Latham St. Commons

We are building a resilient and sustainable ecosystem of people working together to address all of the factors affecting access to good health—social support, health care, education, diet, employment, air and water quality.

"Where" Are You Eating?

By Ivy Faye Monroe

 

During the first meeting of 51-366 :: Designing for Community, a studio course through Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design that will be participating in the development of the Latham St. Commons project, the students took part in an exercise to discuss where the food we eat originated. For vegetables, where were they grown? For meats, where was the animal raised, where was the meat packaged? For breads, where was the wheat grown, where was it baked?

Bringing this experience home with me, I resolved to attempt this exercise for all the ingredients of a meal I cooked on my own. I applied this exercise to cooking a breakfast sandwich. The ingredients, and their sources are as follows:

½ Red onion, chopped and fried                -         Origins: ??

                           Distributed by Topco Associates, LLC

                           Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

                           Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                           $3.00 for 3 lb. Bag

1 Potato, peeled, diced, and fried             -         Origins: Idaho

                                                                                       Distributed by Giant Eagle Supermarkets

                                                                                       Pittsburgh, PA 15213

                                                                                       Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                                                                                       $5.00 for 10 lb. bag

½ Green Bell Pepper, chopped                   -    Origins: ??

                                                                                        Distributed by Giant Eagle Supermarkets

                                                                                        Pittsburgh, PA 15213

                                                                                        Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                                                                                        $1.00 per lb.

2 Eggs, fried                                                       -         Origins: ??

                                                                                         Distributed by Giant Eagle Supermarkets

                                                                                         Pittsburgh, PA 15213

                                                                                         Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                                                                                         $3.50 for 1 dozen eggs

Mozzarella Cheese, 1 handful                     -         Origins: ??

                                                                                         Distributed by Trader Joe’s

                                                                                         Monrovia, CA 91016

                                                                                         Purchased at Trader Joe’s Village of Eastside

                                                                                         $3.50 for 12 oz.

1 Wheat Bagel, sliced and toasted            -         Origins: ??

                                                                                         Distributed by Trader Joe’s

                                                                                         Needham, MA 02494

                                                                                         Purchased at Trader Joe’s Village of Eastside

                                                                                         $3.00 for bag of 6

 

What I began to discover as I cooked my way through this meal is that the true origins of the foods I consume, even with the most seemingly innocuous foods, is totally opaque. With the exception of the potato, which I know was grown somewhere in Idaho’s 83,569 sq. miles, I have absolutely no idea where my foods originated. I do not know if they were grown locally, or even if they were grown somewhere on the American continents. While I am certain that all these foods are all completely safe to eat, I find it totally fascinating how easy it is for me to exist so divorced from the sources of the very substances which keep me alive. I am not yet sure how this line of inquiry will inform my shopping habits to come, but I know that I will not look at the food I eat quite the same anymore.