Scientists and Mathematicians Explore Sous Vide Cooking

I recently stumbled on mathematician Douglas Baldwin’s wonderfully detailed guide to sous vide. French for under vaccum, sous vide is a technique of cooking food sealed in bags without oxygen at relatively low temperatures and long cook times. Baldwin’s site is awesome; it features a bit about his professional work in computer science and math, some of his photography, and this extensively researched piece on sous vide (like, it’s a 34 page article with a 5 page bibliography).


Douglas Baldwin’s Website

.pdf A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking Version 0.4f


After finding Baldwin’s site, I read an interview with him by Norwegian organometallic chemistry PhD and food blogger Martin Lersch. And then I read some of the 80 page eGullet thread where posters including Baldwin, former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold and eGullet founder Steven Shaw explored sous vide.

I got curious about Baldwin’s prominent search engine ranking on the term sous vide. Sometimes I forget that the Internet is full of people with esoteric interests; I checked Yahoo Site Explorer to get a sense of how many websites link to Baldwin’s writing on Sous Vide…close to two hundred.

Some links that cracked me up included
Goons with Spoons board on Something Awful
Cooking For Engineers Forums
Gourmet Magazine, which links to Baldwin’s site with the words food dork

This kind of passion is both hilarious and inspiring, and it renews my appreciation for scientists and the varied communities of science connected with food. More detail to follow; I’d like to do some posts about specific scientific communities that center around food, like food chemists and nutritional scientists.

Create Maps of Restaurants in Google Earth

2008 San Francisco Michelin Star Restaurants in Google Earth
Here is a map I created. Do let me know what you think of it, won’t you? I’d like to know how to improve it (include more information, change formatting, etc.). Also, I’d like suggestions for what other food related maps would be useful or interesting.

View Larger Map

I’m really into Google Earth. I don’t really know why. I like maps, like the one I made of cookbook stores back in April. And one of my first posts on this blog was about the exhibit of culinary maps at the Michigan Map Library. But this project of mapping the Michelin Star Restaurants in San Francisco has me obsessed with Google Earth for about a month now. I love that it’s free. I love that there’s a huge amount of user generated content. I love that creating content can be really simple and intuitive, or extremely customized.

Putting together the content for my map was fun and labor intensive. I got the list of restaurants from the Michelin Guide website. I think I looked up the addresses manually, then used Batch Geocode to get the latitude and longitude of each location. I searched Flickr for creative commons licensed images from the restaurants. Then I fed all of this information into the Google Spreadsheet Mapper template.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy the Mapping episode of This American Life. I did. Acts one and five are spectacular. Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold describes his taste map of Pico Boulevard.

Also, during Jan Longone’s presentation on her exhibit The Old Girl Network: charity cookbooks and the empowerment of women, she showed a map of the charity cookbooks from Michigan. It’s a great presentation, and you can stream the whole thing [link].


Data on Food from US Department of Agriculture

I’m a little obsessed with data visualization. I’ve been trying to learn about collecting, formating and displaying data recently, after exploring the beautiful and communicative visuals created on Many Eyes. Below is a visualization I created using data on organic farming from the US Department of Agriculture.

I came across a table ranking the number of organic farms by state while scouring the web for data to visualize. I was totally amazed by the amount of data and information that government websites have about things related to the foods Americans grow, raise, buy, sell and eat. I’m especially taken with Amber Waves, a publication of the USDA Economic Research Service. ERS puts together amazing reports, like the one about the competition between traditional grocery stores, megastores, and other food retailers. The graphic below is taken from that article.

projected annual walmart openings
I’m pretty psyched to explore datasets and publications by other agencies to find food-related content.

Tutorial: Free Culinary Podcasts and Lectures on iTunes U

food studies lectures on itunes u from Jason Young on Vimeo.

iTunes U has sooo much stuff! Over the past couple years, I’ve been really jazzed about online learning. Some of the institutions and corporations I respect most, from the New York Public Library and Google, the Smithsonian and MIT, are making information available freely available through the Internet. Some interesting public-private partnerships have made great contributions to web based education, like the Google Book Search project, and iTunes U.

Dozens of universities and a few libraries and museums make videos and podcasts that they’ve created available through iTunes. Among the lectures on physics, math and classics, I’ve listened to Calvin Trillin speaking at Stanford, Alice Waters at Yale, Jose Andres at the Culinary Institute of America. I made a brief tutorial on how to find culinary movies and mp3s on iTunes U. I’m wrestling with Camtasia a bit, so please use the comments to let me know what need improving, what’s hard to see, hear, etc.

