Food Tomfoolery on Eleven: Considerations for Consideration

On Tuesday, faculty will come together at 30 East Lake Street for HW Faculty Development 2014. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, our excellent CAST leadership, Megan Ritt and Andrew Cutcher, have arranged (like John and Gitte in the past) for boxed lunches. Only on Friday will we have to brown bag it. And, I’m not complaining. Food is expensive.

I’ve written a few posts this year, and I’ve mentioned how grateful I am for the sabbatical I have been on and the research I have been able to undertake and write about. I am grateful for past (and current) union leadership who have laid the groundwork for the concentrated (and paid) professional development sabbaticals provide. I would not have been able to eat without earning my salary while on sabbatical.

On Monday, August 25, I, like my colleagues, will greet new students, and in my ENG 101s, I will use the course I designed two years ago. The theme of the course is food, and in it my students begin by learning about food deserts in Chicago. No, not sweet desserts that follow a meal, but food deserts–the places in the city of Chicago that Mari Gallagher made noticeable with her research.

Ever hear of a food desert? A food deserts is a place where access to fresh produce and meats, like those found in a supermarket, are miles away. You might live in one. Our students live in food deserts. Our employees live in food deserts. Regardless of access to food, or even with access, some people can’t afford it.

In 2013, the Mayor’s office released data suggesting that 400,000 people in Chicago live in a food desert with the nearest grocery store 1/2 a mile away. And still, putting grocery stores closer to those who live in food deserts doesn’t put money in their pockets to buy food. I’m sure the content of this post comes as no surprise to most, especially educators in the CCC system.

If you’ve read your CCC e-mail recently, you may have noticed the announcement regarding stolen lunches on the 11th floor. In the e-mail, it states, “Please be aware that theft is an offense punishable by termination,” and while I agree with the e-mail, I found myself wondering, or better yet trying to understand, why someone would steal food from the break room?

If whomever is stealing food is hungry, then stealing the food isn’t the crime. If a member of our HW community is hungry, what can we do about it? What should we do about it? What can we do about it? We can be complacent, and we can enforce rules that deny the nuances of the situation, or we can see this for a problem that plagues our city and our college and strive to solve the problem. We can start in our own community at HW.

Don’t Forget–Union Meeting Today

From Jesú:

Union Sisters and Brothers, come help welcome our new members.  We
will also address other important issues, including feedback tools on
our Contract.

When:  Thursday, September 8, 2:00p.m. to 4:30p.m.
Where: Room 1115

Pizza, soda, and other refreshments will be provided.

Also, mark your calendars for the following Union meetings:

• Thursday, September 22, 2p.m.-4:30p.m. Room 1115
• Thursday, October 20, 2p.m.-4:30p.m. Room 203 D/E
• Thursday, November 17, 2p.m.-4:30p.m. Room 1115
• December, Christmas Party, TBA

If you have further questions, feel free to call or text me (Jesú
Estrada, Chapter Chair) at 312-371-3774 or email me at  New members, if you can’t come, feel free to
see me in room 629 during Union hours: M/W 10a.m.-11a.m. and T/TH
1p.m.-3 in the afternoon.  At that time, we will schedule a lunch.

Members, please help spread the word.  Also, since there are two
meetings this month and only one can be sanctioned, I am going to ask
Laackman to sanction the one on Sept. 22.

In Solidarity,

Jesu Estrada, Chapter Chair

Reading While Grilling

I’m not sure I’d recommend it (Safety First!), but, no matter when you read it, this one will give you some interesting things to think about if you’re cooking today.

I teach a class on the philosophy and politics of food. Taking off from the dictum “You are what you eat,” the class examines how our relationship to food—mediated by politics, economics, ethics, and aesthetics—influences who we are as a species and as individuals. We examine what it means to cultivate and digest other living things and how that experience of conquest helps form ideas about identity and power.

Given that food is implicated in those relations of power regardless of what one eats, a primary aim of the class is to get students to think about why we tend to talk about food as an issue of individual choice. In an age in which politics and consumerism are often conflated with exhortations to “vote with your dollar,” the class strives to develop a vocabulary for food politics that is not reducible to consumer choice.

I’m sure I’ll think about it at some point as my big ol’ dry rubbed pork shoulder smokes over hickory and oak. Happy Labor Day!

Guide to Community Supported Agriculture

I know a few people are out there doing or thinking about doing teaching related to food, and I know a few people out there who take considerable interest in ecology related issues, as well as health/wellness and the like.

There’s a growing literature of interest–ethical, economic, political, ecological–on food, health, and the politics of it all that makes doing so easier to do by the day. If you are a person who has been affected by any of the above, you might have attended last weekend’s FamilyFarmed Expo at UIC. If you missed that, though, you might want to check out the Chicago Reader’s guide to Community Supported Agriculture programs.

A short pitch: A CSA is a great investment, in my humble, and a sure fire way to make yourself eat more vegetables, which everyone should do. You can sign up for boxes of vegetables, meat, eggs, fruit and the rest, to be delivered or available for pickup at a farmer’s market weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, in the summer or year round. Of the CSA farms listed in the Reader article, I’ve bought from a bunch of them, but been a regular customer of Triple A Farms and Cedar Valley Sustainable Farms. My experience has been that they’re both great at what they do.