Tag Archives: Food Porn

College English Class: Marriage of Memes, Meat, Misleading, Morality, and, Most of All, Meaning//Jennifer Chun

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Marriage:

About one year ago, I was filling out the college admission form for the second time.  As with questions about our desired dorms, it included a form asking to rate our interest in a variety of topics from “not interested” to “very interested”.  There seemed nothing unusual about it.  Science and technology, Italian culture, California ideals…  I seemed pretty neutral to most of these, choosing “may be interested”.  But then “food” came up as a topic.  “Well, I enjoy eating food, so of course I’ll be interested”, I thought to myself.  So I selected “very interested”.  What I did not know at that time was that decision would finalize my marriage contract of my college English class required of me during my first two quarters in college.

I know “marriage” might be a strong term for referring to a relationship not between another human being, but if you think about it, being in college is being in a well-planned and awaited relationship with our studies.  We’ve all been preparing for college since we were at least high schoolers, building up our college resumes with Advanced Placement courses, extracurricular activities, and grades for that one moment of applying to several four year colleges.  We’ve sacrificed hours of leisure for a better future.  We heavily anticipate the months of March and April of our senior high school years to decided where we would be for four years.

And most importantly, your total college cost, tuition, textbook cost, and housing cost for a single quarter /semester or two may cost as much as an average marriage. My college’s tuition for a quarter is in the $20,500’s.  Couples on average are believed to spend between “$19,323 and $32,205” on a wedding(“Cost…”).  My mom keeps reminding me that a single class costs about $100, considering all the costs, so I MUST attend all my classes.  I understand Mom~

I think what bothers me the most about college though is that although we pay the heavy costs of college, American culture doesn’t do good enough of a job to encourage students to really enjoy their education.  A fair number of college students look forward to it mostly in a social aspect.  General education courses are often skirted off as “annoying requirements” for a diploma that may land us a job.  College is seem more as a chore than a blessed opportunity.

I really wanted to get as much as I could from a true college experience as I could, textbook knowledge and all.  I know of others who aren’t as blessed to have the four year experience, one that who never will…  And I didn’t want to let my parents’ savings go to waste.

And… I really wanted to go to the college I had been admitted to the previous year.  I had graduated the year before, and accepted the application when I did in my April, but I became really sick during my last months of high school.  I lost most of my remaining high school days and a month of college due to it.  During that time, I was unable to mentally get myself to check my emails or do anything.  My parents felt that maybe my applied college had given up my application since I failed to respond to their orientation emails.  They thought that I would probably need to take the junior college route to get into a four-year college.  But, I decided to take the slim, improbable chance of requesting for a gap year.  It worked!  I knew then that I had wanted to take on this education marriage.

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Memes:

During my gap year, I had taken community college classes and was forced to stay near home, in fear that my illness would come back (it did).  There was no social life on my college campus.  I couldn’t drive, so meeting with other people to hang out was hard.  I often spent lots of time on my own, wondering what life would be like in a four year college.  During that November, the Facebook group UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens (or UCBMEFT) came out and took my Facebook story by storm.  Everyone was adding each other to this college page and the numerous other inspired college meme pages, even for colleges that they hadn’t applied to.  I was able to see how my fellow classmates related to each other in their college mishaps and grades.  I became really excited about attending a four year college, when I would truly relate to their experiences.

Memes became a big part of my college freshman fall quarter than I expected.  I was able to meet the people of my current Christian club and finally connect with my roommate (after three weeks of pure unease).  And, interestingly enough, my English class was meme-worthy itself.  The class title, not kidding, was “Food Porn”.  For the first few weeks, we had talked about, looked at, and even created our own food porn!  We had recognized the visual importance of food advertising and how it affects us as a nation, even if most of the food appeal is a lie.  Who knew that food could even be a topic for a writing class?!

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Meat:

After we had spent a fair time with food porn, our professor had us read Eating Animals and Consider the Lobster, both which examined the ethical issues behind eating many of our “ethical” meats.  He had us participate in class discussions about the texts and our analysis of the well-written and creative writing styles of Jonathan Safran Foer and David Foster Wallace respectively.  It made me want to become less of a meat eater when we had to watch videos displaying the harsh reality of animal treatment in factory farms.  I can’t look at a turkey ever again with the same ease anymore.

