Looking at this data set, what stands out the most is the inverse proportion in the pounds per year for chicken and beef. The rise in chicken and fall in beef may have been due to new studies and evidence for health problems related to red meat. Americans, still hungry for a meaty taste, cut back on their beef consumption, filling in the gaps with chicken. Also, one noticed a parallel in the consumption of fish and peanuts. This was surprising given the small size of peanuts, leading me to believe that peanut butter played a role in high numbers. Further, fish seems to have a smaller overall prevalence in American culture versus places like Asia.
In 21st century America, so much of our lives has been pushed towards technology, efficiency, and the desire for routine. For this reason, a so-called McDonaldization has taken over society. Popularized by the fast food industry, this optimizing of a business/entity for peak efficiency, calculability, predictability and control has had an influence on almost everything. To get a firsthand look into this, I ventured out to a nearby Culver's restaurant.
As I set out to break McDonaldization, I was feeling nervous about having to put myself out there. After a swift check of the menu, I asked the male worker for a double ButterBurger with ketchup. I paused slightly and then said, "Is there any way I could get that burger a little more well done?" To this, the worker stopped for a moment and then said "Uh, yes I can do that.". He could sense my uneasiness but still was very friendly toward myself and other customers. Next, he handed me a number and my receipt and I stepped back out of the way to wait. As I stood there, I looked at the worker and those around me. He gave me a few suspicious looks before waiting on the next customer.
Shortly after, my order came and I headed home. I have to say, the ButterBurger was not as tasty as usual, likely a testament to the company's optimal cooking of the meat. This plays into the aspect of Predictability. I am used to the taste of this particular hamburger and I know I enjoy it. Thus, I skewed the usual satisfaction expectation by ordering it this way. As George Ritzer writes in his book, The McDonaldization of Society, "[t]he success of the McDonald's model suggests that many people have come to prefer a world in which there are few surprises." The knowledge that a ButterBurger (if not ordered well done) here in Michigan is likely to taste the same as a ButterBurger in Illinois is comforting as a consumer.
To continue, as I sat there eating the burger, another thought came to me: I am eating a plate of corn. The burger, the bun, the ketchup. Everything had originated from the yellow miracle. Evidence for this comes from journalist Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, where he refers to ending up in the American Corn Belt each time he traced an industrial food back to its start. Over the years, a lot came together causing this such as high subsidizing of the crop.
Getting back to exercise, I feel, the thought of this activity was a lot worse than actually doing it. As comical as it sounds, I truly was not talking to a machine. I was communicating with an actual person that could process my request and satisfy my demand. For this reason, McDonaldization can be bad in that it weeds out human interaction. In a time of (un)social media, as I've heard it coined, it less and less common for unique experiences to take place.
I was given an interesting task this week, something seemingly far from my comfort zone. My objective was to approach a stranger and have them allow me to take a picture of their refrigerator. More importantly I was to capture the contents within the refrigerator. This would be to infer about what story the food and drink they had told about them in many different aspects. To do this I had I would have to go "door to door" in the East Lansing area ringing doorbells in the hopes of a taker. Often considered a more introverted person, this presented somewhat of a challenge for me.
Nonetheless, I hopped in my red Chevrolet Aveo this past Sunday afternoon and took to the streets. I began the journey, weaving up and down residential streets in search an inviting home to try my hand at first. After nearly 15 minutes, I parked the car and approached a modest, two-story home. I headed for the door, going over what I was going to say in my head, hoping for the best. I rang the doorbell, waited for about 30-45 seconds before realizing there would be no answer. So, I continued on, noticing the house next door also looked like a good option. I walked over from the first house, rang the doorbell and waited patiently yet again. Unfortunately, I was met with the same outcome and similarly at two other houses in the neighborhood.
Though I had yet to yield the picture I needed, I was proud of myself, for I had been calm and ready at each home to communicate the message. I foraged on turning out of that neighborhood back on to the main road. I turned into a different neighborhood, quickly finding a potential winner. I parked the car and approached a small, blue one-story sprinkled with bright flowers. I rang the doorbell and to my excitement noticed movement inside. An elderly woman approached the door, opening the first of two doors, looking at me. Just as I began to open my mouth, ready to explain why I was there, she shook her head and said no, presuming me to be a solicitor. Slightly dejected, I got back into the Aveo, heading back out there. I entered yet another neighborhood and found a home well decorated for halloween, with many lights on inside, indicating someone was home. I decided to make this my next pursuit walking up a long driveway to the burgundy porch. I gave the bell a ring and immediately saw a middle-aged woman head my way through the clear, glass door. She open the door and said "hello", to which I began to explain to her my request. She looked at me with an air of unease and inquired about what I would take the picture with and if there was anyway for me to prove she could trust me to enter her home. I told her I was going to use my iPhone and showed her my MSU ID card thinking this may be enough to convince her. It was not, as she politely told me that she did not feel good about the arrangement, closing the door. As I walked back to the car I decided that was enough for the day, satisfied with my efforts. Yet, I had not gained access into a home to get what I really wanted.
To account for this, other measures had to be taken. When I returned to my residence hall that night I texted my mom asking her to if she could text a friend of hers asking them for a refrigerator picture. She graciously agreed, saying it should not be a problem. I told her not to tell me who the person the refrigerator belonged to or anything about them. Soon after she sent me the picture that appears above and I was all set to begin.
