The Bacon Conundrum in Beverage Advertisements

by Katherine Tallent, UNC Charlotte

I thought that because I don’t watch cable TV anymore that preposterous commercials wouldn’t bombard me… but boy was I wrong! Like any graduate student, I spend my weekend nights catching up on shows or movies on different streaming services, and it all started with a generic commercial for orange juice. Eventually, I got commercials for different types of water, and even the occasional commercial for vodka, and that’s when it hit me. All of these commercials for beverages shared a theme in that they exploit “traditional” and stereotypical ideas of nature and the natural world to earn a profit.
How Does Bacon fit with Beverage Commercials?

When I realized that these commercials exploit nature and the natural world for profit, I instantly connected them to Sir Francis Bacon. Bacon is not a man you hear about in everyday conversation (unless of course, you study the humanities, like me!) but to give a brief run down on Bacon and his beliefs, he was a prominent philosopher, writer, scientist, etc., in the 16th and 17th century, and he was kind of a big deal in what many call the “Scientific Revolution.” Carolyn Merchant puts it best when she writes, “It was Bacon’s singular achievement to demonstrate through rhetoric, metaphor, and vivid example how the ‘secrets of nature’ could be extracted and put into use in the service of humankind” (150). One of Bacon’s really important works, Novum Organum, is all about a new form of science and how humans must study nature and learn all of it’s so-called “secrets.” So basically, Bacon’s ideas were all “part of an emerging framework of science, technology, capitalist development, and Christian religion that provided hope for the recovery of humanity’s dominion over nature lost in the Fall from Eden” (Merchant 162).

In Novum Organum, Bacon delves into his beliefs about the relationship between man and nature, writing, ‘‘Let the human race recover that right over nature which belongs to it by divine bequest” (Merchant 150). In fact, Bacon sees man as “the minister and interpreter of nature” and he declares, “The present discoveries in science are such as lie immediately beneath the surface of common notions. It is necessary, however, to penetrate the more secret and remote parts of nature, in order to abstract both notions and axioms from things by a more certain and guarded method.” It’s a little creepy how Bacon describes learning about nature, especially because he does so in overtly sexual terms, stating that we must “penetrate” nature’s “more secret and remote parts.” Yikes. Merchant explains that Bacon goes even further, stating, that “by art and the hand of man ‘nature can be forced out of her natural state and squeezed and molded’ into revealing her hidden secrets’” (162).

The Exploitation of Nature in Beverage Commercials

You may be wondering, okay so that’s what Bacon thinks, but what does this have to do with drink commercials? Well, consider your ideas about the natural world and what it means for something to be “natural” and how these ideas fit in with these various commercials:
• Simply Orange:
o This is a 30 second commercial that has the voice of a kindly man (Donald Sutherland) over various shots of nature. Sutherland states, “Welcome to the Simply Orange tour. This is our plant [image of an orange tree.] These are our workers [image of oranges on the tree branches.] And this is upper management [image of the sun.] But what you won’t find around here is any freezing, flavoring, or concentrating, which brings us to our end product. Simply Orange. Honestly Simple. [Image of an owl, hooting.] That’s just the night watchman.”
How strange is this commercial? Simply Orange seems to be saying that nature itself works for their company, when in actuality that is a. impossible, and b. dismissive of the actual human employees who work for the company. However, it is smart for Simply Orange to claim that nature is on their side, as it seems to imply that their company possesses Bacon’s coveted secrets of nature. If Simply Orange knows the secrets of nature and even has nature working for them, that must mean they have authentic, all-natural orange juice, right? Maybe not. Coca Cola, who owns Simply Orange, actually uses a computer-based algorithm to create the orange juice, which seems contrary to everything the commercial argues (see this Bloomberg article for more info about the algorithm).
If you’re interested in viewing other orange juice commercials that have a weird vibe about nature, try viewing this commercial for Florida’s Natural.
• Fiji water:
o This 30 second commercial has a beautiful song which is performed by the Nawaka Village Methodist Choir playing in the background, over the outline of a water bottle that has various flashing images of nature inside of it. The narrator, with a childlike voice, states, “Fiji water is a gift from nature to us to repay our gift of leaving it completely alone. Bottled at the source, untouched by man, it’s Earth’s finest water.”
If you haven’t noticed, these commercials seem to always suggest the impossible. Simply Orange can’t employ nature itself to be an employee, just like Fiji Water cannot claim to get water straight from the source yet also claim it is untouched by man. Contrary to what Fiji Water claims, it is impossible to get the water out of Fiji without some sort of human interference. On their website, Fiji Water claims to use a “natural artesian aquifer” to retrieve the water. However, the artesian aquifer itself shows how involved “man” is in Fiji Water’s process:

