Kiwi fruit, not the bird

6793.42 miles, the approximate distance the Zespri Organic Green Kiwi traveled before its tart, sweet yet sour juice reached my taste buds. If you’ve never seen a kiwi or tasted one, the fruit might come off as a little strange. It’s a brown oval little ball, smaller than the size of your fist and the brownish fuzzy skin covers golden center with a ring of seeds around it. When you cut the fruit open, the juices will splurges out so if you never had a kiwi before, take this as a cautionary tale. Unlike the apple or orange, the kiwi has a thin skin and the skin is not edible but it wouldn’t kill you if somehow it finds your way into your tummy.

My mom always stressed the importance of eating healthy so I encountered a kiwi at a young age. Kiwi is as normal as an apple to me but when we had this food tasting experience, I was struck by how many people never had this fruit before. Since a kiwi is is about the size of a small gala apple, I wouldn’t say it’s shareable. The way I eat a kiwi is I would take a knife, slice the fruit in half and use a spoon to dig out the succulent fruit in the middle. However, for class purposes, our professor sliced off the skin and cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces. The following video shows you one of the ways you can eat a kiwi and I wouldn’t say it’s the most convenient for personal pleasures but if you’re serving someone kiwi, this would be the way.

Sugar Rush: A Manifesto

Is bigger really better? We as a society think so. How else would you explain the increase in average soda size from 7 oz to 28 oz and the numerous commercials that try to outsell their competitors by providing the consumers larger quantities? We have all heard of the obesity epidemic that’s sweeping across the nation right now and it frightens me to think that my generation would be the first generation to live shorter lives than our parents. Of course many of us will blame this epidemic on the fast food chains, but we easily ignore the fact that we as individuals are responsible for what we put in our own body. It’s undeniable that fast food producers cut the corner by subsidizing real ingredients for processed food but it’s the only way to keep prices low while producing at mass quantities. We all know that fast food will cause health problems but we might be drinking our way to obesity in this era. An average American drinks 44.7 gallons of soda a year and that’s not including energy drinks or other sugared drinks. 44.7 gallons is equivalent to 375 pounds of fat and we need to realize there’s a consequence for every decision we make. In physics, we learned that for every action there is a reaction and that applies to food also. It’s time for America to be educated so we can all take responsibly for our own sake because after all, we owe it to ourselves.

You are a sugar addict. You may not realize it, but you are. Sugar is one of the detrimental foods we take in and they come in all forms and shapes and the most common form of sugar nowadays is high fructose corn syrup. In a scene from the movie King Corn, the main characters Curt and Ian took a look through all the labels in the supermarket and rarely found anything that does not have corn in it. Most of the corns we produce now are either fed to animals, which are for our consumption, or turned into high fructose corn syrup. It’s alarming to see every packaged food in the market to have such high contents of high fructose corn syrup and government subsidies is the reason why farmers grow so much corn. According to King Corn, ” in the last 15 years, taxpayers paid corn farmers more than $77 billion and 10% of America’s farmers collect more than 75% subsidies.” As proven in the movie, farmers actually lose money when they plant corn but the government makes up for the loss and gives them extra money so corn is the most profitable crop to grow. This directly affects our health because as Ian and Curt stated “Since the late 1970s, the real price of fruits and vegetables increased by 30%, while prices for soft drinks decreased by 34%” and what this means is sugary drinks such as soda and energy drinks are much easier to get access to and buy than real good wholesome foods. The government should be helping us the people to live better and longer lives but instead, their subsidies have indirectly contributed to our obesity crisis.

The sugar addiction is a newly developing research because it wasn’t until recent years that sugar became an issue. According Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist from University of California, San Francisco, sugar activates the same regions in the brain as drugs like cocaine and marijuana. Sugar triggers dopamine in the brain and it makes the body feel good so you’ll go back for more and therefore, heavy sugar eaters develop a tolerance for sugar which means they’ll need more and more to feel the same affect. In an interview with CBS News, Dr. Robert Lustig says “We love it(sugar). We go out of our way to find it. I think one of the reasons evolutionary is because there is no food stuff on the planet that has fructose that is poisonous to you. It is all good. So when you taste something that’s sweet, it’s an evolutionary Darwinian signal that this is a safe food.” The interview revealed how sugar evolved from an indication of edible food to something that is seriously causing detrimental health problems to us. If you would like to read about the interview, click here.

