After reading about how Ben Franklin lived on a very basic diet in order to have more time to devote to his work, I was interested in finding out what effects this or more drastic diets could have.  Franklin was mainly fixed on saving time and money by composing his diet of low cost food and not indulging in drink.  Maybe due to my Industrial Engineering mindset, I wondered if he could improve his basic diet by eating even less and having more time for work.

In the article I found titled, albeit a very poorly titled article, “Can Skipping Meals Can Make You Healthier?”  the author advocates for three types of fasting that can make you healthier.  One is eating three meals in an eight hour window, while refraining from eating in the other sixteen hours.  Second is alternating a days when you do not eat from 6pm to the following 6pm, this way you still eat at least one meal everyday.  The last alternative the author writes about is to skip eating entirely every other day.  The only problem for the bread loving Franklin is that the author argues you can not depend on fast acting carbs for your meals.  The author advocates for eating foods with more fat and protein because the body will break these nutrients down slower helping you fast for a longer time.  So unfortunately again for Franklin, he would’ve had to give up his vegetarian diet to eat more meat for these fats and proteins, because I assuming for the time period there were not as many alternatives to meat to obtain fats and proteins that we are aware of and have a steady supply of today.  I think Franklin could be convinced to incorporate this type of fasting to his diet, because he would’ve had even more free time and saved more money on food.  He was able to give in to eating fish again, so I think over time he would give in to eating meat again.  Lastly from the article, I think if the author told Franklin that these kinds of diets reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological problems, he would try one of the fasts out.

Link: http://wellnessmama.com/2012/fasting-to-be-healthy/

As more of a response to the blog post about taste being influenced by our culture and location, I want to share about “Bizarre Foods“, a Travel Channel show. Andrew Zimmern travels to different countries and tries different foods that Americans would normally be adverse to trying. The show is structured in a way that tells the history of food or food dishes, how it is prepared, and how the dish tastes as described by Andrew Zimmern.

What is clearly outlined in every episode is why the people living in that country eat that dish. Sometimes it is because they like the way that dish tastes. Other times it has to do with their social class and what they can afford to eat. Often it really just has to do with what is indigenous to the location. In any case, this episode supports the last statement in the reffered to blogpost: “…taste is not a purely aesthetic taste, but instead one that is influenced greatly by culture, experience, and education in the matter of what makes ‘good taste’.”

Bizarre Foods: Singapore – For some reason I could not embed the video 🙁

In the video, Zimmern is in Singapore where culture and tradition are important. Many dishes are good for the health and there is event a segment about a restaurant that doubles as a trip to the doctor because a physician will check patrons and prescribe a food dish based on the diagnosis.

Places to skip to:

4:15 – Soup

7:50 – Bone marrow

11:00 – Pearls for the skin

13:00 – Doctor in restaurant

Link to Article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/09/03/home_cooked_family_dinners_a_major_burden_for_working_mothers.html

This article takes a cynical approach to the traditional family dinner.  The author claims that home cooked meals may not actually be as wonderful and pleasant as they are idealized.  The article is accompanied by a study by sociologists from North Carolina State University which observed 150 families and concluded that the benefits of a home cooked meal could easily be outweighed by the stress and inconvenience of producing it in a modern environment.  The article also mentions that the cost associated with fresh foods can be a barrier to lower income families and make the theoretically healthy home cooked meal unachievable.

One of the most interesting things to me is that the research used a sample population of 150 mothers.  It seems to me that men should make up at least some percentage of the population who cooks for their family.  I tried to do some quick research to see what percentage of men do the cooking for their family and the initial results were pretty inconclusive.  I found a statistic claiming “a full 14 percent more men cook now than did in 1965” on Esquire’s website, but this does not provide useful comparative information.  A very confusingly worded article on thinkprogress.org suggests that 20-25% of men are responsible for the cooking in their household.  These numbers seem reasonable but there is also a strong incentive for a website like thinkprogress.org to spin the statistics in this manner.  In class we have read many documents, such as “The Compleat Housewife”, which have stated that women are the ones who are responsible for the domestics.  This is especially interesting to note since the percentage of women who enroll in college out of high school is now 71% whereas men enrolling in college is only 61% (source: Pew Research).  Even as women are becoming much more prominent and prevalent in the work force, they are still the ones associated with domestic responsibility.  This is gradually changing, I believe, and this viewpoint is substantiated by the Esquire article which seems to indicate more sharing of domestic responsibility among the genders.  This shift provides an interesting conflict with Eliza Smith’s claim that women are innately responsible for cooking meals.

