Category: Hannah Findling

Women Chefs in the Kitchen and Media: Analysis of Differential Representation and Experiences Along the Gender Binary

      For generations, the duties of care and provisioning for the family have been

carried primarily by women. Food preparation, serving, and work within professional

kitchens have fallen to women throughout history, yet the acclaim and credit has

historically gone to men, with women facing discrimination and structural biases that

their male counterparts do not contend with (Allen and Sachs 9). Women have

historically served the primary roles of food preparation, yet the modern culinary

industry remains predominantly male (Druckman 25). The disproportionate

representation of female-identifying food workers permeates all levels of the food

system yet is particularly noticeable within the modern restaurant kitchen and food

media. This paper seeks to discuss the challenges faced by women chefs in the modern

kitchen and food media, as well as the externalities brought about by the cultural

structure of differential treatment and familial responsibility. It should be noted that

this analysis will divide the kitchen along the traditional gender binary of “men” and

“women” and does not delve deeply into the experiences and disproportionate

challenges faced by nonbinary and LGBTQIA+ individuals in the kitchen for sake of

length and focus. The historical role of women as provisioners and caretakers within

both the family unit and society as a whole has profound implications for the experience

of women within the food chain. These effects are present within the professional

kitchen, food media, and more broadly the food service industry as a whole. The

differential treatment of women in these positions, alongside structural biases, have

created a system which perpetuates discrepancies in representation and access for

women across the food system today.

        Prior to approaching the modern role of women within the restaurant kitchen

and food media, it is critical to gain a topical understanding of the historical context

behind these issues in order to inform our modern analysis. Women have occupied the

primary role of food preparations for generations, yet traditionally, it is men who are

highlighted as chef and awarded recognition and acclaim as a result of their work

(Whitaker). The word chef itself is derived from the French chef de cuisine, meaning

“head of the kitchen”, a term which is always conjugated in the male gender (Druckman

25). The word chef itself, therefore, carries an inherently gendered meaning. Until

recently, the prospects for women in the culinary sphere have been significantly limited,

with one author proclaiming, “in the late 1960s a career as an astronaut was considered

more promising for a woman than that of chef,” (Whitaker).

      Women’s role as culinary caretakers has historically coincided with the ethics of

caretaking, with women performing the lion’s share of food-related tasks while retaining

little control, decision making power, or agency within the food industry as a whole

(Harris and Guiffre 28). While bearing the responsibility for nourishing others, they

often do not adequately nourish themselves as a result of the societal and systemic

obstacles they face (Allen and Sachs 1).

       We must also look to the historical role of food media, cookbooks, and

advertising as it relates to women within the food system. Early cookbooks were

primarily filled with recipes to serve a family on a budget, as well as to serve to impress

your guests (Whitaker). Including substitutions for cooks without fully stocked pantries

was common, and recipes were typically measured in less standard terms, using

estimates and colloquialisms instead (Zafar 457). These books were primarily written by

and for white women, but heavily influenced

by African American foodways as African

Fig. 1 – Print marketing for Betty Crocker cake
mixes, which would eventually become the hallmark
of this character’s identity. – “Vintage Betty Crocker:
Perfect Vintage Cake Recipe.” Frugal SOS, Sara
Noel, 31 Aug. 2016, frugalsos.com/vintagerecipes/
perfect-cake-every-time/.

American women fulfilled a pivotal role

within the white kitchen without recognition

(Zafar 460).

           In order to understand modern food

media, we must look to early food marketing

and advertising. One prominent media figure

during this time was the fictional Betty

Crocker, the spokeswoman for General Mills

created in the 1930s (Shapiro 29) ;(see fig. 1,

fig.2). During this time, Betty Crocker served

as the integral link between the consumers

and the corporatization of the

American food system. As

boxed food skyrocketed in

popularity due to the

convenience, low cost, and

effective marketing, companies

Fig. 2. Vintage Betty Crocker marketing. This image highlights the stress
placed on making baking faster and simpler for the modern housewife. –
Morioka, Lynne, et al. “Vintage Ads for the Ladies.” A Taste of General
Mills, 2 Sept. 2015, blog.generalmills.com/2015/08/vintage-ads-for-theladies/.

such as General Mills required

a human connection to their

customers if they wanted to

maintain the older view of home

cooking (Shaprio 30). In response,

these company figureheads were

generated (interestingly, the majority

were female) and featured heavily in

advertising and media.

