A Musing on Dynamics

In this week’s reflection I wanted to mention a topic that’s been floating around my mind over the last week or two. I want to type up some of the ideas, even if they’re not all solidified or based on strict scholarly work. It will help me in further thinking about them, maybe it will start some interesting conversations that can bring depth, and they’re definitely a part of my thoughts over the last weeks and thus a perfect fit for a weekly reflection.

A lot has been going on. Culture is rapidly creating itself around the new political climate we find ourselves. Everyone is commenting on or criticizing some part of the system, the people, their actions, policies, anything.

I think it’s really important to pay attention to those conversations that are happening on small scales because it informs you about how a large percentage of the population are feeling, not just academics and scholars, not just journalists and media representation. Even if the conversations you’re paying attention to still fall into a relatively small social circle, or couple or social circles, say Facebook or other social media circles, there can still be quite a broad spectrum of opinions flowing.

It’s also interesting to pay attention to the memes that are passed around through culture. To analyze memes themselves, and their role in the creation of culture, community, identity, and the spread of knowledge is a very high caliber task, and to do it properly requires a much greater access to communities and ability to look at statistics of sharing and types and content and all that lovely data. I am not in a position to take on that burden.

But I am interested by certain trends and ideas that I am exposed too in different way through the spread of memes, screenshotted tweets, etc. Usually they are not ideas I am entirely unfamiliar with, and to see a little slice of what many people are relating to an identifying with is really interesting, especially if there is a deeper theory that can be applied to the conversations that are happening over this media.

The conversation I want to think about with this piece is the connection between capitalistic gain from social justice alliances and trends. And then conversely, capitalistic loss from social justice movements.

Of course there has already been discussion, demonstration, and study of how protests like boycotting and strikes creates change. Protest, strikes, and disruption of economic activity are examples of loss of capital.

But in the last couple weeks have brought up conversations about the dynamics of how corporations can positively benefit from social justice movements.

I’ve seen a lot of headlines about how this company or that has created ‘heartbreaking’ ‘important’ ‘progressive’ ad that includes a same sex couple or family or a positive supportive message about refugees and creating change. And while it’s great that it’s happening, there’s also an aspect of it that feels . . . opportunistic.

There’s a good incentive right now to take various political standpoints. It might lose the company some customers, but it might also gain a whole lot.

Over the last few weeks memes have popped up about Starbucks suddenly becoming everybody’s favorite coffee place because of their support of, I think it was refugees and veterans. And sure, it’s good when a company with resources pledges to support marginalized communities, even in very particular ways.

But it’s interesting to consider the incentive pathways for various companies and industries. Advertising and capital becomes a very tangled beast when trying to differentiate between truly and deeply held values and acting in particular ways to gain profit. Examining monetary incentives and funding decisions for big corporations, government subsidies, and scientific research can lead to some interesting conflict of interests.

This is something I’ve been thinking about over the last few weeks. I don’t have anything really specific, and I haven’t really gathered any particular cases or studies to talk about, and I don’t seem to be having a real easy time making the right words come out in this piece.

But it’s an interesting dynamic to think about, and I think it’s worth discussion and study.

Labor, Oppression, Empowerment, and Technology Of Food. (Weeks 4 and 5 reflection)

There was talk about the labor it takes to produce food in the first few chapters of Tompkins, and during the production of our potluck lunches and tastings and seminars. I think it’s a topic that deserves more discussion.

Perhaps this is a brief overview of what I have learned about food and labor, perhaps it is an example of connections that can be further studied, perhaps it will bring up some dynamics that haven’t been discussed or thought about yet. In any event, it is helpful in the context of this course.

There is definitely a gendered dynamic to food production. Typicallly and traditionally much food preparation is done by women or femme people. That food production labor can lead to oppression or empowerment, depending of course on circumstance and context and what ability each individual has to wield power of influence over their own lives and the lives of others.

