Author Archives: Laura Brackett

About Laura Brackett

I'm just a disney loving, fashion fanatic.

Final

University 211 has been an experience to say the least. The course description as well as the explanation of this class on the first day did not prepare me for the workload that was required. I explained in my midterm essay that I would have NEVER signed up for a service learning class based on my course load and work schedule. Never the less, I had to stick with it and try my best.

One of the things that this class taught me is to question my food and where it comes from. In my opinion, that is what college is for. I heard a quote recently that states “college does not teach you what to think, but how to think. I am a senior about to graduate in less than a week so for a class to really imprint this idea in me makes all the work worthwhile in my mind. I knew that food was important (duh) but I had never stopped to ponder the sourcing of my food. I was actually talking to an acquaintance about this class and she said that she use to be a vegitarian but now isn’t. I thought this was very interesting and she explained that she only will by meat from responsibly sourced places. She also said “The way that I look at is, my vote is my dollar.” That idea has stuck with me ever since.  I have always thought ignorance is bliss when vegetarians tried to sway my thinking, but I learned that even veggies can be harmful as a result of the industrial food system. Most of my classmates complained about reading Pollen’s in depth look at the food system, but I found it rather fascinating. Along with Pollen’s take on what is wrong with the food system, the excerpts of the Food Inc. documentary really made me question the standards of my food intake. One fact that sticks out in my head is the fact that feed animals are often fed byproducts of other animals. I reallllllly enjoy a steak, bacon, and some fried chicken, but this point of the semester, I highly considered becoming a vegetarian. One of my reactions can be read <a href=http://rampages.us/lbrackett/what-are-we-feeding-animals/”>here</a>

The article about lunchables, or as I referred to it “Grossables”, made me furious at the whole system. After reading that excerpt, I was almost ready to go protest. The article was completely condescending and ridiculous (I get worked up all over again writing this). My whole reaction to the article can be read here:

http://rampages.us/lbrackett/gross-ables/ .

mom-gave-up

The client work did not go as I was hoping for it to. At the beginning, I was pumped about doing social media for Peter Paul Development Center. It turned out that they outsourced social media to a paid person and that what they really needed was volunteers. They cautioned us, however, not to get too close to the kids because the kids become attached easily. This made everyone in my group, who also have a similar course load and jobs, cautious of planning any kind of time. There was also a food distribution that happened every other Wednesday of the month, which was right during my senior capstone class that I was not allowed to miss.  The group members that could go reported that there were some healthy food options but that people steered more towards the desserts and unhealthy items. That made me come up with an idea of having easy, healthy, and cheap recipes on cards to have available for the healthy food. There was a problem though- no one knew what the food would be until it was unloaded off the truck. We waited a few weeks to see what items tended to be available. The post about my client work can be seen here:

http://rampages.us/lbrackett/peter-paul-development-center/

The beautiful examples of the recipe cards are shown below:

Processed with VSCOcam with n1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with n1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with n1 preset

I am very proud of how those cards turned out and that my group came up with an idea that they will (hopefully) utilize in the future. This is just one example of an obstacle that the Peter Paul group had to overcome.

Keondra, Aster, Aster’s sister, and I went to Peter Paul to volunteer last Thursday, December 4. I am so happy and proud that I made the effort (even if it was after our last class) to go and volunteer with the kids. I am proud because in my midterm, I gave myself the challenge of trying to plan at least one activity volunteer day at the center and I followed through. The rundown of the whole visit can be read below on my page about it:

http://rampages.us/lbrackett/peter-paul-development-center/ .

Makes were an interesting turn of events for the end of the semester. I was on the team of trying to design and paint the recycling bins for food drives. Like many other ideas this semester, this idea was squashed :(. The email chain is shown below:

Screen shot 2014-12-07 at 1.18.11 PM

Screen shot 2014-12-07 at 1.18.02 PM

The other make that I really enjoyed was the food art. I do not have the best creative eye, so I teamed up with Aster to create some awesome photos. Some of the photos that we shot were actually used by others in the class as memes. The VCU ram pantry one was specifically staged by me at the very end as a whim and I am glad I thought about doing it. My whole post about it can be seen below:

http://rampages.us/lbrackett/make-1/

Overall, I am happy that I stuck with this class and made the best out of the situation. I am most proud of conquering obstacles of time, money, and fear of making attachments and volunteering. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the thing I am taking away from this class is to question everything. The food system/machine is not at all what I thought it was. I believe that having that knowledge makes me a better person and a better citizen of plant Earth (I’m aware that sounds cheesy but thats how I feel). Indirect service learning showed me that when it comes to work, always take the initiative to come up with ideas because even if they are not implemented, your efforts are almost always appreciated.