Cakes were known as, and still are,

one of the most difficult tasks a home

cook can undertake, requiring time, a

multitude of ingredients, and lots of patience. Betty Crocker cake mix was General Mills’

ingenious response to this realization and was marketed extensively across the US in both

print ads, columns, and radio advertisements (Shapiro 38). This effective marketing strategy

and convenient new products planted Betty Crocker squarely into the American psyche, with

surveys conducted by General Mills indicating that by the early 1950s, 99% of American

housewives were familiar with the Betty Crocker name and line of products (Shapiro

33). Through building Betty Crocker into a household name, General Mills were not

only able to effectively aid their large consumer base in the transition into the new

methods of fast food preparation, but also played part in creating a cultural icon which

linked femininity to household duties, entertainment cooking, and subservience. These

themes are still present in the modern portrayal of women in food media.

           Moving forwards into modern analysis, it is clear that the very foundations of

the restaurant kitchen create a highly gendered space with different connotations for its

male and female occupants. These structures affect women who work in the demanding

and male-dominated modern restaurant kitchen, fostering a workplace culture which

makes hazing and other discrimination against women commonplace (Harris and

Guiffre 28). The division of the modern restaurant kitchen into “hot” and “cold” section

frequently is a visual reminder of the separation of men and women within the

restaurant industry. The hot side of the kitchen, with stoves, grills, ovens, and

preparation stations tends to be male dominated while women primarily occupied the

cold side, responsible for pastries, soups, and sauces (Harris and Guiffre 32). This

divide coincides with the francocentric levels of essentialism in culinary personnel,

placing women in these spaces at a disadvantage in terms of opportunity for growth and

diversification within the culinary field (Druckman 22). In these male-dominated

environments, a common presumption of women’s lack of desire or ability to compete

worsens the divide, resulting in increased harassment and discredit being reflected upon

women than that faced by their male peers (Druckman 30).

         These structural biases extend beyond the kitchen itself and into the sphere of

restaurant management and executives, with women occupying the lowest rungs of

management across the American restaurant industry, and generally are hired for

positions in which they supervise other women (Petrick 55). Women are afforded

proportionately less decision-making power than their male counterparts in comparable

positions and receive less pay (Petrick 55). The value of education and training is

another factor affecting the ability of women to occupy executive positions. Existing

training programs intended to develop employees interested in “working their way up”

to management are not sufficient, and are often under-used by women in particular,

who often do not utilize these programs for fear of not being seen as dedicated to the

current management of their facilities (Cobble 7). Women who applied and were denied

executive positions often held at least a four-year college degree, falling victim to the so called

“sticky floor” narrative which recognizes that while there is growth in the

availability of high-paying executive jobs for women, the sheer volume of women in low paying

industry jobs limits the mobility they are afforded (Petrick 58).

 

Women in the restaurant industry and more broadly the food system as a whole

are also burdened by the gendered landscape of the heteronormative family. Childrearing

and family care duties often fall to women even when they are employed in the

demanding and male-dominated restaurant industry (Maume et. al 990). Women

experience increased pressure to work long and irregular hours, while simultaneously

under-utilizing programs designed to balance work and family due to the need, whether

real or perceived, to show continuous commitment and dedication to both their careers

and the institution by which they are employed (Cobble 10). When returning home

women are still responsible for the continued labor associated with provisioning and

care of their families, irrespective of class, culture, or ethnicity (Allen and Sachs 2).