This dynamic between empowerment and oppression can also be influenced by the interaction of technology. We have seen this in other areas as well. In my research project on the safety of sex toys I noted in my research that the technology of sex toys, especially the vibrator, has moved from a tool of oppression – because it was originally a tool to assist doctors in administering “paroxysms” (orgasms) to their female patients suffering from “hysteria” which could be indicated by any number of symptoms that are today generally considered symptoms of being frustrated and unfulfilled both in the quality of life and quality of sex – to a tool of empowerment – as it was when it became available for general consumers and became a symbol of sexual liberation around feminist movements when women could use it to control their own pleasure, without needing to rely on another person’s input or control.

I can see parallels in food technology as well as I consider labor saving devices and storage methods that also have the effect of distancing the end point of food from the beginning of production. Food production in its entirety is an incredibly labor intensive process. Farms must be maintained, planted, harvested. Harvested food must be shipped, processed, packaged, and shipped again and perhaps stored for various amounts of time at each part of the process. Once purchased from a store the food must be prepared in various ways which of itself can take a very long time, depending on the type of food and type of meal prepared.

The technology that has gone into improved farming, shipping, processing, packaging, and storage equipment has been a labor saving endeavor. It distances the end product of food from the beginning point by time, by geographical distance, by season, and by cultural recognition between the beginning point of food, a plant or seed or flower and the well dressed salad, intricately spiced main course, and sweetened and artfully presented desert.

In addition to the technology needed to on the side of food pre-meal-preparation, there has been great technology increases on the meal preparation area as well. Food processors, fridges, grinders, pots, pans, ovens, sinks, dishwashers, rice cookers, bread machines, mixers, blenders, garbage disposals, vacuum sealers, even sponges and detergents. Each piece of technology, each appliance in a kitchen has been created to reduce or ease the labor that goes into food preparation, food storage, and cleanup. Each thing also creates more distance between the origin of foods and the end result, though in different ways.

Now, as far as this technology and distance serves as both as a source of oppression and empowerment, especially in the gendered environment we live in, can be traced in advertising I’m sure.

For this technology has made laboring over food more enjoyable, easier. It’s marketed as a level of expertise, a value added option to social status. It is in a way a tool that encourages the continuation of the gendered divide of food preparation and makes the oppression of being societally required to perform a role seem more appealing because fancy equipment and being valued as an expert in something, in the traditionally considered emotional aspects assigned to women and femme people – the joy and pride of taking care of those around you.

But while this technology has these negative implications, it also has empowering ones. Technology reduces the time and labor it takes to prepare meals. Thus time is opened up for other pursuits, energy is saved that can be spent in other ways. It opens up a space for change. And that space can be incredibly powerful, and many forms of hell raising can come from its availability.

I find it really interesting to consider these dynamics, and I hope that this outline of some of the dynamics I can is interesting to someone.

Connections and Frustrations: Week 6 Seminar response.

ComAlt, Sarah Williams.

Seminar Response paper, Wk 6.

Zoe Wright.


LaDuke Selections; Newman Chapters 6, 7, and 8.

“Dubbed ‘Konvict Kush’, all the marijuana is grown on prison grounds. ‘The inmates enjoy the agricultural part of growing the cannabis plants,’ Norton said. ‘We have a waiting list of prisoners wanting to trim the buds.’ With rising prison costs, the economics of marijuana production makes good math. ‘We keep half of the crop and the rest goes to local Colorado pot dispensaries. Our current projection indicates prison weed sales will cover thirty percent of the incarceration cost by 2020.’” (LaDuke, 219.)

“England’s role in the development of America’s beef trade is considerable. As ‘the great beef-eaters of Europe,’ the English (at least the middle and upper classes) consumed far more beef than their continental neighbors. Meat, and particularly beef, was believed to ensure greater strength and vitality. It wasn’t just part of the meal, beef was part of the lifestyle, conveying affluence and contentment.” (Newman, 93)

“As the number of affected people, especially children, increases, one could say the food industry has entered an age of allergens. More people are avoiding certain food items because of medical conditions. The trend has researchers seeking solutions, or ways to make such foods safer for those with allergies.” (Gelski, 2016)

I chose the lines from LaDuke because of the connections this lines makes to so many complex systems in the country; the prison system, prison labor, and for-profit prisons, the economic implications of marijuana, the medical implications of marijuana, and all of the less direct connections these systems make to other systems. To study the words in these sentences and the meanings and connections they take will lead you to these larger scale connections I drew as I read the lines.