So thanks University 211 and Mrs. Boaz for not teaching me what to think, but how to think.

 

 

Antibiotic Use in Industrial Food Animal Production

Notes:
aresenical drugs
-roxarsone- also p-arsanilic acid, nitarsone, carbarsone, arsanilate sodium
-additive in poultry and swine feed since the mid- 1940s
-approved from growth promotion, improved pigmentation, coccidiostat, treatment of swine dysentery
-in poultry production: 88% raised using roxarsone
-in swine and turkey production: unknown percentage
-single domestic producer
Background
-1944: FDA new animal drug (NADA)
-1955: Tolerance levels set by FDA for arsenic residues in meat products
-1981: Environmental impact analysis (for FDA)
-1983: NRC develops approach to chemical-risk assessment
-roxarsone is fed to chicken–> chicken get exposed to–> beef, chicken, air, seafood, and soil. (in the gut of the chicken and in the waste)
-arsenic is a well-characterized human carcinogen: lung, bladder, skin, other sites, and transplacental carcinogen
-non cancer health effects: cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, dermal effects, neurological effect/deficts, immunologic effects, fertility effects, birth defects, respiratory effect, renal effects
-acute toxicity: irritation of lungs, throat, stomach, inestines, and skins
gaps in knowledge/remaining questions
-chicken meat: aresnic type?
-environmental impact: appox. 11 tons per year, where does it go? ground water? Ches. bay?
Roxarsone story: 2011 and beyond
-June 8: FDA announcement and Pfizer suspension also announced- press and stakeholder calls
-july 8: Pfizer suspends marketing of roxarsone in the US
-Aug 29: Poultry industry trade groups send letter to Margaret Hamburg/FDA
-Oct. 13: Zhejiang Rongyao Chemical Co. files a lawsui (20 mil) agains Pfizer over roxarsone
Regulatory Agencies/mechanisms
-use of roxarsone creates environmental public health issues that extend beyonf the jurisdiction of any single federal agency: drugs, environmental exposures, food production, food safety, occupational exposures
-existing regulatory mecanisms that may address some of these issues are often inadequate
-no exsisting standards addressing arsenic in animal waste
-no indication of further FDA action based on re-evaluation of arsenicals
Federal and State legislative Initiatives
-federal bill- the “posion-free poultry act”–> hasnt passed
-Maryland bills 2010/2011-2012
Why this year?
-state knowledge has changed: FDA study, Harry Hughes Center for Agroecology’s december 2011 report
-state of public knowledge and intensity of advocacy coalition/organizating
-one bill in Maryland was passed banning roxarsone but allowing another arsenic based drug, nitarsone, to still be used. This is because nitarsone was pitched as a drug for turkey but can be used for chicken.
–> although set back, progress
conclusions:
-lack of meaningful regulatory action
-Maryland- good first step, but aren’t there
-other states could follow through
-eventual momentum for federal initiative.

Again, it amazes me that this is being allowed to happen. A known arsenic-containing drug, roxarsone, is being fed to food animals. I know that it takes some time for policies and such to be addressed in politics, but knowing this for a fact since 2011 and nothing has happened is rather worrisome.  I suppose that the governement problems that have been happening recently- such as the government shut down- has delayed this process of banning arsenic based drug. This is all evidence that the food industry is ran by a few large and very powerful corporations that are not looking out for the best interest of people, but rather looking at the bottom line- money in their pockets.

