose to focus on the topic of hunger in Washington state.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Food Spaces - Farmers Markets

Madrona-Capitol Hill Farmers Market is located in the parking lot of the Grocery Outlet, across from a local pea-patch garden and surrounded by busy streets. The parking lot fills quickly with flower vendors, lots of produce, bread, some delicious food stands and a few small products stands such as soap and personal care items. On the edges of the market a man sells Real Change newspaper. The market is friendly, lively and filled with sights, smells and sounds to enlighten your senses. Mad-Cap is held seasonally on Fridays from May through September.

Seven and a half miles down the road and around the corner the Ballard Farmers Market opens in old-town Ballard and takes up the historical, cobbled Ballard Avenue. The market is held year-round on Sundays and is filled with numerous vendors offering many different products - produce, chocolate, bread, personal care items, jewelry and much more. Ballard Avenue is surrounded by shops selling coffee, baked goods, art galleries, restaurants and more. The market at Ballard has a family feel to it and the vendors confirm this by stating, "I've known people since they were first coming here with their dogs and now they come with their kids and make it a family outing day". The street is quieter and a bit more low-key.  A man is also selling Real Change at Ballard, but he is a bit more hidden and does not call out what he is selling.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Soul Food

I believe there is no small irony in the name of our new favorite coffee shop in our new neighborhood - SoulFood.  Especially as it relates to a new community we have found in our busy lives which allows the people who enter this space to be their best, authentic selves.  A 'come as you are' joint which exudes the calming scent of incense, home, acceptance and love.

In my life currently, I am working on being a truer, more authentic self.  I decided I was not able to complete this work on my own and have sought the guidance of someone willing to help and guide me through this journey.  A part of this journey has been searching out communities and people who support authenticity and  seek truth as well.  SoulFood Books is one of these places and I/we have been blessed to find several other spots, such as Wilderness Awareness School (WAS), Oxbow Farm and some incredible friends who are totally cool with me being my wacky, weird self.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Farmer, Farm, Farming, Food: Trends in book references

I have asked several friends and family members to help me with writing some guest blog posts to offer different perspectives and add voices to the dialogue I hope to create through this blog.

Recently, my husband, Nicholas (check out his blog here!), has taken a significant interest in the data you can pull from the work I am interested in.  He is very intrigued by how the data shows our disconnect from the land, our food and those amazing people who help put said food on our plates - farmers!  While I have been blogging away on my research and activism, Nick has been pulling stats and reveling in all of the data you can find related to food and farming.

I am posting one of his recent search results which shows a disturbing lack of interest in where our food comes from, how it is grown and who grows it.


Farmer, Farm, Farming, Food: Trends in book references since 1820

I happened across a TED talk about a tool that Google built that allows you to search a series of words across the ~15 million books that they have scanned. I was interested to see what people have been saying over time regarding the “farmer”, their “farm”, the act of “farming”, and “food”. I was hoping to find some interesting data but what I found was more interesting than I expected.

Here is the graph from the data:

No Small Potatoes

This past quarter I decided to change things up in my classes and look more closely at grassroots movements and resistance outside the United States.  I had never studied Latin America and have found the culture surrounding food in the Americas fascinating.  The work being done in Latin America surrounding fair trade, shade grown, the banning of GE products, co-ops and more is phenomenal.  I feel because more money is spent on food by people in lower socioeconomic groups, these are the people the most aware of food politics and the centrality of food to life.  

I specifically wanted to focus on the recent banning of GE products from Peru in a record setting case placing a moratorium on all GE products for the next ten years.  I wanted to include information on the centrality of the potato to Peruvian culture as well.  While there has not been a GE potato developed at this point, I believe the immense importance of preserving the biodiversity of this central crop to Peruvian culture played into the involvement of Peruvian farmers and peasants in the resistance movement against Monsanto and other GE corporations.

While this tuber may seem humble in many ways, it is of vital importance to cultures, food sources, economies and biodiversity.  It became the nickname for a war, caused a tragic famine and secondary massive migration of Irish immigrants and is an incredibly popular children's toy (  The potato is not humble by any stretch of the imagination!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Humane Slaughter: an Oxymoron?

