Alicia's Food For Thought

Feels like a Dream

Hi readers,

It has been a week since I’ve returned to the United States and it has been nice to do veg out and do nothing. Thailand and China already feels like a dream and like I never really was there. I still can’t believe I was out of the United States for 11 weeks and that I’ll be going back to NYU for my senior year in two.

Here are some my favorite food in Thailand. Keep in mind I was a Pescatarian while I was there so no pork, beef, or chicken dishes here although I am sure they were equally as delicious.

Som Tam (Papaya Salad)- I ate this at least once a week and asked for extra chilis and no shrimp :).

making papaya salad som tam

papaya salad som tam thailand

Nam Prik Num– Northern Thai Green Chili Paste with steamed vegetables

Nam Prik Ka Pi– Thai Chili Paste with fried vegetables

Fcuk Meaw (No that isn’t a typo.)

fcuk meaw

Kao Soy– Northern Thai Soup made with coconut milk aka very fattening.

northern thailand kao soy

northern thailand kao soy toppings

Thai Vegetable Spring Rolls (Yes, you can get this in the US….)

thai spring roll

The internship at the Mae Fah Luang Foundation was an amazing learning experience. I didn’t learn much about marketing or branding but the cultural experience was invaluable. I think this was a summer of a lot of self reflection and I hope I do lose my sense of self-awareness when I go back to school. When you are really put outside of your comfort zone, you get the chance to step outside of your culture and try to get of a sense of what makes you you. I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled all over the world, but I’ve never been to an Eastern country for long period of time before. I thought being in Thailand was going to be similar to my experience in Nicaragua as an Amigos de las Americas Volunteer, but really the two experiences can not be compared. I think I was still very young as a person when I went to Nicaragua and Thailand felt like I was reaching a pivotal point of “growing up”.

bangkok thailand skyline

I want to allot enough time to continue self-reflection at school and I think my decision to cut things out of my life and to work less hours will allow me to do so. I want to continue Yoga when I go back to New York and I think it will remind me patience and to be gentle with myself and my body.

new york city

I still can’t really put into words what happened in Thailand and maybe I am not that different because of it- but I feel older (and maybe a little bit wiser) and I know I’ve made some great friends while I was there and I can’t wait to see them again in the future. (You all better visit me in NYC!)

time flies

Now that the summer is coming to a close, my posts will return to going back to food and food issues. I feel a little out of the loop in the food world and I am going to spend some time now to catch up on reading. Thanks for reading about my Asian Adventures and coming along for the ride. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back to Asia next summer (Bali?).


Alicia Kim


No Impact Man – Film Review

Hi readers,

After spending a lovely time in Union Square Park with Jamie yesterday, I watched No Impact Man, a 2009 documentary about Colin Beavan and his family going through a social experiment of having “no impact” on the earth (i.e. eating sustainably, producing no garbage, not spending any money on new clothes, no electricity, etc.). You follow their journey in answering the question, “Is it possible to enjoy a good life without wasting so much?” Usually I watch documentaries that revolve around food and the social/political/cultural implications food has on our lives, but this film really encompasses the whole gambit of consumption (electricity/energy, food, garbage, etc.) and how each individual person/family is affecting the environment.

I applaud Colin for wanting to actually live out the values he believes in and for recording his journey (I’m including his book No Impact Man to my list of books to buy). When I hang out with my friends, we sometimes talk about how we want to help the Earth and that we wish we could actually do something. We do our part in recycling… but that’s about it. It seems like the Earth’s (and consequently ours) problems seem to be looming overhead. We know that they are there, and we know they need to be addressed, but I feel like I have no tools to bring those problems down into my hands so that I become a part of the solution.

Here is the trailer to the documentary if you are interested:

Colin does a really good job at researching different techniques and ideas as to how these “no impact” phases are going to pan out over the year. As a writer, he is obviously well versed in finding resources to help him with his narrative and he writes in his blog in hopes to inspire and influence others to make their footprint smaller on the world. It is almost ironic how “No Impact Man” really does want to make an impact on the world but in a way that it doesn’t actually impact the world in a harmful way. I think his emphasis on research is really important because before we can do anything, we first need to know what we are talking about. In order for him to measure the changes his one family has on the waste of the world, he needs to know how many pounds of garbage they produce in a day, he needs to know how many joules go into making producing a hamburger patty versus a root vegetable, and he needs to know which vendors he can buy sustainable products from. His devotion of time and effort to finding out and figuring out how to live out his values speaks volumes to how much he cares about this issue.