I chose these lines from Newman because I find the different dynamics between the way different cultures consider meat interesting, especially in the social and political forces that have changed the way people think of and eat various kinds of meat.

I chose this article “Special Report: Changing Food To Fit An Allergen Age” and this quote from it because it frustrates me. Because the conversations around allergies, food sensitivities, and pharmaceutical sensitivities frustrates me. These chosen lines illustrate why. The industry is focused on changing food itself, modifying it in various ways to make it safe. But there is no research going into why this change has happened. Why are more people allergic to food? Why are the types of allergies changing and broadening? Is it something we have done? A change in our evolution? The way we make our food? The way we store it, prepare it? What created this change? There is no research being done into that, and that makes me incredibly frustrated. Because until you understand the problem and its origin there can be no long term, well understood solution.

My first chosen lines mark connections to large systems that a simple program has. My second chosen lines look at a dynamic and a change in attitudes that the rest of the chapter in part tackles. My third selection is chosen out of frustration that those larger scale dynamics, systemic connections, and affects are not being studied whatsoever.

Referenced Article.

Gelski, J. (2016, February 6). Special report: Changing food to fit an allergen age. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Research/2017/02/Special_report_Changing_food_t.aspx?ID={1D4DFC61-E553-4D31-B53A-A13C39894493}

The Importance of Connections: Week 4 Reflections.

I’ve found a lot of my time these last few weeks focused quite a bit on reading articles, watching videos, and paying attention to the interactions and conversations of people around me. Under my learning objective to understand the connections between and importance of activism, social justice work, and education, I don’t think that paying attention to the smaller details happening around me is a bad thing.

I love theory and I love making huge connections and putting ideas in context and conversation with each other. But a big critique of mainstream higher education is that it depersonalizes what it teaches, and lessens the ability to apply the big picture theoretical knowledge you gain to the local and personal, to the interactions that happen between people.

You cannot learn everything there is to know from a traditional classroom. You won’t always be able to see the big picture if you only have experience with local affairs and personal interactions. There has to be some kind of balance between the various ways to learn and take action. And that’s what a big part of my studies this quarter have been.

In the last weeks I watched a collection of TED Talks and quite a few videos from the Youtuber Ash Hardell, an educator on topics of gender, sexuality, and expression. I’ve read articles commenting on the actions people are taking, and I’ve paid attention to the conversations that the professors, teachers, and mentors in my life are having.

Watching these videos and articles has been important to me because it’s a practice of making connections, of gaining context and working with frameworks and big ideas and small personalized ideas at the same time. It’s listening to people’s experiences and thinking about how they fit with larger theories, and if they don’t fit, why don’t they? What’s missing in the theory that’s not taken into account?

To me, that is what a really good education should do. It should teach you how to make connections and take any piece of information, media, or material and learn something from it. To add to the way you see the world.

I am really enjoying taking the time and putting in the effort to include smaller pieces of writing, videos, and less formal lectures in my learning method. It’s been really fun to make connections between a discussion between Toni Morrison and Angela Davis that I watched in the first week or two, and a TED Talk discussing the power prosecutors have to create positive change in young lives. To read an article about the misappropriation of MLK’s legacy to take power away from the protestors of the present that connects to so many previous seminar discussions about protests, power, accountability, and respectability politics.

I am also looking forward to taking on some more theory and bigger ideas in the next half of the quarter, and on reading a lot of journal articles for my internship literature review. I think that will become what takes up most of my time over the next several weeks as I look for broader connections, agreements, and disagreements and explore the depth and breadth of research done on trans and queer spaces in higher education.

Week five Seminar Response: So many Connections, so few words.

ComAlt, Sarah Williams.

Seminar Response Paper, wk 5

Zoe Wright

Tompkins Chapter 3, Newman Chapter 5, Selections of LaDuke.