One aspect missing from my research has been a truly critical look at the meat industry in the United States.  Therefore I signed up for an undergraduate class Fall quarter 2012 taught by Katie Gillespie through the Comparative History of Ideas (CHID) program at the UW.  I was very excited to take this class from the moment I read the syllabus description: Students enrolled in this course should gain a better understanding of the workings of the U.S. food system (at both an industrial and small scale) and the experience of animals within this system. Using animals in the food system as a case study, this course will explore notions of power and difference, ethics and responsibility, and creativity in reimagining the status quo. This course will push the boundaries of how we think about difference and discrimination and recognize the intersections between human and animal oppression.

I knew this class would fit perfectly into my research as I am looking at food spaces and one of these food spaces was that of the production of meat and dairy products.  One of the first books we read in class was 1984 by George Orwell and I wrote a think piece looking at how I practiced the concept of 'doublethink' and 'doublespeak' in my life.

For the kiddos

I have been following a lovely blog for a bit now (Serenity in the Storm) and there has been much conversation about having, or not having, children.  While my husband and I, at this point, have decided not to add children to our lives (we do have the four-legged variety) I work with children on a regular basis and am very passionate about these little humans on our planet.

What I have begun to notice as I have progressed through my food journey is I am beginning to reach a place where I want to pass this information on to others, specifically little ones.  While I am still not ready to enter the realm of motherhood, I have some pretty amazing tools I am continually adding to my repertoire and would like to share those with you all.

I believe children are the greatest promise of our future so why not start when they are very young by introducing them to some amazing products, thoughts, ideas and beliefs?!?  Raising children is not only about feeding bodies, but also feeding minds and I hope this list offers some ideas to feed the little ones growing in your lives.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Always bringing it back to food... (The Journey Part 5)

I started my final year in the MACS program in September 2012 with a core/required class revisiting the work of Stuart Hall and diving deeper into the layers of cultural studies.  Every chapter of the book we read, Representation, I attempted to find ties to my research within food activism and food spaces.  For some of the assignments it was nearly impossible to find pieces of cultural criticism where someone (or some people) is (are) questioning the politics of representation in the way that the authors do in the Hall book.  It was extremely easy to find data to critique, but the reverse was much more difficult.

I have included here the assignments I was able to relate to food with some critiques of my own work.

Potato or Tomato?
Seacrest, R., Oliver, J., Norris, R., Smith, B., Fresh One Productions., Ryan Seacrest Productions.,
      Channel Ten (Television station), ... American Broadcasting Company. (2010). Jamie Oliver's food 


As summer camp came to a close at Oxbow Farm I will admit I was desperate to find a way to stick around through the fall harvest season.  I applied for several positions on the farm, but none were quite the right fit and then Megan asked if I would be interested in being the on-site farm stand manager/coordinator during the pumpkin craze of October (or Oxtober as it is referred to!).  I jumped at the chance to spend more time on this amazing land, gain more farming experience, see behind the scenes a bit more and sling some produce!

I gained great farm stand input from Sarah and Luke and channeled the Oxbow personality through farmers market stand guru, Alice.  They were so incredibly helpful in showing me the ropes, teaching me Oxbow's trick's of the trade and generous with my lack of experience!  I prepped for Oxtober by helping out at several farmers market days with Oxbow's team extraordinaire, Amy and Alice, and was even able to co-work a farmer's market with one of Oxbow's super talented interns.  This is when my project began to morph and look more critically at food spaces as I observed the differences between the farm stand on the farm versus the farmers markets and even between different farmers market spaces.  Plus looking at the spaces and places surrounding the farmers markets we were working at and how those influenced these spaces as well.  But back to Oxtober madness!...

