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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

The Joys and Perils of Eating and Drinking Today: Wisdom through Investment, Philosophy and Research

For many elderly who have gone through a lot in their lives, experiencing all sorts of joy and pleasure, food and beverages constitute the only remaining memory of a good and enjoyable life. For the younger generations as well, the value of consuming quality foods and drinks is on the rise, proving that people of all ages are indeed brightening up about the issue to become more aware. In today’s world, it is possible to see retired couples enjoying some fine  Italian risotto alongside with a pair of friend Adriatic tunas and a bottle of decades old French white wine with high wine ratings or college students sipping on some quality lattes. As the world continues to become more and more globalized, bringing the destinations closer to one another through communication and travel, the food and beverages market will surely change, and hopefully benefit, from a more integrated world of tastes, recipes and ingredients. Naturally, such a progression has had a direct toll on global journalism, filling newspapers and magazines with numerous articles and pieces about different aspects of the food and drinks sector, making it a joy to research into this field to learn and apply valuable information. 

One of the most concerning issues in this field is the unfortunate reality that not every person is receiving a fair share of healthy foods, even in some of the most developed parts of the modern world such as the United States. This problem has led Rose Lundy for US News to report on “Longview’s popular farm and plant nursery Watershed Garden Works” where “as soon as one crop is harvested, another one is planted” to create a cycle of healthy fruits and vegetables production for the farm’s customers. The system works in a simple manner: for up to 16 weeks, customers pay monthly fees of $25 or $15 to become full-share or half-share partners and receive weekly bags full of the grown and harvested agricultural yield. These numbers are ridiculously low compared to what would otherwise be spent on grocery shopping in the town, which has made Watershed products a hit among local residents. The farm is always open to visitors as well, making it possible for the suspicious or curious customers or regular people to come and see how healthy and organic food is grown. The farm’s administration is completely against pesticides or non-organic materials/chemicals being used on their plants, setting their products apart from most of their competitors in the market. The owners Scott and Dixie Edwards have also created a local community that benefits from the farm’s business, by circulating capital between different producers eight times before it leaves the economic circuitry. The organization also donates money to a local charity, Radical Love, which “provides wholesome meals twice a week for the homeless and hungry.” The coordination between the two organizations is noteworthy and it intends to increase efficiency in providing healthy and nutritious food to people who cannot afford such food with an even brighter future of further cooperation. As more farms begin to cooperate with Radical Love and donate to the organization, the charity will be able to provide higher quality and quantity food to homeless people or those without access to food to reduce the currently existing and significantly bothering inequality for access to food in the locality.

As people get more aware and educated about the foods and drinks they consume, issues such as vegetarianism and veganism continue to attract the public’s attention and remain popular for debate and practice. The American society and culture are both significant supporters of such alternative lifestyles and philosophies, which has motivated Emily Dreyfuss to report on a brand new popular culture invention: the vegan hot dog. The author begins her article by referring to the Fourth of July as a great time for holidays, fitting her taste and preference perfectly well, when millions of Americans throw barbeque parties to enjoy the finest meats the country has to offer. Although meat-eaters love such a routine, vegans such as Dreyfuss herself, have been looking for ways to continue the tradition while also including the tastes and preferences of people like themselves. This is why imitation meat is becoming an increasingly popular food in America, leading researchers to focus on protein and not the actual meat being consumed, as a solution. The author points out that in various parts of the world such as India, China and Egypt, where food cultures dating back to thousands of years exist, the local populations acquire their protein through “vegetables, grains, and legumes.” The developed West’s attitude towards vegetarianism and veganism however remained skeptical until innovators such as Gregory Sams began to produce popular culture foods such as burgers using only vegetables. After this point, the media and several organizations jumped on the bandwagon to promote healthier living through healthier nutrition. As more individuals and institutions experimented with different recipes and the popular culture continued to promote their core values and principles, both vegetarianism and veganism became normal lifestyle and nutrition choices for inquiring individuals. Therefore, Dreyfuss’s insistence for having vegan hot dogs at the Fourth of July celebrations makes total sense: in a world where excess has created massive problems for all, the best response is to keep things as simple and natural as possible, beginning with food. 

In today’s world, drinks are not what they used to be either, with millions of products being marketed and sold to billions of consumers on a daily basis. Although it would not be fair to say that nobody knows what is really going on, it is an equally unjust statement to claim that the public is aware of everything they drink in today’s consumer society. Leigh Weingus for The Huffington Post investigates into the issue of sugar consumption in today’s commercially available consumer drinks to come up with shocking findings. “A can of Coke has a whopping 39 grams in it, while the brand Simply Fruit Punch packs 35 grams per bottle” says the author while also reminding that the American Heart Association has calculated the optimal amount of extra sugar to be consumed for a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet as 25 grams. Since most people are aware of such high levels of sugar in such commercial products, the author moves onto the lesser known ones to raise attention to a hidden danger: the danger of assuming that some of the more appealing products, such as orange juice or tea, are harmless with respect to sugar overloading. Sugar is a very addictive substance and therefore the commercial drinks and beverages industry loves to use it to expand its customer base. However, there are also drinks which the customers do not suspect for such trouble, which Weingus directly exposes. Beginning with juices, her research reveals that “one cup of generic orange juice has 21 grams of sugar in it” while in coffee drinks, the addition of milk and sugar produces a value of 27 grams. Similarly, commercially available teas such as Starbucks Chai Latte have 40+ grams of sugar and in the case of home-made tea, the problem persists as well, given that many tea drinkers enjoy their drink with at least a couple of sugar cubes in it. The author concludes her article by stating that the best way to deal with this issue is to prepare one’s own drinks using natural and organic ingredients only and enjoying the natural sugar found in them. Of course, Weingus cannot help but remind her readers about the joys and benefits of drinking water instead of many other popular drinks: in the end, simple H20 is life and we are here to live it as healthily as possible.

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