“We return again, as well, to the ways that the language of food allows for the exploration of the fine line between animal and human: here, however, the line has a particularly racist connotation, as Haley attaches Eliza’s body to the category of animal – and, of course, not just any animal but a dead animal slaughtered for human consumption.” (Tompkins, 105)

“Compared with the polished robber barons of the midwestern grain machine, the merchants who dealt in produce were more likely to be newly arrived immigrants, struggling to build a family business.” (Newman, 65

“This was an enforced famine, the result of British policy. Wheat harvests flourished in Ireland during the famine, but the British harvested and exported these crops to feed their people in their colonial conquests worldwide. Had the Irish been able to access this food source, the numbers who died from hunger would have been far fewer.” (Laduke, 90)

“As interest in medical cannabis has increased, the terms “organic” and “sustainably grown” have become trendy buzzwords within the industry. There is obviously a need to propagate more cannabis to supply a large consumer demand, but the “more for your money” approach to growing has not been conducive to healthy stewardship of the land. Our corporate-dominated agricultural system is broken, and the cannabis industry should not emulate its worst features.” (Russo, 2016)

I am noticing that I the lines I choose from Tompkins book often have to do with the distinction and discussion of animals and humans and their value. I think this is because I can recognize and place these lines in context of my own experience, while much of the rest of Tompkins work sits in a kind of vacuum. I am learning from it, but there is no preexisting framework in my mind to facilitate that learning. I chose these lines in particular because of the connection between being considered an animal and racist connotations of being considered an animal, or less than a person. This has a lot of connections, from voting politics of the one third of a person law, to the treatment of slaves as property, to the association of savage, ‘lower or less civilized’ humans with being wild or feral animals.

In Newman’s quote, I liked the note about which areas of food were run by which types of people, because if there is such a difference in what kind of people are in what positions, it is good to know why. In this case it is that the egg market is less stable than the grain market, so people with means stay away from eggs, while people without means do what they can with what’s available to them.

I chose the lines from LaDuke to quote because it connected to my knowledge of colonialism and capitalism, and it made a connection in my mind to the book The Sea of Poppies (About the poppy trade between Britain, India, and China) by Amitav Ghosh because it was describing a colonizing country forcing its subject to produce a certain crop at the expense of their ability to gain food.

I chose this article because I was looking for something about monocropping, as it was discussed in LaDuke around potatoes, and I thought it would be a timely and connected subject. I chose this article because it amused me that it was discussing marijuana in terms of sustainability in production, and because it interested me that it was already being discussed in terms of sustainability even though it seems like the demand for this crop is relatively new.

Referenced article:

Russo, S. (2016, May 6). Marijuana, Not Monoculture: How to Make Your Pot Crop Sustainable. AlterNet. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/drugs/marijuana-not-monoculture-how-make-pot-crop-sustainable

Tasting Practicum Reflections on weeks 2 and 3: Ritual, Practice, and Change.

There are many rituals and practices that surround people’s experiences. Rituals, patterns, traditions, are attached to nearly everything we do, even food. The study of rituals around food, farming, cooking, and eating have been the subject of anthropological studies, cultural studies, and part of the feeling of identity within current cultures. I think it’s an interesting exercise to think about the rituals around food and eating we have in our current lives, since it’s an important aspect of studying ancient peoples and cultures, it can certainly be helpful in studying living people.

During our week 2 potluck, before everyone started eating, a couple people spoke about different ways they wanted to appreciate, acknowledge, or think about food while they were eating. One spoke about taking a moment to be silent and think about the origin of the food, how it would nourish, and how important it was to acknowledge. Another thought that eating while having our seminar discussion itself would add an important dimension to our experiential learning.

Each of us has memories and traditions associated with food and how to eat, and these experiences influence the ways we want to experience eating and food.

During week three potluck and tasting time, I noticed several aspects of behavior. Those who were putting together spice packs and coating the salmon with salt and sugar mixes were grouped together, debating and discussing and becoming a hub of activity. The lights in the classroom weren’t as bright as they were the rest of the day, but I don’t actually remember whether that was because a different amount of outside light was coming out, whether someone had turned down the lights, or if it just seemed that way. The couple of people who were putting the final touches on the potluck lunch had candles by their station, and were playing music. There were a few scragglers, myself included, who weren’t participating in either of these activities.