Julia Child: Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Line of Fire

Julia Child worked for the Office of Strategic Services. That’s not new information; the New York Times mentioned it in 1994 when her husband’s obituary. The 2002 NPR story, The Lady Was a Spy, talked about Child’s role in developing a shark repelent coating for underwater explosives! The Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe has Julia Child’s Papers, which include several documents on her time at OSS. Unfortunately, the library has very little of that collection online, but the Julia Child Papers finding aid is fascinating.

Just yesterday, Aug 13, an AP story came out about the opening of OSS personnel records at the National Archives; like the NARA press release issued the week before, the AP story emphasized famous OSS personnel including Julia Child. I had no idea Julia Child was employed by the precursor to the CIA, and it really struck a chord with me.

Julia Child OSS Record
Here’s a screenshot of the NARA record for OSS employee Julia Child, née McWilliams. I’ve requested a copy of the file from the National Archives…can’t wait to get it.

Julia Child Searches
This Google Trends Graph shows that the idea of the celebrity chef spy resonated with a lot of other people too. The graph shows peaks of searches about Julia Child last night, when the AP story came out, and today, when everyone else read the emails their friends sent them about it. Kudos to the NARA PR people for getting so many people to read a story that’s basically about archives and government documents.

As an example of how the OSS files story inspired me, title ideas for this blog post included…

Just a Splash of Death
Add Two Cups of Covert Intelligence
Julia Child, International Woman of Mystery
If you can’t stand the heat…..DIE!
Recipe for Disaster
A Deadly Concoction
Danger to Taste
This Recipe Will Self Destruct

Ah, the world’s a fine place. Well, since l can’t get to Boston or College Park right now, I think i’ll pay another visit to the Smithsonian’s wonderful online exhibit on Julia Child and the companion site about working with the grande dame to create the exhibit.

http://americanhistory.si.edu/kitchen/
http://americanhistory.si.edu/juliachild/

A Social History of the Paper Cup Part IV

mo callahan
The Glory of Waste
(part 4 in a 5 part series by Maureen Callahan)

Part one……….introduction
Part two……….the invention of the paper cup
Part three……..the invention of germ culture
Part four………the glory of waste

In 1957, Vance Packard wrote The Hidden Persuaders, a volume about how the advertising industry is deliberately alienating our wants from our needs to produce more consumers.

Advertisers offer us considerably more than the actual item involved. A Milwaukee advertising executive commented to colleagues in print on the fact that women will pay two dollars and a half for skin cream but no more than twenty-five cents for a cake of soap. Why? Soap, he explained, only promises to make them clean. The cream promises to make them beautiful. (Soaps have now started promising beauty as well as cleanness.) This executive added, “The women are buying a promise.” Then he went on to say: “The cosmetic manufacturers are not selling lanolin, they are selling hope. . . . We no longer buy oranges, we buy vitality. We do not buy just an auto, we buy prestige.” (Packard 1957)

What, then, does a consumer buy when he buys a disposable product? Luxury, cleanliness, sanitation, conspicuous consumption–the ability to buy an item that will only be used for a thirty seconds before being thrown away is a strong reminder of one’s domination over the material world.

Yet for much of American history, there was a two-way flow of materials between manufacturers and consumers. Consumers saved, re-used and recycled every bit for potential re-use; salesmen came to their homes bartering for scrap metal, wool, fats and other items that they would recycle. Those of us with family members who were alive during the depression know too well the mentality of saving to the point of hoarding.

In the nineteenth century, entire sectors of the labor market were charged with making treasure of trash. Scavenging for recycling was a baseline income source for the poor, much like the can-pickers that I see on the University of Michigan’s campus. Impoverished urban children earned pennies from strangers in exchange for sweeping pathways through the ash and grime that would overfill city streets.

Bones were carved into handles and buttons, while smaller bits were ground and charred for use in sugar refining or in making commercial fertilizer… Cloth was used, reused and transformed until it almost disappeared. Worn sheets were “turned”–cut lengthwise down the middle, flipped, and re-stretched so that the thinning center was transferred to the less-used edges. When too worn or stained, sheets and other household fabrics like tablecloths and curtains were reincarnated as pillowcases, bandages, diapers, sanitary napkins, and washrags. (Rogers 2005)

Now, Americans throw such things away. Consumerism offered Americans convenience, cleanliness and comfort–of particular importance to women, as it could often free them from the tyranny of housework. And what is more, most appliances are now designed to be disposed of when broken; the appliance-repair industry is a shadow of its former self in an era of a vast proliferation of appliances.

