Week 4: General Tso’s Chicken (and Other East Asian Dishes!)

Today I started off my week by seeing The Search for General Tso’s at the Tribeca Film Festival. I am very interested in making East Asian foods, so that is what I am going to be focusing on this week.

I’ve honestly only had General Tso’s chicken once or twice in my life. I prefer to have authentic Chinese food in Chinatown, but if I go out for Americanized Chinese food, I usually get sesame chicken. While I went into this movie thinking it was just going to be about how General Tso’s is made, I was pleasantly surprised to get a nice history and cultural information about it.

One line in the film was about how General Tso’s is like gaining an “invitation into the world.” I really have never thought about food in this way, but it really is true. Food can tell so much about a culture, including the agriculture, nutrition and values. After seeing this movie, I feel like I have a newfound interest in the culture and background of food. It was so interesting to “walk” through the various Chinese dishes, such as Chop Suey, and see how they evolved into what we see as General Tso’s today.

While General Tso’s is now considered American-Chinese food, it was created by a Chinese man in China. Although the dish has changed dramatically since then, it is interesting to notice how the dish has evolved, and even more interesting to examine what kinds of dishes are popular in the United States (mostly consisting of sugar, salt and fat).

I really enjoyed this movie and I think it was a great way to start my week. This week I will indeed by concocting my own General Tso’s chicken as well as a homemade stir fry and some simple sushi. I may also try to recreate an East Asian dessert! I have never made any of these dishes before, and I am very excited to be trying them out. I hope they will taste as well as I imagine they will!

Review: Food, Inc.

 

Food, Inc. is an eyeopening movie that really shows the horrors of the food industry. The film started with an introduction by Michael Pollan, the author of Food Rules as he tells about the supermarket and how many of the products we believe are healthy are actually just chemicals.

One of the biggest things I learned from the movie is that 4 companies own the vast majority of the meat market. Because they own so much of this market, they are able to treat their animals however they wish. Therefore, they usually treat them in extremely inhumane ways and they do whatever they can to produce meat for the cheapest price possible. The problem is consumers do not have other options because these monopolies own so many of the animals. Most of these chickens, never see sunlight and they are injected with hormones that make their organs grow too big for their bodies to handle. The scenes where chickens are trying to walk, but can only take a few steps at a time is devastating.

It was a difficult movie to watch because of how graphic it was. Far too often when I am eating chicken, I don’t even think about where it came from or how it was treated. Seeing the overcrowded slaughterhouses in this movie was disturbing and the images will probably stay with me for the rest of my life.

I definitely think everyone should watch this movie. While I feel like I am an educated consumer, there are definitely even more things that I should be thinking about while shopping. Unfortunately, not much is going to change until the “carrots are a better deal than the chips.” At the end of the movie, I was left with a disappointment that not much had been done. Kevin’s law, which would have been a bill to close down factories with contaminated meat, did not pass. Many people were still eating chips rather than carrots and Monsanto still owned (and contaminated) at least 90% of all soybeans. I hope in the future more people will understand that what we eat now can effect not only how we feel and act today, but in the future too.