Describe the project (what we did in both classes). This was a combined humanities and chemistry project involving cooking, science, and food ethics. In humanities, we learned about different food ethics from multiple people who came in to our school to talk to us about it. Also, we read the Omnivore's Dilemma and watched several videos that taught us about large industrial farms, and where are food comes. After gaining all of this knowledge, our job was to write a personal essay about what your own food ethic is and create a meal with four other classmates. The meal needed to have a theme, a drink, an appetizer, a salad, an entree, and a desert. Each person in the group, took on one of roles for the meal and created it involving their food ethic and an experiment. This is where the chemistry part comes in, because for your section of the meal, you needed to create an experiment testing different variables, such as texture, taste, look, etc. Also, part of the task was to go into the deepness of why these variables are affected by the way you cook. Once we are done with the experiments and create our food for the meal, we served our meal to around twelve guests. While the guests were eating, my classmate and I each told our own little speech about what we made individually and how it involves our food ethic and the chemistry that went into the food. Reflect on your group’s meal. In my group, our theme was italian, so we had an italian cream soda for the drink, bruschetta for the appetizer, sweet potato gnocchi for the entree, a ceasar salad for the salad, and coconut vanilla gelato and almond chocolate biscotti for the desert. I am very satisfied with what my group and I came up with to present to our guests. Everything was super delicious and our set-up looked very nice. Our guests were all impressed and pleased with all of our hard work that went into this project.
How did the interdisciplinary nature of this project impact your learning? Not only did we learn about food ethics, but we also got to learn about the chemistry that goes into making food. It was very interesting learning about the chemistry aspect of food, because it explains so many things that I was curious about food. For instance, do ever wonder why oil and vinegar don’t mix, but we’re able to make dressings and such where they are mixed? It’s because it’s a very common mixture in food called an emulsion. Overall, I am happy that I got to learn about America’s food culture and the chemistry that goes into food.
What are your main takeaways from studying food academically? How has your thinking about food changed from before? Before this project, I never really thought about food that much and about what I eat, but that has changed because of this project. This project has taught me about different food ethics, the background information on industrial farms, and America’s food culture. Food is apart of your identity, because what you eat relates to your food ethic. After reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, my thinking about processed foods has changed so much. Almost every processed food has corn or soy in it. This country depends on corn and soy. Since this project, I have been wanting to eat healthier, support more local stores, and eat less meat when eating out.
How can we design an experiment and measure the qualities and desirability of a finished recipe both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to determine the success of our recipe experimentation?
There are multiple ways you can design and measure a recipe experiment, both quantitatively and qualitatively. In order to design an experiment, based on a recipe test, you need to have at least one independent variable and at least one dependent variable. For example, say you’re making cookies for your experiment and you want to test if the amount of flour added will affect the fluffiness of a cookie. Your independent variable will be the amount of flour added, and the dependent variable will be the fluffiness of the cookie. Overall, for recipe experiments, you can change the amount of ingredients or you can replace an ingredient with a substitute and see how that affects your results. With a recipe experimentation, you can have several variables to measure. Qualitatively, you can describe the outcomes with words, such as texture, taste, fluffiness, juiciness, etc. For quantitatively, some ways you can measure the subjects is determining its volume, mass, or even time it. For instance, in my experiment, I was testing different emulsifiers to see which would make the best emulsion and to measure my results, I timed how long it took for the oil and vinegar to separate after I added one of the emulsifiers. If you want to measure its mass, weigh it, for volume, you can pull out a ruler and measure its height, width, etc. These are not the ways to measure quantitatively and qualitatively with food in experiments, but here are a few.
In what way(s) are cooking and doing science similar and in what way(s) are they different? How are a cook and a food scientist similar or different?
Although cooking and doing science seem different, how different are they? Cooking and doing science are similar because they both have to carefully measure out the amount the recipe calls for, they both can substitute ingredients, and they have to wait for the water to boil. Also cooking and science both have chemical changes occur. Only with cooking, these chemical reactions take place so the food can taste better, but with science, you most likely do not want to try what you are experimenting with because it could be toxic. With science, you focus more on the molecular level, while cooking, you focus more on not burning your food. A cook and a food scientist have some similar qualities, but also have some different characteristics from each other. To begin, in order to be a food scientist, you need to have a bachelor's degree, compared to a chef, you need a high school diploma or a GED. Although a chef and a food scientist are working with food, it’s for different reasons. For instance, a food scientist is focusing more of his time on experimenting with food to see if it’s safe to eat. While a chef is concentrating on the taste and design of the food. However, a chef and a food scientist both have the passion to try new experiments and don’t really know what to expect out of it. Also, both of these careers take on a lot of responsibilities, such as being a director, inspecting the food, getting supplies, and so on.