For me, this was a time for me to be quiet and rest. I’m not used to being around classmates for an entire day. Usually my lunch break allows me to be somewhere else, or with particular people or in a different place. For me, this has been a very vital part of staying focused, being able to pay attention, and not be overwhelmed by social interaction. This break time is not a time that I am relaxed, exactly, but it is a time that I have always been able to shut down, and not think about anything important. It allowed me to be able to charge in time to go to seminars and second half of day activities and being to function. With this program, I don’t have that mid day time that I can shut down that part of my mind that must be alert around other’s, and I’ve had to adjust my approach to the day so I can stay focused. So on this day, it was helpful to be able to just sit and watch what others were doing. To eat my own food and not think about anything in particular. For this piece, the observations I jotted down while I was resting my mind were helpful and productive.

Food rituals can be formal, informal, personal, spiritual, traditional, or new. They can have multiple aspects of these at once. A formal meal could be something with extended family, a black tie fundraiser, or a practice of religion or spirituality. A personal, casual meal can recharge your body and relax your mind. Memories can be strongly tied with food, or the smells and tastes of food.

The parts of the rituals around food can be the food itself, how it tastes, how it smells; the preparation of the food, with someone else, alone, using a specific teapot for a particular tea; the preparation of how you eat, the utensils, table, couch, movie, music, silence good dishes, plastic tupperware, do you take a moment before you eat to recognize the food and the effort; the time of the meal, holidays, time of day, related to a particular action like harvest; the clean up after a meal can be a separate or included ritual also, who cleans the dishes, who puts away the food and how; and the lack of eating or meals can have significance as well. Fasting and breaking fast are important aspects of many different cultures.

These aspects of food and performance and eating are important to note, even if noting them doesn’t have any impact on your practices in the long run. Because it might teach you something, it might teach someone else someone, it might help you recognize a part of a self care routine, or a part of something that stressed you out, or disconnects you from community.

We spoke during seminar about the way that potlucks can’t be a go to activity anymore, because of so many dietary restrictions and issues. Part of this is probably purely for reasons of preference, what people will or won’t eat, but it’s also for health and medical reasons.

It’s curious to consider the different parts of our use of technology or cultural shifts and how they might have impacted the ability for people to participate in putlucks. When I was little, I enjoyed potlucks, but there was always a large section of food I couldn’t eat, and usually I couldn’t tell which foods I couldn’t eat. I had to trust my mom to find out from the people that made the food which dishes were vegetarian, and we had to trust that they really knew what that meant. So many people are unaware or misinformed about different types of diets and allergies. I have always been frustrated and amused by the conversations that go a little like this; “you’re a vegetarian? Oh cool, so am I!” (pause) “well but I don’t count fish/chicken/shellfish because (reason), so I eat those sometimes. But otherwise I’m totally a vegetarian.” Those conversations are frustrating because they spread misinformation about what being vegetarian means, or at least what it has always meant to me, and then suddenly people will say they understand what it means and still cook fish/chicken/etc because someone else they knew was a vegetarian but still ate that.

Which can be a very unpleasant experience, because if you don’t know what’s in your food and eat it, and you’ve been vegetarian long enough, you can’t digest meat. So upset stomach and unpleasant night’s ahead! Me and my mom has always been careful enough with my food that that hasn’t happened to me, but it’s happened to my parents a lot. For my dad, when a friend painstaking prepared a meal, checking constantly about what could be in it or not lead to a very painful day or two because they didn’t realize that chicken broth wasn’t vegetarian, and when my dad eats meat it sets off his arthritis and leaves him in pain.

I don’t know when these kinds of health issues, and allergies, started to become so prevalent in our world, because there aren’t any studies that have been done it that I’m aware of. But they haven’t always been so widespread, and because it seems so new, the rituals around food haven’t changed to account for them, and those who have different diets or allergies must be extremely vigilant around the food they eat and how it’s been prepared, they have to question the rituals other’s go through to prepare food, which becomes a ritual (or a practice) in itself.

