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 →
Hello, I’m Asiago, lead organizer for The Food Studies Project. My last name is “Heron” named in honor of the Great Blue Heron. I am told by people during my time at UT Austin that I have an inspiring personal story to tell. I would like to share an abridged version of my story, give thanks for the education I have received, and invite you all to come fly with me this winter. I have always had an interest in food, probably because I was pulled out of elementary school when I was seven years old, and spent most of life at home eating and watching the Food Network. Sadly though, I did not learn much about food or cooking sitting in front of the television. I just ended up eating more. It got to the point that I had to eat something every time I sat down to watch TV. By the time I was 13, I was already an obese teen who spent his days playing games, only pausing to go steal cigarettes and food, which I called “Game Fuel”, at my neighborhood market. My life was wasting away because I never left the nest, never built the courage to take that first leap. I started learning how to fly when I decided to go back to school at the age of 20. I started a new life thanks to junior college. At the time, I could not imagine that taking a Spanish class would not only guide me to UT Austin but also teach me how to fly around the world.
Education helped me think differently about food, and it naturally changed my unhealthy ways. Studying foreign cultures and languages brought me awareness about the importance and meaning of food. Meanwhile, my concern grew for the future of food throughout the world. My first couple of years at UT, I did not know I had this food focus in my studies. It wasn’t until I came upon Dr. Rebecca Torres’ course “Farming, Food, and Global Hunger” that I realized I had always had great interests and concerns with food in all of my classes. Continue reading →
Two weeks before the Fall 2011 semester started, I had the honor of being part of a Food First delegation in Bolivia with the amazing new project Food Sovereignty Tours.
It is hard to summarize all the new information that was presented to me by Bolivian locals and from the wonderful professionals–now friends–that I met on the trip. Being the youngster on the trip, I did not feel ready to engage in the subject of Food Sovereignty and Climate Change. Even though I did not have much of a background in many of the discussion topics, it did not take an expert to see the shocking reality of the world food system in Bolivia. How the Global North uses beautiful counties like Bolivia in the Global South to aid their own food security. How food is no longer a human right but a commodity used to control populations and benefit certain wealthy nations. As an undergraduate in college, we read a lot about the injustices and unfair issues throughout the world, but lack the reality of experiencing it. I wish my school would had some sort of Study Abroad Program like this. Wake up tours. I wasn’t able to get a scholarship or university credit for the tour (I funded it with the rest of my emergency savings and donations from a few professors who believe in my future) yet it was worth it because I went in with just an interest in food security and left a food activist.
Food Studies to me is understanding the world via food. Students can study food in any academic field because almost everything that we do as humans is related to obtaining food to eat. One reason why I wanted to create this blog was to show the great interest, by undergraduate college students like myself, to study food. But, not nessarly to study the food itself but our interacttions with it. For example, here is a recent study about race and food production: The Color of Food
I wanted to share a few links that came to me recently that might be useful in your search to study food.
Fall 2010, I challenged myself to go the entire semester without consuming a single thing from Wendy’s. Why Wendy’s? Well, they seem to have a geographical monopoly on my campus, with three locations all within a short walking distance. The amazing part is that all the stores have great customer traffic, but they serve different clientele.
Triad of Wendy’s at the University of Texas at Austin
After completing the No Wendy’s Challenge last semester, I thought I would go out to eat to celebrate. So… I went to Wendy’s! I wanted understand why the fast food experience can be dangerous from a non-nutritional/environmental stand point. I want to bring your focus to the misleading language used to promote gluttonous consumption (of not just food), and how the convenience leads us to eat mindlessly. Continue reading →
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.
The last thing that I recorded in my weekday mindful eating project was the psychology behind my meals. In particular, I focused on the number of meals I ate alone and the satisfaction rate of those meals. As I mention in my previous two posts both on economics and time, the idea for this project came from Warren Balasco’s book “Food: The Key Concepts“, a great book for students interested in Food Studies to start thinking differently about food. Continue reading →
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 →