Food, Food, Food by Macaroni

by Macaroni

First, let me thank Laura for inviting me and the rest of the gals to guest blog at 11D. As Laura mentioned in my guest blogger profile I saw Food Inc. last week, and this Sunday I saw Pressure Cooker. The former details the food industry, while the latter portrays the life of high school students in North East Philadelphia who wish to pursue careers in the restaurant industry.

Excited to see Food Inc. I was somewhat disappointed, though I do recommend the film and in particular I like the social message it sends. Basically the film suggests that only a few industries own and operate most of the food we eat. Of course the film details the horrors of the meat industries, and touts the organic, local home grown movements. (Organic food now appears in Walmart. Who knew?) So too it highlights the decline in regulatory oversight. Anyone with an interest in food and the policies surrounding them is likely familiar with most to the content, especially if you've read any Michael Pollan (I'm reading Omnivore's Dilemma. Yawn, or is it just me?) or Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation–the writing is so poor I couldn't make it past the first 10 pages, but I will have to try again since I'm teaching a Food & Politics course). The film is somewhat choppy in places. A segment of the film gratuitously mentions Montsano and seed cleaning, yet no background is given on either topic. Despite the flaws I will probably show this film in my Food & Politics course, and I do like the social message "demand to know what's in your food and advocate for more regulation."

Pesto (aka spouse) and I saw Pressure Cooker on Sunday, which highlights the sad realities of urban education and poverty in North East Philly. While the cinematography is not  terrific, the story line is uplifting. The film follows three high school seniors from Frankford and their quest to secure scholarships to attend some of the nation's top culinary institutes and/or colleges. Their teacher is a bad-ass with one liners you won't forget, "French fries and hamburgers, that's so ghetto."  A self-proclaimed foodie who resides in NYC and  is currently summering in Providence, RI we have access to excellent food. Many of these chefs hail from culinary schools like the Culinary Institute of America (NYC) and the Johnson & Wales' Culinary Arts Program (RI). Watching the students' progression as they learn to cook, and seeing them realize their dreams makes this a must see film. 

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8 thoughts on “Food, Food, Food by Macaroni

  1. “demand to know what’s in your food and advocate for more regulation.”
    Be careful what you wish for. There’s some legislation out there that will be very bad for farmer’s markets and small producers. The big guys can easily afford to comply with regulation, the little guys can’t.

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  2. Welcome, dear guest blogger. Perhaps you have some insight into a nagging question: what’s the deal with all the high-end restaurants offering mac n’ cheese dishes? Seems like the last dish I’d ever order at a high-end restaurant. Or maybe we are just supposed to feel cozy seeing it on the menu and not ordering it.
    If you are finding the first part of The Omnivore’s Dilemma slow, then you will find the remaining two parts unreadable. I thought the second part dragged quite a bit. Why should we care so much about the libertarian farmer in Virginia? I didn’t. It seems odd that Pollan, who says that the grocery store is filled with “pastoral fantasy,” has a pretty good fantasy of his own going in thinking that a Polyface Farms approach could ever feed, say, urban populations . And the final third of the book is the interminable hunt, complete with a romanticizing of the hunt that is worthy of a novel. But unhelpful in thinking about my own diet, which has never included boar.
    Food Inc. would be a great starting point for a discussion. The movie does not claim to offer solutions beyond a few colorful, moving graphics at the very end. And the view of markets is strangely contradictory. The movie seems to cast the entire industrial food market as a market failure, but it scores as a clear-cut victory the market-based move by Wal-Mart towards organic products.
    Michael Pollan says not to buy products that make health claims; and those claims, which he does not trust, are examples of government in action. So what should we make of the call for more labeling? Do people really want that? Will it lead to better decisions? Color me skeptical.

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  3. Judicious regulation is a good thing–consumers should be able to depend on safe food (and other safe things–cars, toys, etc.), and we can’t trust industries to police themselves. However, I think AmyP makes a good point; some regulations create excessive burdens on those who are are not the target, ie, small organic farmers.
    I’m thinking, too, of the CPSIA regulations (currently postponed, I believe) that would pretty much decimate the handcrafted toy and children’s clothing business, though the large corporations (whose import of unsafe toys started the movement for more regulation) would weather the new climate just fine. Small producers should not be exempt from safety regulations, of course, but if they are making goods entirely from previously tested materials (paint, yarn, fabric, buttons), they should not have to re-test the assembled piece at a prohibitive cost.

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  4. At an internet cafe and husband is about to kill me, so this must be quick. I hope you all read the Sunday NYT mag article on changing attitudes towards cooking. Also just finished Julia Child’s autobiography. It was ABSOLUTELY a great read. OK, death sentence approaching. Must split.
    Thanks, Macaroni!!!

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  5. “At an internet cafe and husband is about to kill me”
    Funny, that describes all my vacations before we got laptops and only went places with free wifi. 🙂
    Hope you’re having fun!

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  6. I once told my wife if she didn’t turn-off the Blackberry, I wouldn’t go out to dinner with her at any place nicer than Burger King.

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  7. I’m grooving on the free wifi at Mickey D’s, MH. It seems that reminding customers their pre-paid year of connectivity is about to expire is not the way that Georgian ISPs approach their business. Nor is raising their monthly rates less than 60 percent. Nor, as it happens, is renewing the service in the tenant’s name (as was done on the initial contract); instead, it has to be done with documents from the landlord’s family member whose name is on the phone contract. Y’all will never guess which relative is in Germany…

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  8. I don’t think our McD’s have wifi. Just the coffee places and Panera. But, my point was, if we are out for a nice dinner, stop reading the e-mail. On the off-chance it is an emergency at 10:00 on Friday, they’ll call.

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