Preparation for Make #1: Food Art

In class tomorrow we are going to try to create food art. For those who don’t understand what food art is, it is the art of putting food into obscure and visually pleasing forms. the cool thing I find about food art is the fact that you can take some ordinary, bland food and turn it into a masterpiece. Food art has become so serious that people are now dedicating their lives to it.

Although our class isn’t full of professional food artists, we do have some students like Aster who have taken beautiful shots of food art and can hopefully show us a thing or two on how it’s done. Each of us are supposed to bring in one food item that is different from everyone else’s so we can hopefully have as many different options to choose from as possible.

After searching the web for some ideas of food art I stumbled across many of them being of apples. I can see why, they come in different colors, they are easy to cut into different shapes, and they also make a healthy food look delicious. Below is a picture of an apple turned into a a beautiful

This picture obviously took some practice and precision to accomplish. I don’t think we will create something as extravagant as this but we can try!

I also found this video on how to create a bird with an apple

We could follow these steps and hopefully create something close to this.

Another food item that came up a lot while I was searching for food art was sushi. Sushi is an art form in itself but once people get creative with it, the possibilities are endless. Below is a picture i found of a sushi roll turned into a panda!

sushi panda

All in all, I think tomorrow will be fun and I think that one of us will make something very cool!

Midterm Part II: My Two Makes

John Muckerman

Univ 211

Professor Boaz


Midterm Part II: My Two Makes

For the three groups in the class, all of which have the same goal, which is to improve their client and to make it better than when they started, have also had very similar conflicts. Many of our ideas for our clients have either gone unnoticed or simply shot down. Fortunately for the Ram Pantry, our ideas have been embraced and we have actually had the opportunity to implement plans like food samples and our social media platforms. But for the other two groups, the clients have not been as welcoming to their new ideas and it seems like there is almost nothing for them to do. Now is our chance to think of new outside the box ideas that can hopefully get our groups more involved with the organizations.

My first “Make” involves the use of certain types and number of ingredients that has multiple different possible outcomes of dishes that each group can use to create their own unique dish. In essence, the professor would pick the same ingredients at random for each group and the group would have the class period to think of a recipe and the next class, bring it in for all to try. This idea stems from a popular TV show Chopped where a chief opens up an unknown container of ingredients and has to make their own distinctive dish using as much or as little of each ingredient as they want. We obviously don’t have all the equipment to do this in class but I was thinking we could do it outside of class and then bring it in to class next time and each taste our different creations.

Though I believe this is a good idea, there are problems that I see with it. First of all, getting the ingredients would be a difficulty because it is unfair for either the professor or the students to have to spend their money on the ingredients. I was thinking that maybe the Ram Pantry could donate some ingredients to the class so that is something that we would have to ask Terrence. Another issue that I see in this make is the fact that some of the students in class might have class right before our class at 12:30 so it would be hard to prepare or bring the food so its hot. Although there are these issues, I think that we can work them out so we can do this make.

I Believe that with is make, we can help our clients out by doing something fun and new. For the Ram Pantry, we could give the list of ingredients to each student that comes to pantry and they can go home and make their version and post it on social media. We could also have a winner of the best dish that would win a prize like a restaurant gift card or something along those lines. My main goal of this make is to encourage the users of the pantry to have fun with cooking and to show that the food at the pantry can be turned into really good food.

My second make involves cooking food but on your own time without bringing it into class. We could each research the foods that will be available at the Pantry, Peter Paul, or Reestablish Richmond and make a dish that involves some of them. We could create our own unique dish and if we like it, we could put copies of the recipe at our respected organizations for those to use it. This idea could help each organization teach those who use it different fun ways to cook the food that is provided.

I personally like my first idea better, but I believe that both could work. I love cooking and I think that it opens up the culinary mind. I honestly think that some of the people who use the pantry grab food items without thinking of the numerous recipes that they can cook. When I have gone to the Pantry I notice how the students pick things like desert bars and other processed basic junk foods, instead of getting the fresh, locally grown produce. I really want that to change so I hope that showing them that there are great recipes out their, it will help change and open their culinary mind

What’s Really in My Chick Fil A Sandwich?


