The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

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Jessica Gude

Jessica Gude has 2 articles published.

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I'm a senior Biology major from Ocean View, DE. Feeding people makes me happy, so I love to cook and bake and I spend my summers working in a restaurant. Jessica graduated in May 2017.

Goucher EATS: Food Labels

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In my personal form of teenage rebellion (or more likely, an attempt to sneakily lower my caloric consumption) I refused to eat red meat sometimes in high school. It had never really been a regular part of my diet before then, but I had never labeled it as off limits either. I think along the way I convinced myself that it was because of health reasons, that the protein it provided wasn’t worth the other “unhealthy” characteristics. After a few months I even used the excuse that my body would no longer be able to process it and eating it would make me sick. But again, it was honestly just an excuse to be able to say “I don’t eat that,” something to make me feel that I was able to flat out refuse to eat some foods on principle.
There are many ways to have dysfunctional relationships with food, and I’ll admit, I’ve dabbled in most of them. But regardless of the reason, I didn’t eat red meat for years. For the most part, it really wasn’t an issue. Over time my father, a former meat cutter (bless his very patient heart), even offered to buy ground turkey when making meat sauce or turkey sausage when making kielbasa dishes. The restaurant where I work has a thing for bacon (I think most chefs and restaurants do, to be fair), which meant a lot of times I would politely decline trying dishes. But several of my coworkers were vegetarians, so no one ever made a big deal about it.

Eat what makes you feel healthy and happy! Photo credit: Google images.

But last spring break I worked a few shifts shortly after the menu had changed, so our chef had been passing me samples of the new dishes. Half way through the night, he slid me a bowl and told me try it. “What is it?” I asked. “Short rib ravioli.” I considered passing it on to someone else, but I realized I didn’t want to and I didn’t want to feel like I had to simply because it was something I had told myself I wasn’t allowed to eat. So I grabbed a fork and took a bite. “I haven’t eaten red meat in five years.” I told him, “And that was really stupid.”
Food walks this strange line because on the one hand our relationship with it is very scientific; you must eat to survive at a very visceral level. But there is also this intensely emotional side. People associate certain memories and feelings with certain foods, and to many, food is art. I think a lot of what we choose to eat or not eat takes both sides into account as we try to determine what is best for us, but also what we want.
I’m not saying that choosing not to eat certain things is always a poor decision. If you choose to be a vegan, or vegetarian, or gluten free, that’s fine. But don’t do it because you feel like you should. If you feel healthier and happier, then that is great. But if every time you see a plate of bacon you feel sad because you want it but can’t have it because you’re a vegetarian, maybe reevaluate. Don’t choose a diet just because it allows you to claim abstinence from certain foods if you like those foods and they don’t adversely affect your health.
We are a society obsessed with categorization. We like things to fit in a box; we like for ourselves to fit into these boxes. I think that is what is so attractive about labeled eating patterns like “vegan.” But people don’t always fit into boxes. So if most days you don’t eat meat, but sometimes you just really want filet mignon, don’t feel like you have to label yourself a vegetarian and constantly suppress that occasional desire for steak.
My relationship with food has come a long way. It can be so easy to get in your own head and make food into more than it needs to be. That artistic side and scientific side perfectly collide when we eat. We appreciate the artistry and the emotions attached to the food, while our bodies rejoice at the fact that we’re giving them sustenance. So eat what makes you feel healthy and happy. Eat what you want and decline what you don’t, but don’t worry about putting a label on it.

Goucher EATS: An Ode to My “Vegan Soul”

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Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Jessica Gude, Features Editor

March 5th, 2017

“Wait, I thought you were a vegan.” This is a statement that usually comes as I’m reaching for a piece of chicken or halfway through a forkful of something with bacon. And despite the number of times I’ve heard it, my eyes will widen in disbelief and I’ll exclaim, “Why does everyone think that?” And while “everyone” may be a bit hyperbolic, it is a comment I’ve gotten from many different people in my life: professors, coworkers, friends, and even some extended family members. One particular friend describes it as “my vegan soul”, and while I’ve spent the last four years fighting her on it, I’ll admit she has a point. While I do eat (and massively enjoy) plenty of animal products, fruits, veggies, and other 100% vegan friendly foods will always hold a special place in my heart. So here it is, an ode to my vegan soul.

“Orange vegetables are my favorite” I’ll say, and I’m not missing the noun “vegetable” or even “food” because I’m using “favorite” as the noun, again hyperbolic, I know. This is something I’ll say as I fill up a plate with sweet potatoes, pour myself a bowl of pumpkin bisque, dig a spoon into carrot puree, or describe Stimson dinner as being “on point” on a particular day purely because they had roasted acorn squash. I’m not sure what it is, maybe it’s something about the subtle sweetness, the color contrast, or how well most of them pair with cinnamon, but I’ll eat any orange veggies any time of year.

Anyone who knows how much salad I consume may find it surprising that I refused to eat lettuce until high school, but before then I would have described its taste as either “like grass” or “like water.” I’ve gotten over my aversion since then, and while I’ll probably always take spring mix when give the choice, I’ve also learned to appreciate the peppery taste of arugula and even bitter mustard greens and kale.

While it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite carb and I’m incredibly tempted to claim bread as my number one, there is just something about potatoes, just roasted potatoes. And while I love the visually appealing blue or purple varieties, I am just as happy with any russet or red-skinned variety. With crispy skin and soft interiors, potatoes are a warm and perfectly carby masterpiece.

I feel that as kids we’re taught that while good for you, vegetables are supposed to be something you dislike, probably because they’re properly cooked only rarely. As I’ve grown up and realized that most vegetables are actually delicious, I’m always surprised when I realize I like something I thought I didn’t. Brussel sprouts are amazing if you don’t steam the bejeezus out of them. Spinach can be wonderful if you don’t serve it as a slimy blob. Beets should be treated and eaten like candy, because they’re that good. As I’ve gotten older and become more responsible for feeding myself, I’ve realized just how many veggies I enjoy and how much I like them.

So I suppose if I can use this much space talking about how much I love vegetables (don’t even get me started on fruits), it’s not wrong to think that I have a vegan soul. I guess if I can eat an entire Cioppino (i.e. ridiculously huge) bowl of sautéed veggies at the end of a shift, it’s fair to assume I may be a vegetarian. But what I’m leaving out of this narrative is how well veggies pair with some non-vegan substances. Because as much as I love kale by itself, it tastes better with bacon. As great as broccoli is, it’s even better in an omelet. And as much as I love butternut squash with nothing but salt and cinnamon, I will not pass up the opportunity to add chicken. So sure, maybe I look like I could be a vegetarian, maybe my soul is in fact vegan, but my diet will always be omnivorous.

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