Trash-making both underscores and creates social differences based on economic status. From the start, “disposability” was promoted for its ability to make people feel rich: with throwaway products, they could obtain levels of cleanliness and convenience once available only to people with many servants.

As is the case with most changes in material culture, the reasons for adopting new practices and consuming new items are blurred with the ideologies their sellers promote to the extent that their use becomes compulsory. A shop owner may have been perfectly happy with his water fountain, but when the provision of paper cups is linked to public health and safety, and protestant-coded ideals of cleanliness, he is coerced into conformity to stay in business.

“Under the private culture monopoly it is a fact that ‘tyranny leaves the body free and directs its attack on the soul. The ruler no longer says: You must think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do; your life, your property, everything shall remain yours, but from this day on you are a stranger among us.’ Not to conform means to be rendered powerless, economically and therefore spiritually – to be ‘self-employed’” (Horkheimer 1944).

The merchant isn’t free to determine for himself the value of providing the paper cup—he is subject to society’s decision on this issue; acting to the contrary would hinder his business’ success.

We are thus at a point where we don’t think about our reasons for consumption–instead, they are presented to us at an emotional level. Just as doctors prescribe antibiotics to children for the sake of treating their mothers’ peace of mind and undergraduates freeze in black leggings and Ugg boots, the paper cup is a social purchase with a technological, rational face for a social problem.

A Social History of the Paper Cup Part III

mo callahan
The Invention of Germ Culture
(part 3 in a 5 part series by Maureen Callahan)

Part one……….introduction
Part two……….the invention of the paper cup
Part three……..the invention of germ culture

By 1916, more than 100 railroads throughout the country, including the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Lackawanna, The Chicago, Illinois Central, some New York Central lines, as well as the Pullman Company had entered into contracts to sell the Luellen and Moore’s products. The company soon expanded its market to drug stores and soda fountains. The flu epidemic after World War I put paper cups in even higher demand (Voss-Hubbard 1995).

At a time when developmentally disabled children were sent away to institutions for the rest of their lives and tuberculosis child wpathe diseased were sent to sanatoria, this was another measure to prevent the intermingling of the sick and the well. At a time when the causes of disease were understood only vaguely by the scientific community and not at all by the American public, infection and carrier were more closely related on a philosophical and perceptual level than they are today. According to the popular imagination, some personalities were typed to particular diseases. This thinking could work in two ways – a sensitive, “nervous” person could be more prone to hysteria, for instance, or a group of poor immigrants could be identified as intrinsically messy and smelly–without the social supports to treat disease, the notion of the sickly poor could not be tested.

In her now-canonical 1977 extended essay, “Illness as Metaphor,” Susan Sontag explores how American society has treated disease and the diseased, and gives a nuanced analysis of cultural portrayals of tuberculosis patients. Until TB was eradicated by antibiotics in the developed world, its causes were associated with a particular kind of patient and its patients were ascribed particular characteristics, most notably disorders of passion. As the disease’s symptoms provoked common appearances and reactions among its patients and those infected reacted accordingly and similarly, a recursive effect of patient-symptom-behavior-personality-patient reinforced ideas of who a consumptive was.

Tuberculosis–and the culture of tuberculosis–spawned a host of literary tropes and stereotypes about disease that continue to today. A TB patient is consumed–note the word choice–with passion, or has displaced her passion inappropriately, According to the popular understanding, consumptives’ souls and artistic spirits become more pronounced as their bodies are burned away by the disease and flashes of vitality give way to peace and a clear vision of the universe. “TB was–still is– thought to produce spells of euphoria, increased appetite, exacerbated sexual desire.” (Sontag 1977)

young girl tuberculosisThis disease changes the patient not just corporally, but also, and inextricably, spiritually. A person suffering from TB is therefore not just a patient–she is a type.

The myth of TB constitutes the next-to-last episode in the long career of the ancient idea of melancholy–which was the artist’s disease, according to the theory of the four humours. The melancholy character–or the tubercular–was a superior one: sensitive, creative, a being apart. (ibid)

How, then, is the consumptive treated by her (and most often in literature her, although a feminized him is also usual) family, friends and doctors? How hard do we work to cure a patient if her disease makes her more beautiful, more peaceful, and more spiritual? How tempting must it be for a romantic-era family to attribute the horrifying pain and wasting of this disease to the will of some god?