       Despite the shifting status quo of the family, gender and family scholars continue

to argue that “men’s greater power within families, deriving from higher earnings in the

labor market, effectively shields them from domestic work (Maume et. al 993). This

feeding work, primarily undertaken by women, is unpaid and often goes unrecognized,

despite requiring significant mental, physical, and emotional labor. Women working in

food service also get significantly less sleep than men in similar positions, and also

experience more sleep disruption than men employed in the same industry (Maume et.

al 995). As women age, their sleep also becomes more disrupted, a phenomenon which

is not mirrored in their male counterparts (Maume et. al 995). The compounding effects

of being under-rested, underpaid, and overworked leave women bearing a

disproportionate burden when trying to balance work and family life. These structural

biases within the family reinforce the roles of subservience that women are occupying all

too-frequently within the restaurant kitchen (Allen and Sachs 4).

        The representation of women in food media, as well as the ways in which

advertising, marketing, and the media shape the psyche of modern women must also be

discussed. While fictional culinary icons such as Betty Crocker have fallen to the

wayside and male chefs are commonly

the recipients of major awards,

accolades, and Michelin stars, the

modern culinary media is full of

Fig. 3. Gordon Ramsay, hot-headed chef of Hell’s Kitchen and
Michelin acclaim. – “Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay –
Watch Episodes.” FOX, www.fox.com/hells-kitchen/

women (Druckman 27). However

prevalent the representation of

women chefs in cooking media may be

today, the portrayal of these women

stands in stark contrast to their male

counterparts. On one end of the

spectrum you have Gordon Ramsay

(Fig. 3) cursing and literally throwing

inadequate dishes in Hell’s Kitchen,

while on the other Ina Garten of

Fig. 4. Ina Garten, the comforting and motherly Barefoot
Contessa. – “Barefoot Contessa.” Food Network,
www.foodnetwork.com/shows/barefoot-contessa.

Barefoot Contessa fame (Fig. 4)

prepares family-style dishes, shares.

cocktail tips, and tags every episode

with the line “how easy is that?”. These

two very different representations can

be linked to the differential experiences

of men and women in the professional

kitchen, and perpetuate the division

between men as fiery, passionate, and

hotheaded chefs and women as comforting, domestic goddesses who focus primarily on

family-style and entertaining (Druckman 29). This presentation of women in cooking media

reinforces the gender binary which exists both within the restaurant industry and the

heteronormative family, with women placed into a role of subservience and provisioning

for families and yet still noting just how easy it is to fulfill these ideal roles (Allen and

Sachs 3).

           The pressure faced by women to fulfill the ideal image promoted by the media,

specifically food media, has created a complex relationship between many women, food,

and their bodies. By exploiting what is referred to as “deliberate and reoccurring

manipulations of issues women face in their real lives,” the media is able to create an

image which women strive for, which contributes to the massive influence of diet culture

as well as the increased incidence of eating disorders (Allen and Sachs 3). This influence

permeates the majority of American media and affects women regardless if they are

employed in the food system or not. In fact, the average woman sees between 400-600

advertisements per day, totaling more than 250,000 messages by her 17th birthday

(Allen and Sachs 10). These advertisements strongly influence the concept of the ideal

body in mainstream media, with an obsessive focus on thinness and dieting, and

contribute to the transformation fantasy which plagues women and young girls alike

(Allen and Sachs 2).

Women’s roles in the food system are undeniably complicated, and vary widely

depending on class, employment, and economic status. However, an undercurrent of

differential treatment and structural obstacles carries significant implications in the

lives of women involved in the industry. Women bear disproportionate stressors of food

provisioning and family care compared to their male counterparts and face increased

hazing and discrimination as a result of the francocentric nature of the restaurant

kitchen. These systematic and structural biases can be observed throughout history,

from the days of Betty Crocker to the modern representation of female chefs in media

today. Women experience differential treatment and disproportionate barriers to

success within the food system as a result of both structural biases and the historical

duties and roles traditionally associated with femininity, and without continued efforts

to level the playing field and reduce these biases will continue to be underrepresented

and underappreciated for their efforts in and contributions to the food system as a

whole.

 

 

Works Cited

Allen, Patricia, and Carolyn Sachs. “Women and Food Chains: The Gendered Politics of

Food.” International Journal of Sociology of Food and Agriculture, vol. 15, Apr. 2007.