Antibiotic Use in Industrial Food Animal Production

Notes:

  • antibiotics help minimize infectious diseases uses: clinical medicine animal agriculture
  • terrestrial, aquculture crop production ethanol production contributes to resistance development
  • extent of use in animal production unknown
  • most of the antibotics used are for humans not animals
  • a study found that antibotics used in 2010 were significantly more for animals than used for humans
  • antimicrobial use for animals: multiple purposes (FDA), treatment, control, prevention, production (growth promotion, feed conversion use of antibiotics to maximize growth)
  • 80% of antimicobial use was used for food animals

administered without vet and mostly through feed and water, low dose–> longer duration
antibiotic resistance
- selection for resistance: low doses that do not kill off bacteria, instead creates resistance
- horizontal gene transfer: bacterial transformation, bacterial transduction through phage virus infection, bacterial conjugation–> direct contact
-mutagenesis and resistance: bactericidal antibiotics
- application to aerobic bacteria at levels below those that induce selection pressure can make bacteria
-bacterial altruism- mutation allowing drug resistance can share chemical signals with drug-susceptible bacteria
-numerous factors influence precision in dose delivery: feed quality control, behavior of animal production facility workers, animal/herd dynamics, drug absorpotion, pharmacokinetics
- unlikely that antibiotics can be delivered at predictable or intended doses through feed
-over-administration can lead to drug residues in food animal products and clinical toxicity in animals
-under-administration can lead to genetic mutations that allow resistance to emerge
-intermittent dosing in which variability can lead to over-and/or under administration that can then lead to antimicrobial selection pressure and/or disease treatment failure
-bacteria that is resistant to antibotics can easily be exposed to the community from animals, animal wastes, workers of plants, birds,
-resistant infections respond poorly to one or more antibotics and increase mortality risk
-hospital stays are longer and more costly for resistant infections
-mulitple estimates of societal cost of resistant infections
-30 billion dollars per year
- Denmark passed legislation to restrict use of non-therapeutic antimicrobials in swine production
Denmarks results:
-indicators of animal health have revealed a beneficial effect
- total antibiotic consumption has declined by more than 50%
-reductions in resistance in animal pathogens, indicator bacteria, and zoonotic microorganisms
-Animal drug user free act (2008)- FDA collects and releases aggregated sales data for antibiotics in food animal production
-Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA)- limits the use of “medically important” antibiotics in food animal production–> has not been passed yet
-Stratefies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance Act (STAAR)- data collection and dissemination regarding antibiotics use in humans and animals; funding for interagency task force, “real time” monitoring–> not yet passed
conclusion:
-antibiotics are a critical tool in clinical medicine
-same antibiotics are used in animal agriculture for non-theraapeutic purposes
-antibiotic use inanimal agriculture promotes the emergence and propagation of resistant bacteria
-many enviornmental pathways exist for the spread of resistant bacteria from animal production sites to people
-domestic policies have been proposed to address the use of antibiotics in IFAP

It surprises me that there are more antibiotics administered to feed animals than humans. That is ridiculous. Also, the fact that most of these antibiotics do not have to be administered by any kind of certified or liscensed vet. How is this possible? Is it part of the larger evil pharmaceutical industry that this is allowed? This whole lecture, although in a boring tone, appaled me.

Group Formation Phase 1

Our Peter Paul Development center group has gotten along very well so far! We have met outside of class several times to decide how to take on PPD as a client. Rosemary- the representative at PPD- says that her biggest need is volunteering and getting more volunteers at the center. We will try to meet her need but also will try to incorporate food education in some activities as well. We have decided to split our team into two groups to meet PPD’s needs. One group will be at the food truck deliveries every first and third Wednesdays of the month. That group will also be in charge of reporting back to the rest of the group the food that was delivered that week in order to create recipes that corresponds that delivery. The other group (the one I am part of) is taking the lead of a big event we will be having with the kids at some point in the semester (this still has to be worked out with Rosemary). We will be having a “Food around the World” day where we will have activities and international food to educate the kids while having fun. We are all very excited about these ideas and creating food fun and education for the kids at the center!

Fears in a hat: Our group wrote down each of our fears, put them in a pile, and read each one aloud. Some were humorous and some actually pertained to this class. Playing fears in a hat helped our group establish  goals. The fears that we discussed were spiders, drowning, and failure. Failure is the main one that everyone agreed that we have in common. We are all committed to doing our best and not failing in class or failing our client.

Team Building Ideas

keondra: going to lunch, going shopping, studying together

liz: going to the village, walking around Carytown, and working out at Cary Street Gym

Grettie: Getting sushi, Going to a VCU game, and going shoe shopping

Taylor:Going to sugar shack, go to shafer, meet up and talk about our strengths and weaknesses.

