Be Literate

7 May

For the past few months, I have been writing about how the media portrays food and food related things and I was just wondering, how many of you learned something? How many of you now look at food items, college food culture, and all around grub in a different way? Do you think that the media has something to do with overweight America? Too skinny America? Let’s turn it around a little bit. How many of you were taught sex education in high school? Remember that time when we all had to learn about bodily functions. It was under the auspices of healthy living. I think that it should be important that we not only learn to discern the messages the media has about sex but also about food. Unhealthy eating habits are so detrimental to your body.

An excerpt from Temple dissertation Seeing, believing and cooking: Visual communication, food-media literacy, and self-efficacy states  “In the present study, media literacy serves as the primary bridge between theory and practice; it illustrates how insights gained in this research might be applied in education and public health promotion.” If we are getting all of our education and practice from a lobby that is trying to sell you something, how are we supposed to gain the practice that will establish habits that will stay with us for years? Teachers, educators, parents, these should all be sources of media literacy education, especially when it comes to food. The same dissertation states “Children who view four or more hours of television per day were found to have poorer nutrition knowledge and to have more faith in the nutrition claims in commercials.” Is this what we want to continue?

We all need to learn how to see through some of the BS that is presented to us on a daily basis through each media outlet. We need to be able to control ourselves when it comes to the food presented by Taco Bell, McDonalds, fruit rollups, fruit by the foot, and fruit loops (none of which contain real fruit). Just because we hear about it or see it on TV doesn’t make it good for you or non-toxic. We have to start media literacy education at an early age.

But for now, here’s what happens in college if we are not media literate:

WP 5/7


Exam Rituals

30 Apr


Is this you, because it’s me. It is getting to be that time again; end of semester, final exam time. This means students go into the craziest sleep-coffee-study-coffee-eat chips-rinse-repeat schedule, myself included. I can say with complete honesty that I do not know how many coffees I consumed today. But, I have only eaten a yogurt and a protein shake if you can consider that eating. This week I am writing as much for me as I am for you. As I try to convince myself that I need to consider my body’s needs as much as my schoolwork.

I am going to try to consider the following article: 10 tips for healthy eating during exams. Although I do love cooking, time is precious when it comes to this time of year. The author of this article obviously has our best interests at heart but it doesn’t always consider the time aspect. Cooking can take time, consider preparing the night before if the food won’t spoil. They tell us to alternate caffeinated drinks and water (just like with booze and you know how well that works). Some people can’t deal with the extreme caffeination feeling, and if you can’t, don’t do it but honestly it’s better than the under caffeinated feeling.

So I guess what I am trying to say here is that balance is really the key. Just as I wrote this article I ate some chicken and a salad (along with another cup of coffee) and now I feel much better. Take the tips into account but manage your time too. How do your exam rituals help you study?

NP 4/30

How To Reach My Generation

19 Apr

As you may know, I am a burrito aficionado. I am also a member of this mysterious thing they call Generation Y or the Millennial Generation. So what does that mean? Most sources cite the mid-late 80s as the start of Generation Y and being born after that I am indeed a member. We are culturally different than the previous generation in a number of ways but one way in particular is that we care a lot more about environmental issues and food based issues. Here’s where I get back to burritos. Watch the following ad.

This is Chipotle’s only commercial. I think that the only thing that I missed while living abroad, you know besides friends and family and all, was Chipotle. But this is not only because their burritos are delicious. It is because they really do have an excellent grasp on what my generation likes when the food is made. Shown here is a “back to basics” method of raising food that illustrates Chipotle’s commitment to small farms and ethical treatment of animals, a hot button issue of our generation.

Something else that is very interesting about our generation and fast food is the lack of support for the most famous of all those fast food joints, McDonalds. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), our generation is breaking our love affair with the golden arches and turning to better sources of food. Their biggest release of the year is the McWrap which really just sounds like McCrap if you say it a little faster. If McDonalds actually is going to keep up with the changing times, it needs to improve its ingredients and where they come from. Check out this article for more information on that study, it was quite interesting.

mc_ds copy


So as some of you may know, McDonalds was once part owner of Chipotle and these differences were actually part of the reason why the two companies split among other reasons. So millennials when you are thinking about where your food comes from just remember McDonalds doesn’t know either.

WP 4/19


Food Truck Nation: A Student’s Paradise

16 Apr

Living in New York City last summer, I came face to face with a trend that I had not really seen before other than hot dog carts on the National Mall. Food Trucks! My friends at my internship were constantly looking for the latest in food trucks, tracking them on Twitter and Facebook, finding out what the specials were, and where to save the most money. I was so unaware of this trend, I decided to do some research. I found an interesting article about a food truck startup in the New York Times click here.

Food Truck in the San Francisco Bay Area

According to the Times, there is everything from Mexi-Filipino fusion to French Bistro in a truck to a creme brulee cart. The revolution sweeping the nation could have never been expected, says Zagat co-founder Tim Zagat. “We used to call those things roach coaches.” Like Zagat, I was very curious as to the hygiene. But I then saw their prices, I flipped. Some of them are very expensive but there were a lot that offered relatively cheap delicious food.

So I went in search of my own food truck experience. With the help of a coworker, I found this: CoolHaus. Oh my god. Never have I had such an ice cream experience. But what’s more is how they create such a social media following and can drum up the biggest lines wherever their carts are in all of Manhattan. This is how it works. CoolHaus will put up its locations on the web through their website and through twitter. Followers on twitter will get passwords for discounts on ice cream. Its an ingenious marketing strategy.