The other meat that we had learned about was the realization that everything that we’ve been taught in high school English classes was wrong!  We realized that our previous essays were reversing the outline of a basic argument.  Reading the professor’s book Slant, we rethought our writing processes with a slant, the mix of a thesis and a so-what.  We needed to open up our essays to more questions and underlying issues rather than narrow ourselves in!

The biggest meat of writing information was the professor’s motto.  “Write essays that you want to read!”.  It made me realize that the greatest meat of an essay was the enjoyment of the writer.  We have been so used to writing forced, structured essays that we had resented even thinking about writing an essay.  That really stuck with me the most throughout the months.

I incorporated all of these meat in an essay I wrote about offals, those animal intestines that you see in Chinese restaurants and the like.  It was my personal instinctive counterargument to the vegan- vegetarian- push that the texts have encouraged.  As much as I’d like to stop eating meat, I can’t due to my family owning many Chinese restaurants with meat.  I argued that offals do have more value than Western society likes to think in terms of “morality”. It’ll be difficult to stop all people from eating meat, but the least we can do is not waste the meat we make from factory farming!  Is it not more immoral to waste animal resources than to kill animals themselves?

In another essay, I was able to incorporate creativity with my love for math in an essay that doesn’t offer any excuse for food waste.  I took all my experiences with the various school dining services and used each restaurant to stress key issues in American food waste, particularly those involved with composting, surplus food, and leftovers.  We purposely avoid placing blame for wasted food on ourselves!  In one of my sources, I read of a woman who developed her own strategy to “forget” the existence of surplus food so when this surplus is past its expiration date she can throw this food away “‘with an easier conscience’”(Evans 53).  Scary thought, isn’t it?  It hit me more closer to home than I’d thought it would.

Here’s a “writing experiment” that I started my essay off with, the universal symbol of a person throwing away food that was created by various words that I thought a food waster would say as an excuse.  It was the most random idea I had thought of at the moment, but it worked out once I became determined to do it.  I am quite proud of this one!

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Misleading:

At the beginning of the Winter quarter, we moved on from factory farming and food corruption to deceit in all industries.  Food companies are messed up in their own ways, true, but so are many other things!  Our professor challenged us to work in groups to create a podcast based on any topic involving corruption.  Initially I wasn’t gung-ho for the idea since I’ve never been the best in group settings.  I also wasn’t too familiar with my group members.  It took some time for us to work everything out, but we succeeded in creating a podcast highlighting the notable female bias in the Silicon Valley.  Our group set-up forced us to get creative in presenting our podcast as one of “many” podcasts by a male student at our school asking informed females about gender-specific issues.  We took phone and Skype interviews with female tech workers to add to our podcast.  I had mislead myself into believing that everything wasn’t going to go well when quite the opposite was true.

We also do a fair share of misleading and lying ourselves, even without knowing it.   Dan Ariely in his book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty discussed various ways in which we as people lie to ourselves.  We use our creativity, personal belongings, and our conscious to lie to ourselves of who we are, for better and for worse.  It was rather amusing listening to classmates who openly admitted the ways that people cheated in their high schools in a college class!

It just so happened that around that time I went into an identity crisis about being in a four year college.  I was insecure as to whether I was capable of being in my intended major, or even being at the college at all.  I felt my interest in my major was fading quickly, but I didn’t know what to change to.  Was it right to put my family’s finances at a big risk when I was so unsure of whether my education mattered?  College only really matters if you finish with a degree, isn’t it?

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Morality:

We were assigned to write our final essay of any given topic relating to our official class theme of “Food, Self, and Culture”.  I felt that I had run out of ideas at that point.  I had wanted to stick with food as much as I could since it was a food class.  Most of my classmates had switched to other subjects of their interests that involved corruption or illegal means such as overuse of drugs in the Silicon tech industry and the competitive e-Sports.  I felt uncertain of thesis statements that I had brought to class for peer review.  I thought these statements over for days, and on a whim I decided to pick reality shows as a topic.

