What do your teeth, brain, mood and gut all have in common? Unsurprisingly, it turns out one answer is almost everything. They are, after all, interconnected and essential aspects of your body and life. The other, often overlooked answer, however, is food. The COVID pandemic put into perspective how little control we have over certain parts of our health, but quarantine was sobering, proving we don’t have to be “an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows” us. In fact, the decisions we make about our food give us resounding leverage over our health.
As the rate of positive COVID-19 tests rise again, we must consider the source of the virus and how to prevent future pandemics. The New York Times referred to the coronavirus as a wave that will “be with us for the foreseeable future before it diminishes” and will take more than one round of social distancing. We cannot depend on the warmer weather to diminish the number of cases or hope that a vaccine comes quickly; we must face the grim reality that the pandemic may persist into the next year. First, we need to educate ourselves on the nature of zoonotic diseases, which the Center for Disease Control defines as being caused by “germs spread between animals and people.” According to One Health Commision, in the past three decades around 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases originated in animals. These viruses are brought to humans by wild animals, whether humans consume them, capture and cross-breed species or increase encounter rates by destroying natural habitats.
As college students across the nation impatiently await announcements from universities regarding the status of the coming fall semester, many of us are searching for productive and meaningful ways to spend our free time now that classes have ended. With internships, summer research and academic programs cancelled, some of us are trying to readjust to living in our hometowns with parents and siblings, away from the friends, professors and resources we’ve come to rely on at Cornell. As we navigate this new reality, many students are staying connected with peers through podcasting, music-making and Youtubing, innovating new ways to engage with others in the absence of physical space. A few weeks ago, I learned about a free platform called Schefs that aims to connect students from different universities and facilitate interesting discussions about a wide range of topics, from pop music to quantum mechanics, all through a shared passion for food. Co-founded by two college students, Pedro Damasceno and Lola Lafia of Columbia University, Schefs started out as a way for like-minded people from schools across the nation to come together on their campuses and share a themed meal.
Every Fourth of July, Americans are bombarded with advertisements about red and white products — it almost feels patriotic to spend money. Oftentimes, these companies advertise food sales — five dollar watermelon or hot dogs on a stars-and-stripes background — and imply that these items have some inherent patriotic identity. All-American men eat meat, a Costco ad might urge you. Most of us don’t truly believe that we are performing our civic duty when we buy a hot dog; however, there was a time in American history when one’s diet was directly tied to their love and devotion — or lack thereof — to America. To understand American patriotism as it relates to food, we must go back to British Colonialism in the early 1600s.
The only thing better than the aroma of freshly baked bread is the sweet smell of hot chocolate chip cookies; quarantine has provided ample time for my family to make (and consume) both. Over the past few months, we have experimented with many different varieties of bread in an attempt to make our lives more exciting. My family has always been a bread-loving bunch. For years, my mom has used a bread maker that mixes and kneads the dough. With this time-saving machine, we can add ingredients to the machine, leave it for two hours on “dough” cycle and return to shape and bake it in the oven (which we prefer over baking in the bread machine).
What does sand in the winter and not being able to find parking in front of your house have in common? They’re both indicators that you live in a beach town. Summer 2020 is undoubtedly one for the books. From lost internships to canceled vacations, everyone is feeling the effects of coronavirus in some way or another. These feelings are felt all the more deeply in a beach town.
Coffee has long been a New York City staple and a treasured morning ritual for many of the city’s inhabitants. Aside from the usual chains—Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, among others—the city is famous for its plethora of hipster, local coffee shops. In the height of COVID-19, however, many of the city’s beloved spots have been forced to temporarily close. A recent New York Times article titled “Coffee Is One Routine New Yorkers Won’t Give Up” describes how customers and baristas alike have dealt with the crisis. Even with stay-at-home orders firmly in place, New Yorkers have clung onto their caffeine rituals in order to maintain a sense of normalcy in their daily lives.
Over the years, the meaning of barbecue has been distorted for many Americans. It has become synonymous with barbecue flavored Lays and Pringles, overly sweet sauces and backyard hot dogs on the Fourth of July, just to name a few. This article is not a critique of fried food or home-grilled franks, however. I love “barbecue” chips and frequently cook up hamburgers for my family on the grill. Yet however much I may enjoy these foods, they pale in comparison to true Southern barbecue cooked long-and-slow.
Many are saying that “it is not fair” what is happening to these restaurants. And they are right — it is not fair. For some of these owners, these restaurants are their entire livelihoods. But so much of this is not fair.
The sound of two different alarms pierces the quiet calm atmosphere of an early Mother’s Day morning, followed by distinct thumps and rustling as my dad and I quickly scramble to shut them off and drag my brother out of bed. All of us slowly creep down the stairs, trying not to disturb my mom’s well-deserved slumber as she slept, for once, without an alarm, knowing she wouldn’t have to wake up early and prepare breakfast as it was our turn now. Two hours later, we’ve set the porch table with fancy cutlery that rarely gets to taste a drop of food as it sits on display 364 out of 365 days a year, and with vibrant red roses plucked from the bushes in our front yard. On the gold-rimmed porcelain plate, we delicately place a heart shaped slice of homemade banana bread, still warm from the embrace of the oven and smelling sweet of raisins and maple syrup, accompanied by a colorful array of fresh and juicy fruits. From a gold-rimmed porcelain cup, emanates the nutty smell of cardamom and the earthy aroma of ginger stemming from my dad’s special chai recipe that he had passed down to me.