So, if you are ever faced with the decision, to truck or not to truck. I would highly suggest giving one of these mobile outlets of deliciousness a shot. How do you feel about the Food Truck revolution? Do you think that it will hurt the restaurant industry? How will students feel? Does your city/town play host to any of these trucks? Share!


NP 4/16


Wings, Walking Dead, and Wings (Excess pt. 2)

9 Apr

This is in addition to the previous post about excess.

I’d like to share just one more story about consumption. My famous, fabulous roommates are known to indulge in delivery and takeout at least three times a week. First off, I don’t know where the hell they get the money because none of them have jobs but thats beside the point. Usually they order a good amount of food and don’t leave any left. But, let me just tell you about the other day. It was a big day, the season finale of the Walking Dead. It deserved an epic meal. While most of you are familiar with chicken wings, how many have a wings delivery place in your town? Wings Over (location redacted) is an amazing delicious bastion of poultry and sauce. So, three people in my house order the following: 2lbs of boneless wings, 1lb of onion rings, 1lb of regular fries, and 2lbs of waffle fries with cheese sauce. THREE PEOPLE! Of course there would be scavengers but none more than a half a wing or a few fries.

Brian Wansink, a recognized professor of marketing and food science at the University of Chicago Urbana was interviewed for a magazine and he gave some interesting responses about the size of portions and how we respond to them. Check out this really cool article here. One noted cue of consumption that he mentions that really applies to my roommates is package size. Now, a few days before the Walking Dead wing-fest, I ordered wings with my roommates and we ordered a smaller package only 1lb of wings and a small waffle fry. Both my roommate and I were stuffed after finishing only most of the order not even all of it. Wansink tells readers that “Yes, if you give people a larger package, they’ll pour more whether its M&Ms, dog food, cat food, plant food, non-food items, anything.” When I read this I immediately remembered the Walking Dead.

But, I neglected to mention one more thing that came with both wings orders. Celery, and quite a lot of it. Now you may be thinking what the hell is a negative calorie item like celery doing in an altered college student’s wing craving mind? Wansink tells us also that it doesn’t matter if the food is healthy or not. In fact, says Wansink “you can give somebody large bowls of reasonably healthy stuff. So if they’re snacking while they watch TV or eating so they won’t be bored, at the end of the movie they’ve eaten a lot of carrots or fresh broccoli.”

When I was away in Spain, I noticed their way of eating was amazing. I actually lost weight. But, how? They are eating constantly. Tapas are small. Small portions=control over weight. So how do you think that we as humans can control our portion control and urges to eat whatever is in front of us?

WP 4/8


Epic Excess

9 Apr

Munchies, drunchies, snacks, and just good old fashioned chow time are some favorites of the college student. Eating at off peak hours such as 3:00 in the morning while ridiculously intoxicated is a good one. But even more than that is the excessive amounts of calories. You know what I am talking about… the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior 15-20. This is what I’m talking about:

And that, my lovely readers, is Epic Meal Time. It is probably one of the most creative and disgusting ways to use fast food I have ever seen. These guys are the best. They have a ton of videos with over a half a billion views combined on youtube plus their own line of clothing, an app, and you name it they have it. Now on the other hand how does this make young people look and what does it say about the weightiness of our country in general. We all know that America is the fattest nation on the planet. The final calorie and fat count was, in case you missed it, 71,448 Calories and 5463 grams of fat. Someone pull my cholesterol ridden body off the floor please. If you take a look at the average college student getting home at 2 AM and really wanting some chicken wings, it isn’t these epic meal guys. But what kind of message does this send to the youth of America?

Fast Food Lasagna

Yes, this is what you think it is. My friend, let’s call him E, has constructed what looks to be a fast food lasagna complete with bacon strips, Jack Daniel’s Meat Sawwwce, and 28 McDoubles. I can’t honestly tell you what the difference is between a McDouble and a BigMac since I proudly have never eaten one. But can I just say that E’s lasagna came in at “only” a whopping 15,000 calories estimated. I couldn’t pull him off the couch for three days.

I can’t believe that people are actually making this stuff. If E made it, so have others. It is terrifying to think that people are doing this to their bodies. But I think its great to look at these guys as entertainment and entertainment only. Except for their candied bacon creme brulee which must be made in the near future. How should epic meal time be portrayed as a suggestion or entertainment? How can we stop getting fatter, America? Do we need epic meal time?


NP 4/9


The 5 Dollar Shake or The Plight of a Broke Student

2 Apr

I have come to the realization that not only am a broke college student but I have a lifestyle that requires some cash on hand. I like to eat, yes. But I like to eat things that are not ramen, pasta, and greasy fast food. But it is becoming increasingly difficult seeing as though the grocery store often gets the best of me. I’ll make a list then get to the store and see something I like and just add it to the cart. Those things add up.

So here’s how you can help:

Pretty great right? See if all college students would get off the couch and  were as creative as these guys maybe we’d have some money. But on a serious note, you can shop right. You have to make sure that you are looking at the right prices on the labels. Also, the pros of buying D-Grade meat doesn’t always outweigh the cons. Spam is not nourishment. I usually allow myself one out of house/off campus meal per week whether that is a sandwich from a nice shop or eating with my roommates at our favorite Dim Sum place mostly every Sunday before the football games. Eating out is so expensive though. I look at my roommates and wonder if they couldn’t be spending their what seems like tons of cash (mostly non job holding individuals) on food bought at a gourmet grocery store and cooking amazing things instead of spending 15 dollars on a sandwich 4 days a week? Really?

How do you deal with the love of food and the lack of fund? I really would like to know because as of late its been a lot of pasta for me…

NP 4/2


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