The article is not about the gender inequality of cooking, however.  This article provides a wonderful non-romanticized viewpoint of the home cooked meal.  The general consensus in my family is that cooking meals is painful and takes an incredible amount of time that might render the efforts fruitless.  It is really easy to idealize the home cooked meal as a way to get close to one’s food source and bring the family together, but in reality this is rarely true.  In American society today we are very concerned with productivity and doing things efficiently and home cooked meals are an affront to these values.  Home cooked meals take a great deal of effort and planning to make and also can take a decent amount of money if one wants to buy the freshest or best ingredients.  It is also extremely easy to forget just how frustrating or infuriating making a meal can be since we have engrained into our society this idea that “home-cooked meals [are] the hallmark of good mothering, stable families, and the ideal of the healthy, productive citizen”.  I believe it is true that Americans have grown distant from their food and might not respect the process nearly as much as civilizations or people have in the past, but I am not of the opinion that everyone needs to return to spending hours laboring over every meal they eat.  I believe this is part of societal evolution and the romanticized idea of a home cooked meal will be an idea of the past.  Also, as the article states and as my memory recalls, there is rarely a meal that goes without criticism.  The researchers stated that they “rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn’t complain about the food they were served”.

Carolyn Korsmeyer, in her writing,” Making Sense of Taste”, tries to outline a distinguished difference between “taste” the literal feeling on your tongue when you eat, and “Taste” a person’s own opinions on certain items aesthetic and decoratory. My first response to this reading is to protest Ms. Korsmeyer’s claim and argue that “Taste” and “taste” are indeed one and the same.

While being perceived with different senses, “Taste” with the eyes and ears of one’s cultural senses, and “taste” with the nose, tongue, and lips, “Taste” and “taste” are not so different. Both are one individual’s opinion on the flavors of life. As consumers of food each of us have things we like and don’t like, but no two people are exactly the same in diet. Similarly, if any two people were given unlimited budgets to makeover there home I can guarantee that even twins would design different dwellings. The reason being, we all have different “_aste”.

The two “_astes” are more closely associated than most people realize. I will try to use some examples to point this out. Think for a second about restaurants in America. Thanks to our diverse population and many different cultural influences we have a firsthand look at how “Taste” and “taste” are related. Just consider Mexican restaurants in the Southeast US, I would assume almost all of us have seen at least one Mexican restaurant with stucco walls. This is no coincidence, somewhere at some point in history Americans associated stucco with the Mexican culture and now its in nearly every Mexican restaurant we have, from Nuevo Laredo right here in Atlanta, to El Campesino in my hometown of Cleveland.  Another example is US steakhouses. Nearly every steakhouse or BBQ restaurant you pass through is decorated with lots of wood and iron and has “old western” items hanging on the wall next to pictures of Blues or Country singers. Why? Because at some point in history Americans associated BBQ and steak with cowboys in the American west.

“Taste” and “taste” are two unified senses. Restaurants use them to create an environment that they think will cause people to experience a meal rather than just “taste” it and grocery stores use it sell food. Even marketers are in on the secret, we see the color red or orange on a sauce bottle and our first thought is that it must be spicy. The truth is that our “taste” is directly associated with our “Taste” and our “Taste” directly associated with our “taste”. That’s why our families eat at the same restaurants every Sunday afternoon and why my girlfriend won’t eat at a Chinese restaurant. Because contrary to Ms. Korsmeyer, respectfully contrary I add, we do not have “taste” and “Taste” we just have “_aste”.

Throughout “Philosophies of Taste: Aesthetic and Nonaesthetic Senses” in Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy, Kersmeyer hits on a few really interesting ideas. Among them is the notion that “good taste” might only come from the educated “palate” but that these tastes don’t just apply to food, but also Art, music, etc. Also, towards the end of reading, in the section titled “Aesthetic Tast and Gustatory Taste Revisited,” Kersmeyer states: “By this analysis, philosophies of taste posit the traits of universal human nature by generalizing about an ideal member of a privileged, educated class, who is held to represent the whole of human nature, or human nature at its ‘best.’ Insofar as these theoriess are guilty of such a move, philosophies of Taste obscure the differences among people of different classes, locations, generous.” Korsmeyer continues the discussion with explaining Bourdieu’s philosophy about taste being influenced by class.

In her dissertation at the University of Manchester, Beethoven or Britney? A sociological exploration of music taste, cultural consumption and social class, Alicia Dunning attempts to answer the question of whether Bourdieu’s conjecture that musical taste results from cultural and class influence, still exists today.

