Get Smarty

October 3, 2007 at 9:13 pm | Posted in books, turtles | 2 Comments

So my host mom went to the jungle a few weeks ago to visit relatives and brought back a turtle. Every day I’ve been taking the turtle out to the park for a walk. Turtles did it right by setting really low expectations about their speed, but they can actually cover a decent distance in a short amount of time. Way to go, turtles.

I’m reading a book right now called Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid which I first heard about from my brother Steven, and I am almost smart enough to understand it. The author describes it as a ‘very personal attempt to say how it is that animate beings can come out of inanimate matter’. The chunk of my little brain that loves philosophy is really excited to read it, and the rest is terrified. I’m 35 pages in (out of 750), and each of those 35 pages I’ve read two or three times over. My synthesis thus far is that I like the style of writing because the author uses exclamation marks (!) when he is talking about mathematics (!!!). Okay in all seriousness, I haven’t really been involved academically with math or music in quite a while, and I left my collection of Escher prints back in the states, but the book has been interesting thus far though and I’m eager to see where this ‘metaphorical fugue’ takes me. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think.

You are what you eat

June 22, 2007 at 3:18 pm | Posted in books, food | Leave a comment

I read a really great book for my old book club right before I left the states called the Omnivore’s Dilemma and have already talked several people’s ears of about it. The book details industrial food production in the US as well as the organic industry and concludes with an interesting section about hunting and gathering an entire meal (boar, veggies, and mushrooms). I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it; it really opened my eyes to what it was I was putting into my stomach every day.

A major theme of the book was the idea that it is really easy to separate what it is your are eating from whatever your food was before it became food. Be it meat, veggies, or a fried egg, we rarely think about how it was grown, raised, nourished, killed or pulled, stored, transported, packaged and marketed. We are privy only to the part between the grocery store and consumption so have some idea as to how the food was prepared (if you cook for yourself, that is). The book goes into the chemicals going into food production, the poor treatment of animals, and the high costs to the environment given such a low cost to the consumer, but also touches upon the idea of having some respect for what you are eating – specifically the life of the animal.

Over my week and a half here in Peru, I’ve definitely developed a new appreciation for the meats (including chicken) I am eating. Today I sat down to lunch and had four eyeballs staring up at me (two little fishies) and I actually hid the heads with some rice before I finished my meal, which is what triggered this train of thought (or is it a chain of thought? I’m forgetting how to speak English). I mentioned in prior posts the dead pig getting it’s head cut off, and watching the guts getting yanked out of a chicken, and could ‘stomach’ all those things pretty well and continue to eat chicken or pork later that day or night, but the events of the week definitely gave me more to think about as I sat down to those meals. I can’t really say whether I enjoyed these meals more or less than had I bought prepackaged sausage or chicken breast back in the states, but I definitely feel more a part of a food chain here after these few experiences. Does that make sense? I like the fact that there are fewer steps here that are outside of your control as a consumer. You consume what is fresh and what is locally available, and as strange as it sounds I feel a little better about the food I am eating. It will be pretty fascinating when I get out into the campo in a few months and can experience the birth, nourishment, and death of whatever it is I’ll be eating (unless of course it is all arroz y papa which is entirely possible).

…so said the philosophy major.

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