When I was in grade school, I didn’t particularly like going to the grocery store but I didn’t hate it either because I would always manage to sneak in a candy bar at the checkout line. It’s not until now that I realize that there are always candy next to the check out in grocery stores and Saturday morning commercials are constantly playing junk food ads. I am the generation that grew up on those commercials and it’s been ingrained in my head that Nesquik chocolate milk is good for my bones and Capri sun is the drink for champions. However, I failed to realize a bag of Capri sun is just a bag of high fructose corn syrup mixed with water and there are 18 grams of sugar hidden in that little pouch. Nesquik may build me strong bones but it’ll probably cause me obesity before my bones fall apart. In a 16 oz bottle, there is 58 grams of sugar, equaling to more than a day’s worth of the recommended amount. These corporations have targeted specifically towards young children and no wonder our childhood obesity rate have tripled in the past 30 years and more than 1 in 3 children are overweight and obese. If you have a younger sibling or if you are a babysitter, take the kid to the park on Saturday morning or just get outside instead of sitting on the couch at home because those little things will make all the difference.

A typical non-diabetic person should not exceed consuming more than 32 grams of sugar a day not including the sugar in fruits and whole grains. That seems like a fair share to calm your inner cravings, but not in the modern world we live in today. I observed the beverage choices in the dining hall during lunch rush hour and found that only 1 in 5 people drank water while the others drank some kind of sugary beverages. We all know that sodas contains a lot of sugar but most of the population and the students don’t realize is that the “healthier” alternatives such as iced tea, Gatorade/Powerade, chocolate milk and even fruit juice are just as unhealthy. We’ll first examine some statistics of soda so we can make comparisons later on in our observation. A typical Coca Cola 12 oz can contains 39 grams of sugar and a bottle of 20 oz Mountain Dew contains 77 grams of sugar, so if you ever think that one can of Coke doesn’t count, think again. Now, if you think like how I used to think, you would think that juices are much healthier so you fool yourself by switching to drinking juice instead of soda. I used to think I was doing myself a favor by drinking juice because they are supposedly better but a cup of 16 oz Minute Maid orange juice contains 48 grams of sugar and a 16 oz of Langers apple juice contains 52 grams of sugar. Just by drinking a cup of orange juice for breakfast in the dining hall will put you over the limit of the recommended amount of sugar you should intake so think again before filling your cup with that orange juice.

Ultimately, we have to recognize that we have a problem with sugar overdose and it’s our responsibility to take care of our own body. It’s urgent that we be aware of what we drinking on top of our food. Most people ignore the calories and the ingredients in their drinks and that’s what makes the problem of sugar over consumption such a big problem. So next time you’re eating at the caf or out, think again before you fill your cup up with anything that’s not water.

Dear Student Writer,

There are so many different manifestos and blogs on the internet so why should I take the time to read yours? What makes your writing important to me and why should I even care? Well, those are the questions you have to take into account when writing your manifesto. The endless conversation already began before you learned what logos, pathos, and ethos meant so in order to jump in the conversation and establish yourself, you must take a strong stance and utilizes the tools of rhetoric well. You have to incorporate disserting facts about the topic you’re covering so you can induce strong emotions from your audience. Once your audience cares about what you have to say, then you have succeeded. As a writer, everything you put into words becomes an argument and there should be purpose behind every word you put on the page. Take time to get to know your topic before you write about them so there is trust and you have credibility to your audience.

In a manifesto, you should transcend your purpose directly and go straight to the point instead of beating around the bush. You want to establish your position right away to the audience so the facts you present in your paper will be effective. Logos is not my favorite writing strategy in particular but in this case, the cold hard facts will help you greatly. In Sandra’s manifesto, she wants to get people to drink and eat less sugar. No one’s just going to change their lifestyle because of her alone. She needs to back up her manifesto with strong solid evidence that if people don’t change their eating behaviors, the consequences are unthinkable. She tried to induce fear from her audience to get action and she did so by providing shocking but realistic statistics. Just like the piece A Food Manifesto for the Future, Mark Brittman talked about government subsidies to food and his use of logos is exemplified in the following, “98 percent of soybean meal becomes livestock feed, while most soybean oil is used in processed foods. Meanwhile, the marketers of the junk food made from these crops receive tax write-offs for the costs of promoting their wares.” He not only strongly voices his opinion, but backs it up with strong solid evidence.

Logos aren’t the only things you need to focus on. You have to build imagery and slowly incorporate pathos into your piece because you want to connect those statistics to people personally. Make the audience think and question their eating habits and inform them the consequences if they don’t change their habits.  Never lose sight of your purpose and always stay on track. Being distracted in your own writing and diverting off to another topic is detrimental to your manifesto or any writing. Always be sure your paper is focused onto your topic and when you find yourself getting creative and going off track, relate it back on point. Recognize the difference between a focused paper that have strong evidence to support the argument and scattered papers with numerous ideas mashed up. Sandra have tried to keep her paper as focused as possible by only talking about one thing, sugar overconsumption. By doing so, she has established her position clearly and wrote one focused paper on the topic she cares most about.