Dunning collected focus groups to discuss musical taste, and provided questions to those groups for them to address, but aside from that, attempted to stay as uninvolved as possible in the conversation so as to prevent bias, and allow for a more free and interesting conversation in the focus group. She collected her participants by contacting initial participants and then having them invite people to join the study, in hopes that they would bring people of similar interests to them to have focus groups with similar cultural backgrounds. As she states on on page 15, she had participants choose a song that they thought defined their taste in music, and a piece with particular meaning to them. Her findings were really interesting. She found first off that there were very clear examples where her participants could site that some of their musical tastes were coming from their parents, but also that parents in general showed a desire to pass on different parts of their culture. There was a discussion that the middle class parents try to pass on part of the “highbrow” culture to their children at a young age, but that this same phenomenon does not happen with those of the lower social class. Dunning continues to address many different angles, but to summarize her findings, she did find a very clear difference in taste of music between classes in her participants, and found that there was certainly a handing down of tastes from generations and culture which influenced personal taste in music.

This all seems to support the side of the argument that taste is not a purely aesthetic taste, but instead one that is influenced greatly by culture, experience, and education in the matter of what makes “good taste.”

Sources:

Beethoven or Britney? A sociological exploration of music taste, cultural consumption and social class. 

http://www.academia.edu/1897843/A_sociological_exploration_of_music_taste_cultural_consumption_and_social_class

 

After reading the chapter on Aesthetic and Nonaesthetic Senses from Making Sense of Taste, I started searching for sources with other perspectives on taste as a gustatory sense versus aesthetic Taste. I came across a TED video in which two entrepreneurs detail their adventures of using clever food preparation tricks to deceive the senses. The chefs go two different ways in their experiments using unconventional ingredients: they make food that tastes completely strange yet looks like a normal dish, and they craft food that looks and tastes normal when in reality it is composed of entirely unusual ingredients. I immediately connected this with the reading – it subtly addresses two key propositions made by the author: that taste is considered a ‘lesser’ sense, and that Taste and taste are interrelated.

The reading claims that taste is paid less attention than the other senses, and the TED talk provides evidence that this may be true. The people who taste the food engineered to look like barbecue sauce (but in reality are eating hay and crabapple – see 9:02) don’t question the taste. This hints at the sense of taste being dominated by the senses of vision, smell, and touch. When the other senses are adequately manipulated, expectations and actual perceptions of taste inevitably follow suit in a sort of placebo effect.

Additionally, before deciding that their target market was deceiving taste, the chefs were essentially making art out of food. They created edible pictures that tasted like the food shown, and performed all manner of crazy preparation techniques to produce peculiar looking food. They were again tying in taste with Taste here: the artistic visual representation of the food played to customers’ Taste and ultimately heavily influenced their taste.

As a result of their trials, the chefs at the restaurant, along with their customers, have a conception that playing with taste senses is an art form. This suggests they have a respect for the beauty of the process and the result – a Taste for taste.

Concerning our eating habits and our environment there has been a movement implementing a day of the week where meat is not consumed. Since World War I, a movement called “Meatless Monday” was implemented to start the practice of consuming vegetarian meals and reduce the amount of meat consumed by people. Another reason why the people are starting this movement is to help reduce pollution caused by the animals on the farms and improve the environment by reducing the amount of suffering animals on farms. In Texas they are starting to implement this idea for the kids in school to create a “healthier” diet for the kids and remove the option of meat in their lunch menu on Mondays.

The response to this movement is negative from the general public while those who are more involved with food and vegetarian ideals support this matter. There are people who say it is a conspiracy to create a society that does not eat any meat and prevent the animals from being killed. This kind of methodology of “improving” the meals the kids eat makes it seem as though it is restricting the kids and society about how people should eat. This brings up the issue of Amelia Simmons American Cookery, during the preface of her book she repeats the notion of being independent and strong as a new generation with no real guidance but choosing by ourselves. Could this movement hinder the way we chose to live or would it become an every-day part of our lives if it were to continue?

Sources:

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/texas-meatless-mondays-spark-controversy-for-conservatives/54172a1f78c90a675d0003b5

http://munchies.vice.com/articles/the-beef-industry-is-terrified-of-meatless-monday/

In Carolyn Korsmeyer’s “Philosophies of Taste: Aesthetic and Nonaesthetic”, she looks at the difference between the literal sense of taste(the tangible aspect of food and drink) and the use of the term “taste” when referring to beautiful and otherwise aesthetically pleasing things as witnessed by the other senses. Why does is this the case? She goes on to say that in philosophy, taste is often looked upon as lower on the hierarchy of senses and does not demand the same  attention from “philosophers of Taste”. It is interesting to see how taste can be deemed as almost a secondary sense and not be worthy of the philosophy of Taste.

In one passage she compares sensations of taste and of vision to give us an explanation to why taste cannot be held in the same regard as things that have Taste. “Objects of vision are easily assessed for their formal properties, as are the objects of sense and hearing… by comparison, taste sensations are relatively unstructured… They cannot therefor be made into works of art.”(Page 60) This is an interesting point, but one that I would tend to disagree with. It is true that tastes and smells change and eventually go away as food and drink are consumed or even not consumed. Unlike a sculpture which can be somewhat permanent or a melody that can stand the test of time, food and drink are fleeting bodily pleasures. That being said, why would the sense of taste be any less significant that the other senses, if the pleasure derived by that sense can be equally as satisfying?

Taste(the lower case kind) and food has played an important role in history, it can have an overwhelming effect on all of the senses, and there is a demand in this world for taste of transcendent quality; the likes of which I would argue have all the impact of a beautiful piece of art. The philosopher Hagel argues that there was a difference between the proximal and distal senses and that proximal senses lack a sort of appeal to imagination. While he is right that taste can be limited by proximity, a Tasteful and tasty work of art can hold all the impact and can be imprinted in a person the same way any Tasteful objects could be.

 

In Making Sense of Taste: Food & Philosophy, Carolyn Korsmeyer discusses and compares the meaning and metaphors associated with the terms Taste and taste. Korsmeyer uses shorthand where Taste refers to aesthetic taste and taste refers to the mere sense of taste or gustatory taste and I will do the same.

Korsmeyer closely associates Taste and taste, basically stating that taste and Taste bring about very similar things in terms of evaluating object. Both terms require individual experiences with the object in order to allow for the process of evaluating it. Essentially, you must taste whatever food, before you can decide whether or not you like it personally. And you must hear a piece of music before you can decide whether or not you enjoy it. Both of these terms also come with a negative attribute. Either your experience is positive or negative, it brings pleasure or pain. (p. 43)

Krosmeyer goes on, in a confusing way to explain how taste is not Taste. She states that taste has some qualities that can be defined with Taste. Tastes for objects can also described with labels originally associated with taste. But for the most part, there is definitely line between the two meanings. (p 51)

Honestly, it is hard for me to directly relate this book to American Culture. During the decade this book was written, the 1990s, America was experiencing what is referred to today as the emergence of the Culture Wars. Essentially, politicians were fighting over what should be supported and considered morally correct in the US. Republicans’ “Taste” were strictly guided by religious beliefs. Their Taste was molded to be that way according to what they experienced throughout their lives. They were raised in religious homes, towns which led them to believe that their religious beliefs were the only right way to life. This sustained the Culture Wars. As far as popular foods of the 1990s, the popular literal tastes of Americans definitely reflected American culture of the time. Foods such as hot pockets, lunchables, and pizza bagels scream fast, efficient, and convenient. This was definitely the way to be and the Taste associated with pleasurable life in the 1990s America.

Sources:

Throughout the Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy reading, different philosophers, including Kant, argue for a universality of aesthetic Taste and the sensory taste in regard to educated taste, or delicate Taste. Kant states that “judgments about what is beautiful are matters of importance that transcend the whims of individual perceivers and ought to be matters for adjudication by appeal to principle” (54). So basically, judgments of taste should go beyond the personal and be more formalized and fact based.

Aesthetic Taste and the sensory taste are parallel; each can represent the other. The action of tasting involves registering a sensation as either pleasurable or unpleasurable. Similarly, Taste can involve looking at a painting or sculpture or any piece of art and deeming it either beautiful or not. Both are subjective. According to Korsmeyer, “beauty is an elusive concept… it is impossible to specify what constitutes beauty in general” (41). Taste is the same. It is impossible to define what tastes pleasurable as pleasure is idiosyncratic. Taste can be refined through education to create, as Hume calls it “delicacy of taste” and this education can narrow the subjectivity as individuals can be trained together to appreciate certain universal characteristics of taste and Taste.

However, at the end of the day, taste and Taste are subjective. It is undefinable. Subjectivity cannot be “matters of adjudication.” Kant argues that “judgments of beauty are not only generally agreed upon in fact but, more important, achieve a kind of universality and necessity” (54). But what I do not understand is how can beauty, a characteristic defined only by individual opinions, achieve universality and be agreed upon by facts? It does not seem like it can be done. Kant does acknowledge this subjectivity and states that this universality is for those of “delicate” Taste, but the individuality seems too overpowering. Taste cannot be universal; it defeats the point of having individual Taste.