An artesian aquifer must be drilled into the ground, which penetrates the Earth in a very Baconian way, and thus Fiji Water seeks to show viewers how they possess the secrets of nature. Because they have this knowledge, their water must ultimately be superior, right?
If you’re interested in viewing other water commercials that have a weird vibe about nature, try viewing this commercial for Smart Water.
• Belvedere Vodka:
o In case you thought that this Baconian predicament was reserved for only water and juice commercials, think again! In this one-minute commercial, Belvedere Vodka puts text over various images of nature as they tell their story. The text states, “Poland 600 years ago / Vodka is created. / It is natural / It is raw / It is beautiful. / Glacier stream / Plush forest / Cool air. / This is where Belvedere / Comes from. / This is where we wanted to go / Back to pure water and Polish Dankowskie rye, / Back to natural taste, / Back to where it began. / The story of Belvedere / is the story of vodka. / Straight up, / On rocks, / With a splash. / Dirty. But beautiful. / Your celebrations, / Your unforgettable nights / Belvedere means beautiful to see.”
Like Fiji Water, Belvedere Vodka is trying to make viewers believe that they have cracked the code, so to speak, to nature’s secrets. Like Simply Orange, they are also trying to make viewers believe that nature and the natural world are a vital part to their story. In using terms like “natural” and “raw,” they imply the purity of nature that all of these previous commercials also invoke: nature is untouched by man! Or in this case, nature was untouched by man, until Belvedere came and made some “tasty” vodka from it. Not quite the same, is it?
So What?
What I’ve noticed applies not only to these beverage commercials, but advertising and media in general. These companies seek to appeal to viewers as Baconian knowers of nature’s “secrets” in the hopes of earning a profit. They all tell the same story: their company has a unique relationship with the natural world and that makes their products the best! However, the relationships that these companies display in their advertisements are not as kosher as the reality behind it all. At the end of the day, these companies actually engage, usually in a harmful way, with the natural world while simultaneously claiming themselves as experts who know more about the means of production than nature itself.

Works Cited
Bacon, Francis. Novum Organum. 1620.
Merchant, Carolyn. “Secrets of Nature: The Bacon Debates Revisited.” Journal of the History of Ideas 69.1 (2008): 147–162.

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Power in Trafficking and Extracting

by Lindsey Herndon, UNC Charlotte

Sex trafficking is a complete violation of basic human rights. This social justice issue takes a significant emotional, mental, and social toll on survivors. Many victims have lost their lives while others struggle on a daily basis as they cope with the memories and trauma of this crime. While we like to not think that something this disgusting happens in America, it is one of the most prevalent, world-wide crimes next to drug and firearm trafficking, bringing in billions of dollars every year. While the United States is among the top leading nations to take action against human trafficking, it still affects this county more than what many people realize. Every year, thousands of cases are reported, and thousands more occur under the radar. However, the practices of sexual slavery and exploitation are older than recorded history. Whenever a woman or girl — or man or boy — was without status or protection, she or he could have been subjected to sexual exploitation. The same is true today in the United States.

Due to the fact that data on sex trafficking is not completely accurate, so many victims are silenced in their suffering. Like exploited parts of the environment, victims of sex trafficking do not have a voice to speak out with and expose their horrible conditions. Traffickers also play into this narrative by often telling exploited victims that they themselves are offenders, and that they will be charged with the crime of prostitution if they go to law enforcement.

There is not one simple factor that perpetuates sex trafficking. Instead, multiple factors, such as: political, socioeconomic, governmental, and societal factors all intertwine to keep this problem alive. Rural poverty and inequality are two material causes for sex trafficking. Sex and gender discrimination, natural disasters, personal problems which increase vulnerability, and cultural norms which discriminate certain populations also serve as factors which support the supply side of trafficking. Ultimately, individuals want to reap the profits from exploiting others through based on the demand for inexpensive sexual acts. Their greed and desire for something that will only benefit themselves drives them to put the lives of human being in danger and a living nightmare.

As Francis Bacon proclaimed throughout his intellectual journey, “knowledge is power”. It is crucial for American citizens of all ages to be aware of possible signs of human trafficking. In a society where the exact number of victims is uncertain because so many cases go unreported each year, it can be difficult to determine who is actually a victim and who is not. Bacon supported the practice of extracting products of nature from their natural habitat for the benefit of mankind. To an extent, this is ultimately what supporters of trafficking are doing; they are taking people away from their normal lives and placing them in a situation or area of control where they are exploited by those who are seeking after something specific. One overbearing factor in the practice of trafficking is the belief that the lives of girls and women are expendable. Women are at greater risk for being abused, coerced, and trafficked into sex slavery in areas where the society undervalues them. This brings up the question that if women experienced improved social and economic status, would trafficking number significantly decrease? If we as a society respected our environment more, wouldn’t we experience less problems from global warming?