Early 20th century germ culture was marked by an overwhelming belief in self-control. The Journal of the Outdoor Life, a periodical to promote “persons seeking health by an outdoor life, and particularly to disseminate related information looking to the prevention and care of tuberculosis” included lengthy lists of how consumptives should behave in all contexts and how to care for all parts of one’s body. “Never swallow your expectoration. It is dangerous for you,” according to one particularly earnest piece of advice. This article also advises to eat eight raw eggs and six glasses of milk every day reminds readers that “while amusements are necessary for all human beings, the person who has not the grit to deny himself pleasure for profit, has not got the ability to succeed in anything” (JOL 1909). The journal also included inspiring biographies of consumptives, including Robert Louis Stevenson, reports from sanatoria, designs for sleeping porches, poetry, and lists of books by consumptives and about consumption.

french tuberculosis posterThe publication was written for the wealthy and held a strong disdain for the poor. An article by Mary Lent, RN, about her work with the poor, promotes the idea of two types of consumptives, rich and poor.

In the first place, there is the instruction of groups or communities by means of leactures, exhibits and the press. The people reached by this method are well above the poverty line, and their habits and circumstances of living protect them as a rule against tuberculosis, which is found among them only incidentally, tuberculosis being essentially a disease of poverty.

The second method is the instruction of individuals, themselves tuberculous patients, belonging to the class which the disease claims as particularly its own–namely, the poor….

The experience of four years of continuous work in the homes of tuberculous patients of the class under consideration has demonstrated to me that the results hoped for have not been obtained and moreover are note obtainable… there is now no part of Baltimore where instruction concerning tuberculosis has not been given…. These people are unable to apply what they have learned consistently and unflaggingly in their daily lives–an inability due in the first place to lack of sufficient moral strength, in the second place to the lack of the material necessities and requisite surroundings.

Lent goes on to explain that the only true hope for the consumption problem is to separate the cases that are unable and unwilling to care for themselves, and that the nurse’s task is not to teach these communities to prevent and care for TB, but rather to teach them to submit cheerfully to separating from a loved one and sending him to a hospital.

A Social History of the Paper Cup Part II

maureen callahanThe Invention of the Paper Cup
(part two in a five-part series by Maureen Callahan)

Following the Civil War, when modern conveniences like running water, indoor bathrooms and gaslights were only at first available to the affluent, certain sectors of the “have” society initiated philanthropic projects to “purify” America. While many of these groups sought to promote temperance or fight gambling, others endeavored to fight grime. For several decades the women’s clubs ostensibly served as organizations for self-improvement but thrust later shifted to civic affairs – clubwomen interested in sanitary reform set out to accomplish what the men of the city had failed to achieve: programs for clean streets and alleys. The target was, of course, not democratically chosen. These women set out for America’s slums– Jane Addams’ Hull House, for instance, in the meatpacking district of Chicago–to not only improve the environments of the poor, but to also, and by extension, to improve their tastes, their spirits, and their souls. This was an effort, to borrow a modern term, to “mainstream” the immigrant poor.

After all, the idea that infection could come from other humans was relatively new. Popular and literary tropes demonstrate that disease was not considered a condition, it was understood as a personality type. Thus, if the poor shared the same habits and sensibilities as the rich and enjoyed the same activities, progressives would have succeeded in making them no longer “sickly” (which is an entirely different measure of considering disease than making a person no longer “sick”).

In 1906, the US Public Health Service’s Fourth Annual Congress convened doctors from across the United States to discuss sanitation on the nation’s railroads. They directed public health officials to collect samples from well fountains, waiting areas and communal drinking cups aboard the train to evaluate germ infestation (in particular, tuberculosis) onboard trains. Conference participants were appalled by these results and subsequently devised new measures to increase sanitation, including the abolition of communal drinking cups and well fountains (Fourth Conference 1906).