Tiara: eating at pizza hut in the commons, studying in the library, exploring the campus

Aster: exploring Belle Isle, going to The Byrd, and getting bubble tea at TT Lounge

me: getting our nails done, getting Starbucks on campus, and getting lunch at Panera together

In the end, we ate together in the commons at Subway, we explored the campus, and got Starbucks together. In these activities, we really got to know each other on friendly level. To be a successful group, we have to be comfortable around each other, feel that we can talk open and freely, and also be willing to work hard to work hard for PPD. The most successful group building exercise in my opinion was eating at Subway. I think the best conversations happen around food, it sort of breaks down the awkward barriers of getting to know others on a personal level.

exploring campus

starbucks

 

http://rampages.us/koolkreations/

http://rampages.us/vonvorysnorm/

http://rampages.us/vernetp/

http://rampages.us/foodfordummies/

http://rampages.us/asjbagtas

http://rampages.us/allenen

What are we feeding animals

Notes:
food we are feeding animals that we eat:
-antimicrobials/antibiotics and synthetic hormones
-by-products of slaughtered animals and “rendered” animals
-animal waste
-waste from industrial processes

waste:
human waste is treated and animal waste is not
generated per year: Human- 6.8 million dry tons, Animals- 287 million dry tons
applied to land per year: Human- 3.9 million dry tons, Animals- >270 million dry tons

what is in animal waste?
-bacteria- antibiotics may cause resistance
-protozoa
-viruses- up to a year
-animal dander
-pharmaceuticals
-heavy metals
-hormones- naturally and residue of synthetic hormones
-nutrients

what happens to the waste?
-apply as fertilizer: may store in lagoon, in fields, etc
-waste incinerators to use for energy
-pelletized waste
-feeding it back to food animals

risks:
- land application of waste: weather can cause it to move
-failed storage system: ruptured manure lagoon has gotten into the other bodies of water
-waste incineration: any contaminates into the air or stays in ash product (which is sold as fertilizer)
-animal-house ventilation
-direct (illegal) releases into surface waters
–> all ways of contaminating groundwater, it constitutes 40% of public water supplies, 97% of rural water supplies

other transport mechanisms
- facilities air can contaminate surrounding areas
-poultry transportation trucks
-flies: transporting bacteria
-chemical contaminants through meat
-manure containers
-occupational exposures: 5 mill workers, no fed oversight, limited personal protective equipment, no access to decontamination facilities, spreading to workers, families, communities, etc

air quality concerns
-releases airborne contamination from production sites
-gases: ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds–       poultry houses, swine production
-particulates
-microorganisms
-endotoxins
-animal dander
-health relevance of some is established, some not
-single pollutant exposure vs. mixtures

community exposures and effects
-increased exposure to IFAP operation-borne contaminants: asthma prevalence, hospitalizations, allergy and eye, nose, and throat irritation, mental health endpoints
-odors: compromised quality of life
-economic effects: direct property damage, housing values

conclusion:
-stressors: chemical, microbial, social, economic
-multiple exposed populations: workers, surrounding communities, consumers, adverse effects to exposures
-integrated nature of animal production: gaps in current state of knowledge are hard to fill
-no clear answers: burden borne by public, disproportionate burden on rural communities

Response to lecture
The most surprising fact to me from this lecture is that “food” animals are fed by-products of other slaughtered animals. I am not a vegetarian by any means, but this in my opinion is just plain sick and twisted. This idea reminds me of Jewish people who “keep Kosher” abide by the rule where you cannot have beef and dairy in the same meal; to not cook a baby in its mother’s milk. Feeding animals by-products of its killed peers seems ethically and morally wrong to me. I am not sure why this fact is more upsetting than any of the other correlations of what animals are fed and its effects on humans’ water supply, air supply, and more, but it does. Now, I understand the worth of “grass fed beef” as opposed to the most affordable choice at the store.

grass beef

Introduction to industrialization of Food Systems

Notes:
-1900′s: 1/2 of Americans were farmers or lived in rural communities, shift in workforce to be available for new industries
-also a push to make food affordable so that Americans would have more money to spend on new markets (mindset)
-Chicago’s union stock yards, disassembly lines. Inspired Henry Ford to create the Assembly Line
-industrial=mindset

Themes: rapid shifts
-specialization: operations can function more efficiently by focusing on skills and equipment. Monocultures, corn and soy beans.
-mechanization: machines took human and animal work of farming
-standardization: uniform practices, size, weight, and consistency, to be more efficient and especially in fast food
-technology and inputs: specially formulated feed and faster breeding techniques to mature animals (especially chickens) faster. Inputs: Agricultural chemicals, hormones, fossil fuels, antibiotics–> all to promote animals growth
-economies of scale: mass production to be more efficient
-consolidation: since 1950 the average US farm has doubled in size and employ an 1/8 of labor, big farms could afford to invest in technology, “get big or get out”, “adapt or die”
-market concentration: small number of big corporations control most of the sales.