I had deeply thinking about the ending of a video game I had finished, Danganronpa V3.  I won’t spoil the ending in here, trust me!  I love the Danganronpa franchise, don’t get me wrong (the featured image includes the main protagonists of Danganronpa V3, Kaede and Shuichi) and I’d highly recommend it, but the end of the most recent game really made me consider the moral ramifications of teenage violence in similar franchises such as The Hunger Games movies and novels.  Is it right for our society to popularize medias such as these into the mainstream?  I discussed the video game as part of my analysis for the short story Those Who Walk Away from Omelas by the recently deceased Ursula Le Guin that questions whether the mistreatment of a select few people is worth the sacrifice for the happiness for most people.  I emailed my professor to ask whether this idea could work, and he thought that it was an excellent essay idea!  I was excited to hear that a series that has great meaning to me could be used as the basis for a college assignment, especially since the essay would be very specific to Danganronpa V3 and The Hunger Games movies.

The essay proved to be my most ambitious venture ever!  It took me about three hours to find a proper narrative that related to my stance ( that these medias that display child-killing encourage young adults to consider their moralities in decision making towards authority/establishment), but once I found it I hit jackpot and was able to use the story to lead my essay.  I had borrowed about four physical books detailing reports that defined ethics and morality (it’s far more greater than you can imagine!), reviewed a fair share of websites and databases, and relooked over summaries for the medias so I could describe all the occasions of defiance (murder or not) with enough background information for anyone to read the essay!  The outline for my essay, consisting of nothing but bullet points, totaled to five pages.  I thought that my essay would be ten pages at most, but in bringing the essay to completion on my rough draft, I realized that I needed a lot more time than expected…  I once had to work on the essay for four hours straight to get it done within the generous extension.

The essay… turned out to be 17 pages long, double spaces, MLA format, even without the works cited pages…

How…

The closest I’d been able to get a research paper to that length was nine pages.  Heck, the page requirement for the essay itself was at least five pages!

It was an exhausting essay.  Midway I was beginning to regret my idea since there was a lot that needed to be talked about.

I brought up all the crucial plot points that related to the three subcategories of ethics.  I established that each character had their “just” motivations; there is no one “common sense” after all (Wallace 26)!  The Hunger Games movies most notably encouraged young adults to create communities that dedicated themselves to relating words of the movies and the scarring violence to relieve daily stresses and discuss socioeconomic inequality.  We seek to find definitive solutions to movies that deal with realistic issues such as inequality.  Violence has always existed in “popular medias” such as Grimm fairy tales since they effectively keep children away from dangers through the use of fear.  The world will always be filled with violence, so the best solution is to discuss use of it with young adults so they may make their own best judgements!

 

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Meaning (The Most Important):

Looking back at it, the fulfillment of my improbable essay goal was an exhaustion worth taking!  I was able to reflect on the basis of my own decision making best by writing that essay.  The research proved that the world isn’t as straightforward as we’d like it to be.  The “just” in any decision should be seen in the same light as anything “in-just”.  They can switch at a matters notice depending on which ethic subcategories are weighted higher than others in society.  One of the most important things you can do is encourage discussion of ideals and topics that you know that exist, whether you morally believe in them or not.  All of our personal values are based on one another’s.  We should be open for outside opinion enough as we are to our random ideas.

We tend to feel the most at ease with ourselves when we stick with a specific set of values over our lives.  It’s only natural.  We want to feel that what we are doing is right.  Doesn’t your life only have meaning once you fulfill a life-long dream of yours?  No, it doesn’t.  I believe that life has meaning only when you take those improbable challenges and you daily face your “opposition”.  I wouldn’t be able to write an essay, let alone this blog post, so long if I hadn’t taken those few minutes writing an email to my professor about an idea that popped up in my head.  I wouldn’t have been able to challenge my creative limits nor even be attending a four year college had I acted on my “logic” over my intuition.  Writing an essay that you would want to read becomes no different than living your life as if you were to want your life to be like someone else’s.

