Blog post #2 Foodscape in East Harlem

Revisiting my ecology this time, I had a clear goal in mind: to get to know the people of the neighborhood, talk to them, connect with them, and really feel what it’s like to live there. As opposed to before merely observing and taking photos from the outside, I stepped into fast food restaurants, bodegas, and supermarkets to grasp how people are living and eating there. However, as soon as I stepped into those spaces, I felt lost. Most of them were speaking Spanish, some Arabic. I could not understand the conversation at all. I was in a state of confusion. I attempted to approach to interview some store owners of bodegas, but with about 10 stores I visited, only 1 felt comfortable enough to talk to me whereas the others all said they don’t feel comfortable with English. I initially felt quite disappointed and frustrated, however, then I realized that this is valuable insight to my ecology— the language reflects the demographics of the population, which is a mix group of immigrants mostly from Latin America and many from the Middle East.

Another detail that I noticed in the fast food restaurants are the number of children. Unfortunately I cannot take photos of minors, but I was shocked by how in every fast food restaurant, every bakery I walked in, there were kids of all ages– from babies still in cradles, to toddlers, to teenagers. These kids are mostly accompanied by their parents, who buy them cookies, pizzas, chicken nuggets, and burgers. I asked some parents in Little Caesar, Dunkin Donuts, and Domino’s Pizza on why they choose these places to eat. Their responses were mainly because once you have kids and a family, the price of the food becomes the main concern and fast food restaurants are the cheapest and most convenient. This reflects the precarity in my ecology that this ubiquity of fast food chains and the habits of consuming fast foods are going to passed down generation by generation. The harm of fast food infiltrates kids at such a young age and saddens me to see that at such a crucial developmental age of health, they are not getting the proper nutritions they need.

The smell of the fast food, the mixture of foreign languages, the sight of people’s plastic bags filled with donuts, breads, and sodas… I felt more pulled into my ecology yet as an outsider.

~ by mojojojoy on February 28, 2019.

One Response to “Blog post #2 Foodscape in East Harlem”

  1. Most Affective: from the way she described her goal entering the community to the sights and sounds of her adventure through East Harlem, this blog post certainly had the most affective power. Her feeling of confusion being surrounded by foreign languages represents what it’s like to push yourself out of your comfort zone. In explaining how she learned to cope with language barriers and her struggle to find willing interviewees, I get the sense that she truly did put a lot of effort into her last visit. The photos also work well in creating an ideal image of what her project embodies. They also made me hungry which to that extent makes this post even more affective!

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