-Has been said that America has the most efficient food production in the world yet has a huge toll on the environment:
- gender altering for amphibians
-fertilizers: deplete organic matter
-leads to aquatic dead zones, especially manure
-resources used for agriculture are being depleted faster than replace
-specialization- lessened the diversity of the food supplies, such as the Irish Potato Famine : 1 million people
-climate change: draughts, heat waves, hurricanes, etc.
-sources of greenhouse gases from the food system: almost 50% from cows

Reaction to lecture
The lecture concluded with the speaker nothing that the information of that lecture seemed rather overwhelming and quite depressing. The fact that the food industry is essentially ran by a few power house companies is an interesting point that I was not aware of. The most surprising fact that I gathered from this lecture was the pie chart about gas emissions. Almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions from the US food supply chains come from cows from both the production of red meat and dairy. That fact was staggering so I googled this phenomenon and found that agriculture contributes 18% of all world wide green house gases. According to timeforchange.org there are 1.5 billion bulls and cows. So based on this data, I assumed it was the production and factory aspect that made cows produce green house gases. It is actually the numerous amounts of cows’ flatulence and process of breathing that creates green house gases. Not only is the cow industry to blame for environmental impacts, but the use of pesticides that the speaker shared are detrimental to the earth. The x-ray of the male frogs reproductive organs that contained female eggs was a side effect that I would not have thought could happen. The speaker overall gave a great overview of the broad issues of the industrialization of the American and World agriculture and meat production system. eat more chicken

Introduction to industrialization of Food Systems

Notes:
-1900′s: 1/2 of Americans were farmers or lived in rural communities, shift in workforce to be available for new industries
-also a push to make food affordable so that Americans would have more money to spend on new markets (mindset)
-Chicago’s union stock yards, disassembly lines. Inspired Henry Ford to create the Assembly Line
-industrial=mindset

Themes: rapid shifts
-specialization: operations can function more efficiently by focusing on skills and equipment. Monocultures, corn and soy beans.
-mechanization: machines took human and animal work of farming
-standardization: uniform practices, size, weight, and consistency, to be more efficient and especially in fast food
-technology and inputs: specially formulated feed and faster breeding techniques to mature animals (especially chickens) faster. Inputs: Agricultural chemicals, hormones, fossil fuels, antibiotics–> all to promote animals growth
-economies of scale: mass production to be more efficient
-consolidation: since 1950 the average US farm has doubled in size and employ an 1/8 of labor, big farms could afford to invest in technology, “get big or get out”, “adapt or die”
-market concentration: small number of big corporations control most of the sales.

-Has been said that America has the most efficient food production in the world yet has a huge toll on the environment:
- gender altering for amphibians
-fertilizers: deplete organic matter
-leads to aquatic dead zones, especially manure
-resources used for agriculture are being depleted faster than replace
-specialization- lessened the diversity of the food supplies, such as the Irish Potato Famine : 1 million people
-climate change: draughts, heat waves, hurricanes, etc.
-sources of greenhouse gases from the food system: almost 50% from cows

Reaction to lecture
The lecture concluded with the speaker nothing that the information of that lecture seemed rather overwhelming and quite depressing. The fact that the food industry is essentially ran by a few power house companies is an interesting point that I was not aware of. The most surprising fact that I gathered from this lecture was the pie chart about gas emissions. Almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions from the US food supply chains come from cows from both the production of red meat and dairy. That fact was staggering so I googled this phenomenon and found that agriculture contributes 18% of all world wide green house gases. According to timeforchange.org there are 1.5 billion bulls and cows. So based on this data, I assumed it was the production and factory aspect that made cows produce green house gases. It is actually the numerous amounts of cows’ flatulence and process of breathing that creates green house gases. Not only is the cow industry to blame for environmental impacts, but the use of pesticides that the speaker shared are detrimental to the earth. The x-ray of the male frogs reproductive organs that contained female eggs was a side effect that I would not have thought could happen. The speaker overall gave a great overview of the broad issues of the industrialization of the American and World agriculture and meat production system. eat more chicken

You will eat all of that!