To Degree or Not To Degree?

by Nicole Dirzanowski, UNC Charlotte

Graduation caps fly into the air and hugs are given to anyone that will take one. Parents, grandparents, siblings, family from all over are gathered to participate in your high school graduation ceremony. All of your hard work has finally paid off. You have received your high school diploma. You are allowed one deep sigh of relief before the questions begin. Where are you going to college? What will you be studying? What do you want to do with your degree? Uncle Joe tells you, “You should go into Engineering, that’s where the real money is.” This is the interrogation that falls to all high school graduates. These are questions that must be addressed immediately before the future has slipped away from your grasp leaving you in a life of poverty.
For many students, this is not even a question. They may have no idea what it is that they want to pursue a degree in, but they know that they are definitely going to college. Pressure from schools, parents, and family, looms overhead and the decision is made. The only real way to sustain a life is to head into higher education in the form of a college degree, or so goes the belief, but is this really the only option? Is there not another way?
Similarly to discussions on the valuation of the importance of knowledge gained through scientific methods versus knowledge gained through natural experiences from the Early Modern Period, a binary has been established on the varying types of education available after high school today. Degrees earned through 4-year university are placed in the active role of the binary, while technical and vocational certification programs are placed in the passive role of the binary. Essentially a sort of stigma has been placed on technical vocational knowledge today. The pursuit of a certificate in something like welding is frowned upon in many circles, placing a higher value on an education achieved through a 4-year university.
This idea is perpetuated throughout current society. On job applications across the United States a drop down box is provided to describe your level of education. Many times the requirements portion of the job application also includes a required 2-4 year degree. Unfortunately this mentality draws away from the importance of certification programs in practical job related fields such as automotive repair and welding. Individuals are dissuaded from pursuing careers in these fields simply because they are not seen to be as valuable as a 4-year degree.
It is very possible that this mentality is a remnant of the switch to a more empirical scientific method. The Early Modern Period experienced a shift from a natural knowledge base, where materials were acquired directly from the home and home remedies were commonplace, to a more empirical form of scientific method, gathering materials and taking them into a library where they were manipulated in the name of science. This switch is accredited to the writings of Sir Francis Bacon, which demanded more regimented structures for scientific methods. This placed a higher value on empirical sciences, similarly to the way that a higher value is placed on a degree from a university over a certification through a technical program.
The reality of the situation is that both types of education are equally important. Similarly to the way that Early Modern systems of knowledge both added value to Early Modern Society, so do both types of education today. Without Engineering programs and degrees, we would not be able to live and work in the buildings that we do or drive on the roadways that we use each day. Without individuals with certifications in automotive repair, we would not be able to use those vehicles that drive on those roadways that we use each day. This can be applied across the spectrum for both forms of education. Both provide a service that is equally important and actually supportive of the other. It is important that we support the endeavors of both types of students, regardless of their pursuit. Allow students to explore many diverse types of programs in order to ensure the most agreeable outcomes for both students and society as a whole. People are needed in all types of industries doing all different sorts of work. Let’s hope that as we move toward the future, the value of both types of education will be elevated to be equal, better serving the needs of us all.

Snow Cream, an 18th Century Delish Dish

To make snow cream

take a quart of the best cream and beat itt whith rose or orange

water sweeten itt and beat 2 whites of eggs with a rod and put them to

the cream beat all together and as the snow peses put itt in a dish

(Folger, MS W.a. 87)

Continuing our blog posting from  Dynamic Traditions in Literature class at the University of Texas, Arlington, we are writing about our transcription and cooking of  a recipe, “To Make Snow Cream” from the early 18th century in an English recipe book called Cookery and Medicine, (Folger MS W.a. 87).

Ice and cold temperature foods were once believed to be choleric for its consumers, according to the Galen. The cold was thought to cause coughing, blindness, madness, and even sudden death.  When the Galenic system stopped being used, regular consumption of ice became more acceptable. Ice desserts were typically reserved for the elite and wealthy until the 1800’s. Ice was kept all year round in insulated ice houses and was cranked out of a machine by hand.  While ice cream or ice-related- food products didn’t originate in Europe, they grew to be a popular treat all around the world. Recipes were inspired to make unique variations of the confection. The following is a snow cream recipe, inspired by older recipes that called for ice.

 

Snow Cream is a relatively easy recipe to follow. The recipe calls for the best cream, orange or rose water, two egg whites, and snow. Our group decided to use whipping cream as our “best cream.” We were able to purchase the whipping cream and eggs at Kroger. The “snow” was purchased at Bahama Bucks which is a snow cone store. Rose water was a little more challenging to find. After searching Kroger and Whole Foods, we decided to check out an international food store. We were able to find the rose water at Int. Food Land which is just down the street from University of Texas, Arlington campus. All together, the ingredients for snow cream cost around eight dollars.

The first step to making the cream was to mix a quart of cream with rose water. Our group decided to make a half serving a of the recipe so we used a pint of whipping cream. The recipe did not specify how much rose water to add so our group added about a teaspoon due to the strong flavor.

Then, we beat two egg white into the mixture. Although we were making a half recipe, we decided to use two egg whites to maintain the creamy consistency. The recipe also says to sweeten it, but it does not specify what agent to use so we omitted this step.

Finally, we poured the creamy mixture onto our snow.

We served the Snow Cream immediately after making it. We had a lot of additional cream mixture left even after pouring a good amount on top of the snow. The recipe does not specify how much snow to use which made it hard to figure out how much of the cream mixture we were supposed to add. We figured that the Snow Cream should not be a soupy consistency so we poured enough to cover and m the snow without making it runny. Snow Cream is probably a good summer treat that can be served at the end of the meal. The rose flavor is refreshing, but a bit overwhelming for those who are not used to that taste.