With the introduction of logos and pathos, this manifesto also needs to include ethos. Ethos is the ethical appeal and Sandra tried to induce ethos in subtle ways. In this manifesto, she claimed that it’s our individual responsibility to take care of ourselves and though it may not the most ethical way for producers to provide such horrible products to consumers, it’s ultimately their choice to purchase and consume. Sandra wishes to educate her readers so they can make smarter eating decisions in the future and she wants a better America.

A manifesto is a strong opinionated argument stating what you believe personally and it’s essential to back up those arguments with strong evidence. Though it may be hard trying to find primary source, research more and dig deeper into your topic. With the right amount of logos, pathos and ethos, your manifesto should provoke some kind of response from your audience and that’s the most you can do. You cannot force and seek consequence from your audience if they fail to listen to you and if they ignore your belief completely, then you have failed your argument. Have fun writing and always write with a purpose.

Yours,

Sandra Gao

Food Facts 101

Think you know about food? I thought so too until I discovered these interesting words and facts along my food adventure.

Locavore (noun)– According to dictionary.com, a locavore is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally. Locavores believe that while it’s easy to do grocery shopping at the supermarket, we as a society should go that extra step to eat “healthier” by buying food from the farmer’s market. They believe purchasing from the farmer’s market not only strengthens the community but also supplies families with better food. There are numerous arguments against the locavore belief as James E. McWilliams stated in his Forbes article “The Locavore Myth” but hey, aren’t we all here to better the ourselves and the world? Which side are you on?

Polemic (noun)–  An argument over a specific doctrine or belief held by a person. In other words, a polemic is a strong opinion or belief held by an individual in which they base their argument upon. Polemic originates from the Greek word polemikos which is relating to war. In a sense the word has evolved from a physical war to a written “war”. In the “Why I hate food: A Polemic”, Mary Rechner strongly states her belief of why it’s impossible for her to raise and kill her own chicken and rabbits and still be able to write and attend to her children. A polemic is usually written for a belief that is not popular and widespread.

Did you know?

  • Corn is the most profitable crop in America because of government subsidies and most of it aren’t meant for direct human consumption. There is literally some trace of corn in every packaged food in the super market and the substitution of high fructose corn syrup for sugar is causing America more health problems than ever before. In the movie King Corn, Ian and Curt expose corn and it’s really something to watch.
  • 1 in 3 child in the United States is overweight and on the track to obesity today and sugar directly contributes to this epidemic. Sugar releases dopamine into the brain which makes you feel good and activates the areas and regions as cocaine.
  • The burgers seen T.V. always look so appetizing because they aren’t real burgers. Colin Perkins exposes the advertisement industry with 11 Ways Advertisers Make Food Look Delicious
  • A glass of Minute Maid orange juice is equally as bad for you as a can of soda.
  • America is the most wasteful nation in the world. We throw away 40% of our foods and that adds up to $165 billion dollars. Imagine that money went to help pay for better education, or our national debt, or for creating more jobs. Whatever your political stance is, we could all use a little green once in a while but we chose to throw it away. Please think again before tossing away leftovers and stop contributing to this landfill.

What the Duck?

Duck stamps. A duck on a stamp? Postage stamps with cute ducks that you can mail to your best friend? Neither.  A duck stamp is a federal hunting license that is required for any hunter over the age of 16. It’s the inspiration and motivation behind why my author, Martin Smith, wrote his book The Wild Duck Chase.  As I was scanning through the list of topics that would be talked about, I was intrigued instantly by my favorite animal, duck. I know, a duck isn’t exactly a popular animal that a teenage girl would like, but I like to think of myself as unique. As I was reading through the description, I had no idea there even existed such a thing as competitive duck painting. Though I was more skeptical than eager to go, I thought why not just be open-minded for once and I can attend and write about a different session if I didn’t enjoy this one.

As I climb up the four sets of stairs to get to Beckman 404, I ended up a sweaty mess. I thought I was doing myself a favor for taking the stairs as exercise but boy did I think wrong. I wiped the droplets of sweat away from my face as I opened the door into a huge seminar room. There were only about fifteen people present so instantly, doubt and disappointment filled my mind. I fought my instinct to bolt to the door for escape but the thought of keeping an open mind overcame me so I reluctantly took a seat in the third row to the speaker’s left. The speaker, Martin Smith began his panel by introducing to us the history of the waterfowl population through the years but instead of making the subject dull and boring as I would normally think, he spoke with such enthusiasm and passion that I can’t help but be drawn into his “conversation”. Mr. Martin started his history from the time European settlers sailed to America and claimed the already claimed land from the “Indians”.  He would continue to talk about a time period and when he’s done speaking about that period of history, he would skip a couple centuries and move on to the next. However, in between his speech, he would offer interjection such as “see how I just skipped over a hundred years there so gracefully” and give the audience mental “breaks” but only to draw us in closer. The more he spoke, the more I learned the essence of what makes a good writer. A good writer is someone who will make the most dreary topic interesting and relate it to their audience to make it relevant.

