During my undergraduate years at UT, I have completely transformed my relationship with food. I have become an Educated Eater, a student who has been exposed to a diverse understanding of food and eating. I was introduced to many new foods, learned about the real cost of food, studied a little bit of nutrition, started cooking, and even took several courses about food. One summer I had the wonderful opportunity to study international nutrition and food culture in Southeast Asia, another time in Brazil where I ate rice and watered down beans with my impoverished host family. All of my studies at UT and abroad have had a food focus.
After three years, I reminisce on the adventure I have had educating myself about food in college and reflecting on my personal journey of deciding what to eat.
I remember having to travel by foot or bus with my empty backpack to purchase just enough food to hold me over for the school week. I remember my first semester eating all alone in the school cafeteria. My parents were no longer around to buy food for me, so I had to learn how to hunt down free food events around campus.
Everything I could fit into my backpack for the week
Now, as I walk around campus, I see so many students trying figure out their own food studies. Some are learning about the economics of food. Why hundreds of students line up on Gregory Plaza receive a free Wendy’s hamburger or download a Google App to get a free meal. Some are receiving a lecture about college culture as they come to class at eight in the morning to find Red Bull energy drinks taped to the bottom of their desks, and random pizza/soda drive-bys as young cheerleaders jump out vans and shove products into your hands. Some students even get an introduction to the politics of food as with the student organization that brought a cupcake truck onto campus to fundraise and now faces a violation of theInstitutional Rules (Section 13-205 Solicitation).
College students have to make many new complex decisions about what to eat, but I don’t see many programs teaching them how or why we eat. Longhorns are always talking about food. So why doesn’t UT have a food-focused program that students can use to discuss food and relate it to their studies? Continue reading →
During the last few years, I have been blessed to have experienced several foreign countries. Traveling internationally I think is what got me into studying food, because I enjoy seeing how people around the world treat food. It is amazing to learn about food taboos, etiquette, and I like to challenge my palate. Weird food combinations, smells, and at times disturbing appearances can be surprising at times, but it brings more understanding about the meaning food. Setting cuisine aside, I find that it is always the little things associated with food that end up having an impact on my life, because the little things reveal a deeper meaning about society.
Here are few examples that changed my life:
Sharing a single car of beer
Beer is so important. It would take forever to analyze its social importance, but the point I want to make is that beer promotes sharing. In Salvador, Brazil, it is common to share a single can (350ml) of cerveja, dividing it amongst a table of glasses. In my culture, each person would get his/her own can. Continue reading →
With Latin American Studies, I study mostly languages: Spanish and Portuguese with an attempt at Quechua once. This semester I am doing an exchange program in the Brazil with hopes to master Brazilian. Last month, I spent in Salvador da Bahia and found the vocabulary Brazilians used to describe their meals very interesting. It left me wondering how to translate some of these words and phrases. Translations are debatable but one thing I learned was that the words we use can change our relationships with food. Here are few Brazilian Food Vocab examples:
As part of my new year’s resolution of reading a book a week in 2011, I read a little book recently called, “Eating Mindfully” by Susan Albers. I enjoy the idea of eating food consciously without focusing on nutrition. If you think about it, the field of study is called “nutritional sciences” for a reason, it is meant for scientists to comprehend. Susan breaks down eating food into 4 categories: Mind, Body, Thoughts, and Feelings. Categories which she says were pulled from Buddhist teachings. I tried to think how these four elements apply to my relationship with food nowadays in my senior year of college.
Whole Foods – I want foods closer to their natural state in the environment. This isn’t an ad for raw cuisine, but more of a push to understand where food comes from. For example, I drink whole milk, because in my mind whole milk is closer to raw milk than say fat-free. Another example would be my preference for foods that have not been “fortified” (adding vitamins, minerals, etc that were not in the original food). Not a big fan of supplements either… Continue reading →
For one week, I ate mindfully, keeping notes of the economics, time, and psychology of my weekday meals. As a result, I raised my awareness about the relationship I have with food. Located some potential dangers such as overeating before bed, a habit turned to routine, which I believe I do to help me relax and get tired to hit the sack. I learned that over eating does not only make you feel grossly heavy but it is a major time killer, and time is one of the most important things that students deal with in college.
What does it mean to eat for me, here in college life? After reading Warren Balasco’s book “Food: The Key Concepts“, I wanted to apply his Mindful Eating assignment as “a step toward more consciousness” in my life as an undergraduate in college. So, I recorded different things about my weekday meals. I did not track the nutritional facts. Instead, I focused more on economics, time, phycology of eating.
Economics of my food
It was hard to track the economics of my food since I was living in Co-Operative house which bought most of my food with rent money. Although I could always eat for “free” at home, I am not a fan of packing PB & J that just gets hot and nasty in my backpack come lunch time. I was told that approximately the Co-Op spent about 4 dollars a day to feed me. Continue reading →