(Above) Chick Fil A Spicy Chicken Sandwich. This is one of my favorite meals because I love spicy foods and chicken so it is the perfect fit for me. Below are the ingredients In this sandwich.

Spicy Chicken: Whole Breast Breast Fillet, Water,   Seasoning [Salt, Monosodium Glutamate (sodium salt of glutamic acid, basically a flavor enhancer), Sugar, Spices, Paprika]

Spicy Seasoning: [maltodextrin (Food enhancer from starch), flavor, modified rice starch, tapioca dextrin (Tapioca dextrin is obtained from the root of the cassava plant, and is used as a carrier for flavorings and colors in dry preparations and liquid), salt, cottonseed oil, paprika, contains less than 2% enzyme modified milkfat, soy lecithin]

Soy Lecithin: As I researched this I came across many websites that say this ingredient is harmful, yet it is still in many


Spicy Seasoned Coater: [enriched bleached flour {bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate (Nitrate of Salt), riboflavin (flavor protein, Vitamin B), folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, leavening, spice, nonfat milk, soybean oil, whey(Protein) , color {paprika, Yellow #6}], milk wash [water, nonfat milk, egg]

Peanut Oil [fully refined peanut oil, with Dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foam agent added)

Bun: (enriched flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, folic acid],

water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, contains 2% or less of each of the following: liquid yeast, soybean oil, nonfat milk, salt, wheat gluten, soy flour.

Dough Conditioners [may contain one or more of the following: mono- and diglycerides (Food emulsifier of fatty acids, comes from plants) , calcium and sodium stearoyl lactylates, calcium peroxide], soy flour, amylase (Makes starch into sugars), yeast nutrients [monocalcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate], calcium propionate added to retard spoilage, soy lecithin, cornstarch, butter oil [soybean oil, palm kernel oil, soy lecithin, artificial flavor, TBHQ (Antioxidant, preservative)  and citric acid added as preservatives, and artificial color]), pickles (cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate [preservative], natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1).

After all those ingredients you have a Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Chick fil A. I was very shocked of all the ingredients that go into one sandwich. I always pictured Chick fil a as a trustworthy company but this shows that anybody can add all these tongue-twisting ingredients to make it taste better. I will most likely keep eating this sandwich but it is good to know what is actually in it

McFrankenstein, Pollan’s Chapter 7: The Meal

After finishing up the final chapter in Pollan’s  book, I cannot begin to tell you how disgusted I am with not only McDonalds but all fast food. Not just because of their mystery ingredients that seem to have more artificial and corn ingredients than what is supposed to be in the food, but the whole marketing strategy in general. I don’t like the fact that fast food industry’s target so much of their food to kids. It is unfair to them because all they know is that it tastes good, they don’t understand anything about it. What struck me was when Pollan described how his son really wanted to go to McDonalds but his mother didn’t want to because she knew the health risks associated with it, but the son exclaimed, “Mom, you can just get a salad.” This struck me because I have said that exact same thing to my mom when I was younger and wanted to go to McDonalds. It is exactly what Pollan describes as “Denying the Denier.”

It is very interesting and courageous of Pollan to follow a cow all the way from birth to burger. I don’t think I would be able to eat something that I watched over especially in the conditions they were in. That’s the thing though. Most people who know what goes on behind the scenes of these fast food corporations don’t eat their food. I think if more people actually knew what went on in the background, less people would eat McDonalds. I also think it’s funny that McDonalds tried to strive to make sure that their food is known as quality food. Like their 100% real beef campaign and they make sure they say all white meat chicken. But what they forget to tell us is the numerous other corn based ingredients that truly make the burger and nugget what it actually is.

Above is an article I found interesting on Corn in Fast Food, to further push home the notion that Corn really is in everything.