It wasn’t until half an hour into his speech that he finally revealed his purpose to writing the book, which is to raise money and awareness to conserve natural habitats. I love how he didn’t bombard me with the idea of that I should be a tree-hugger right away because if that were the case, I would have lost interest in him right away. Mr. Martin slowly eased me, his audience, into his purpose by discussing the history of the duck stamp and the various silly but interesting facts about the duck stamp painting contest. The way he subliminally primed me into caring for the waterfowls and conserving the environment cannot be done more beautifully and through him, I saw the art behind the power of persuasion.

This is the winning photo selected for the duck stamp contest painted by Joe Hauntman. For more information on the duck stamp and why you should purchase one today, click here.

Living the Dumpling Life

Photo Credit: userealbutter.com

Firecrackers blasting in the middle of the yard, red envelopes filling up my pockets, the savory aroma of dumplings filling the air, this was how I spent my Chinese New Years growing up. The best part about every holiday is the food because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love to eat extra good food once in a while? Sometimes I wonder if all the holidays and special occasions we celebrate are just another reason for us to eat better food, because that would be awesome. For as long as I can remember, my family would always take time out of our busy lives and bond over a big meal together whenever it’s a holiday or special occasion. Chinese New Year symbolizes that unity between families, and within the two weeks of celebration, my family would take me to visit as many relatives as possible and eat to my heart’s content. I loved the different restaurants we went to and all the foods were absolutely delicious, however I don’t really remember all the people we met with or where we went to eat most of those days. All I recall from those fancy restaurants was how overwhelmed I was with the presentation of the food and the feeling that my tummy was going to burst. I love to go eat exquisite dishes from fancy places so don’t get me wrong, but just like Dorothy from Wizard of Oz said “There is no place like home”.

Chinese New Year is a special holiday not only because of its symbolism, but also because it  falls on different dates every year with no specific pattern. Chinese New Year, or often referred to as “Lunar New Year”, is determined by the cycle of the moon. Since no one can regulate how fast the moon travels, it makes every year distinct. The celebration lasts from 7-15 days depending on the various regions of China. Some parts of China celebrates longer than others because food is more abundant in some locations than others. Since China New Years is a huge celebration, the money that’s invested in making new years pleasant takes a huge toll on some families incomes. Fortunate enough for me though, my family usually celebrate the whole 15 days just for the sake of celebrating. I, of course, loved the celebration because it meant endless food, money, and lots and lots of fireworks.

On every New Year’s Eve, our family would gather at my grandmother’s house, sit around in a big wooden circle table and have our annual meal together. Typically speaking, fifteen dishes would be present on the table and each of them representing good fortune in a distinct way. For instance, duck symbolizes fidelity while eggrolls resemble wealth and much more. The evening would start off with a toast to the New Year and reflections on all the good things that happened in the year. After that, I would have to wait patiently until all the adults started eating because in the Chinese culture, this is a form of respect for the elders. Food would be passed around and conversations would start and it’s the greatest feeling for me to know that I am blessed a great family that not everybody has.

Meanwhile, red envelopes fill up my pocket one by one and honestly, this is my favorite part of the gathering. Just as every child waits until Christmas morning to open their gifts, I take all my red envelopes and stuff them under my pillow and wait until the next day to open them. As we sit around eating different exotic foods, I would always get my share of dumplings first before they all disappear. A dumpling, or “jiao zi” in Chinese, is a food eaten by almost every family during new years. It symbolizes family reunion and they are represent ingots, or ancient Chinese money (refer to photo below). In the Western culture, it doesn’t matter if you grill, fry, or broil a piece of chicken, the dish would ultimately still be chicken. However, a dumpling stops being a dumpling when it gets fried. In the Asian culture, we refer to fried dumplings as pot stickers because they literally stick to the bottom of the pan. In the Japanese culture, fried “dumplings” are called gyoza. All symbolisms and names aside, I just eat dumplings because they are so juicy and tasty. However, their preparation process is what makes them so special to me.

