Author Archives: mcmastere

‘final’ Blog post :/ :))

This semester has been interesting yet fruitful to say the least. Looking back a lot of what we did and were asked to do makes more sense in seeing how one thing lead to the next. The investigatory nature of the Pollan readings, for instance, helped in setting the ‘tone’ and getting us in the ‘go getter’ mindset.

In my ‘you will eat all of that’ blog post I illustrate this further….“That then redirects my focus to the possible association of ‘power struggle’ to forced food consumption. Meaning at the root of it all there is much more to the situation then is brought to the surface…”

In association with the ‘go getter’ mindset ‘collaboration’ was a key component within this semester’s framework (obviously). In my post about Carl Kleiner’s food photography I highlight this: “This work was a collaborative effort, which is now causing me to be inspired to work with another person on a piece…. food photography, when done well, is actually rather awesome (in my opinion).”

Something especially ingrained in my memory are the times in which speakers came to talk to us. Two that stick out are the service learning lady and Terrence Walker. Initially I thought I knew what service learning was, but she truly did prove me wrong in that I hadn’t until then acknowledged it’s true ‘depth’. I thought it was an added touch for her to give us all notepads because generosity, in my opinion, is crucial in credible service work.

She stated that service work  “enhances a sense of civic responsibility.”

“Civic, was a word that I was particularly struck by. The speaker was very receptive to my response and as well as overall engaged with conversation in whole. She pointed out that service learning is a hand on practice and an opportunity to learn actively. A classmate of mine added to the list by stating that it is also ‘free labor’. All of which are good and valid points.

 photo 2 


Another thing I will be taking from this class is a better understanding of what it means to ‘take initiative’. Initiative in the context of service work is as i’m coming to realize EVERYTHING– it can do so much!

An example of a little ‘overestimated initiation ‘s exhibited here: “Elizabeth said that I should put the apron on since ‘i am cooking’ (i felt very special) and so I did which then naturally meant well then I should be the one to take the fries out of the oven… a simple task yet I created a little trouble when the excess sugar/oil mixture dripped off of the pan as I was taking it out. This little ‘drippage’ thus caused a frantic scare of whether or not the smoke alarm was going to set off.” 

However, all was okay seeing as our group efficiently handled the situation! (took initiative)

Back to the ‘collaboration’ mention, getting a long well with others has definitely been an ongoing expectation this semester…. Of course polite behavior should be an expectation in any case however in this context it really does or did have the potential to make or break the situation…. Fortunately our group vibed well together and like Ella previously mentioned we really did have a good time with the group me app! (thanks Alexandria) ha ha I might bug them all next semester despite the class being over… I appreciate their diverse range of personalities…

“Everyone appeared to be having a good time. The environment was light and cheerful. For me, personally, the environment is crucial when making art. So A++ too us!”

Another cool thing about this class and the service work component is given that we are all different and all possess different strengths and weaknesses we truly all were given the chance to let our ‘strengths’ be acknowledged and recognized. y’know what I mean? for example Ella’s ‘ad’ was really excellent and in turn earned her well deserved ‘props’ for a skill she is fortunate enough to possess (probably requires a lot of effort on her end). This ideology is also true when referring to Aster’s legendary video…. simply fabulous… highlighting her talent which we all are aware has come from persistence and dedication!

To juxtapose this I will bring up our meme assignment which everyone seemed to really go all the way with…except for me…. :/ ha why was that? who knows!

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(my group members creations)

On the social media platform the ram pantry really allowed me the opportunity to practice my ‘customer service voice’ as in the type of voice the receptionist (i think thats what they are called) at hotels speak in… the effortlessly charming, kind, easygoing attitude they all ‘portray’ while on ‘duty’. The ram pantry has given me the chance to really take responsibility and do the job. Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.08.58 PM  Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.14.28 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.16.10 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-07 at 11.17.04 PM

I feel grateful and privileged to have received the valuable exposure to what’s out there and what’s going on via the ram pantry. The research I did on food advocacy groups is research I do not think would have resonated like it had, had it not been delivered on the ram pantry ‘platform’. Seeing its ‘real world application’ and  ‘value’ really helped in my understanding.

That applies to the people who work/volunteer/work at the pantry. Really not any different then myself. Basically I could be in that situation, however my situation does not demand for it. Working at the pantry has also helped me in connecting to the school as a whole, not in a portion or in a restricted denomination of vcu but it in its entirety. Something I hoped to gain the second I chose to register for the class– completely unaware of the extent or magnitude of which this wish was going to be fulfilled.

Photo collage number 2

photovisi-download  After doing the ‘trial run’ creating this version was easier and less hesitant. Digging up these photos really makes me think and reflect on what i’ve learned this semester. Certainly reinstates the importance of teamwork.



Food Bin

bin idea   For the Bin Idea I came up with the idea of painting grapes ‘spewing’ over/out of the bin– in a downward motion…. a long with that Aster and I thought to include fruits and vegetables with happy faces on the ‘body’ of the bin.

Make #5

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( Peanut Butter Play Dough)

1 cup of smooth peanut butter (we used the regular with sugar kind as it came in our welcome basket when we arrived to Kuwait)
1 1/2 – 2 cups of cornstarch (or corn flour here and in other parts of the world)
Start by combining the peanut butter and 1 cup of the cornstarch in a large bowl (we found that using the back of a metal spoon worked well). Once combined, slowly begin adding the additional cornstarch. Mix in between additions and stop when the dough is still soft, but firm to the touch and no longer sticky. As you go, you may need to use your hands to knead the dough. Our perfect amount was 1 3/4 cups of corn flour, but it may vary a little depending on the type of peanut butter you’re using.



make #7 food art redo

The other night I was thinking over how much I enjoyed the food art activities in our fft class, so I decided to give it another go around. Fortunately, for me, I had some ‘pretty’ food on hand so the task wasn’t too taxing….

I really like the clear ‘focus’ of this photograph :)


Food Art: ReMake

Food Art: ReMake

Fast Food Scavenger Hunt


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Modified Food Starch:

Modified food starches have made many improvements in the foods produced today, resulting in lower costs, more attractive products and better tastes. They may also be a hidden source of gluten for many. Educate yourself about the foods you eat and double check any source that contains modified food starch on its label to ensure the safety of your food.Natural Flavor:

“Natural flavor is a man-made additive, and it makes processed food and fast food taste outstanding.

It’s not the only additive that flavors our (processed and fast) food, but it sure does a great job.”

Xanthum Gum:

Xanthum gum is a polysaccharide that’s commonly used as a food additive. The name is derived from the strain of bacteria used during the fermentation process that is used to make it, Xanthomonas campestris. This is the same bacteria responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower and other leafy vegetables. The bacteria form a slimy substance which acts as a natural stabilizer or thickener. It was developed when the United States Department of Agriculture ran a number of experiments involving bacteria and various sugars to develop a new thickening agent similar to corn starch or guar gum.

Calcium Disodium EDTA:

calcium disodium EDTA, appears in foods and cosmetic products to prevent air from spoiling them by introducing unwanted oxygen into the products’ molecular structures.