My favorite person in the documentary was Colin’s wife, Michelle Conlin. She is a writer for Business Week and really brings humor and the difficult aspects of this experiment to the documentary. The dynamic between Colin and Michelle almost makes this documentary into a romantic comedy. Colin acts as the wide-eyed idealist that wants to change the world and that change can be easily implemented while Michelle has a realist’s perspective and questions how they are going to survive as a family living a “no impact” lifestyle aka not having a cup of coffee (because it is not locally grown) or ice cubes (because she doesn’t have a refrigerator let alone a freezer to have them). Michelle goes a long with most of the experiment but “breaks” the rules by “taking care of me” such as dying her hair at a salon, or grabbing an espresso shot in order to meet her story’s deadline. She makes the whole situation seem very human. Colin is almost too extreme and it almost takes away the feasibility of living a “no impact” lifestyle. I personally would not be able to have a box of compost and worms in my apartment (especially during the Summer months when they are not allowing themselves to use the AC)- but Michelle convinces me that you can work through the struggle and get to the other side of the changes.

In the documentary they reference this article, “The Year without Toilet Paper,” from The New York Times, and I think it was an eye-opening experience to see Colin go through the process of becoming this big story and having dozens of new networks, television shows, and radio shows contact him to talk about his family’s experiment. They talk about a lot of backlash and all the haterade that bloggers and writers had on Colin. Did Colin have motives behind this stunt? Yes. Did he want to see more books? Yes. Is he a self-promoter and self-proclaimer? Yes. But at the end of the day, are all those things bad? Did people start thinking about how much garbage they produce? Yes. Did people start talking about our consumption issues? Yes. Did people know what composting is? Yes. Do I think Colin had more of a positive influence than a negative one? Yes.

After watching this documentary, I am going to implement a completely plastic free/as waste-free as possible rule when it comes to buying food. Colin and Michelle spend a lot of time in the Union Square Green Market (which happens to be conveniently located in front of my residence hall) and explain to the vendors that they can not purchase individually wrapped goods or having things wrapped up in paper. Instead, they bring their own bags and cloth to wrap things in. I never realized how much waste goes to putting all our groceries in plastic bags, boxes and containers. I also wonder how much we are spending on each product on just the packaging alone.

Another cool thing about this documentary is how NYU is everywhere in this film. I see Carlyle, Kimmel, Bobst, Washington Square Park, and they live close to Rubin Hall. Colin even speaks at an NYU event and my friend Stephanie is in the scene! Even though I like the the topic of this film, it just made it even better to see my school and basically things I walk by everyday in this documentary. It made things very real, but at the same time very surreal, because this was all happening while I was a Freshman/Sophomore.

The biggest take away I conclude from this documentary is Colin’s quote on the purpose of life: “Doing more good than harm in the world.” And really, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that what we all strive to do? To leave the world in a better place than when we found it?

Thanks for reading and hope you have a tasty but a low impact meal today… actually make that everyday.

Alicia Kim
Food for Thought Resident Assistant

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Hi readers,

I have a tasty  news bite for you today! On March 26th, ABC is going to debut Jamie Oliver’s new reality show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” I suppose I am on a “Food Revolution kick since my last post was on the French’s food revolution.

Here is the trailer for the show:

You might recognize Jamie Oliver for his shows on Food Network for his show Jamie at Home. I’m actually really excited for this show because I think it is bringing a lot of attention to a huge issue facing America right now. It reminds me a lot of the other feel good reality shows such as NBC’s Biggest Loser, and ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I am really interested to see how the season pans out and how the city changes (or does not change). I think the main issue that Jamie addresses is the fact that America does not cultivate a healthy food culture. We have lost our relationship with food and the only thing we think about doing is eating it. We don’t know where it comes from, how it is prepared, who is growing it, how to cook it, or what it really looks like. I am really encouraged that this food epidemic is hitting the big times on national television and I hope the keep a sense of urgency on the show because this is not a fictional story- this is something we need to deal with today.

Jamie Oliver is also the 2010 winner of the TED Prize. His wish: “I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”

Here is the video to his award speech:

If you want to get involved, I suggest that you sign his online petition here. It literally takes less than 30 seconds and he plans to go to the White House and present the petition to the President Obama and the First Lady (yeah Michelle!) to show how many Americans care about the obesity problem in America.

I sent the Ted Prize video out to my Urban Garden group in my social entrepreneurship class because we are planning on starting a garden up in Queens. We are calling our group “Community Seeds” and we want to teach members of the community how to grow their own food and also how to make it into a business. We are still in the beginning stages of the process, we have our space and our budget set up. Now we need to purchase gardening supplies and our outreach to the community. Instead of my vlog strictly about my blog, I am going to vlog about the “Community Seeds” adventure and how we are progressing- so get excited to watch those videos soon!

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think about this new reality show coming soon!


