The subject, a twenty-year old male hailing from middle Michigan, Saginaw to be exact, grew up with a number of influences on his dietary intakes. To begin, his parents were an interesting collaboration of backgrounds when it came to food. His mother, Ann, a dietitian these days, came about formulating healthy eating habits even before venturing into this profession. His father, David, on the other hand, indulged upon Mountain Dew and Doritos whenever he could get his hands on them growing up. Now, this is not to say he was overweight or chronically unhealthy, he ate relatively well as a whole. However, the addition of Ann to his life changed his eating habits and the food readily available to him in large part.
In this way, Hoffman was brought up on not a drastically health-conscious diet, but one that was certainly more sprinkled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than the average American child. He was fed chicken nuggets, a favorite, in addition to vegetarian substitutes of sausage links and ground beef (not to his knowledge at the time). As well as vegetables like corn, carrots, and potatoes and fruits like blueberries, bananas, strawberries, and raspberries. An average breakfast would consist of a pair of Eggo waffles topped either with butter or peanut butter, often accompanied by a banana. Then it was off to school, where he would entertain a sample of the fruit in season, a granola bar and often a piece of whole wheat pita bread folded in half with peanut butter in the middle. Snacks were usually comprised of cut up pears, apples, or Go-Gurt. A common dinnertime meal consisted of whole wheat pasta with chunky tomato sauce, topped with chicken breast. To drink, his mother would strongly advocate for calcium-fortified orange juice to help promote strong bones, given Grant was not particularly fond of milk. In addition to apple juice, assorted juice boxes, and water. Red meat would make it into the kitchen most often if David was in the mood for steak. Otherwise, the most common use came occasionally if Ann made pork chops. Ann would often prepare multiple bean and vegetable side dishes to which Grant would sometimes eat, especially if they were foods he was fond of. Overall, Grant was known to be somewhat of a picky eater.
Cultural and religious factors influenced Hoffman’s eating habits as well. One family tradition in particular was centered completely around food. Within the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy, it is commonplace for families to consume a “hot bath” known as Bagna Cauda. This dish is usually served with bread, lettuce, mushrooms and other vegetables. Hoffman’s maternal grandmother is known for preparing this dish and dedicating the night before Thanksgiving each year to inviting throngs of relatives and family friends over to her Saginaw home to partake. This dish is made mixing melted butter with anchovies, garlic, and olive oil. Although this may seem highly unappetizing to some, it was something that he grew up with and therefore was seen as a delight. In much the same way the Chinese enjoy bull penis soup, Hoffman and many other Italians are very attune to the greasy dip and look forward to the regular endeavor (Herz 8). This is one particular aspect of his upbringing that he looks upon dearly for its uniqueness and the overall togetherness that the night invokes. Still today, he looks forward to Bagna Cauda night as the beginning of the holiday season. Furthermore, Grant’s Catholic upbringing shaped Fridays during the Lenten season to be meatless, consisting regularly of fish frys.
Today, Grant dines on a reasonable array of foods in many of the cafeterias at his temporary home, Michigan State University. While away at school, a usual day may consist of a breakfast of eggs, hash browns and cold cereal, with a glass of chocolate milk. Around lunchtime it is back to the cafeteria for pasta with tomato sauce, a breadstick, and a piece of fruit, along with a glass of water. Lastly, for dinner he has chicken, fried or grilled, rice, the featured soup of the day and maybe a side salad with spinach. These days, he drinks mostly water, with an occasionally glass of lemonade or Sprite. If it is a special night out his preferences are Mexican foods like burritos or tacos. He dislikes cold, processed lunch meats and prefers warm versus cold food in general. He also does not enjoy squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Some still proclaim him a picky eater from time to time, but in his mind he has grown in this arena. It is these subtle mentions of his choosy nature which caused a small, but noticeable change in his eating. This was not a drastic alteration for Grant but rather a reminder that when he is presented with a new food that it truly will not hurt to try.
Though the corrupt aspects of the American food system do not grip the Hoffman family nearly as much as many other American families, they are not without the stain of processed food. Grant enjoys the occasional Pop-Tart, Oreo, Nutter Butter, or bowl of sugary breakfast cereal. Ann would sometimes send him with a Lunchable, the pizza variety was the only he preferred. For the most part he was not exposed to the “more than 60 varieties of Lunchables” as his peers were (Moss 11). Yet, as he grew up, reaching driving age, he would be out with his friends more often, reaching for fast food when out and about. It is hard to stay away from the convenient, cheap food that makes up the American food system in this age. A system that has moved “food” into factories and mothers out of the kitchen. Despite this, Grant and the Hoffman family make an effort to be honest and wholesome about what they put in their bodies.
Food Autobiography Addition
My thoughts on food did not take an entire 180 from completing, Eating Industrial, but there was certainly change in many aspects. The dangers of highly processed foods were a topic we studied in detail early on, leaving lasting impacts on me. Often last year, I would use the vending machine in my dormitory to combat hunger between meals. However, during this semester, I did this very little, only 1 or 2 times a month even. My attitude now is that I am is better off eating more at meals and waiting out time between meals than falling into bliss point traps, full of empty calories.
Next, I have seen my meat consumption decrease significantly. I still eat meat most days but I find myself without a craving for it at mulitple meals each week. Though this action does some good for greenhouse gas emissions, Jonathan Safran Foer would ask more of me. He'd argue my actions are still very much to blame in the case of contribution to not just the environment but also animal cruelty. However, I do not expect myself to become a full-fledged vegetarian anytime soon, but you never know. Furthermore, this class has changed how I think about meat's role in our diets. I was not aware that every protein that we need can also come from plants, without the plaque-building cholesterol too. Not only have I refrained from meat at times but also I have done away with the A + 2B method. What I mean is rather than meat be the centerpiece of my meal I now try to make it a side dish or a salad topping. I also must say that this class has opened me up to lab grown meat. After hearing how many of the foods we know are so intensely laboratory concocted (highly processed foods), the argument that lab grown meat is weird goes out the window.
Third, my attitude toward the modern supermarket was altered as well. As mentioned before, I come from a health-conscious mother, meaning exploring farmer's markets and other alternatives were things I was exposed to. Yet, I did not incorporate much of that into my own habits once away at college. However, I plan to frequent Whole Foods in the coming year as it will be the first time I will be consistently buying my own groceries. I had rarely considered where my food came from. I knew that tropical fruits like bananas and coconuts had to travel a long way to get to me, yet the grand scale of the American food system was not apparent to me until now.
More than anything, this class has changed my thought of what "good food" really means. It extends far beyond just taste. Good food is food that grown close to home, with the health of our bodies and the earth in mind. It has the fewest ingredients possible and brings together the "whole farm". Good food is food that simply brings people together, cultivating valuable relationships over the dinner table each day.