For me personally, it is hard to constantly turn down people’s offers to cook or share food. I feel bad because I cannot partake in something that someone spent time and effort in preparing. To have to interrogate anyone offering food about what’s in it and how it was prepared, because them reassuringly saying that it’s ‘all natural’ really doesn’t mean anything to me. My allergies are to natural substances that are usually considered healthy. I have the interesting experience that I can eat (in general) either expensive, organic vegan/vegetarian dishes, or the cheapest, processed food, but the middle ground is where most of my allergies lie. There is one tomato sauce I can eat, that you can get only at the dollar store. I can eat it because it’s made cheaply enough to not have olive or canola or sunflower oil in it, and it’s in a glass jar rather than a can. So to determine whether I can eat something someone else has prepared I have to know if they regularly cook meat in the dishes they used to prepare the food, I have to know if they used canned foods, I have to know if they used cooking spray or oil, and then what kind. I have to interrogate the entire chain of production to make sure it won’t make me sick. So many things that I am allergic to get into people’s food without their conscious awareness of it happening.

The preparation of the kale we harvested week 3 is a good example of this. I picked some kale leaves from the field with my own hands. At that point I can eat them, sure. When we massaged them, the person sitting next to me commented that they smelled and felt oily. They were still considered by most in the class as ‘just kale’. But only moments later it was noted that the leaves has been drizzled in olive oil. Still ‘just kale’? By most people’s perspective, the oil added in this step unbeknownst to the room was inconsequential, a nothing. But that inconsequential step would mean a migraine for up to several days if ingested, to me.

So instead of performing that interrogation ritual, it’s easier to perform the apologetic refusal ritual.

My conclusions from these observations and notes is that it’s very important to consider what rituals each of us go through around food, eating, and preparation and why we do each of those things. Which parts are important and meaningful, which are autopilot or habit and why? In addition, it would be interesting to know more about the variables and factors in how people’s ability to participate in things like potlucks has changed over the last decades.

Wk 3 Reflection: Staying Outraged and Writing Accomplished

Week Three Reflection: Staying Outraged

Out of the various articles and pieces of writing that I read over the last week, my reaction to one in particular surprised me. It was called How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind” and it talked about how to keep yourself from creating a ‘new normal’ in this political climate where so much is threatening so many people’s lives and freedom. It talked about how to momentarily distance yourself from news so it doesn’t become ingrained as what is happening, about how to start participating and doing little things to resist and protest and start participating. I spoke in last week’s reflection about trying to find where I should be in terms of activism and social justice work, and while I don’t want to revisit any of that, my reaction to this article felt particularly important. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I read through the points it made. It made me feel hopeful that I could help create change, scared for that will happen before it gets better, frustrated that I don’t feel the strength I think I should, and it broke the feeling of numbness I hadn’t noticed permeating my mood. I think there is something really important in anything that can break through that numbness, so that we can really be aware and be able to engage and participate in the crap we are about to go through.

As a report of what I have done this week, a lot of my time was taken up in writing a piece I have been thinking about for quite some time. Back in November I came across a contest with the prompt “Are Digital Technologies Making Politics Impossible?” Since then I’ve been thinking about it, writing notes, trying to write drafts, and battling a good deal of self doubt on whether I should feel like I have any authority or credibility in writing a response to that question. Over the last week I made a last ditch effort at taming that self doubt and writing a reasonably decent response. And I am proud of what I managed to create. It feels important, and it feels thought out. I’ve been thinking about which things were important to talk about within the word limit, and about how those topics should be strung together. How it could be built upon for a further, more in depth work. In the last week I finished writing an absolute crap draft, and I turned it into something that I am proud of and happy with. I’m not going to share this piece of writing on this blog because I don’t want it to be available to the public, but if anyone is interested in my conclusions, I am willing to share a hard copy.

My internship has been slow to get started, but I have begun collecting articles with interesting looking abstracts to read, and I am working on finding an organizational method that works for me to keep track of how I find and work with the articles I’m going to be using. I expect there will be more to report on this by next week.

Week 4 Seminar Posting: Socially Imparted Value and Diet.

ComAlt, Sarah Williams.

Seminar Response Paper, Wk 4.

Zoe Wright.


Racial Indigestion Chapter 2; Secret Financial Life of Food Chapters three and four.

“The magnitude of popular interest in bread may also have been due to the changing dietary habits of Americans. Early in the nineteenth century many reformers were concerned with the increase in meat consumption and the decline in the amount and quality of bread production.” (Tompkins, 60)

“The disparity was clear: cotton was for the rich and powerful; corn was for the poor. Corn was the main staple of slave diets (the standard ration of corn for slaves was a peck of corn a week, or about 2 pounds of corn a day).” (Newman, 32)

“In a new study in Applied Economics, Palma et al seek to reveal consumer motivations behind willingness to pay for expensive foods versus valuation of food attributes. Could it be fashion, a bid for prestige or a statement of wealth and social standing?” (ScienceDaily, 2016)

I chose the lines from Tompkins because it connected to the conversations around diets and nutrition that happen in current times. These conversations being around what foods are considered healthy, fad diets, and a seemingly opposite view of bread and meat than is expressed in these chosen lines. In current times meat is considered the healthy staple while bread is the carb and sugar ridden demon of weight loss represented in Hollywood films.

I chose the lines from Newman because the connection it made between the perceived value of food by different social classes. There are still foods that are associated with being low class, poor, or from particular racial or ethnic backgrounds. There are sections in supermarkets labeled ‘hispanic’ or ‘asian’. And there have been fairly recent dog whistle campaigns that connect certain foods with being lower class, on welfare, or of those particular backgrounds.

I chose this report of a study done on social class and perceived value of food because it makes it evident that these discussions are still being had recently, and are still important.

I find these connections between the perception of value placed on food based on associations with race, class, or wealth interesting because of the way they are used for things like dog whistle politics, targeted advertising, and the cultural shame that is associated with consuming certain foods because of the interactions of your various social status.

Reference: Palma, M., Ness, M., & Anderson, D. (n.d.). Food purchasing and social status perceptions — ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160718104332.htm

Weekly Reflection: Celebration, Venting, and Charging. (Wk 2)

There were a lot of complicated things that happened for me during this last week. I participated in C3’s lectures on Wednesday and early Thursday, which included the movie “Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, lies, and the global exchange” and a guest lecture by Sarah Eltantawi on the Iraq war. On Thursday I observed the protest and walk out. I read the first chapter (written by Joni Seager) of the book Dangerous Intersections about the connections between military activity and climate change, and a chapter from Sister Outsider called “Transforming Silence Into Language and Action”. I read various commentary on the Women’s March and the Pussyhat movement. I read an article on the way Martin Luther King’s legacy has been misappropriated as a way to control the content of current protests.

I felt like I was present in an important moment. And I felt like I was absorbing all that was going on around me, even when I didn’t know exactly what to make of it.

Since school started this year I have felt so much expansion in my worldview. I have learned a lot about allyship, advocacy, and activism. I am taking in information every single day, especially in the last few months, about how to be critical and how to be involved and engaged, how to be inclusive, how to lead and when it’s most important to give space to other voices.

I haven’t figured out how all the pieces fit together yet. I haven’t figured out a way to turn all of the things I’ve learned and all the things I feel connected to and all the things I want to contribute to into a solid course of action. A stable idea of how exactly I can best fit into the world around in a meaningful way.

There are people around me who have, or who are comfortable getting involved with action even if they don’t know how it fits yet. I can’t jump in with both feet yet, and part of me feels guilty for that and another part knows I will be next to useless until I feel stable in my knowledge. (Not static, because I don’t ever want to stop learning, but stable enough to stay strong.)

One of my questions for this quarter was why it is important to learn about social justice. What the connections are between activism and education.

Education, either from a somewhat traditional course of reading and writing and thinking or from a hands on, peer spread, or community based learning, has been incredibly important to me in finding out more. It’s taught me how to find information and use it. It’s taught me how to look at things critically. It’s given me a place to be comfortable and pushed me past my comfort zone.

My education has given me tools for putting small details and small pieces together within a bigger picture and make connections that are of vital importance, yet not always made.

At a simplistic point, activism is education. It’s spreading information that is unacknowledged, hidden, or silenced. It’s broadening minds.

Education and activism are entirely tangled. They benefit each other. This quarter, in part, is about expressing in more depth and detail that tangle, and that benefit.