Supersize Me! “Chapter 6 Pollan Reading”

This chapter reflects the corn industry from the beginning of its intense existence back in the early 19th century when Americans used it to make good ol’ fashioned corn whiskey. Pollan notes that they each drank a half pint of it a day! This I found astonishing because nowadays people drink mainly on the weekends to unwind but the people back then drank it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was considered normal back then but today those people would be looked down upon as alcoholics that need serious help. Another part of the reading that also caught my eye was the origination of these gigantic portions of food and soda. It all began with David Wallerstein, who worked at McDonald’s and also for a few movie theaters in Texas. He found that people will be less likely to buy a second serving of something because they feel “piggish.” However, people will take the advantage of getting one large portion and this is where things like Supersizing and Big Gulps came about. I have watched a documentary called “Supersize Me” where director and “lab rat” of his experiment was to eat McDonald’s three times a day for a month and look at his results. Americans have a serious obesity epidemic that could be in part of these gigantic meals and sodas that are jam packed with sugars and salts, oh and corn.

here is a link that I found relative to this reading. It is a clip from the film that shows just how big those Supersized meals can be     ********** (WARNING HE THROWS UP IN THE END)***********


Here are some notes that I took on the readings as well

  • Early 19th century people drank more than ever before
  • Corn whiskey, cheap, drink of choice by 1820 drank half a pint every day
  • 5 gallons per person a year
  • “The Elevenses” late morning whiskey drink
  • Some founding fathers denounced drinking
  • We are eating today as much as they drank back then
  • Obesity is an epidemic
  • Children have a 1 in 3 chance of getting type 2 diabetes
  • African American are 2-5
  • Reasons for obesity: Changes in lifestyle, affluence, poverty, technology, clever marketing, and changes in diet.
  • Since 1997 the calories for a day has gone up 10%
  • 530 million bushels of corn turns into 17.5 billion pounds of high fructose corn syrup
  • Soda makers raised ounces and dropped prices
  • Supersizing—David Wallerstein
  • Wallerstein worked on board of directors at McDonalds and at Texas movie theaters where he tried to sell more soda a popcorn
  • He found that going for seconds makes people feel piggish so he invented these huge containers of 1 serving of popcorn and soda.
  • This led to things like the 64oz big gulp, Big Mac and Jumbo fries.
  • Supersize it!
  • “Thrifty Gene” building up extra fat to preserve

1 dollar can get you 1,200 calories of chips or 250 of carrots. 1 dollar can get you 875 calories of

Pollan Chapter 5 “The Processing Plant”

After reading Chapter 5 of Pollans book, I can now say that I don’t like corn! I knew that it was a powerful tool used by food companies but I didn’t realize it was in almost everything. And the fact that most foods now are so processed it feels as if I am always eating something that contains either corn or soybean or both. I question how the food industry got this way. Why can’t we just eat food naturally the way it is, it is almost as if we are being forced to eat these processed foods or we have to pay extra to not eat them. This all boils down to our obesity epidemic in the US because people who want to eat healthier can’t afford it, so they end up eating these processed junk foods that never expire because they cost so little to make and so little to purchase. I hope that one day our government agencies realize that this is unhealthy and greedy of the large corporations that control the food industry. It is totally unfair to us because in other countries, they eat healthy organic never processed foods and look at how skinny and in shape they are.


Here are some notes I took on the Chapter

  • We don’t think we eat much corn but it is in pretty much everything
  • Wet mills—different from traditional mills where corn is simply ground into dry meal for things like tortillas
  • Corn is used for processed foods
  • Corn has carbohydrates that can turn it into vitamins, supplements and alcohols
  • Wet mills is like food digestion for humans
  • Trans Fat worse for arteries than butter
  • Mill starch—what is left after germ is pulled off kernel shell
  • Enzyme Hydrolysis—breaking down something so much into shorter glucose molecules
  • They invented fructose in 1960’s
  • High fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose 45% glucose
  • Corn and soybean are responsible for preserving foods
  • Processed foods
  • Belle Institute where science meets food
  • Highly secretive
  • Bowling pin cereal
  • Breakfast cereal is very processed
  • General Mills “Food System”, high tech food
  • General mills new organic tv dinners filled with corn
  • TreeTop invented a low moisture naturally sweetened apple piece infused with red wine. Fight cancer