Shapiro, Laura. “‘I Guarantee’: Betty Crocker and the Woman in the Kitchen.” From Betty

Crocker to Feminist Food Studies: Critical Perspectives on Women and Food, edited by

Arlene Voski Avakian and Barbara Haber, University of Massachusetts Press, 2005, pp.

29–40, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vk2tn.6. Accessed 26 Apr. 2020.

Cobble, Dorothy Sue. “‘Practical Women.’” Labor History, vol. 29, no. 1, Winter 1988, pp. 5–

31. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00236568800890011.

Druckman, Charlotte. “Why Are There No Great Women Chefs?” Gastronomica 10.1 (2010);

pp 24- 31.

Harris, Deborah A., and Patti Giuffre. ““The price you pay”: how female professional chefs

negotiate work and family.” Gender Issues 27.1-2 (2010): 27-52.

Harris, Deborah Ann., and Patti Giuffre. Taking the Heat Women Chefs and Gender Inequality

in the Professional Kitchen. Rutgers University Press, 2015.

Maume, David J., Rachel A. Sebastian, and Anthony R. Bardo. “Gender differences in sleep

disruption among retail food workers.” American Sociological Review 74.6 (2009): 989-

1007.

Petrick, Gabriella. “Lonely at the Top: Women Food-Service Executives.” Cornell Hotel and

Restaurant Administration Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 3, Sage Publications, June 1998, pp.

54–59, doi:10.1177/001088049803900311.

Whitaker, Jan. “From Patrons to Chefs, a History of Women in Restaurants.” Boston

Hospitality Review, vol. 3, no. 3, School of Hospitality Administration, Aug. 2015,

https://doaj.org/article/11c5fde92a9c4ea59baa5558346ca8b5.

Zafar, Rafia. “The Signifying Dish: Autobiography and History in Two Black Women’s

Cookbooks.” Feminist Studies, vol. 25, no. 2, 1999, pp. 449–469. JSTOR,

www.jstor.org/stable/3178690. Accessed 17 Apr. 2020.

Images:

Fig. 1. “Vintage Betty Crocker: Perfect Vintage Cake Recipe.” Frugal SOS, Sara Noel, 31 Aug.

2016, frugalsos.com/vintage-recipes/perfect-cake-every-time/.

Fig. 2. Morioka, Lynne, et al. “Vintage Ads for the Ladies.” A Taste of General Mills, 2 Sept.

2015, blog.generalmills.com/2015/08/vintage-ads-for-the-ladies/.

Fig 3. “Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay – Watch Episodes.” FOX,

www.fox.com/hellskitchen/

Fig. 4. “Barefoot Contessa.” Food Network, www.foodnetwork.com/shows/barefoot-contessa.

Carlisle, PA: Food Security Issues – Covid-19 2020.

Borough Response:

https://www.carlislepa.org/covid-19/index.php

  • annual homeless population survey was to be conducted Jan 2020, I am not sure if this happened or not so I have reached out to the coordinator and am awaiting response
  • Cumberland County Housing Authority
  • https://cchra.com/news/article/covid-19-protocol

Community CARES:

https://www.morethanshelter.org/covid-19-updates

Project Share:

http://projectsharepa.org/?fbclid=IwAR08cRjgmyl8cABAh00OWNZNP2QfiiDCdV-MwYrCQ2qW0RW1YYH3U_hOFcY

https://www.facebook.com/ProjectSharePA/?__tn__=kC-R&eid=ARBpOgbH-cw7CbvX-CUJAi_0xx1II3YmPKaCpOGamM7yR9ZLzS5jrCvkezAR0_Lo8AszV7pJgUu0I9RF&hc_ref=ARShfKaUIYsnSkvFOj8RSpzyyWPpz2wogklSXEkdIVG1sq1br1RdcqA9Nmdu1nZ_rgQ&fref=nf&__xts__[0]=68.ARDOKTFS6afOmJw2rRjoaXytow7PAmIjvi955yLaca4vcm7XjEIqfeJlQZ-cIURj5CZzSLEbt71I4X9nU-r3UmnBDdtP7Da0Wav_Jidfra0TSLU3QsQ9z8QjbV3PsWT1XWxaN3xBGJcT7Zm041iXsOBdvM01ZlRAmrBH1FDfa4a0N2Iuev1s-Xkm7TnflilDtryiKfnQy9NxEiBOJEv_49lB_WXiH0e-gPxZyu_vClgF7w4IaHv1hAKbHZm2AIGRznzuP2aDdrHn31uJ_ZMywvEYiFlLCfohdBlBbu7GrkU5IFmDIY75noJ9rNK9tZyktGCz8AURGI-cL5GDI4A_1MEQug 