I chose Carlsen as my farm stand sidekick after our epic summer camp time working together and we started the farm stand on Oxtober 5th with a bang!  We held the farm stand every weekend, Friday through Sunday, during the entire month of October with record turnouts; weight in pumpkins sold; earnings; pumpkins slung from our kick-butt slingshot; school tours and of course the Oxtober Hoedown Festival!  It was an amazing experience with a few miscommunications, misunderstandings, heavy rainfall, crazy windstorm and wicked mudpit.  Several highlights - the morning when six to eight Black Tail deer does and young fawns ran within mere feet of the farm stand seeking shelter from local hunters; slinging mini pumpkins like crazy; trying to hold down the farm stand as a HUGE windstorm picked it up and attempted to use it as a sail; the Hoedown festival; the delicious harvest party; the mornings I drove across the valley through the dense fog as the sun broke through - breathtaking!; and our closing party where we enjoyed soggy s'mores, a fire, beers and slinging pumpkins in the rain and dark.

Some of the amazing happenings at the Hoedown included:
If you are looking for an amazing place to take your school for a farm tour, show your kids/family around a local farm, find a new pumpkin patch and check out some impressive fall events I hope to see you at Oxbow next Oxtober!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

For my next question...

At the end of each week of summer camp I composed a letter to three different parents, for a grand total of nine parents, in the hopes of speaking with them about their kids' experience at camp and other questions related to food topics.

I heard from four parents and over the last part of the summer journeyed to coffee shops and homes to conduct my interviews.  I also spoke with three stakeholders involved in the work WAS (Wilderness Awareness School) and Oxbow are doing.  The point of the interviews was to gain a greater perspective of how the relationship between WAS and Oxbow was formed, what the goals of the partnership were and what they hoped the future of the partnership would look like.  From the parents I wanted to understand why sending their kids to 'farm camp' was so important, how they felt their kids had benefited from attending the camp and what they would potentially change about the camp.  In every interview I asked several key questions regarding food and the interviewee's feelings about different food issues.

Summer Camp!!

When I first began my project my focus was on using the land as an education medium for teaching children about where their food comes from and how it is produced.  For three weeks during June and July I was a volunteer at Oxbow Farm through their partnership with Wilderness Awareness School (WAS).  We started the morning at 9 a.m. with a team meeting to prepare for the day.  My favorite part of this time was the 'bringing our minds together' portion - we would each share something we were grateful for or someone would share a list of things they were grateful for and we would agree and confirm.  At the end of this short time the person leading would say, "And with that our minds are one".  For me this portion was almost as powerful, and in some ways, more powerful than a prayer.  It was collective, community and gratefulness to the earth and the people around us and a way to bring ourselves together for the day.  Next the kiddos would arrive - thirty-two, four to six year olds filled with boundless energy, excitement and nerves!!  We spent five days together and on the fifth day we celebrated with a hay ride, community games and having parents onto the farm for the kiddos to show them around.  The kids learned about the farm; tending the land; where their food came from; how much fun it was to pull and eat a carrot straight from the ground; how to be quiet and still and in their bodies; what was safe to eat and an appreciation for the vast world around them.  It was my first time ever being at a summer camp and I think I had as much fun as the kids!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Farmers Markets and CSA's


Living in the Pacific Northwest has its many advantages and one of those is the wealth of farmers markets and CSA (community supported agriculture) we have in the Seattle area and around the state.  Many farmers markets are seasonal and only occur for a limited amount of months, however, some markets are open year-round.  The same is true for farms offering CSA memberships; some offer them for a limited amount of months during peak season times and a limited winter season and others offer CSA membership year round.

These are in no order of preference, but offer some ideas of where you can find alternative market spaces around Washington state.

This Little Piggy... (The Journey - Part 4)

For some reason this nursery rhyme ran through my head the other day and I started really thinking about the words in a critical sense as it relates to my project.

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none,
And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home.

An innocently read or spoken verse, but when looked at critically describes the unfairness of the food system in our country and around the world.

"This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home". Why did the pig stay home? Was it because he/she could not afford to travel to the market? Was it because there was no market near enough to his/her home to find food at? Was it because there was no money to buy food from the market?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dog Mountain Farm

For spring quarter 2012 I chose to yet again step outside the easy boundaries of my project and look further than alternative learning environments and food.  I chose to take a class on Tourism as Global Culture and chose to focus my work in this class on the rapidly rising agritourist form of literally consuming the tourist experience.