Right off the bat, the refrigerator appears very full indicating those living in the home likely have a stable income. The absence of free space seems to lean towards a household that is certainly food secure. Furthermore, assessing the overall food and beverage profile it seems the household has a fairly healthy diet given the existing state it came to me in. I spot items like grape tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, carrots, frozen peas, and I believe those are onions in the bottom right drawer. Something that I noticed after many scans over is the abundance of coffee creamer products. A large container of Coffee-Mate appears on the main top shelf and another smaller container in the door. This observation lead to an inference that those living in this home drink a fair amount of coffee.
Though many good components appear, foods such as ice cream, (likely) KFC mashed potatoes, processed cheese, toaster strudels, and pizza rolls are also spotted. I'd be interested to find out if these processed foods are incorporated more often into daily meals rather than the fruits and vegetables. In this way, I feel that those who live here are similar to the American families captured in Hungry Planet. Both examples appear to have an abundance of food available on a weekly basis and have multiple processed foods. Another interesting component was the loaf of bread appearing on the second shelf, sealed in a plastic bag. Given the sealed packaging and plastic bag around that I would guess this is unprocessed, bakery bread with a few days left before mold begins to grow. This draws one back to thoughts of author, Melanie Warner's mentions in Pandora's Lunchbox of the simplicity that can be bread. However, in many cases, like Subway, it much more of a feat of food science. They have ovens right in the store, it must be fresh and wholesome? That's what they say about it right? That's what they want you to think. Where in fact, this bread is loaded up with preservatives and dough conditioners likely to keep it without mold days after the truly wholesome local bread (102).
In addition to being lovers of coffee, this household is also one of pickle connoisseurs. A jar appears in on the second shelf next to the bread and two jars in the door. I do not see any alcohol in both the refrigerator or the freezer. Although, this could have been due to the time and season. In fact, the entire food and drink profile could have looked very different on say a summertime Friday versus the fall Sunday which was used. It reasonable to say that the gallon of apple cider wouldn't be there in that case. Whatever the case, a trip inside the refrigerator can say a lot more about the owner than you think. That is, if you are allowed inside to do so.
As I began the first day of recording my eating I did not find myself consuming a great deal of processed foods. Now it was a Sunday, meaning I was probably less likely to visit the vending machine for a quick snack (usually between classes) and those with meal plans are well aware that Combo-X-changes are not available on the weekends. These are three item combinations available to MSU students each weekday, these may contain anything from fruit and bottled to water to highly-processed snack foods like Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. Thus, on that day I was more likely to eat food from the cafeteria or choose from the existing snacks in my room. While the only food I ate on Sunday that I considered to processed was Chex Mix, I got to thinking and pondered: "How processed is all of the food I eat in the cafeterias?" This is something that I had never thought about, I realized that in just the same way food in the grocery store is tampered with to promote flavor and longevity, food that is brought in to feed hundreds of students must also require much influence from factories and food processing. Furthermore, in examining the Chex Mix ingredients I came across a now familiar additive, BHT. BHT was mentioned by Melanie Warner in her 2013 book, Pandora's Lunchbox, in which she said was on a small list of substances put out by the Department of Health and Human Services that were "reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens". This certainly came as a shock as I munched on what many would believe to be a harmless snack when enjoyed in moderation.
Day one commenced as I ate more food from the cafeteria for dinner as displayed by the diary entry list below. After, day two began and I went through the day with the goal to avoid processed foods and food additives the best I could. Unfortunately, it was not until after both days one and two that I came to my realization about how many foods in our cafeterias here at MSU likely are processed. However, given my understanding at the time, I found it somewhat hard to eat only food in the cafeteria. Especially later at night when I often get hungry even after a hearty dinner. I broke the protocol and snacked on a Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar around 9:30 PM. If I had to have (what I thought at the time was) my one and only processed food for the day this may have not been a bad choice. Warner mentions in Pandora's Lunchbox that the Clif Bar company "says it is committed to wholesome ingredients and environmental responsibility". The company has yet to become totally organic due to the great obstacle of producing their main ingredient, soy protein isolate (seen at left), in way that is chemical-free and yet maintains profitability. Within the spectrum of snack foods though it was a pretty safe bet. This wrapped up day two and as I reflect on this diary I am increasingly uncertain what is going into the food I eat each day in the cafeteria. I do not feel I am at the point of this leading to change in my habits because of both my busy schedule and the convenience of the cafeterias.
Day 1- I was asked to eat and drink normally and record what was consumed
• Brunch (around 12:30 am) - Akers Hall Cafeteria
Omelette with cheddar cheese, mushrooms, spinach, potatoes and sausage
Macaroni and Cheese
Glass of water
Slice of Apple Pie (homemade)
• Dinner - Akers Hall Cafeteria
3 Chicken wings
Tempura battered pike
Glass of water
Glass of Chocolate milk
Day 2- I was asked to try to avoid highly processed foods and food additives
• Breakfast- Shaw Hall Cafeteria
Glass of Water
• Lunch- Shaw Hall Cafeteria
Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Spinach salad with ranch
Glass of water
• Dinner- Akers Hall Cafeteria
Sweet and Sour Chicken
2 Steak Tacos with hummus, rice, cheese, and lettuce
Blueberry rhubarb crumble
Glass of water
Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar