Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Kill Your Own Thanksgiving Turkey?

Ariel Kaminer, city critic for the New York Times, pays for the turkey she slaughtered

Last night I had dinner with four vegetarians. I’m a carnivore, and as my partner pointed out, “in the minority.”

If you met me a dozen years ago, however, you’d know that I was–for a brief period of time (about one year)–a pescatarian. Not quite a complete abstainer from meat, because I chose to eat fish and seafood. I wasn’t ready to give up meat, though an internal compass was telling me to make more conscientious choices in my diet.

I have never believed in the cruelty of slaughterhouses and our anonymous, industrialized food system. Recent documentaries like Food Inc. reminded me once again of my sympathies. Yet I’m also a realist, and know that a Filipino childhood, in which pork and red meat were staples, has influenced my choice of food and my palate.

So it’s sobering for me to view this video of Ariel Kaminer, city critic for the New York Times, making a trip to a Queens slaughterhouse. Where does that fat, glossy turkey on the Thanksgiving table come from? In this video Kaminer examines her own feelings about literally killing her own food and reports on new trends in being a conscientious carnivore.

I can’t say that the video makes me want to become a vegetarian again (though my partner’s already had an indelible influence on my diet) but I do believe it’s important to recognize that the hamburger I’m enjoying once had a face.

Filed under: food, holidays, , ,

McDonald’s is Scary and Intoxicating

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Frightening photos, one per day, of a McDonald’s Happy Meal over the course of six months.

Artist Sally Davies tried a little experiment from the coffee table of her Manhattan apartment in April of this year. No mold or signs of life blemishing this food during the entire time-lapse project. Scary to watch. Makes you think twice before enjoying that addictive slab of factory-processed meat and genetically-modified potato.

Or does it?

 

Filed under: food, health, pop culture, , , , ,

KFC’s Breaded, Heart-Attack-Inducing, Too-Over-the-Top-Not-to-Be-Real Nightmare

This product (and let’s call a spade a spade: there’s nothing natural here) reminds me of the first time I saw Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin. Too unbelievable, too satire-worthy to be true.

How wrong I was.

KFC’s Double Down sandwich: two breaded, recombined, deep-fried chicken patties (where the bread used to be) holding together two slices of bacon, melted processed cheese, and the Colonel’s “Special Sauce.” Being peddled in this commercial only by male actors (there’s nary a peckish female KFC patron in sight).

Mark Morford of The Huffington Post penned this hilarious ode:

Did you notice? How in one pseudo-food item, you are consuming not one, not two, but the mutated, chemically injected flesh/byproducts of fully three different distended, liquefied, industrially tortured creatures? Feel the love, pitiable animal kingdom.You got your chicken-like creature, your pig-like creature, your dairy cow-like creature, all wrapped in a $5 fistful of nausea, ready to strangle your heart and benumb your brain. God knows what’s in the “special sauce.” Maybe some sort of fish byproduct, just to round it all out. It’s like a wild kingdom in your mouth! It’s like a toxic zoo in your colon! It’s like a suicide note from what’s left of your brain! “If you eat this, you are a complete and total idiot, and we’re through. Signed, You.”

I kid you not. Drive through your nearby KFC and witness for yourself: this baby’s the real thing. Ready to send your cholesterol through the roof.

Filed under: food, health, , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Did You Eat Today?

So my partner insists on sharing healthy food tips with me, things like this HuffPo slideshow about the best and worst seafood to consume. I thought eating fish was simple and good. Now, I learn that I have to actually give thought to which fish I purchase and eat.

That farm raised salmon I just bought? Not as good for the environment as Wild Alaskan Salmon, which “do not face challenges they would face in California and the Pacific Northwest, such as damming and deforestation.”

Being selective in my food choices and supporting responsible food producers coincides with the food revolution I blogged about earlier this week. Following the lead of the First Lady and chefs with a purpose, I’m changing the way that I consume.

It’s a challenge, but a good one. Have often do you ask yourself a simple question: What did I eat today?

Filed under: food, , , , , , ,

Fighting for a Food Revolution

Huntington, West Virginia, is one of the most unhealthy cities in the United States (according to a 2006 CDC report). For the past couple weeks, I’ve been watching chef Jamie Oliver tackle the city’s health issues in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. But why Huntington? According to the Associated Press:

Nearly half the adults in Huntington’s five-county metropolitan area are obese–an astounding percentage, far bigger than the national average in a country with a well-known weight problem.

Huntington leads in a half-dozen other illness measures, too, including heart disease and diabetes. It’s even tops in the percentage of elderly people who have lost all their teeth (half of them have).

On the show, many Huntington folks are underwhelmed with Oliver. He’s presented by the show’s producers as the interloper, often chided by the villain, a local radio DJ and self-appointed representative of the townspeople. Less than an unwillingness to eat better, the angry DJ seems to represent the community’s unwillingness to change and an immature defensiveness.

Despite vocal protests, the celebrity chef rallies–albeit over the course of several months–the elementary school cooks, the high school students who love their french fries, and the reluctant city officials. In exchange for processed chicken nuggets and sugar-loaded strawberry milk comes local produce and homemade dishes. In fact, Oliver is earnest, funny, and willing to wear a padded green pea costume.

Last Friday’s episode was especially heart-tugging (perhaps even manipulative?) in its presentation of high school kids cooking up a three-course meal for the city’s bigwigs. The cynic in me thought that the roster of student cooks looked a bit like “types,” ala Glee or The Real World (or even The Breakfast Club, for all of us who grew up in 80’s America): the football star, the pretty but damaged popular girl, the outcasts and rebels, all coming together and forgetting their comfortable cliques. Of course, the bleeding heart in me thought the cast of high school cooks was sincere and represented a real desire to grow. When one of the most troubled students joins his buddies in the kitchen after appearing in juvie, you can’t help but admire his headstrong will.

For several months now, I’ve been trying to eat more healthy. It’s a challenge. Trading in processed food for greens and soy milk is a definite change after nearly four decades of binging on greasy pizza, packaged frozen foods, and fried everything (I’m being honest now). Eating better, more local, is a little like learning a new language. Uphill at first, with a necessary commitment and willingness to change.

Let’s hope that, like me, other Americans will choose fresh food over fast food. Jaime Oliver’s fast-paced show–in addition to Michelle Obama’s new Let’s Move! campaign–may contribute to longer and healthier lives.

Filed under: food, health, television, , , , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
June 2017
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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