 

       Not only was Snow Cream  easy to make, it was cheap too! A majority of the ingredients are readily available at local grocery stores or food markets. You might have to go out of your way to get the rosewater, but that will be the only ingredient you have to search for. Snow Cream’s hard texture melts if it is warm for too long. If you are not accustomed to rose flavoring, you might find the flavor to be offensive or even bland. Snow Cream’s flavor could possibly be improved by replacing rose water with orange water. Another alternative suggestion would to pair it with something sweet like chocolate.

Transcribing the recipe- Danielle Wharram; Introduction- Iris Sosa; Recipe Blog- Monica Yamashiro (ingredients and cost, recipe steps, pictures, how it’s served or with what other food); Conclusion- Austin Jones (Review of final product)

University of Texas, Arlington; Students of Amy Tigner

Power in Trafficking and Extracting

By Lindsey Herndon, UNC Charlotte

Sex trafficking is a complete violation of basic human rights. This social justice issue takes a significant emotional, mental, and social toll on survivors. Many victims have lost their lives while others struggle on a daily basis as they cope with the memories and trauma of this crime. While we like to not think that something this disgusting happens in America, it is one of the most prevalent, world-wide crimes next to drug and firearm trafficking, bringing in billions of dollars every year. While the United States is among the top leading nations to take action against human trafficking, it still affects this county more than what many people realize. Every year, thousands of cases are reported, and thousands more occur under the radar. However, the practices of sexual slavery and exploitation are older than recorded history. Whenever a woman or girl — or man or boy — was without status or protection, she or he could have been subjected to sexual exploitation. The same is true today in the United States.

Due to the fact that data on sex trafficking is not completely accurate, so many victims are silenced in their suffering. Like exploited parts of the environment, victims of sex trafficking do not have a voice to speak out with and expose their horrible conditions. Traffickers also play into this narrative by often telling exploited victims that they themselves are offenders, and that they will be charged with the crime of prostitution if they go to law enforcement.

There is not one simple factor that perpetuates sex trafficking. Instead, multiple factors, such as: political, socioeconomic, governmental, and societal factors all intertwine to keep this problem alive. Rural poverty and inequality are two material causes for sex trafficking. Sex and gender discrimination, natural disasters, personal problems which increase vulnerability, and cultural norms which discriminate certain populations also serve as factors which support the supply side of trafficking. Ultimately, individuals want to reap the profits from exploiting others through based on the demand for inexpensive sexual acts. Their greed and desire for something that will only benefit themselves drives them to put the lives of human being in danger and a living nightmare.

As Francis Bacon proclaimed throughout his intellectual journey, “knowledge is power”. It is crucial for American citizens of all ages to be aware of possible signs of human trafficking. In a society where the exact number of victims is uncertain because so many cases go unreported each year, it can be difficult to determine who is actually a victim and who is not. Bacon supported the practice of extracting products of nature from their natural habitat for the benefit of mankind. To an extent, this is ultimately what supporters of trafficking are doing; they are taking people away from their normal lives and placing them in a situation or area of control where they are exploited by those who are seeking after something specific. One overbearing factor in the practice of trafficking is the belief that the lives of girls and women are expendable. Women are at greater risk for being abused, coerced, and trafficked into sex slavery in areas where the society undervalues them. This brings up the question that if women experienced improved social and economic status, would trafficking number significantly decrease? If we as a society respected our environment more, wouldn’t we experience less problems from global warming?

Early Modern “Almond Bisqets”

In the Dynamic Traditions in Food and Literature course at the University of Texas at Arlington, one of the most important (and fun) assignments we have to complete is that of recreating this recipe found on transcribe.folger.edu.

For the historical research, searches for “almond biscuits” and “almond cookies” led group one to Chinese almond cookies. Because a Chinese recipe wasn’t used for this project, the closest relative to almond biscuits is believed to be macaroons.   

Located on  the Folger’s Early Modern Manuscripts Online, Cookbook Wa87, the following recipe is for Almond Bisquets. We first transcribed the recipe, which reads as follows:

     To Make Almond Bisquets

     Take a pound of almonds blanched and beat them in

     a mortar putting a little Rose water that they torn not

     to Oile, put to them half a pound of sugar beaten

     very fine, the whites of 4 eggs well beaten, a little Rose

     water mash and ambergrese, beat them all together

     a quart of em home and & put them on papers of what fashion

     you please, be careful in baking them that they be not

     to much calloured

After the recipe was deciphered, the real work began:

The first step was to boil rose petals and stems in water for 15 minutes, steep them for 3 days and then strain out the petals and stems, leaving only the rose water.

The second step was to use a mortar and pestle to grind down the almonds, one of the main ingredients. We also used a mortar and pestles  to grind down plants and herbs for medicine during the early modern period – hard work!