Pollan Chapter 4 “The Feedlot”

As I read this chapter, I grew more and more amazed at what i was reading that I couldn’t believe it. It took serious dedication and curiosity for Pollan to go out and achieve the information he did. Many people don’t even think about where their food comes from but Pollan did and he went beyond the normal measures to find that answer out. Who thought that corn was such a big characteristic of an animals diet, especially one that doesn’t eat corn. I would love to know how many lobbyist’s influence the USDA and the FDA and how they can take an animal that doesn’t eat corn and make it their entire diet. Oh and not to mention all the forced fat, protein, and antibiotics. The whole situation is terrible.nasty-congested-feedlot-of-cows




Below are some notes from the chapter that I took.


  • Corn primarily in American Midwest
  • Corn has colonized 125,000 sq miles of America
  • Western Kansas first Feedlots in early 50’s
  • Poky Feeders, population 37,000
  • Pollan bought a cow for $598 and was paying Poky Feeders $1.60 a day for his room and board and meds.
  • 60% of corn goes to feeding animals
  • CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)
  • Federally subsidized corn
  • Corn costs more to grow than to sell
  • Corn was used on animals that never ate it in the first place like cows
  • Blair Ranch occupies 5,500 acres of grass in South Dakota. This is where His cow started
  • Four giant meatpacking companies; Tyson, IBP, Cargill, Swift, and National.
  • They slaughter 4 out of 5 cattles born in US
  • His Cow was #534 spent the first 6 months in South Dakota. meaning she was the 34th cow born in 1995.
  • Born March 13th, 2001
  • They can digest grass because of their organ “The Rumen”
  • Cow raised on grass takes longer to reach slaughter weight.
  • Cows used to be slaughter weight at age 4 or 5, then it was 2 or 3 years old and now it is 14-16 months
  • 80 pounds to 1,100 pounds takes corn, protein, and fat supplements.
  • Evolutionary Logic
  • Industrial Logic—Rationale and even irresistible.
  • Weaning cows from mothers is hard. Cows mope and bellow for days and are prone to getting sick
  • Cows are confined to a pen or bunk broken
  • Corn is powered by a very different source of energy than grass is with sun.
  • Liquid vitamins and synthetic estrogen besides pallets stacked with 5o pound sacks of antibiotics—Rumensin and Tylosin.
  • Machine crushes corn into corn flakes similar to a Kellogg’s Flake.
  • USDA policy, which for decades has sought to help move the mountain of surplus of corn by passing as much of it as possible through the digestive tracts of food animals who can convert it into protein.
  • Corn diet is less healthy for us to eat because it contains more sat fat and less omega 3 fatty acids
  • Research shows health risks involved with corn-fed-beef
  • USDA grading system rewards marbling
  • Cows used to be fed rendered cow parts and this started mad cow disease. FDA banned practices in 1997.
  • Make them trade instincts for antibiotics
  • FDA did not ban protein from blood products and fat. His steer will probably dine on beef tallow recycled from the slaughterhouse he’s heading to.
  • Rules still permit feedlots to feed nonruminant animal protein to ruminants. Feather meal and chicken litter are accepted cattle feeds as are chicken fish and pig meal.
  • Corn feed violates the biological or evolutionary logic of bovine digestion
  • Mel oversees sick cows on Poky Farm
  • Cows are evolving to help excess biomass coming off Americas cornfields
  • Many cows are sick
  • Bloat is perhaps the most serious thing that can go wrong with ruminant on corn. The Rumen produces a lot of gas that is usually expelled by belching, but with corn the gas is trapped.
  • Corn also can give cows severe heartburn that can be deadly
  • Cows rarely live on feedlot diets for more than 150 days.
  • 15-30% of feedlot cows are found at slaughter to have abscessed livers, some as high as 70%
  • Antibiotics are used to keep feedlot animals healthy
  • Animals wouldn’t need antibiotics if they ate grass
  • Manure lagoon’s
  • Feedlot waste contains heavy metals and hormone residue.
  • Pen size of hockey rink with fresh water
  • His cow’s eyes looked bloodshot from feedlot dust.
  • #534 looked miserable and not happy
  • Cows constantly in manure
  • 400 an hour will be slaughtered
  • 0157-H7 bacteria that can kill humans, is in 40% of cattle.
  • Most bacteria’s get killed off by our stomach acids
  • You are what you eat.