Alicia Kim
Food for Thought Resident Assistant

The Meatrix
February 15, 2010, 5:17 PM
Filed under: Media Bites | Tags: , , , , ,

Hi readers,

Happy President’s day!

Just finished watching Media that Matters: Good Food. It basically is a compilation of 16 short documentaries/films surrounding around food and food issues. You can actually go to the website and watch all the short films there. On of the films is called The Meatrix (a parody off of the Matrix) and I’ve heard about it from the Eat Well Guide, and was excited to get a chance to watch it.

Here are clips of The Meatrix! It is really entertaining and informative about the meat industry and how you can make changes in your consumer behavior to make a make a difference. I am reminded of my AP US History reading, The Jungle by Upton Sinclair whenever I read/see anything related to the meat industry.


Alicia Kim
Food for Thought Resident Assistant

Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution – Film Review

Hi readers,

As you may or may not have noticed, I am an avid documentary watcher. I LOVE documentaries. A few of my favorite are Helvetica, Iraq in FragmentsFood, Inc., and Black Gold. Now I have a new documentary to add to the list- Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution by Jean-Paul Jaud. My cousin Jinah would be proud to know that the film is made entirely in French and it is about a small village in France, named Barjac, where the mayor mandates an all-organic menu for the lunch program in the local (private) school. They serve 200-220 meals a day and the film focuses on different the stakeholders such as the farmers, parents, kids, and health care advocates.

I don’t think I can count how many times I’ve heard how French cuisine is the best cuisine in the world, or that there is nothing better then a French meal. Julia Child became famous for making traditional French cooking accessible to the modern American wife/mom. I did not grow up eating any French food, went to France once in my life, and have only seen beef bourguingnon from watching Ina Garten on the Food Network. But what I liked about this film was how even the French has lost touched with eating and enjoying the right food and that America is not the only country dying from an eating disorder.

In parts of the film, government officials try to explain the increasing numbers of people (including children) that die from cancer and how the food industry and pesticides play a role in that fact. What I found alarming was how one government official said that the current generation will not be as healthy as their parents. Being 20 now, a lot of the times I do feel like I think I’m invincible and that of course I am healthier than my parents, but at the same time I can’t run 5 miles straight (I used to when I was in Cross Country!) like my dad can or work out three times a week like my mom. And our health is obviously linked to our environment and what we put into it. After the mayor mandated that the kitchen to go all-organic, the children noticed that the food tasted better and that is was of higher quality than before. They even started a small garden in their school and all the students collectively took care of the produce together and were served the fruits of their labor together in the cafeteria. I can’t imagine the satisfaction it must feel like to be 7-10 years old and being able to enjoy food that you grew with your own two hands. It would be my dream to see other nursery schools, hospitals, and regular schools (not just private!) to look towards small-scale agriculture to serve the younger generation.

I’ve written before about the issues of prices and how organic food is more expensive than buying the everyday food items in the grocery store, but at the same time we have to look at the collective costs eating this way is causing us. The film makes it very clear that you can not put a price on health and you can not put a price on our future. If you think about all the hidden costs that goes into mass production of food you will realize that the organic food ends up cheaper. How? Well, as more and more farmers spray their fields with toxic chemicals, the yield on their farm goes higher, but as every farmer is doing that believing they will get more bang for their buck, the prices decline rapidly as their is much more supply than demand. If this was a traditional business, the head honchos of a company can cut costs by firing employees, closing down factories, etc. But a farmer can not lay off his land, instead he needs to squeeze out even more produce in order to stay afloat – but then the price declines even more. Then farmers demand the government to give them compensation on their losses and hello guys, that money comes out of our taxes! It really is not a question of finances, but a question of seeing how these issues are real, but at the same time they are preventable by controlling what you eat.

As I was reading The New York Times today, there was an article called “A Federal Effort to Push Junk Food Out of Schools” that talks about how the Obama Administration is pushing for legislation on banning candy and sugary beverages in schools. I love how Michelle Obama is talking about childhood obesity being a priority and she wants to take initiative in addressing this problem but at the same time, there was a 7-11 down the block from my high school, and if I craved a Twix bar or Spicy Hot Cheetos, my open-campus allowed me to get it if I wanted it. I see how schools not supporting such poor eating habits, I still feel like nutrition and eating well in general needs to a part of a school’s curriculum if you want to see any improvements in younger people’s health. Not to dog down on this federal push, but I think Michelle’s approach to the White House Garden is more applicable for students to be involved in their food. I think changing the Coke cans to Aquafina bottles is not the same as teaching kids how to be accountable for a communal garden like they do in Barjac. They should learn about how worms are necessary in order for soil to grab the nutrients it needs or what a zucchini flower looks like. I understand that Barjac was a small school and I can’t tell you how to apply that same curriculum to larger American public schools but I do think it has to come from the parents. Parents really need to advocate for a holistic curriculum at schools and until there is one, parents should do holistic teachings at home. I also think it is quite a rarity for a mayor to mandate such a law. As he says in the film, telling parents they are killing their children does not win him any votes, and telling farmers they are killing the country does not win him any votes either, but he says it is a conversation necessary to have. He would definitely have my vote if I lived in that lovely French town.