The third step called for 4 egg whites. We used the eggs shells  to separate out the egg whites from the yolk, and then we whisked into a froth. In the early modern period, Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening (bisquets were leavened by egg whites) and can be eaten during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet.

Finally, we mixed all of the ingredients  together. The wet ingredients were first – the frothy egg whites and double refined sugar. Because the group did not possess ambergris, and because exact quantities in the recipe weren’t specified, we used vanilla for flavor. Then, the ground almonds were added to the mix, and finally, rose water. We then stirred for ¼ of an hour, or 15 minutes.

The next step was to line a pan with parchment paper, and place globs of the dough on the paper “as you please”. The dough was cooked at 300 degrees, but because an exact cooking time wasn’t specified, the almond cookies had to be watched closely to ensure they didn’t burn. Once the cookies browned evenly, we took them out of the oven.

Finally, the almond cookies were done. Now, the last step is the least difficult – eat the cookies and enjoy!

 

This presentation was brought to you by:

Mark Butler– Writing and preparing the blog post

Kaitlyn Mae– Transcribing the recipe and editing the blog post

Joan Robinson– Cooking the almond cookies

Breona Gardner– Filming the cookie’s preparation and assisting Joan with the ingredients.

Joshua Luebke– Historical research.

 

Making 18th Century Chocolate Cream

We are a part of of Food and Literature class at the University of Texas at Arlington. transcribe recipes from an early eighteenth century cookbook (Folger W.a. 87); which means reading someone else’s handwriting (easier said than done).  And then we were tasked with making one of the recipes and writing about it for this blog. Figuring out this recipe proved to be an interesting endeavor, since there are no real modern measurements (1 cup, 2 teaspoons, etc.) provided, but it’s chocolate cream — nothing can be better than chocolate cream!

Transcription (in original spelling):

Boill a quart of cream till itt begins to be thick then putt

in 4 Sponfulls of sifted Chocolate and giv itt six boilings up

then strain itt through Tiffany, set itt open the fire a gain

an when ready to boill putt in the Yolks of 2 eggs beathen

with a Little orange flower water stir itt over the fire to thi…

ken butt boill itt not then take itt of and when almost

cold putt itt in a bason or glasses then take some cream with

a little white wine and sugar and whisk itt in a froth and

and put it on the Chocolate Cream and whith a little of the

Chocolate and putt th ffroth of it up and down amongst

the white froth and to serve itt up

Here is our modern translation and how we made the recipe;

  1. Boil 4 cups of heavy whipping cream in a pot on medium heat. Stir the cream every so often as it boils and begins to thicken.
  2. While the cream is boiling, finely grate about 4 teaspoons of milk chocolate onto a plate.
  3. Once the boiling cream thickens slightly, add the grated chocolate into the hot cream and stir slowly until it melts through.
  4. When all of the chocolate has melted into the cream, take the pot off of the heat until the cream is no longer bubbling. Stir the cream again, and put it back onto the heat until it boils. Repeat this process 5 more times, making sure to stir the chocolate cream every so often.
  5. Once the chocolate cream has been boiled 6 times, strain it through a metal strainer (although plastic is fine, as long as it won’t melt under the heat) and put it back into the pot.
  6. Add the pot back to the stove on medium-low heat and stir occasionally, making sure not to boil the chocolate cream.
  7. As the chocolate cream is rewarming on the stove, take the yolks of 2 eggs and beat them together in a separate bowl with a splash of vanilla extract.
  8. Once the chocolate cream is near boiling, slowly add the egg yolk mixture into the cream while stirring continuously. Continue to stir briefly after all of the yolks have been added to ensure that the egg does not cook inside the cream. Make sure that the chocolate cream does not boil.
  9. Take the pot off of the stove and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  10. As the chocolate cream is cooling, make the froth. In a bowl, add together ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream, 3 teaspoons of white wine, and ½ cup of granulated white sugar.
  11. Whisk them together until the mixture thickens slightly and reaches the ribbon stage, meaning that when the whisk is lifted over the mixture the froth falls slowly from the whisk and creates a ribbon on the surface which slowly dissipates.
  12. Once the chocolate cream has cooled and the froth has been made, divide the chocolate cream into separate glass jars (or whatever glass containers you wish to serve it in). Spoon the white froth in a thin layer on top of the chocolate cream, and either eat immediately or refrigerate for 2-8 hours. Enjoy!

The Recipe in Film:

Part 1 of 8:  https://youtu.be/Rm36mtZtUX4

Part 2 of 8: https://youtu.be/–g4uXZDQ6s

Part 3 of 8: https://youtu.be/oSdE3QfwXOw

Part 4 of 8: https://youtu.be/FDyWv4NGY2g

Part 5 of 8: https://youtu.be/PgqD7SWsGl4

Part 6 of 8: https://youtu.be/Q9pjN93nzN8

Part 7 of 8: https://youtu.be/PUj89YLZ_64

Part 8 of 8: https://youtu.be/GBFFWps8CM4

Even in the 18th century, chocolate was HUGE! The history of chocolate is a vast story that got its start when Spain first travelled to America. But the chocolate of that time was very different than what was used in this recipe.

