thinness vs. health

What is the difference between wanting to be healthy and wanting to be thin? I know that, for some, there is a meaningful difference.  But for most of us, is there a difference at all?  I know that “healthy” has all sorts of other connotations attached to it—having a body that supports what you want to do, good poops, lots of vitamins and minerals. But, ultimately, I think that health has been distilled into being skinny. Because all that other stuff, that’s all tangential to being healthy. There aren’t “fitspo” Instagram accounts about healthy pooping. (I just double checked—there are only 15 posts under #poophealth and no major Insta accounts dedicated to bragging about healthy pooping. In case anyone was wondering.) Counting vitamins and minerals isn’t as popular as counting carbs and calories. People use weight and body size as a direct measure of health—losing weight or getting skinnier as a proxy for getting healthier. Continue reading thinness vs. health

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vegetarian again

I think about my food choices a lot, and since writing my other post about vegetarianism/veganism, I’ve been thinking more about race and class politics in relation to my own diet (and getting more frustrated with myself and other people who call themselves vegetarians/vegans). Changing my diet has been like changing my vocabulary when I first started to learn more about the histories behind apparently innocuous words, histories that made those words into weapons that are used against marginalized peoples every day. When I learned about those histories, I would try and try and eventually succeed at removing the word from my vocabulary.  Words that never used to draw my attention can sting me and alarm me now.  I would rather not cause a small harm to someone if I can avoid it, although I hold no illusions (I hope) about the fact that changing my vocabulary is only the very beginning of making my actions oriented towards justice, rather than towards oppression.  That’s how I think about vegetarianism. I do not think my actions are changing the inhumane industry that produces most food for sale, and I don’t think that I’m saving any animals any pain by not eating their already-dead bodies.  But I would rather participate as little as possible in the meat industry, including by withholding my money from them.  To not do is easy; and to not do something that is, however marginally, harmful, is better than doing it.  Continue reading vegetarian again

roasty toasty guacamole

My family grilled tonight so I tried something I’ve been wanting to do for a while: guacamole made with grilled avocados, corn, and onions! Here’s the “recipe.” All the proportions are adjustable, obviously, although I really liked how it turned out.  This recipe is definitely not very quick as far as guacamole goes, but it’s not difficult, and it’s REALLY delicious. Enjoy!

1 avocado

1 ear of corn

1/4 of an onion

1 clove of garlic

1 tbsp of lime juice

2 tsp salt

Olive oil as needed

Prep your veggies! Shuck the corn, rub some olive oil on it, and salt it.  Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit.  Lastly, quarter the onion and remove the skin. For the onion, you can either separate the layers if you want charred bits on more of the onion, or leave it as a quarter and grill it all together.

When your grill is hot, put your corn on the grill.  This will take the longest to grill up.

Next, put your avocado face down on the grill.  You can put it either right on the grill, if your grill is clean and oiled, or in a grill pan, which is what I did.  You do not need to use any oil on the avocado; the avocado has tons of yummy fat in it already and it will grill really well with no added oils.

If you use a grill pan, you can also pop the onion in with the avocado. If you’re not, you can put a bit of oil on the onion and put it directly on the grill.

The cooking time depends on how hot your grill is and how well done you like your vegetables, but my corn took about 20 minutes (rotating it every 5 minutes or so to get every side nice and charred), and my avocado and onions took about 10.

Once everything is done being cooked, grab a big bowl. Scoop the avocado in. Cut the corn off of the cob and add that. Dice your onions however big you like; I did medium-large pieces. Add those as well.

Next, mince your garlic. Add the garlic, salt, and lime juice to the bowl, and mix it up until the ingredients are evenly mixed through, and to your desired consistency!

chicagooo!

I visited Chicago spontaneously for a couple of days this week because my two best friends happened to be there at the same time, and I only live a couple hours away. It was super fun to see them; we just graduated from college, so seeing college friends feels really special and exciting these days.  While there, I ate a LOT of amazing food. Here are some of the places I went/what I ate/what I thought!

Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling – Chinatown

The menu for this restaurant was populated almost entirely by dumplings. An amazing place. We got the chicken + mushroom, pork + pickled Chinese cabbage, and beef + onion. I liked the pork the most; my friends liked the beef. They were steamed and juicy; very straightforward dumplings. SO GOOD!!!!

Minghin Cuisine – Chinatown

We bopped over to this place after the dumpling restaurant (and got boba in between) because they had LATE NIGHT DIM SUM! We were already pretty full but still got an order of bbq pork buns, deep fried pork dumplings, and shrimp dumplings with chives. The pork buns were delicious and sweet. The deep fried pork dumplings were very puffy and hollow, with little filling, but were definitely tasty. The shrimp dumplings had a super gelatinous casing, and were pretty good, although not as good as the other two dishes. Late night dim sum is exciting though, even if the shrimp dumplings didn’t knock it out of the park.

Pierogi Street – Clark and Monroe (the pierogis are the image– they look gross because I’m bad at food photography, not because they are gross)

This is a food truck; it hits up multiple locations (according to foodtruckfinder.com), but I had it on Clark St.  I love pierogis (noticing a theme? savory filling encased in carbs? my favorite foods?), and I haven’t had any in a while, so I was PUMPED to see this truck. I got mushroom + sauerkraut and cheddar + potato, topped with sour cream and peppery caramelized onions. Both were delicious, although I preferred the cheddar + potato variety. They were kinda expensive, but I don’t really have any sense of pricing in Chicago (I’ve only lived in much smaller towns), so it might have been totally reasonable. There were lots of other people in line for the pierogis, so I definitely wasn’t getting ripped off.