I began searching for an agritourist site in the Seattle area and discovered Dog Mountain Farm.  I sent an e-mail to Cindy Krepky explaining my project and asking for an opportunity to visit the farm and experience the space as an agritourist destination.  From the very beginning, David and Cindy, were wonderfully receptive to having my husband and I out to visit and experience all that Dog Mountain Farm had to offer.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wilderness Awareness School


...Continued from here...

When Sarah informed me I would be able to conduct my summer research at Oxbow Farm, I was over the moon!  She then explained I would need to attend the volunteer training day at Wilderness Awareness School (WAS, pronounced 'wahz') to prepare for summer camp.  Oxbow and WAS developed a partnership using Oxbow's land and the farm as a summer camp site teaching about food and farming, while also applying WAS' principles.  I had never heard of wilderness school, let alone knew that such a place existed essentially in my backyard!

The Journey (Part 3)

One of the best revelations which has happened to me throughout this journey is recognizing how important activism is to me.  Specifically, food activism.  Through the internships I have completed, the projects I have created, the people I have met and the spaces I have seen I have begun to realize that policy changes and social action is where the majority of change will occur in the food system.  How to become involved though?

A food movement is sweeping this country and people are ready for a change in our food system.  This was never more clear than during this past year's election when California added Proposition 37 (Prop 37) to the ballot in the hopes of passing a law requiring all products containing GMOs (genetically modified organism) be labeled, allowing customers the right to make an informed decision regarding the type of food they purchase.  Specifically whether said food contains genetically modified materials.  Sadly, Prop 37 was defeated after major corporations such as Monsanto, DuPont and Hershey threw millions of dollars (grand total of $44 million) at 'No to Prop 37'.  To me this raises huge red flags; if companies are throwing millions of dollars for an initiative to fail, especially an initiative asking for consumers to be provided with knowledge and information, I want to believe that the public would be even more concerned with understanding why companies would not want them to know what is in their food!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oxbow and finding my serenity

I first met Sarah Cassidy via e-mail and I remember she 'signed' the e-mail with 'Peas, Sarah' and said I should come to their first spring SowDown at Oxbow Farm and we could chat.  Wendy Haakenson from Jubilee Farm (read about them here) had told me about Sarah and said I should be in touch with her as Oxbow Farm had an education center incorporated into their learning model.  At the time my project was focused on looking at farming as an education medium for kids.

The SowDown was so much fun and brought together several farms and organizations in the valley to share their information, knowledge and resources.  Dog Mountain Farm brought sweet baby animals to show off their meat and dairy production; Camp Korey came to share their passion for kids with medical conditions participating in summer camp; several local artists had come to help with painting, building fairy houses, creating banners and making flower head wreaths; and there was a chef demonstration by Greg Johnson the chef and father behind the wonderful blog:  Best part:  finally being able to speak with Sarah for a few brief moments and her agreeing to meet and hear me out for the possibility of using Oxbow Farm as my primary research site for my Capstone Project.

Oxbow Sowdown - flash slideshow

I met Sarah several weeks later and she agreed to allow me to participate as a summer camp volunteer at Oxbow Farm, however, her stipulation was I had to attend the volunteer training offered by Wilderness Awareness School (WAS).  WAS is the partner group helping with the summer camps at Oxbow.

To be continued...

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I first heard of Jubilee Farm from my friend Lindsay, when she joined their CSA workshare program.  She invited us to pick up their share while they were on vacation and we enjoyed a day on this beautiful property picking beans, raspberries and flowers to round out the standard box of produce we picked up.  There was so much bounty!!  This was the first time I had ever heard of working on a farm to 'earn' your veggies and in payment for your sweat equity you received a box of delectable produce.  I was entranced!  Our next visit to Jubilee was several months later for the October festival which included a trebuchet slinging pumpkins, roasted corn on the cob, planting seeds, a hayride out to the pumpkin patch and choosing a pumpkin.  We had a blast!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Journey (Part 2)

During my second quarter of grad school I was able to take a class entitled Environmental Politics, taught by UWB Professor Ben Gardner.  While the class was focusing primarily on the environment, we had a moderate size section devoted to food as well.  Towards the end of my first quarter I had begun to realize I wanted to focus my research on food and markets; therefore, I developed a project looking at, and comparing farmers markets to a local, high end grocery market.