A short history of chocolate :

From Cacao to Cocoa: A Short History of Chocolate in Britain by Finlay Greig

            Cocoa was first brought to Europe in the early 1500s when Christopher Columbus first  it back from the Americas to Spain; however it would be over a century later before it made its way to London. Britons first encountered cacao beans in 1579 when English pirates attacked a Spanish ship carrying goods; amongst these goods were cacao beans. The English pirates mistook the beans for “sheep droppings” and set fire to the ship. It would be nearly 80 years later until the New World product made its way back to Britain.

           In 1657, the first “Chocolate House” developed in London, operated by a Frenchman, where chocolate drinks were sold ready-made and available to drink in-house, or unmade and could be taken and prepared at home. Chocolate Houses caught on and became similar to pubs; however, the chocolatey drink was considered a luxury and the patrons of these establishments were rich and rowdy men. Francis White, owner of White’s Chocolate House, is credited as the first person to open a chocolate house in London.

“In Bishopgate St, in Queen’s Head Alley, at a Frenchman’s house, is an excellent West Indian drink called Chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time and also unmade at reasonable rates.”

            As chocolate drinks caught on, plantations were developed in the West Indies to produce more cacao beans to be brought back to London and sold by the pound. Over the next few years, the English would incorporate the cocoa powder into different recipes, like sauces and creams, but it would not be until the 1900s when the first chocolate bar would be made. Like the Spanish merchant ship carrying “sheep droppings”, chocolate spread like fire throughout England, and remains a significant part of British diet.

Sources:

WOW247.co.uk

Godivachocolates.co.uk

 

In Review:

 

This proved to be an interesting endeavor. For one thing, the recipe actually came out well; despite not having modern measurements. Our project was also a learning experience, mainly reading and understanding someone’s handwriting from several hundred years ago. But the experience was and is for educational purposes. Thanks for joining us on this fun cooking adventure!

-The Chocolate Crew

Alethia Nason, Ariel Robinson, Calvin Johnson, Emily Rogers, & Hannah Su

University of Texas, Arlington, Students of Dr. Amy Tigner

My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Bigotry

by Jordan Costanza, UNC Charlotte

Flimsy tents erected against bitter winter winds; rubber skiffs parting through a sea of bloated corpses as rescuers attempt to find life among death; rats the size of footballs skittering through a legion of dirty mattresses and blankets; wives and sisters and mothers and daughters of rebel fighters raped by the opposition’s soldiers as a crowd looks on; burying the bones of the dead in a pile of red dust and dirt, marked by nothing but the shifting winds and rain.

This hellscape, a nightmare on paper, is a grim reality for nearly six million Syrian refugees, a majority of which are women and children according to a report conducted by Amnesty International. Being punished for a husband’s unwillingness to participate in mandatory military service or fight for ISIS, or going days without food or water in order to care for their children are not just examples; they are likelihoods, and for the millions of women, and the family members with which they are often charged, the journey from Syria to safety is one that is, in black irony, riddled with dangers, in both the natural and human form.

The natural in the quest for asylum is exemplified by its infamous name: “The Journey of Death,” a name adopted by Syrian refugees to signify the arduous voyage from Syria to Europe and America (Motaparthy). As the poverty-stricken, neighboring countries of Lebanon and Egypt are overwhelmed to the point of overfull, and the burden of asylum falls largely on the shoulders of the financially-crippled Greece and, to a lesser extent, Italy, the call for Europe to further relax its borders becomes increasingly fervent. In a calculated — and some might say manipulative — move to join the European Council, controversial Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has struck an alliance that agrees, on behalf of Turkey, to welcome more refugees into its haven as well as take back those who have entered Greece past a certain date in order to stanch the migration flow into Europe. However, as Turkey remains a place of persecution and danger for many people fleeing the Syrian conflict — and a cesspool of patriarchally-informed sexism — refugees (especially women who are expected by Erdoğan to embrace only motherhood and reject any other lifestyle) are left with few options and even dimmer future prospects (“Recep Tayyip Erdoğan”).

In the wake of the EU-Turkey deal, refugees are often forced into one of three scenarios: 1) detainment by the Greek or Turkish military, in which refugees are forced into prison or labor camps where suicide, abuse, and rape abound (Squires), detained for the crime of daring to reach for the luxuries of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” supposedly “unalienable rights” set forth by our own Declaration of Independence (ironically, a piece of history borne off the backs of our founding fathers fleeing persecution); or 2) refugees can be moved into the chaotic climate of Turkey where political dissenters are labeled “terrorists” by the president and approximately 400 women die a year from domestic violence encouraged by, and some might even say as a direct result of, governmental views on the “proper” relationship between women, society, and Islam (often resulting in female subservience, rape, unwilling child-bearing, and abuse); or 3) refugees can attempt to escape their refugee camp (if they are successful in avoiding capture and arrest by military guards) and try their luck in alien regions, such as on the treacherous range of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains where 15 people froze to death this year trying to cross (Sly and Haidamous), or the perilous waters of the Mediterranean where at least 8,400 refugees drowned in the last two years alone for the steep price of anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000 (Motaparthy). If, by some divine miracle, refugees are rescued from the sea, many — a majority being women and young girls — are then subjected to forced prostitution, sexual slavery, abuse, and/or torture (Dehghan).