Moe’s Cantina – River North

This place was cray cray! The walls facing the street were totally open, and the waitresses were all wearing cowboy boots. Wild. I went here for dinner; we each got drinks. I tried the Dragonfruit Vojito (vodka mojito lol) which was not very good, but my friends got the white wine sangria and the El Sueño (a coconutty cocktail), both of which were very delicious. For food, we got their guacamole which was yummy. I got the goat cheese + rajas tacos; they were SO GOOD. They were just goat cheese, chihuahua cheese, and roasted poblano peppers on corn tortillas. I added some lettuce to mine because one of my friends had a bunch of shredded romaine on her plate that she wasn’t eating and I love shredded lettuce. Definitely delicious. This place also felt expensive, but I think it’s a small town girl goes to the big city thing.

Firecakes Donuts – River North

I know donuts are kind of overrated but these were really delicious! Like they would not change a donut hater’s mind about donuts, but if you’re into donuts, these were solid. I got a “classic jelly” which was filled with an ambiguous berry jelly and covered in sugar. The filling was perfect; plenty of sugar and no seeds, but you could tell it was made with fruit (as opposed to the bright red, corn syrupy filling that some jelly donuts have). They had a lot of flavors that looked good; orange poppy seed and pistachio also stuck out to me (but I’m a jelly donut gurl 4 life sry!).

Saucy Porka – The Loop

This is an Asian-Latino fusion restaurant which are my two favorite broad categories of food, so that was exciting! It also didn’t make me uncomfortable because it is small and Latinx-owned, so it isn’t white people exploiting “exotic” and “ethnic” cuisines for the big buck$$$$. They have bao tacos (aka bacos aka they use the little bao buns and fill them with stuff like a taco), banh mi, rice bowls, tostones, egg rolls, and more. I got the soy ginger tofu bacos and vegetable egg rolls. I love the texture of bao buns, and the tofu was really yummy. Nice and crispy with lots of really flavorful sauce. The egg rolls were also great, but I feel like the bacos stood out more to me cuz they’re so ~creative~.

Big cities intimidate me, but the food choices are so amazing! I was very lucky and only had great food experiences the couple of days I was in Chicago. I highly recommend all of these places. I hope you get to go!!!! Ciao bishes!

vegetarian?

Whereeee do I even start? I started thinking about this about a year ago because my booboo was starting to get super interested in and passionate about sustainability issues and as he learned stuff, he would pass it on to me.  I can’t remember what part of cutting meat out of my diet was the factor that reeled me in. If I’m being totally honest, it was probably “health” and physical appearance-related (TRYING NOT TO LET THIS BE TRUE….BUT IT IS…SRY).  But I was also compelled by arguments about the harm caused to the environment by raising and eating meat. It seemed like a relatively simple thing to change about my life; if I was going to make an effort to compost and recycle properly and to drive less, it felt reasonable to also make this effort.  So, I started to eat significantly less meat than I used to, and I’ve been continuing to minimize the meat in my life (and very recently starting to try to cut out other animal products too).

This is where it feels appropriate to mention my social location.  At the time I was first considering this, I was in college, living at home for the summer, and working a couple different part time jobs. I wasn’t paying rent or buying my own food; I was basically living off of my parents. We’re solidly in the upper middle class, so buying food wasn’t stressful for me. I also had the time, energy, and resources (i.e., a computer and Internet access) to research vegetarian diets and recipes. I want it to be clear that the way I sort of fell into vegetarianism is a result of my economic privilege; I don’t think that my “journey” is doable or desirable for everyone. Right now, I’m trying to describe, not prescribe. Part of my thinking about food that is in extremely new stages is how to positively impact people and communities (in addition to the physical planet) with my personal food choices.  I definitely welcome any suggestions for reading on that; still doing research!  Meat has also never really been culturally important to me, and I know that that’s something that can affect people’s food choices.

But even though it’s totally intertwined with my socioeconomic privilege, vegetarianism/veganism/less animal product-eating is also connected with my desire to live in a way that is aligned with my politics.  I think that most relationships (among people and between people and the physical environment) are characterized by violence and dominance; I think relationships should be full of compassion, and kindness, and empathy.  To me, not eating meat has become a boycott at least of the really, really horrible conditions that animals endure before they’re killed, but ultimately, of killing other things for my own pleasure, period.  It’s also about trying to contribute less to global climate change as an individual, even though I know my not eating meat doesn’t make systemic change (which is really what we need).

Cutting meat was right for me; it is right for me ethically, morally, and politically.  I also never really liked meat that much, so on a very personal level, this isn’t that big of a sacrifice for me…I mean, I could always go for any fried chicken product, but steaks? Hard pass. I still have so many questions for myself about this choice though.  On a small scale, I wonder where my meat-eating lines should be be drawn. I continue to eat meat when it feels socially better to just do it. For example, I lived in a house with 4 meat eaters last year and we shared dinner duties, so I ate meat if they cooked it (but they graciously cooked only poultry and fish).  How important are these values to me if I will bend them for social reasons?  On a larger scale, I wonder how the tension between this attempt at living more justly and my flexing of my class privilege can be resolved (if it can be at all). Are there more just food choices that I can and should be making?

I know that my ideas about food will continue to evolve as I learn (and eat) more about food systems and food justice, as well as about environmental justice.  Who knows what the future holds in terms of food-related innovations?  There are people developing meat grown from stem cells (no animal killing and less carbon emitted from raising them!), there are local and ethical meat movements, there are better meat substitutes, and that’s just a few meat-related examples. There’s so much more to food justice than meat (I think), and I’m really excited to learn more.

My short food-related reading list for the near future

  • Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply by Vandana Shiva
  • Rebuilding the Food Shed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems by Philip Ackerman-Leist
  • The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice, and Money in the 21st Century by David Rieff
  • The Earth Knows My Name: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans by Patricia Klindienst