A required English class such as the one I had for two quarters of my freshman year of college doesn’t serve primarily for me to learn about English.  It serves to push me and other adults into finding our own meaning by pushing us out of our comfort zones and helping us distinguish our intuitions from “logics” that may “mislead” us.  It was about finding the “meat” in my lives and the “morality” of my decisions.  Being in a group setting instilled a shared discomfort that became an unspoken mean of relating with peers, just as “memes” serve to bring college students together.  The “marriage” of college is costly in many regards, but it “means” so much to me.  I can not be any more grateful than I am now!

 

Works Cited:

“Shuichi Saihara and Kaede Akamatsu from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.” https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/858991328899557263/

“How much does the average wedding cost?” MSASea. http://www.msa-sea.org/43506-average-cost-of-weddin-venue/

“Average Wedding Cost in the United States Is $25,764.” Cost of Wedding, The Wedding Report.Inc, http://www.costofwedding.com/.

Harlot777. “Food Porn.” Imgur. 3 March 2015. https://imgur.com/gallery/pVczv6F

“Meat Chickens 2.” Safe https://safe.org.nz/issue/factory-farming-meat-chickens

Evans, David. Food Waste: Home Consumption, Material Culture and Everyday Life.

Bloomsbury, 2014.

“District 8 Battle 2.” Wired. https://www.wired.com/2014/11/mockingjay-violence-teens/

“Big Meaning.” Christopher Curtis Sensei. http://curtissensei.com/?p=820

 

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The Truth? Never Heard of It. //Daniela Balaguera

Imagine being a first year college student who is both excited and nervous for finally attending college. You are getting ready for your first quarter of college and after figuring out how to find your classes online, you realize that you are pre-enrolled in a class called “Food Porn.”

I think baffled would be an understatement of how I felt. Food Porn was definitely not a class I thought I would be taking at a Jesuit institution. But, yet that was the class I was enrolled in.

What I didn’t know was how much I would learn from this course. This was not like all the other typical English courses that I took in the past. Nor was it solely focused on food porn. There was so much more in store.

Oh, boy let me shed some light on the new knowledge that this first year college student found out.

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Honestly I’m so Smart Now

Continue reading The Truth? Never Heard of It. //Daniela Balaguera

The Think Tank//Patrick Boos

It’s August of 2017, and I finally pull up my future schedule for the first time. Everything looks great until, no that had to be a mistake. There’s no way they’d make me go to a class that met from 7:20 to 9 p.m., right? Wow, was I wrong. Fast forward to the first day of class, and I still couldn’t believe that I was walking to class, all the way on the other side of campus, while the sun was going down. To make it all worse, the teacher seemed far too happy to be teaching a bunch of freshman at this awful time on a Wednesday night. I’m not a guy who can handle over-eager optimism, and this guy was just beaming at us from the start. Didn’t he know that I was a Biology major, a science student with absolutely no interest in taking another English class? Needless to say, my first experience concerning Nick Leither and “Food Porn” was not a great one.

Continue reading The Think Tank//Patrick Boos

Food for Thought // Caley Falcocchia

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”

-David Foster Wallace, “This is Water”

When I walked into my English Critical Thinking and Writing (CTW) class on the first day, I had no idea what to expect.  My professor, Nick Leither, showed the class David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech “This is Water.”  After discussing the speech, Professor Nick switched gears and flicked the screen over to the next slide.  The screen displayed the course overview, reading “Food Porn: Reading Food, Self, & Culture.”  Both intrigued and confused, I left class on that first day with two questions.  First off, how can an english class be entirely dedicated to food?  Also, what the hell is water?  I had no clue what was to come during the two quarters of this class.  

I should first explain that I did not sign up for this class.  Every freshman at Santa Clara University (SCU) is randomly placed into a mandatory CTW class before even arriving to campus.  I was honestly quite displeased when I learned that I had been assigned a 7:30-9:10 PM CTW class.  Convinced that my brain would not be capable of attending class at this time of the day, my naive-self even talked to my advisor to see if I could switch into a different CTW section at a different time.  As you can probably guess, my advisor told me to suck it up, and viola- my “Food Porn” CTW class at 7:30-9:10 PM was here to stay for two quarters.  Although I was first unhappy by my CTW course placement, the class and its material caused me to reflect on my lifestyle and personal values, which which will continue to stick with me- not only for the remainder of my college experience- but for the rest of my life.  