News and the Giant Corporation:

https://www.supermarketnews.com/retail-financial/coronavirus-how-leading-grocery-chains-are-responding-keep-customers-safe-and

https://giantfoodstores.com/community-update/?_ga=2.196537772.1824007650.1584972739-1499230352.1571404364

 

Professor Yang- Li Ziqi Reflections

Podcast

Podcast Transcript:

You’re listening to The Reflecting Pod with Hannah Findling, coming to you in February 2020 from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.  Today’s episode will feature my reflections on a presentation given in my food studies capstone seminar.  Last week in class, Dickinson College’s Professor of Chinese Language and Literature Rae Yang visited to discuss the popular Chinese social media influencer Li Ziqi.

Li Ziqi is a 29 year old woman from Sichuan province in rural China.  She rose to internet popularity in 2016 when she began posting her beautifully shot and edited start-to-finish videos of her life.  She posts regularly across social media and has over 22 million followers on Weibo and another 8.3 million on YouTube, despite the website’s officially blocked status in China.

Professor Yang showed our class one of Li Ziqi’s videos, in which she prepares multiple recipes featuring tender bamboo shoots, fermented long beans, and other salad-type dishes. The video was incredibly well shot, and showcased a life lush with color, nature, and beauty.  As we were watching, Professor Yang also made note of the fact that Li Ziqi cooks on a stove which she built herself, in another video series where she builds furniture using the raw natural materials in her rural surroundings.  In other videos, she weaves her own cloth, dyes it using fruit skins, and crafts it lovingly into a tunic, all backed by a relaxing score of flute music.

The tranquility and idyllic rural lifestyle portrayed in Li Ziqi’s videos is undeniably enviable.  I would give anything to spend my afternoons harvesting perfectly ripe home-grown produce for my meals instead of spending them in the library studying.  The other students in the class expressed similar sentiments, with Professor Yang agreeing.

Li Ziqi has attained more than social media following and was named a “good young netizen” by the Communist party of China in 2018 and was honored by People’s Daily with a People’s Choice award in September of 2019.  The Chinese government has praised Li Ziqi as well, commending her display of Chinese culture and traditional values.

Professor Yang then went on to explain that while a large part of her viewers love Li Ziqi’s videos and long for a simpler rural life, critics have posed that Li Ziqi does not represent China as it really is.

In reality, 40% of China’s population live in rural areas, many of whom live lives of hard

Agricultural labor and cope with the effects of environmental damage and pollution which spreads from the large cities.  Many Chinese youth have migrated to cities to seek lucrative employment, and have suffered from burnout, high levels of pollution, and an extreme cost of living in order to support their aging family members who remain in rural China.

In reflecting on the discussion Professor Yang facilitated in class and on what I had learned about Li Ziqi, I returned home and dug a bit deeper into this mysterious figure’s online presence.  I watched more of her videos and explored her many fan accounts.  One of the most interesting things I found during my search was an article published by the Marketing division of the Robert H. Smith School of Business.  In this article, Li Ziqi is said to portray the kind of image of China that someone like Martha Stewart portrays of the United States.  The authenticity portrayed by both of these cooking icons is undeniable and conveys images of a simpler life in which one can afford the time and energy to prepare unique multi-course meals.  However, just as Martha Stewart does not accurately portray the American working class, Li Ziqi does not reflect the reality of life in China.