The sanitation zeitgeist propelled the private sector as well. On February 3, 1909 Hugh Moore and Lawrence Luellen formed the Public Cup Vendor Company (the precursor of the Dixie Cup company) in New York, principally to lease their machines to railroads and railroad stations, and to sell cups in bulk. Before going any further, it should be noted that the Dixie cup succeeded where other cup manufacturers failed because the design was genuinely brilliant. Luellen produced two designs for the cup. The first, made from a single piece of paper with folded sides (much like the small receptacles for condiments at lunch counters) was treated with paraffin to prevent the absorption of water. However, for the sake of dispensing, which requires a more rigid design, he developed the two-piece cup–one piece wrapped upon itself for the sides, and one piece creating the bottom. With a fluted lip, this model was more stable than the one-piece cup. This flange was necessary for use in a dispensing machine, so that one cup at a time could be disengaged from a stack of nested cups. The incorporation of a raised bottom helped to produce a looser fit and uniform spacing between adjacent nested cups, thus providing for more reliable dispensing.

Keep in mind that the paper cup appealed to the scientific community differently than it did to the public – scientists appreciated that the disposable, sanitary cup would prevent the intermixing of passengers’ germs; wealthy progressives, with a greater awareness and concern for the poor, appreciated the chance to prevent the (albeit symbolic) intermixing of passengers.

Minnesota Board of Health
The paper cup business received a boost when the campaign to abolish the public drinking vessel gained several important endorsements. Lafayette College biology professor Alvin Davison’s influential study on the contamination present in school drinking cups was published as “Death in School Drinking Cups” in Technical World Magazine in August 1908, and redistributed by the Massachusetts State Board of Health in November 1909. Davison’s experiments were carried out in Easton, Pennsylvania’s public schools. and uncovered the following of a common cup which had been in use nine days in a school:

By counting the cells present on fifty different areas on the glass, as seen under the microscope, it was estimated that the cup contained over 20,000 human cells or bits of skin. As many as 150germs were seen clinging to a cingle cell, and very few cells showed less than 10 germs. Between the cells were thousands of germs left there by the smears of saliva, deposited by the drinkers. Not less than one hundred thousand bacteria were present on every square inch of the glass. (Davison 1908)

These figures are, of course, not presented in any kind of context. What kinds of germs are we talking about, exactly? Are these the bacteria that live in our mouths to help digest food? How many bacteria are on a clean ceramic or paper cup? What exactly are the consequences of drinking from this glass? To the official ear in the early twentieth century, these figures were enough to discontinue the practice of common drinking vessels. In 1909, Kansas passed the first state law to abolish the common drinking cup–the “tin dipper” in public places. The publicity given the Kansas campaign and Professor Davison’s survey eventually resulted in state after state passing laws that forbade the use of a common drinking vessel in public places. Railroads were among the first to recognize the benefits to the public of abolishing the common drinking cup, and they provided the Dixie Cup Company with the first steady market for its penny vendor. As the use of a common drinking cup was forbidden in places like schools, offices and other public places, the company began to market an apparatus which would dispense the cups for free, which still exists today in a variety of soulless offices. In his own campaign against the “tin dipper,” the founders of the Dixie Cup went on the offensive, speaking at the Pure Food Show in Madison Square Garden on the dangers of the common drinking cup on September 23, 1910 and in 1909-1910 publishing a pamphlet called “The Cup Campaigner,” from which the above illustration was taken.

Moving away from the communal drinking cup would not only serve to separate the healthy from the sick, but also long-time users of public transportation (affluent, white Americans) from increasingly mobile minorities and immigrants. Millions of people were taking up new standards of domestic culture previously restricted to the upper class and this change brought a feeling of uneasiness to those who remembered how life used to be before the invading alien element.

The paper cup was not only touted as a way to cure the social ill of public contamination; it also, and using similar discourses, was promoted as a magic bullet to defeat drunkenness. At about the same time as Luellen and Moore were seeking to place their mechanical vendors in public places, the Anti-Saloon League of New York had begun running advertisements promoting water machines as an alternative to saloons. According to the Reverend Howard H. Russell, founder of the American Anti-Saloon League

Thousands of persons are tempted into saloons every day because there are no sanitary drinking fountains where a man can get a drink of pure cold water in a clean cup…. It is a very sad fact that we have over 10,000 rum-shops in greater New York, and not a single sanitary drinking fountain to be found. What we need in all cities is sanitary drinking fountains…. Each 1,000 Luellen Cup and Water Vendors, selling only 200 drinks each vendor per day, would mean 200,000 refreshing drinks per day instead of 200,000 temptations to drink something harmful. (Petroski 2003)

Think not, however, that saloons were a social sore that the poor needed healed. Working-class taverns were a kind of mutual aid society and offered amenities poor worker housing conditions lacked. Public toilets, food, warmth, clean water, meeting space, check-cashing services, newspapersoften otherwise unavailable to workers in the late nineteenth century citycould be found free of charge in the saloon (Rosenzweig 1983).