“An initial survey of 407 college students revealed that over 69% of them had experienced at least one forced consumption episode.”

This quote from the article explains that out of the people they surveyed, 69% of them had an experience where they were forced to eat a food item against their will. I am a little surprised how hight that percentage is! I know that I am a picky eater and was forced to eat foods I didn’t want to all the time (and even to this day!), but I didn’t realize how common this is. Another interesting fact that the article mentions is 72% of the people who were forced to eat certain foods still will not eat those foods today. I think that it is funny because often parents will force their children to eat healthy foods like vegetables. Then based on this data, most of those children will probably not like that particular food even when they grow up. Parents should take heed of this information and not force healthy foods on their kids, but of course offer them healthy options. I wonder if this idea of “you will eat all of that” has any implications on obesity in this country, because the healthy foods were forced and therefore people have a connotation about that food for the rest of their life.

This article reminds me of the scene in the movie Matilda when the “Trunchbull”  principal of the school humiliates one particular overweight boy. She gathers the entire school in an assembly and makes the boy eat an entire chocolate cake in front of his peers. In the end, Matilda decides to encourage her classmates to cheer on this boy so that he wont be humiliated that the “Trunchbull” made him “eat all of that”. This is obviously is a hyperbole of authority figures forcing the consumption of certain foods, but since this is a common issue, everyone can feel for this boy during the scene.

maltilda

(this has been saved as a draft for weeks and I just noticed)

You will eat all of that!

“An initial survey of 407 college students revealed that over 69% of them had experienced at least one forced consumption episode.”

This quote from the article explains that out of the people they surveyed, 69% of them had an experience where they were forced to eat a food item against their will. I am a little surprised how hight that percentage is! I know that I am a picky eater and was forced to eat foods I didn’t want to all the time (and even to this day!), but I didn’t realize how common this is. Another interesting fact that the article mentions is 72% of the people who were forced to eat certain foods still will not eat those foods today. I think that it is funny because often parents will force their children to eat healthy foods like vegetables. Then based on this data, most of those children will probably not like that particular food even when they grow up. Parents should take heed of this information and not force healthy foods on their kids, but of course offer them healthy options. I wonder if this idea of “you will eat all of that” has any implications on obesity in this country, because the healthy foods were forced and therefore people have a connotation about that food for the rest of their life.

This article reminds me of the scene in the movie Matilda when the “Trunchbull”  principal of the school humiliates one particular overweight boy. She gathers the entire school in an assembly and makes the boy eat an entire chocolate cake in front of his peers. In the end, Matilda decides to encourage her classmates to cheer on this boy so that he wont be humiliated that the “Trunchbull” made him “eat all of that”. This is obviously is a hyperbole of authority figures forcing the consumption of certain foods, but since this is a common issue, everyone can feel for this boy during the scene.

maltilda

(this has been saved as a draft for weeks and I just noticed)

“Power at the table”

The article “Power at the table: food fights and happy meals” written by Richard Wilk explored the idealized image of the American “happy family meals” where the whole family sits down at the table together and eats a meal. Wilk explains, with much research, that many people think that this type of meal is the norm, when in fact, it is not as common as people may think. Also, Wilk explained how family units eat around the world and found that family units very seldom ate together. One fact that surprised me in the article was that people think that in the 1950′s, many families did sit down for meals all together. However, it was not as common as TV and movies made it appear.

I have personally seen this shift of eating together at home to family members eating separately and/or out at restaurants. When I was growing up, my family together decided on one or two nights a month that we would go out to dinner at a restaurant. This was a special treat and otherwise we would eat at home for dinner together at our kitchen table. Now, I have a 13 year old brother and what going out to dinner use to be for me, eating at home is to him. He never wants to eat out, he would be perfectly content with eating at home with the family around the table. For many different reasons, getting the whole family together for dinner time never seems to work out like it did when I was younger. I wonder, maybe when my little brother grows up it will be easier for him to make it a priority to have his whole family sit at a table together for dinner?