Li Ziqi’s work serves as an incredible form of soft propaganda for the Chinese government.  She showcases an idyllic life in the bamboo-forested countryside and embodies Chinese values of family heritage and portrays examples of the traditional methods of food preparation and harvesting.  Both domestically in China and abroad, her videos cultivate a longing for a deeper connection with nature and a distancing from the clamor of modern life.  Without, or perhaps with, intention, Li Ziqi has cultivated a perfect image of China- but has left out the reality of the environment in which she operates.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Professor Yang for sharing her time and knowledge with us, and would like to thank you, the listener.  This has been another episode of the Reflecting Pod with Hannah Findling, signing off from Dickinson College here in Carlisle, PA

References and More:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/28/li-ziqi-china-influencer-rural-life

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Ziqi_(blogger)

https://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty-research/smithbraintrust/insights/why-chinas-li-ziqi-popular-and-controversial

Assignment 2a – Local Food Systems Snapshot

I first learned about Keswick Creamery during my Freshman year at Dickinson, when I worked for Dining Services at the Juice Box.  One of my co-workers was Sara, a chipper mom and homesteader who kept a herd of goats, cows, chickens, and dogs.  In 2017 I visited Sara’s home and helped with evening chores a few times during the semester, enjoying fresh cheeses and milk as a reward for my labor.  At the time, Sara began her transition away from Dining Services to work full time as a cheesemaker for Keswick and for her own business, Swirly Girl Creamery.

Representing Sweet! at the 2019 Market of Curiosities…you can see Keswick’s booth in the left corner. Julie, Kath, and I became friends during our time at the market.

Julie from Keswick became a good friend in the Carlisle small business sphere after my partner, Kathleen, and I sold our baked goods at a booth next to Keswick’s booth at the 2019 Market of Curiosities.  Julie, Kath, and I exchanged goods and spent the day chatting about the landscape of small business and food production in our community.

Outside of the historic Carlisle Theatre, the winter home of FOTS.

Much more recently, I visited Julie at Keswick’s booth at the Farmer’s On The Square Market.  I picked up a tub of her dill and onion quark, and took advantage of the opportunity to ask her some questions about her involvement with local food production.

 How did you get into cheesemaking?  How long have you been producing cheese?

      Julie’s response:  “I’ve been making cheese for 20 years…I’m a farm girl at heart.  Keswick provided me an opportunity to stay on the farm while also practicing and developing something new.”

 

How does Keswick operate in the market system?  Where else do you guys carry product?

Keswick operates at diverse farmers markets in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Maryland, and in the Cumberland valley.  As a business, they strive to provide handcrafted artisanal cheeses and dairy products produced in a humane and sustainable manner.

 Have things changed a lot within the last few years?

We’ve expanded our markets and product offerings.  We’re excited to see what the future holds!

 How does Keswick practice sustainable dairy?

All of Keswick’s dairy cows are raised freely on pasture, without any pesticide, herbicide, or fertilizer applications.  The cattle are grazed rotationally, and have been since 1990.  They are treated humanely, and never undergo tail docking or treatment with rBST.  Sara and Mark’s goats and cattle are treated in the same ways, and allow us to bring new varieties of cheeses to market while also supporting another local family farmer.

 

Links and More:

Farmers On The Square (FOTS)

https://www.farmersonthesquare.com/

Sweet!

https://www.facebook.com/SweetBakedGoodsNL/

Keswick Creamery:

https://www.facebook.com/Keswick-Creamery-   316587556951/,

http://keswickcreamery.com/Home_Page.html

Swirly Girl Creamery:

https://www.facebook.com/Swirly-Girl-Creamery-116826321768866/

In-Class Reflections

14 February 2020

In class reflection – queer and lesbian food culture with Prof. Vooris.

I greatly enjoyed Prof. Vooris’ lecture today.  They did a lovely job encapsulating perspectives and 50 years of queer history into a short 30 minute block.  I enjoyed our dive into Dykes To Watch Out For, and especially enjoyed our conversation surrounding the backyard wedding and it’s significance within queer culture.  As a queer woman myself, I loved hearing the perspectives of other students in our class as they learned more about queer culture.

Week 2 Assignment: You and the Food System

  1. Keswick Creamery Milk and Cheeses – main ingredient: Milk
keswick creamery logo

http://keswickcreamery.com/

I have lived full-time in Carlisle since December of 2018.  One of my major goals in 2019 was to patronize local businesses whenever possible in favor of shopping at Walmart or Giant.  Currently, my household gets our cheeses and milk from Keswick Creamery, a dairy located just outside of Newburg, PA.  I pick up cheese and milk each week at the Farmers on the Square Market.

