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Food Essay Personal Essay

Personal Essay

The idea of this paper is to write an essay about yourself and food. Our immersion in recent literature in food studies raises lots of questions and concerns about food systems, and your own life experience is a good place to think about such questions.

How do you now see yourself and food?

Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), the first author to describe his work as essays, considered essays as "attempts" to put his thoughts into writing. This kind of essay is both a personal reflection / exploration and an inquiry into a question of broader, public signficance. It is not simply description or a narrative of events, but an inquiry.

This essay should not be a five-paragraph paper or in a formulaic structure. It's structure should evolve from the what you discover you want to say. While there should be a focus, it is not necesarily trying to make an argument, so it doesn't need an explicit thesis. The point is to think deeply and carefully, consider complexities drawing on new understandings from our class reading, discussion, blogs, and viewing.

  • This essay could be written drawing on memoir as you focus on some experience/issue/theme in your past explored in part in light of what you have learned about food systems.

  • Or, the essay could be a personal philosophical exploration as you consider questions such as, 1) How do I decide what I should eat? 2) How do I rethink my education in the light of what I am learning about food and food systems? 3) How might I make a difference, now or in the future, in addressing issues raised by food systems?

  • Or, the essay could be ethnographic or address family history. What is the relationship of my family to food production / systems? How has that relationship evolved? What are the health, ethical, political dimensions of my family's relationship to food?

The paper should be in first person ("I"), demonstrate insight, and make connection to reading about food systems. You can quote from sources and use endnotes, but this is not a research paper. You will likely want to write a lot, then rewrite, revise until the essay is polished and conveys what you want to convey. Your audience is a general reader interested in the topic of food and food studies. It should show careful editing, and be at least 4-5 pages long.

Here are some questions Becky DeOliviera proposes to help generate ideas for the essay:

1. To what extent is food an important part of your social and family life? Examples?
2. Does what you eat form a part of your identity? If so, how?
3. Do you ever make decisions about what to eat or not eat from a moral or ethical point of view? Examples?
4. How would making radical changes to your eating habits influence your relationships or other aspects of your life?
5. How much emphasis should an individual place on determining what to eat? Does food matter? What should/could you do based on what we are learning?
6. How do food choices relate to other aspects of being part of a community?
7. How do food choices relate to personal and corporate responsibility?
8. If economics were not an issue, would you eat differently than you currently do? In what ways?
9. How has your reading in this class so far affected the way you think about your and/or your family’s relationship to food? Examples?
10. How has reading student blogs affected the way you think about food? Have you had any new insights as a result of reading others' thoughts?

Created by: allen.webb@wmich.edu
Revised Date: 1/14

If you are writing a personal essay on your favorite food, below are some facts that might help you craft a well-rounded presentation of food related content:

  1. Many students choose those foods which are naturally fast and simple, without the preparatory work of cooking because of their lack of time. Because of this many companies today provide fast meals that offer all of the nutritional options necessary for all dietary types including vegetarian and vegan. There are snack packs which include an equal dose of all the nutritional options the body requires, in the form of a single meal serving size. These options include fats, carbohydrates, and proteins so that they leave students more satiated.
  2. Favorite foods are often something that the body craves because of what is contained therein. What is perhaps most fascinating about this is that many students will crave favorite foods like those heavy carbohydrate items that remind them of home when they are sad, or chicken noodle soup when they are sick, and even sugary treats when they are feeling tired. While not all of these are scientifically proven to improve health or energy levels, they nonetheless are so powerful mentally that they result in complete satiation and sometimes healing. Chicken noodle soup, for example, is something high in sodium but is generally a favorite of students when they are sick because it reminds them of home and their parents caring for them. This actually results in healing properties.
  3. The food you eat provides fuel for your body. Nutrients are broken down in your body and supplied to your muscles, put into your blood and used by your organs. Nutrient intake varies based on what you are doing – the demands that you regularly place on your body. A physically active person requires more nutrients and calories than does one that is inactive. However, your caloric and nutrient intake will also vary based on your physical fitness regimen. For example, your body uses carbohydrates as a source of quick energy. Therefore, those who are involved with long-distance running tend to “carb up” before the race. This provides their body with the essential nutrients needed for high performance. During the off-season, though, or in-between races, runners reduce their intake of carbohydrates. This is because a surplus of carbs is usually stored as fat in the body.
  4. Getting the proper nutrition is more than important. This includes eating less fat, eating smaller portions and getting the right mix of vitamins and nutrients from your food. Setting nutritional goals is the best way to work your way toward a healthy diet. Setting these goals can be simple, and can be a good way to evaluate your progress toward a healthy diet.For example, you might set a goal to eat your recommended daily allowance of whole grains every day. To meet this goal, you can eat things like oatmeal, wholegrain bread and other foods. Track what you eat and then compare your results for a week to your goals. Evaluate your overall progress based on how close to meeting your goals are.
  5. One good thing to know is how to control your cravings. Your body craves things when it needs a certain nutrient. By recognizing these cravings you can give your body what it needs in a healthier manner. If you are craving chocolate it means your body needs magnesium. Therefore you should eat:

    If your body is craving sweets or sugary foods it needs Chromium, Phosphorous, Sulphur, Carbon, and Tryptophan. Therefore you should eat:

    • Fresh fruit
    • Broccoli
    • Cheese
    • Chicken
    • Grapes
    • Beef
    • Nuts
    • Raisins
    • Spinach
    • Sweet potatoes

    If you are craving bread or pasta your body needs nitrogen. Therefore you should eat:

    • High protein such as meat
    • Fish
    • Beans
    • Nuts

    If you are craving oily foods or fatty foods your body needs calcium. Therefore you should eat

    • Milk
    • Green leafy vegetables
    • Cheese
    • Broccoli
    • Yogurt

    If you are craving salty foods your body needs chloride so you should eat:

  6. Diet Plans: There are myriad diet plans on the market today, ranging from the “cabbage soup diet” to the Atkins diet. Most of these are fads and they offer no real benefits. The best diet is one that provides you optimum nutritional intake, limits your intake of fats and is firmly founded in all major food groups.
  7. Performance Enhancing Products: there are lots of products out there that claim to enhance your performance. Few of these are good choices, though. Some can be good solutions, such as protein powder for bodybuilders. However, that does not mean that they are right for the average person. You need to contrast their nutritional value with their cost, as well as their effectiveness.
  8. Herbs: herbs can seem like optimal solutions for dietary needs. They’re natural, after all. Herbs can be very good for helping you improve your health. For instance, many herbs offer dense nutritional content that can be good for many conditions (valerian for sleep, etc.). Again, this does not mean they are right for you. Many herbs can be harmful when consumed in high quantities. Therefore, just because a product lists natural herbs as ingredients, it does not immediately follow that the product is good for you.
  9. Sports Drinks: sports drinks are great for those who play hard. They offer rehydration and can replenish electrolytes lost through sweat and physical exertion. However, sports drinks are really only good while playing sports. Opening such a drink while studying is a bad idea. The sugar content, sodium and other elements in the drink can actually do more harm than good. If you don’t need the support offered by these drinks, then water is best.
  10. Weight Gain Products: products that tout their “weight gaining” abilities are popular, particularly with those who feel that they are underweight or who want to “bulk up.” However, most of these are not particularly good solutions for a growing body. Using them can have some very serious side effects. If you feel that you need to gain weight, then adding protein through your diet and increasing your physical activity is the best option.
  11. Weight Loss Products: weight loss products have been around as long as humans have felt “fat.” Most of these products are bunk, pure and simple. Many of them can be dangerous, as well. If you feel that you need to lose weight, then a healthy diet and plenty of exercise is the best solution available.

When you are writing a personal essay on your favorite food, it is very important to remember that healthy diet and active way of life improve your state. So, we hope that when you read these facts, you’ll understand that you need to change something and then you’ll write about your favorite healthy food. If you need to make a topic for your paper, check out our sample essay topics and look at the writing guide on a personal essay.

Chaney, M., & Ross, M. (1971). Nutrition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Cheyette, C., & Balolia, Y. (2010). Carbs & cals. [London]: Chello in association with Diabetes UK.
Lawton, B., Szarek, W., & Jones, J. (1969). A simple synthesis of azidodeoxy-sugars via chlorodeoxy-sugars. Journal Of The Chemical Society D: Chemical Communications, (14), 787. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c29690000787
Long, C. Glycemic load of whole grains, refined grains, and simple sugars consumed at breakfast.
Mackenzie, J. (1913). The sugars and their simple derivatives. London: Gurney and Jackson.
Nitric oxide and insulin resistance. (2015). Immunoendocrinology. http://dx.doi.org/10.14800/ie.657
Santon, K. (2007). Calorie Counting. Collins.

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