Continue reading Food for Thought // Caley Falcocchia

Lets Argue About It // Lauren Kemble

So let me get one thing straight, I need to add more opposition to my paper?? I thought the point was to strengthen my argument, not add more opposition to debunk it. Well it turns out I was wrong as my professor asked the class to help him write the structure of an essay up on the white board. Hook, thesis, explanation. Okay, I’ve got those down, but why is there a separate section for opposition? And what is he writing underneath opposition, support for it?

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Before this class I thought the only opposition was at the beginning of the thesis sentence. You know the classic, “Although ___ (opposition goes here) ___, thesis statement” formula. Slowly I began to realize its more than just a sentence. Through making the detailed outlines for my essay this year, I was able to think through the opposition by supporting it with research. I learned that the stronger the opposition, the stronger the argument.   Continue reading Lets Argue About It // Lauren Kemble

Trapped Between Two Hemispheres // Rohan Nair

My mother has always described me as “right brain” dominant. This language comes from the idea that each side, or hemisphere, of the human brain controls different types of thinking — the left being more logical, and the right being more creative. A person who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. Though scientists have debunked this theory, I think it’s absolutely true that people learn and think in different ways. I bring this up because I’ve always struggled with and often been in denial about my strengths and abilities.

From a young age, I realized that Math and Science were not my fortés. Despite bringing home C’s in biology and geometry, I remained a voracious reader, and my English teachers would praise me for my creative and thoughtful writing.

I feel your pain, Timmy.

Other children may have been motivated or encouraged by such praise to pursue careers in the arts, law, or journalism (as my parents pushed me to do, despite their profession as engineers) but I was stubborn and simply wouldn’t hear it. Even though my parents were nothing but supportive and open-minded, my high school — located in the heart of the Silicon Valley — has always been known for its emphasis on STEM education, aimed at sending students into engineering and medical fields at brand-name schools like UC Berkeley and Carnegie Melon, which can create and foster a toxic stigma towards the Liberal Arts.

My dream since before I could walk was to be an architect (this followed my short-lived dream of being a garbage truck driver) was perfectly aligned with my community’s high

I’ll admit, this still seems pretty cool.

value for STEM, so I saw no reason to explore other avenues. I decided I had no time to dedicate to “soft skills” like reading comprehension or writing, regardless of whether or not those were really my strengths. I buckled down, slowly raising those C’s in science to B’s (and a few A’s), all the while ignoring and neglecting my English and Writing classes. Bullshitting essays the night before they were due and reducing timeless epics like Homer’s The Iliad to page-long SparkNotes summaries became common practice (sidenote: I did go back and read The Iliad in its entirety).

As time went on, what began as a small nagging voice in the back of my head grew into an overwhelming cloud of dread that perhaps I wasn’t being true to myself or my talents. Feeling lost and guilty, I made a conscious effort to return to my roots as a writer. This proved to be more difficult than I had expected. No matter how much time I spent poring over essays, I was met with nothing but frustration and writer’s block. I felt like I had lost my creative spark. I struggled with reading and writing more than ever, and wasn’t faring much better in my Physics or Calculus classes — all of this mere weeks before I had to choose a University and a major.

Flash forward to Fall of 2016: still confused as ever, I’m attending Santa Clara University, not more than a stone’s throw from my hometown. I’m majoring in Computer Science, but the University’s Jesuit philosophy of “educating the whole person,” obligates me to take a burdensome mess of CORE requirements — ranging from ethics, to diversity, to creative writing. This last one gave me a great deal of grief, as I knew I would have to confront some of my innermost demons, exposing my shortcomings and inabilities. Now, I bet you’re expecting me to say that taking Creative Writing with Nicholas Leither led me to some sort of epiphany — an “aha” moment that brought me clarity, helping me figure everything. Well, yes and no.

I have to say that from Nick’s bohemian chic, to the circular arrangement of desks in the classroom (probably part of an attempt to replicate some unconventional, new-age style of teaching or some bullshit like that), to his insistence that we call him “Nick,” I was skeptical. Great, another pseudo-hippie English teacher who thinks he can change the world.

English teacher? Or sexy archaeologist?