Erin Burke Brown Guest Speaking on Tuesday Oct 14th

Last Tuesday we had the Pleasure of having Mrs. Brown come and speak with the class on Service Learning. She works at VCU in the Division of Community of Engagement. It was very surprising that no one in the class knew what that was, including myself. I think that there are many more things at VCU that students don’t know about that can actually help them, but that is another story. Mrs. Burke discussed that 3400 students took Service Learning courses last year which is a lot of people! The biggest thing that she wanted to clarify was that Service Learning is MESSY!! Which I think everyone in the class can agree with. She then defined what service learning was and also noted how it falls right in the middle of service and an internship. We as a class gave our two cents on why Service Learning is messy and we came up with scheduling conflicts, different priorities, and lack of communication to name a few. We were then split into different groups representing Students, Instructors, Community Partners, and VCU. We were asked to identify the different obstacles that each face. I was in the Community Partner group and the biggest obstacles that we came up with were lack of trust, and different goals and objectives. All in all it was a very necessary guest speaking event that I think the whole class needed.

This article talks about the pros and cons of Service Learning and I thought that it was interesting. Check it Out!


Service Learning

Lunchtime is all yours: Oscar Meyer

Summer 1988 Oscar Meyer assembly line of 1,800 people in Madison, Wisconsin. Invention of Lunchables helped use up the bologna that was losing interest in American consumers. Bob Drane Invented the Lunchable. Hotel meeting room they called the “Food Playground.”

Lunchables flew off the shelves and had $218 million dollars on sales for the first year. However they lost $20 million because of expenses.

Drane joined Phillip Morris to help him continue to sell his product

Introduction to Fast Food.

Bologna Is very bad for you, so they introduced low fat turkey bologna and hot dogs made of chicken instead of beef.

“Montessori School” 15 person team Drane hired to bail out bologna and make it look good. They added Ritz round crackers along with their red meats. They then added processed square cheese. The shape of the box was a TV dinner, with places for each individual item.

BehaviorScan—A test to see if Lunchables were appealing to school children, or parents. Oscar Meyer picked a couple dozen families and tracked their spending habits and also exposed them to Lunchable commercials and the families loved it because they were weird and different.

Oscar Meyer did a talent search for a kid to sing their trademark song.

Weiner mobiles—Went around the country promoting their food. Started in Chicago 1883 by Bavarian brothers.

One slice of bologna had 3.5 grams of fat and 330Mg’s of sodium

5.7 billion to buy food giant. Geoffrey Bible merged food giant and tie expensive together.

Lisa Cain Talked down about Lunchables and said they are bad for you and Oscar Meyer responded by saying kids don’t eat them everyday and that they are no worse than what ever else is in their packed lunches

Uncooked pizza was a hit

Oscar Meyer ended up making new types of Lunchables like mini burgers and tacos and their sales reached close to 1 billion

60 varieties

How Do You Get People To Crave?

Craving food can be a blessing and a nightmare! Everyone has their own cravings, some people crave sugary sweets or those salty snacks, and people can also have healthy cravings for fresh fruit or salads. Personally, I have cravings for fruit like mangos and grapes but don’t get me wrong I still love anything salty. Cravings can also get overwhelming because some foods are just so good that you end up eating wayyyy to much. I believe that cravings are fine in moderation if they are not the healthiest of choices. Sometimes people crave foods when they’re not even hungry and those cravings become an addiction, so I think that as long as you maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat your cravings in moderation, everything works out.