This also reminds me of another article that I read about non-GMO certification, but I think I will wait to talk about that when I do my film review on The Future of Food. Anyways, people have been asking me about what I did in Turkey so here is my little blurb:

When I was in Turkey, I studied Muslim and Islamic identity through the Halal diet and I came to realize that my research was completely invalid because in Turkey everything is Halal. I assumed that they had all the different choices we had and certification on our groceries like things being Kosher, Organic, Fair-Trade, Free-Range, Pasture-fed, etc. But it was the status quo for things to be Halal since it is such a integral part of their culture and they don’t even need to think about the certification of their food being “lawful” to eat. Needless to say my paper did not hold a lot of substance, but it made me really wish for it to be completely normal for things to be made organically, naturally, and sustainably and that we didn’t need any certification for it at all.

Hope you had your fill of Food for Thought and see? I told you I would be blogging more regularly now. :)


Alicia Kim
Food for Thought Resident Assistant

Food Matters
January 8, 2010, 6:47 PM
Filed under: Media Bites | Tags: , , ,

Hi readers,

Just got into NYC this morning and am heading to Istanbul, Turkey tomorrow afternoon! Super excited but my sleep schedule is already messed up!

While waiting for my flight tomorrow, I’m going to be watching this:

Enjoy the trailer! I will write a review when I get back from Turkey. BTW, my research paper in Turkey is going to be about the Halal diet so look forward to a post about that too!

So happy school is starting up again, but will be sad that there are so many of my friends missing studying abroad! :(


Alicia Kim
Food for Thought Resident Assistant

Food, Inc. Film Review

Hi readers,

I finally finished with my finals last week, and now I’m back in beautiful California!

Now that I have the time, I am going to be reading a lot more about food (I’m currently in the middle of the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan).

In the beginning of December, I screened Food, Inc. with Alan and my floors. We had dinner catered by Village Natural (which is delicious and highly recommended, thanks Alyssa, Krysia, and Anna Pod for the suggestion).

I really enjoyed the documentary and it was a great overview of the food policies and problems we have in the United States. I feel like if I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma before watching the Food, Inc., I probably would not find the documentary very informative.

For those of you who have no idea about Food, Inc., here is “About the Film” section of the website:

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli—the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s DilemmaIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield’s Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising—and often shocking truths—about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

So the main question Food, Inc. poses is “How much do we know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families?” and I found it fascinating to follow the food from beyond the local grocery store. I know I’m guilty of not knowing where my food comes from or not being aware of the effects of what I buy.

I understand that many people might not care about where their food comes from because food is food as long as it fills you up, but I do think there is something to be said about where our food comes from when cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers are the leading causes of death and diseases in America. (Source.) We are really going through a health crisis right now, and diet/nutrition plays a huge part in preventing that from continuing on.

So now that I’m watching these films, and reading these books, I have come to the conclusion that I need to drastically change the way that I eat. So going into 2010, I am not going to eat any meat (the way that it is processed is so messy that I’m just going to avoid the issue all together). I am going to commit myself to eating as locally and organically as possible, and if not, buying products that is a fair price to the farmer, no matter where s/he may be around the world. Yes, it is going to be terribly difficult, and as a student, it is going to be extremely hard on my budget to eat this way, but this is me voting, and me communicating that I want the way America produces food and eat to be different. I completely understand that this type of lifestyle is not feasible for everyone due to financial circumstances, or time constraints, but as someone who can control what I eat (I live by myself, I do have a green market available across the street 4 times a week, etc.), I do have the resources to be selective on the way I eat.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m some food expert, because I’m not, and I’m not going to pretend that I am going to tell you how you should eat. However, I do think you should commit yourself to knowing what you are eating and not only what it is doing to the environment, economy, and the well-being of other, but also what it is doing to your body. Your individual actions to eat something, or to buy a certain grocery is not exclusive to just affecting your bank account. What you decide to buy really does have to say about your values as a person, and you may not even know that you are stating those values. So I urge you, get some more background information and a great place to start is the “About the Issues” section of the website. I also put more resources and books in the “Resources” section of my blog.

I’m hungry for change, are you?

Alicia Kim
Food for Thought Resident Assistant