And as soon as he turned on Meet Your Meat — some PETA propaganda documenting abuse in factory farming, my suspicions was confirmed. Dear God, this man is the embodiment of the stereotype. Or so I thought.

Creative Writing was a humbling experience for me. Nicholas Leither remains to be one of the most educated, well-spoken, and enthusiastic individuals I’ve ever met. He’s deeply invested in each and every one of his students (he somehow had all our names down by the second day of class), and he has a strong personal connection to the material he teaches. He facilitated some awesome, engaging discussions and got me thinking about very very uncomfortable issues — issues pertinent to my life that I had previously opted to ignore — even outside of class.

Most importantly though, he was able to help me confront and (at least partially) overcome my tremendous aversion to writing. There have been agonizing moments over the past two quarters, where I believed myself to have hit a wall, unable to produce anything of quality or substance, but after just one ten-minute conversation with Nick, I often found myself re-energized, excited, and bursting with ideas. I’d often come into his office dejected and unmotivated and leave with a reinvigorated drive, desperately rushing to the nearest keyboard or notebook so I could jot down my flurry of thoughts.

I feel like I’ve begun to truly find and solidify a distinct writing style, which is more than I could have ever hoped to gain from a Creative Writing class. I have produced work that I’m proud to call my own, often sharing them with my friends and family.

Nick always emphasizes the importance of approaching a problem from many different angles, which has pushed me to draw upon and synthesize ideas from philosophy, ethics, history, biology, and even quantum mechanics (as absurd as it sounds) to strengthen and solidify the arguments in my papers. There have been times where when writing about topics like the aestheticization of guns in the media, or the human cost of globalization in the case of exploitative corporations like Monsanto, where I would get so caught up in my writing, that I had to take a step back and ask myself: do I sound like a crazy person? Nick would always assuage my doubts and encourage me to delve deeper still.

I could talk about the ways that Nick shook up and challeneged some of my core beliefs, or how the ideas we discussed and debated in Creative Writing have shaped my life decisions in unimaginable ways — affecting everything from the way I shop for groceries, to my dietary habits, to curbing my tendencies to cheat — but that would require pages upon pages which this blog post doesn’t allow me.

This class, along with the values of the institution I’m fortunate to be attending, have taught me that maybe these distinctions of “left brained” and “right brained” people are purely illusory. As ridiculously difficult and punishing as classes like Data Structures and Multivariable Calculus are, I’m enjoying the shit out of them. And despite how tedious and time consuming Creative Writing can be, I’ve enjoyed the shit out of it as well. Who says you can’t be both? It feels incredibly liberating to be freed from this limiting dichotomy. Nick has helped me identify and blend my strengths and interests and to utilize both sides of my brain, while also pushing me to venture into uncharted territory. A quote by David Bowie comes to mind:

“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

So I thank you, Nick, for convincing me that I can always go deeper. Thank you for instilling me with the enthralling and exhilarating joy of creating something exciting. I’ll see you in Advanced Writing.

Falling in Love at the Grocery Store // Jenny Jenkins

Spring 2016:

The end of my high school career is quickly approaching, and yet, I still do not even know where I am going to be spending the next four years of my life. I was considering colleges that ranged from California to Boston, and pretty much anywhere in between (including middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania). To put it simply, I was anxious. I started to get really bad stomach aches which added a lot of stress into my already stressful schedule.

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I needed to find the source of my pain. How come after almost every meal I had to lay down and take tylenol? This led to my interest in food. I read blog after blog online of how to be healthy and I started to do a lot of cooking and baking. I even started my own food instagram (@goodeatsonly) which unfortunately is not so active now that I am in college. For my final senior project, I shadowed a certified nutritionist who works at Philip’s Academy, a boarding school near where I live, and created my own food blog. While I thought I was being healthier, the stomach aches did not leave me. I decided it was time to figure out what the problem was. I tried cutting things out of my diet one at a time, like my doctor suggested. I tried eliminating gluten, dairy, carbohydrates and peanut butter. “So, did any of them work?” No doctor, NOTHING. When he told me it was probably just stress getting to me, I gave up. If a doctor can’t figure it out, neither will I. Continue reading Falling in Love at the Grocery Store // Jenny Jenkins