The day before our big feast, the ladies of the house would gather around and make the dumplings while the men would just be watching television and doing their own thing. Therefore, making dumplings became a girl’s night thing. Usually, we would always buy pre-made wrappers and grind meat to make dumplings. However, during the New Year and only New Year, my grandma would whip out her mixing bowl and flour and make the outside skin from scratch. She would also go to the meat market instead of the super market to buy the finest and the tenderest pieces pork chop. From then on, we would grind the meat manually and chop up all the vegetables to ensure we have all the necessary ingredients for the dumpling. After that, we would all gather at the table and make the dumplings while my grandmother shares her childhood memories about how she celebrated new years.

While dumplings might just be a tasty food to eat and a tradition to everybody else, they resemble the bond and unity within my family. Every time I see a sight of a dumpling, memories would flood through my head and when I take a bite of juicy goodness, I can hear the firecrackers blasting in my ears. This is why dumplings are more than a food that only satisfies my palate and stomach, it satisfies my heart and soul.

How to make dumplings for dummies:

You will need:

1. Grind meat

2. Oil

3. Water

4. A pot

5. A kitchen

6. The determination to make dumplings

Optional but strongly suggested:

1. Green onion

2. Chinese cabbage

3. Flour to make the outside skin if not bought in stores

Directions:

1. Please refer to this website as reference:

2. Embrace the challenge, but really, it’s no challenge at all

3. Chop up some green onions and cabbage.

4. Place chopped green onions and cabbage in a large mixing bowl and mix it with grind pork. Note: Even though it takes an irritable amount of time to chop up the cabbage, it will taste significantly better if you chop it by hand rather than dumping in the food processor.

5. Take a pre-made dumpling skin, place it flat on the table, and take a teaspoonful of pork and place it on the wrapper. (If no pre-made dumpling wrapper, see instructions below on how to make dumpling wrapper)

6. Use your finger and place some water on the outer circle of the skin

7. Fold the dumpling in half and make pleats along the edge

8. Pinch close the end of the dumpling and make sure it’s totally sealed

9. Boil up some water

10. Drop the dumpling carefully in boiling water until it floats up.

11. Remove it from the water and serve with soy sauce or vinegar to your liking.

12. Congratulations, you have yourself some dumplings!

How to make dumpling wrappers provided by this website:

Disclaimer: I have never personally made the dough so therefore the instructions on the website above the next best thing.

You will need:

1.    2 cups of flour for 1/2 pound of meat

2.    Water

Instructions:

1.    Pour the flour into a mixing bowl

2.    Pour in about 1/2 cup of water and pulse

3.    Feel the dough, it should be firm and smooth

4.    Slice the lump into 4 strips and roll each strip into an even cylinder about 1 1/4 inches in diameter

5.    Slice the strip into pieces about 3/4 inch thick, rotating the strip by 90 degrees after each slice

6.    Press each slice into a circular disc. The skin should be round and less than ¼ inch thick

7.    Success!

What Makes A Good Food Writer

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What makes good writing good? Context, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, grammar, well, the list just goes on and on. I personally consider writings good when the author includes me and makes me feel like I’m part of the endless conversation. I consider writings good when humor is induced in the piece in subtle ways. Most importantly, I consider writing good when I feel like the author is trying to connect with me personally and communicates with me in a non-overwhelming way.

Food blogs and journals are not familiar territory to me because I never thought I would be fascinated with food recipes. However, the blogs and the articles I dreaded reading is surprisingly intriguing. I especially appreciated the humorous piece “How To Make Potato Salad” by Steve Himmer because of its impersonal tone. Himmer’s candid language and word choices reflects his personality and I feel he is someone that I would want to have a beer with on a Saturday afternoon, well when I am reach the legal of age to consume alcohol of course. He induces everyday comedy to entertain his audience as demonstrated in the seventh step of the recipe quoted as following, “7. Remove onions, garlic, and sausages from heat. Decide that if you ever open a restaurant, you will also name it after a hooker. Forget that the pan is still hot and pick it up without a side towel. Blister.” From Himmer’s simple words and mild language, we feel more connected with him because we can understand him better.

Himmer’s humor was seen throughout the steps his recipe but the article “Bacon-Wrapped Trout with Corn Cakes”  takes a different approach on writing a good recipe. When I first saw the title of this recipe, I was extremely curious and my mouth started to water at the word “bacon”. I thought I was going to read about the recipe right away but instead, I find myself reading a background story of Ernest Hemingway. I was slowly reeled in by the use of a background story and that made the recipe more than about food. The author brought out one of the distinctive qualities about food and that is food can be used as a symbol. With the combine techniques of humor and a back ground story, these blogs effectively pulled me into the reading of a recipe and they made food that much more relevant to me.