The affluent American, educated in germ theory, would indeed be glad to pay the cent per cup that was charged in the early part of the 20th century. Poorer persons, nostalgic for that “germ- infested” cup on hot and dusty days would have to go thirsty or take used cups from the wastebasket. Those with the pennies to pay were far more likely to get clean cups for drinking, as well as all the other accouterments of sanitary living than were their impecunious counterparts.

The sanitary transformation occurred most completely at the high end of the market, as the costs of cleanliness were passed on directly to the consumer. The process worked more unevenly at the lower end of the market. In the case of the disposable drinking cup, the entire movement turned out to be something of a flop and inspired the invention of sanitary drinking fountains. At first, companies and government agencies began to install cup-vending devices, which sold paper cups for a penny each. But as hygiene reformers realized, even the cost of a penny a cup was out of the reach of many people’s means. Eventually, with legislation passed against the common drinking cup, and backlash against the undemocratic paper cup, fountains came into widespread use.

A Social History of the Paper Cup

Jason: I’m thrilled to introduce a series of posts by librarian & archivist Maureen Callahan. She is an alumna of Bryn Mawr College and a recent graduate of the School of Information at the University of Michigan. When I heard that Maureen had researched and written about the origins of the disposable cup, I begged her to publish on Food in the Library. She kindly agreed.

Food is situational. Why does a hot dog at a ballgame taste different than a hot dog anywhere else? How is a meal on china different than a meal on fiestaware? Does soda taste different when it’s served in glass bottles? What is it about packaging, anyway, that alters the significant properties of food?

According to Michael Pollan (of The Omnivore’s Dilemma fame), nineteen percent of Americans eat dinner in their cars. They probably don’t use reusable servingware. What happens to this waste? Why do we think it’s okay to create so much waste? Has it always been this way?

Let’s find out. Below, I present the first part in a five-part series — the biography of the paper cup, an item that was part of the first great wave of disposable culture.

Crusades against Germs and Mountains of Waste:
How the Paper Cup Created Disposable Culture

(part one in a five-part series)

The paper cup is a gateway to the dark side of American material culture – waste, disease, class divisions and environmental pollution. It is a post-germ theory, post-industrial product; its invention was partly the result of nativism and panic and its promotion piggybacks a culture of environmental carelessness. The disposable culture that was christened with the advent of the paper cup was designed to keep people separate from each other and alienated from the creation, composition and consequences of commodities.

Early advertisements for the paper cup appeared around 1885, and a patent search reveals examples premiering mostly in the early twentieth century. This time frame corresponds with two other closely related movements in American history – first, the invention of modern advertising, at the first moments when instead of scrambling to meet consumer needs and demands, a manufacturer’s task was to produce users, to produce demand for his steadily-growing supply and second, the discovery of germs between 1879 and 1900, which produced a cause years before the solution of antibiotics in 1928 (Warner 2001). Without a way to kill germs, progressive-era Americans aimed to control them – leading, in part, to a rise in disposable personal products, including sanitary napkins, paper collars, and disposable tableware (Torres 1998).

This series of posts will evaluate the birth and life of the paper cup in terms of these contemporary social movements – public sanitation and the rise of commodity culture. Paper cups did not sell themselves. They were the subject of an extensive public-health campaign, conducted as much by public health officials as by manufacturers and their advertising firms. Because the paper cup was developed as a tool to control disease, I will draw on the work of Susan Sontag (Illness as Metaphor) to evaluate the social structures that determined how sickness was understood and sick individuals’ places in American society. I will then discuss the invention of a culture of waste, examine how a paper cup is made, the environmental impact of its creation and the consequences of its disposal. Finally, I will visit the paper cup’s cousins, the polystyrene cup and the water bottle, and discuss how some of the discourses that contributed to the paper cup’s rise continue in public water policy in the United States.

“People are recognizing that food in the library is an irresistible force” ~ Scott Bennett, Yale University Librarian Emeritus

A big thank you to Dr. Scott Bennett for this remark; I’ve never felt so compelled to take a quote out of context. Professor Bennett’s comment was included in the Chronicle of Higher Education article Snacks in the Stacks: Libraries Welcome Food Amid the Books. Believe it or not, I don’t have particularly strong feelings about eating and drinking in libraries. However, I thought it would be fun to hear from fellow librarians about their encounters with food in the library. Please add your stories in the comments!
No Food in the Library Sign