The east is, for refugees, overcrowded, headed by thugs, rampant with sexual violence, and/or generally opposed to the influx of asylum-seekers, the last of which is where the west finds itself today — or at least that was once the prevailing opinion. Anti-refugee, and more specifically anti-Muslim, rhetoric has long been divisive in western culture, most recently in the wake of the Trump Administration’s abominable Executive Order 13769, in which the president attempted to invoke the suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order was not only met with widespread contempt by the American people and a good percentage of Congressional members, it also sparked a trans-national force of unity in which citizens were called to action by their own empathy and the disapproval of varying world leaders, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former President Barack Obama, and Pope Francis. A country historically notorious for its bigotry was able to unite in a way that led to Washington v. Trump and the trend of “#MuslimBan,” as well as shedding light on the issues of Islamophobia and sexism, two issues that tend to exist in violent harmony in wartime and have long waged private battles against the bodies of Muslim women and girls (Wolfe).

Dehghan, Saeed Kamali. “Migrant Sea Route to Italy Is World’s Most Lethal.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 Sept. 2017, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/11/migrant-death-toll-rises-after-clampdown-on-east-european-borders.

Motaparthy, Priyanka. “Why Syrian Refugees Risk the ‘Journey of Death’ to Europe.” The Nation, vol. 300, no. 9, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/why-syrian-refugees-risk-journey-death-europe/. Accessed 18 March 2018.

“Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: ‘Women Not Equal to Men’.” The Guardian, Agence France-Presse, 24 Nov. 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/24/turkeys-president-recep-tayyip-erdogan-women-not-equal-men.

Sly, Liz, and Suzan Haidamous. “Frozen To Death on a Mountain: How 7 Years Of War Ended For 15 Syrian Refugees.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 5 Feb. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/world/syrian-refugees/?utm_term=.0d1ec82848a0.

Squires, Nick. “A Year on from EU-Turkey Deal, Refugees and Migrants in Limbo Commit Suicide and Suffer from Trauma.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 14 Mar. 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/14/year-eu-turkey-deal-refugees-migrants-limbo-commit-suicide-suffer/.

Wolfe, Lauren. “Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis.” The Atlantic, 3 Apr. 2013, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/syria-has-a-massive-rape-crisis/274583/.

Michelle Obama versus Big Food

By Hayley Lawson, UNC Charlotte

In the United States, we have very little control over how we nourish our bodies, or at least less control than we believe. Most of us have grown up unaware of how our food system has manipulated our bodies into becoming part of a scientific project. Michael Pollan, New York Times Magazine writer, openly discusses how “Big Agriculture” rules over our country’s food system and turned it entirely into a capitalist and scientific venture where the bottom-line “trumps” those of us at the bottom of the food chain: women, children, and small farmers. In the past decade, I have only seen small scale efforts through non-profit organizations and exemplary grass-roots operations be successful at shifting the agency. But there has been one prime example of an individual trying to tackle Big Food in a big way: Michelle Obama. She visibly stepped out against the monopolized food system after her husband campaigned on redressing this growing epidemic.

Michael Pollan’s 2016 piece “Big Food Strikes Back: Why did the Obamas fail to take on corporate agriculture?” retrospectively explores why the former world’s most powerful couple “failed” to tackle “a food system organized around subsidized monocultures of corn and soy” and built on cheap oil contributing “more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector.” Such a calculated, controlled, and secretive system foreshadows a dark future of detrimental harm to our external environment and internal health. We are no longer in control of our bodies, and this affects the future development of our nation as we feed ourselves and our children genetically modified “food” experiments. The fact that we have little choice in our nourishment draws a comparison to the industrialization of agriculture and early modern science’s desire to manipulate, control, and “perfect” nature. The consistent patriarchal approach to science over the past centuries is strongly maintained by the United States’ ongoing scientific experiment in our nation’s $1.5 trillion agricultural industry. Unfortunately for us, their effects trickle down to each morsel of food we daily consume.

Who is fit to take them on? The David versus Goliath-sized battle of reclaiming some of our agency to nourish our bodies seems like a task beyond the reaches of those most affected: underpaid women, single-mothers, children, college students, and small farmers. The Obama administration was built on hope and change, and the first lady valiantly supported the movement away from Big Food. In 2009, she forged into the spotlight by one small, simple act of planting the White House’s very own organic vegetable garden. Pollan points out how Big Food “had a big problem with the first lady’s food talk, and especially with one modifier: organic.” Michelle persisted in her efforts to support farmers markets, publicly shop local produce, and refuse to use pesticides in the White House garden. The American Council on Science and Health tried intervening in her personal decision in not using pesticides, and in their frustration, labeled the Obamas as “organic limousine liberals.”