To start the class off though I wrote a paper looking at the idea of media saturation, especially when it comes to food messages.  Statistics blast from media sources stating that “because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents” (Surgeon General, 2004); we are inundated with photos of our morbidly obese population; new documentaries and books are released yearly on the health crisis of America; new reality shows surrounding weight loss and transformation are becoming more popular; and it seems as though a new diet comes on the market every time you turn around.  What is the effect of this constant bombardment of statistics as the media represents them?  Is the knowledge making a difference or falling on deaf ears?  These were the questions I hoped to address in my paper and looking back I feel that as a beginner I did not do to bad of a job.  However, I definitely skimmed the surface and were I to go back I would look further into how these spaces interpelate or “hail” certain subjects and how these spaces are outcomes of political practices rather than simply inert spaces to be transformed by planners, activists or business people.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Going Against the Grain

In early 2011, I was speaking with a co-worker about the food situation where we work at Seattle Children's Hospital and we began to formulate an idea of meeting to speak with leaders and management to propose several ideas for potentially creating a food change in our cafeteria.  We met with a group known as the Obesity Advocacy Team and they were so enthusiastic about our project and wanted to form a sub-group interested in creating change in the cafeteria and supported us in going to speak with leadership.  However, we found that once we went to speak with the leadership people the support began to wane; people would not answer our e-mails and questions any longer and we were told that Seattle Children's was not interested in devoting money to overhauling or creating change in the cafeteria at the time.  We were also told by one of the food coordinators, "We are not going to tell families what is healthy and what is not healthy.  These families are here under great amounts of stress and we are not going to tell them whether or not it is o.k. to eat a bag o M&M's.  We will offer more healthy options in our vending machines and in the cafeteria and hope that families choose those options over the other choices."

The Journey (Part 1)

I have come a long way since I began my grad school journey and in my food journey as well.  In a series of posts I want to describe the steps I have taken on this journey while also offering a critique of this process.

After watching Food, Inc. (read Here) my husband, Nick, and I decided to put in a garden and begin putting up our own food and buying from the local farmers market.  We had put in a garden previously - way too many tomatoes!, but not really devoted ourselves to gardening and actually putting up the produce.  I was raised in a home where my mom had a garden every year and every summer and fall was spent putting up fruits and veggies for the winter, tending the garden and picking vast quantities of blueberries and strawberries.  I felt I had the knowledge to can, preserve and put up my own fruits and veggies in a safe manner.  I bought Ball's Blue Book Guide to Preserving; several boxes of jars, lids, rings; a water bath canner with all the accessories and set to work putting up our own food.  I have been canning and freezing our own produce for the past two years and while it is a tremendous amount of work it is incredibly rewarding.  To open a freezer full of food throughout the winter or to open a pantry lined with rows of beautiful jars filled with fruit is a sight to behold.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Proposal

I started the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies (MACS) program at the University of Washington, Bothell (UWB), in September 2011 with several different ideas of what I wanted to research and my project to revolve around. During Winter Quarter 2011, we were told to write a project proposal detailing what our ideas were for our projects, including a literature review and timeline. I want to share this first proposal and in future posts will share more recent modifications to explain where I began my research journey and how far I have come in this process.

Who’s Invited to the Table?:  An Exploration of Food Security, Food Access and Programs Working to Create Food Change

The Beginning...

I honestly do not remember when we first watched Food, Inc. (2009), however, I do remember several things:
  • Watching with our dear friends, Tim and Lindsay
  • The ending song and statements brought tears to my eyes
  • The documentary was the first one I had watched that really opened my eyes to the corruptness of the food industry and how important supporting local businesses was.
  • I began to recognize the disparities in  the food system and question if the 'obesity crisis' was really about education and health or if it was more about capitalism and putting money in large corporations pockets.
I continued to watch Food, Inc. over the years and throughout our food journey; the ending song and statements still brought tears to my eyes, but I began to see things in the documentary that troubled me.  Most recently, a professor, Katie Gillespie, showed Food, Inc. on the first day of class for Animals, Ethics and Food: Deconstructing Dominant Discourse and I wrote a journal entry where I finally reflected on Food, Inc. and the portions that troubled me.