On Saturday, the day after the Inauguration, I attended a Drag Show. Its theme was superheroes and shedding secret identities to become your true self. The organizers of that show were people I went to community college with, who I met through the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) on campus. At that club, we were usually lucky if ten people showed up at a time.

When I got to Evergreen, I attended the LGBTQ Welcome reception. I wasn’t expecting it to be so well attended, and when what felt like sixty or seventy people showed up it was incredibly overwhelming. It was a very overwhelming amount of people, and there wasn’t the space or time to get to know anyone slowly. I am a very white human, I am very straight passing, my personality is quiet unless I’m with people I’m close with, and I don’t have the confidence to take on the powerfully open aspects of personality that I so admire in others. With these things together, I don’t expect to be trusted, I don’t expect to be much more than on the outskirts of any communities, especially when I am new.

So in many ways, the small community I had at community college was more than what I was able to find at Evergreen. And when I go back and interact with those people, it feels comfortable and familiar.

Last Saturday was a charged day. It was a powerfully emotional show. I watched with my partner fighting exhaustion and being overwhelmed by social stimuli and at the same time being a part of a community that was celebrating its strength, venting its frustrations, and charging itself for a fight at the same time.

Seminar Weekly: Value of Bodies, Safety Of That Which Nourishes


Sarah Williams

Seminar Reading Response. Wk 3.

Zoe Wright


Racial Indigestion Chapter 1; Secret Financial Life of Food Chapter 2

“It is, as animal studies scholars and animal rights activists have noted, permissible to eat meat because animals represent a lower social order than humans, and even then this is not true for all animals: Pets such as Dame Trot’s cat and dog are in a separate category. Those that are eaten are not persons but things, and their thingness is the result of a system of social degradation. For a human to take the place of an animal means becoming the object of a similar social degradation.” (Tompkins, 30-31)

“Although European explorers, particularly the Dutch and Portuguese, would continue to search for new spice islands and spice routes to control the lucrative flow of the spice trade, by the nineteenth century, spices were no longer viewed as exotic. ‘Pepper-pot’ stews were considered mundane affairs for the middle and lower classes and not to be eaten by courtiers.” (Newman, 21)

“The outbreak points to a lack of understanding consumers have with disease risk related to raw ingredients, particularly flour, which isn’t often treated to kill bacteria. ‘Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria,’ said Leslie Smoot, a senior advisor in the FDA’s office of food safety, in a press release. This bacteria can be rendered harmless during normal food preparation — what the FDA calls ‘kill steps’ — such as baking, frying or microwaving. However, consumers who spurn such time-consuming processes can put themselves at risk with a quick lick of the spoon. The agency notes products that intentionally contain cookie dough, such as ice cream, use flour and eggs that have been pasteurized and are therefore safe to eat in their uncooked state.” (Visser)

I was caught by the lines from Tompkins because of its connections to how people justify eating meat and treating animals badly to gain meat. The way we order and value beings, is very much connected to whether animals are becoming people or people are becoming animals. I really appreciate these notes about how humans and animals are valued in the text because they put the rest of the work into context for me, and they connect to the studies I am doing of social justice and education, which are topics that are very connected to which people are valued in what way and why.

Newman’s discussion of an exotic spice becoming mundane, common and thus less valuable, relates closely to Tompkins’ discussion of how class and race influence perception and consumption of food.

There is mention in Tompkins’ chapter discussing how to keep your kitchen clean, attractive, and safe, which reminded me of our brief discussion of how the perception of soil has changed over time. The news article I chose mentions that companies don’t expect flour to be eaten raw, thus they don’t treat it in a way that would make it safe to eat raw. Soil and flour seem very similar in this instance. Neither is safe to be around or eat raw, but food that is supposedly safe to eat springs from them both. It is interesting to consider what temperatures flour would have to reach to be safe, and whether it actually does reach that temperature through-and-through during normal cooking processes.


Racial Indigestion, Kyla Wazana Tompkins.

The Secret Financial Life of Food, Kara Newman.

FDA Warns Against Eating Cookie Dough, But Not Because Of Eggs, Nick Visser. Huffington Post, 6/30/16. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/fda-cookie-dough-flour_us_5774bf5fe4b042fba1cf2b6d