I have a suspicion that the backlash against the White House garden was especially driven because of the patriarchal nature of our modern food industry. Michelle Obama represented the power of an influential female who refused to let her “home” garden be controlled by the larger society. In my opinion, Michelle was given a difficult task by her husband’s administration because being an African-American female with “radical” ideas about the food industry made her an easy target for the highly-controlled agriculture programs and corporations. Barack conceded that his wife had special potential: “You [Michelle] can talk about these issues…. It’ll be a hell of a lot more effective than me.” Therefore, the double-edged sword women brandish still exists: they are still identified with nature by patriarchal society. In this case, powerful female voices, like Michelle Obama, used this to their advantage by winning small battles for “Little food” and the rest of us.

Pollan article:
http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/big-food-strikes-back-why-did-the-obamas-fail-to-take-on-corporate-agriculture/

Fool’s Gold: Carolyn Merchant and Discovery’s “Gold Rush”

by Melissa Lafrate, UNC Charlotte

“You’re all millionaires. The only thing is you gotta get it out of the ground.” This is a line that Jack Hoffman said on the Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush.” The show centers on a group of men who have traveled to Alaska in pursuit of gold. In order to get the gold out of the ground, however, they must use intricate machinery to cut into the natural landscape in search of what they call a “gloryhole.” These holes are developed over time by streams that end in waterfalls. The water erodes the land disrupting the gold that is located in the ground. The gold would then be carried by the water down the waterfalls and into those holes. When the streams and waterfalls dried up these holes would be covered over time by dirt and other natural debris and left to later be found by the miners.
It is interesting that the crew refers to the underground pockets of gold as “gloryholes.” When looked at in the context of the show, the gloryhole is a hole that the miner penetrates with their machinery in order to extract gold. However, Urban Dictionary defines gloryholes as holes in the wall through which a man can receive fellatio (Urban Dictionary). The term is sexual in nature but does not refer to a vagina in particular. It does, however, play into age old binaries that dictate what is masculine and what is feminine; for example, science as masculine vs. nature as feminine. The one penetrating the hole is the dominant male figure, putting the fellatio giver into a more submissive, feminine role. This slang term is something that a lot of young people are aware of and will not be as familiar with the original, mining context.
As previously mentioned, the show is populated entirely by male miners, this only serves to further the argument that men are dominant over nature. For example, one miner has been quoted saying that the better the land is, the more money you are likely to make. This commodifies the landscape much like how women’s bodies are commodified. In this context, it is very vaginal in nature and fits in with some of the theory discussed by Carolyn Merchant in “Dominion Over Nature.”
The show’s beliefs are reminiscent of Francis Bacon’s statement: “Neither ought a man to make scruple of entering and penetrating into these holes and corners, when the inquisition of truth is his whole object” (Merchant 69). Bacon’s philosophy “treats nature as a female to be tortured through mechanical inventions” (Merchant 69). According to Bacon men should not be tentative when searching for the secrets of nature and should go forth and search every nook and cranny. This is a philosophy that the “Gold Rush” crew follows in the show; they are not afraid to rip apart the landscape in search of the secret gold. In fact, one of the pieces of equipment that the miners use is called a sluice box. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word sluice has multiple violent connotations behind it. For example, during the Early Modern period it meant to drain the blood in order to kill. These miners are draining the earth of its resources in order to get at the blood, in this case gold. This sluicing holds deeper implications that can lead to the desolation of the land in favor of profit. The language here brings to mind imagery of penetration. For example, one thing that comes to mind is a stabbing, the knife penetrates the skin and releases blood. In this case the sluice box penetrates the ground in order for the miners to get a profit. This penetration can be seen as a rape of the land demonstrating the power man has over it.
The show has faced a lot of controversy in regard to the miners’ treatment of the land. Jack Queen, one of the residents of Park County Colorado, an area where the show takes place, claims that the miners have “wrecked a hillside landscape, ran afoul of its permits and shattered the quiet of their neighborhood all summer.” When the miners leave they do not do much to restore the area they have mined from. As seen on the show, often they just fill the hole up with rubble and call it a day. They do this to cover up the trauma they have inflicted upon the landscape, as if they are trying to obscure the rape they have committed. The miners leave the land desecrated but by covering it up they pretend it is okay. There have been many online articles calling the show out for the environmental damage they have committed in their quest for gold.
I wanted to talk about this show because it is one of my dad’s favorite television shows to watch. Whenever he turns it on I have to leave the room because the way these men rape the land turns my stomach. The way that they rip into the landscape in search of its secrets always reminds me of Carolyn Merchant’s critique of Francis Bacon. It also reminds me that this is not just happening on the Discovery Channel, but all over the world. The Dakota Access Pipeline and the deforestation of the world’s rainforests are other examples of how the world is being raped for man’s profit. At the end of the day these people destroy the natural landscape for their own monetary gain unless we do something about it.
Here is a clip of the show:

Additional Articles:
Save Park County accuses Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush” of “mining for ratings”
Alaska officials hope Discovery Channel show doesn’t inspire another Gold Rush
“Gold Rush” reality TV series mine near Fairplay eyed by Colorado environmental regulators