Keswick grazes their herds of dairy cattle on grass pastures, and does not treat with rBST or other artificial growth hormones.  Sara Kelley, a personal friend since we were coworkers at the Juice Box in the Kline back  in 2016, raises milking goats and sells their milk to Keswick, which she incorporates into their cheeses as one of their cheesemakers.  Operating as a small local business allows Keswick to minimize environmental externalities, as well as to work alongside local environmental organizations to ensure sustainable dairy practices in an environment which is well-acquainted with mega-dairy production.  On average, my milk and cheeses travel about 25 miles to reach my refrigerator.

2. Nasoya Extra-Firm Organic Tofu – main ingredient: Soybeans

nasoya tofu

Nasoya Extra-Firm Organic Tofu

My second staple food this week was Nasoya extra-firm organic tofu, the primary ingredient of this product is soybeans.  Nasoya sources their soybeans from Vitasoy-USA, located in Ayer, Massachusetts.  Vitasoy and Nasoya are both branches of the same parent company, Pulmuone Foods USA.  Soybeans are a crop which requires high irrigation and careful management to avoid pests in an organic system.  Large combine harvesters are utilized in the harvest of the crop, which contributes to increased carbon outputs.

Although I do not currently identify as vegetarian or vegan, I endeavor to be a conscious consumer, both in the retail sense and in terms of the foods I eat.  Organic tofu is a great alternative to eating meats, as the carbon inputs required to grow soybeans and process the soy into tofu are significantly less than the inputs required for the production of commercial animal products.  Given, significant human labor and carbon is still required to produce and harvest the soybeans, clean them, ship the beans to production, press and ferment them into tofu, and then package and ship the products to supermarkets.  On average, my tofu has travelled about 450 miles to arrive on my plate.

3.  Basmati Rice

rice

Full Circle Organic Long-Grain Basmati Rice

The third food that is a major staple of my diet is long-grain basmati rice.  I prefer to purchase organic products when I can afford them, and currently have the Full-Circle brand.  I store my dry goods in glass mason jars, so unfortunately I do not have the packaging in order to reference wether the product was produced in the USA or abroad.   India is the primary exporter of rice worldwide, but the United States does produce rice domestically, particularly in Texas, Mississippi, and California.

Rice is the most intensive in terms of inputs in both labor required and water usage for production of the three main staples in my diet this week.  Rice is grown in a semi-submerged environment, so water usage is quite high.  Rice must be harvested from the paddies, transported to processing facilities, hulled and washed, packaged, and finally shipped worldwide to grocery stores.  Human labor in rice production is grueling, and extremely tedious.  Assuming my rice was produced in the southwestern US or abroad, it is likely that my rice travelled over 1,000 miles to reach my bowl.

Hannah Findling

Hi there! My name is Hannah and I am a senior biology major at Dickinson College.  This blog will serve as an outlet for my thoughts and assignments during my Food Studies Certificate capstone.  I grew up in Ithaca, NY, and enjoy riding horses, spending time with my girlfriend, Kathleen, and my cat, Dana Scully, and hiking during my free time.  My interests in food studies center around sustainability, food justice, accessibility, and my personal experience as an individual living with Celiac Disease.

My Celiac diagnosis came as a major surprise and created a drastic shift in my life and the life of my partner, who works as a pastry chef.  Since going gluten-free, we have restructured and rebuilt her small business to cater to the allergen-friendly market.  My background in biology and the liberal arts pairs well with her pastry and business education to position us strongly as we move forwards as entrepreneurs.

Kath and I have also been part of the team at The Sunrise Cafe, a new restaurant as of October 2019 in Carlisle.  Kath is the kitchen manager and cook, and I work on the line as well as on the social media presence of the business.  I am using the cafe as my experiential component for the certificate, and am excited to deepen my understanding of what it takes to get a brick-and-mortar business up and off the ground in a community similar to this one

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