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TUFTS OBSERVER

March 4th, 2013

VOLUME CXXVI, issue 3

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Controversy over modified foods ( pag e 8 )

the roots of // misogyny in india ( pag e 2 2 )

//A neighborhood savior ( pag e 2 6 )


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RUTH TAM

Will Vaughan

BERNITA LING

FISHING FOR A SOLUTION by Ruth Tam

Eating like a girl by Molly Mirashem

ROBERT COLLINS

MISAKO ONO

Wealth & wellness by David Schwartz

QUESTIONING THE ORGANIC MYTH by Eniola Akintade

LEAH MUSKIN PIERRET

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Band together by Gracie McKenzie

The Observer has been Tufts’ student publication of record since 1895. Our dedication to in-depth reporting, journalistic innovation, and honest dialogue has remained intact for over a century. Today, we offer insightful news analysis, cogent and diverse opinion pieces, creative writing, and lively reviews of current arts, entertainment, and culture. Through poignant writing and artistic elegance, we aim to entertain, inform, and above all challenge the Tufts community to effect positive change.

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Editors editor-in-chief Anna Burgess managing editor Kyle Carnes

March 4th, 2013 Volume CXXVI, Issue 3 Tufts Observer, since 1895 Tufts’ Student Magazine

production director Ben Kurland

Table oF contents

section editors Eric Archibald Aaron Langerman Ellen Mayer Claire McCartney Gracie McKenzie Molly Mirhashem Kumar Ramanathan Angelina Rotman David Schwartz Evan Tarantino Megan Wasson

Wealth + Wellness by David Schwartz 2 feature Left Behind by Meghan Bodo 5 opinion Fishing For a Solution by Ruth Tam 6 news Frankenfood: Free Trade and the GMO Debate by Justin Kim 8 news & culture Eating Like a Girl by Molly Mirashem 10 arts & prose A Passionate Kisser/Drosophilidae by Emma Turner 12 poetry inset Eat 13 photo & prose Starving. by David Schwartz 17 poetry & culture Runway on the Hill by Mackenzie Brewster 18 arts Questioning the Organic Myth by Eniola Akintade 20 opinion The Plight of the Modern Indian Woman by Shobhita Narain 22 opinion Band Together by Gracie McKenzie 24 campus campus A City Hungers by Liana Abbott 26 off blotter Police Blotter by David Schwartz & Flo Wen 28 police

publicity director Lenea Sims photography director Bernita Ling photography editor Misako Ono art director Flo Wen lead artists Izzie Gall Robert Collins design assistants Moira Lavelle Angie Lou copy editors Liana Abbott Anastasia Mok Sarah Perlman Isobel Redelmeier Josh Sennett staff writers Justin Kim Alison Pinkerton Nader Salass editor emeritus David Schwartz

Contributors Reema Al- Marzoog Robert Collins Alison Graham Leah Muskin-Pierret

Natasha Jessen-Petersen Lenea Sims Monica Stadecker Ruth Tam

COVER BY: MISAKO ONO ISSUE 2 COVER BY IAN MACLELLAN


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WEALTH + WELLNESS How consumer trends have increased micronutrient deficiency in the United States

By David Schwartz

Icons by Bernita Ling


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he United States has gotten so fat that the world has redefined its definition of malnutrition. The term has grown from “chronic hunger” to include “micronutrient deficient” and “overweight and obese.” Today, two-thirds of US adults and one-third of their children are members of the last category, due in part to nutrition fads in the early eighties. At that time, development groups were more concerned with getting calories to undernourished nations, as opposed to nutritionally balanced meals. The project leaders indeed set good examples: Americans took in many more calories than they expended, becoming overweight; and they didn’t complement these calories with important vitamins, becoming micronutrient deficient. These actions have taken their toll: almost 10% of all medical spending is related to obesity in the US, costing $147 billion a year. IQs and labor productivity are both known to decrease without properly nutritious diets, to boot. But this is America, you may yell. We have a chain of stores named the Vitamin Shoppe, you may protest. Unfortunately, this does not matter. Consumer trends directly affect America’s current micronutrient deficiency and these trends are further influenced by our finances, our culture, and the invisibility of nutritional benefits in food staples. Some of you who frequent Trader Joe’s may ask how this has happened, how America could end up in this condition. Take Mississippi, for example, the state with both the highest poverty and obesity, rates. Today, fresh, healthy food is practically unavailable in the Mississippi Delta due to industrial farms that grow commodity crops. The wealth differential and low-paying local jobs have caused food deserts, phenomena in which affordable fresh food is inaccessible: You may have to drive over two hours to the nearest grocery store or grow the food yourself. The primary options for calories, then, are fast food restaurants or corner stores. Humankind has been trained to eat the high-fat, high-calorie diet—the one that fast food offers—for thousands of years in order to survive. And sugar has been proven to be eight times more addictive than cocaine. In other words: the Delta diet

is understandable, but that does not make it healthy or fair. Food deserts are not uncommon to the US. Visit New Orleans, Harlem, or even Chicago to see for yourself. These occurrences are products of food insecurity, which is an inability to access certain types of food, knowledge, supplements, and programs in a geographic region or social class. This is most often caused by wealth disparities and structural violence which means institutionalized and marginalizing harm against specific populations. This can be directly contrasted with sporadic US health and wellness trends. They traditionally get consumed by two different groups, one of which is known as the early adopters, typically composed of wealthy shoppers who frequent “natural” food stores. These consumers tend to be more flexible than their counterparts and have the financial luxury to purchase, test, and integrate herbal and alternative remedies for health and wellness into their diets. They can be convinced to try a product if a respectable organic boutique touts it regardless of scientific research because they don’t have to compromise their standard caloric intake by purchasing it, as they can afford to experiment. General consumers, on the other hand, have different food priorities as they do not possess the same financial luxury. They are primarily responsible for pushing the tight profit margins of the grocery and produce industries. They have very high expectations for very low food prices, which means that it is generally unprofitable for investors, researchers, and manufacturers to develop and incorporate new, healthy technologies for this consumption group. It simply doesn’t pay off. Take omega-3 fatty acids, for example, which are proven to increase wellness primarily by reducing many of the consequences of obesity, including cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood clots. Incorporating these fatty acids into a staple like bread is a hard sell, though, because it raises the cost of a loaf by a dollar. General consumers are not willing to foot that bill. It comes down to an issue of priorities versus visibility. They do not have the financial freedom

to buy more expensive bread to invest in health benefits that are not appreciated until much later. Early adopters, on the other hand, will shell out the extra money a day for the long-term benefits of omega-3 in the form of supplements because they can afford to buy the staple and the supplements instead of supplementing one for the other. Early adopter willingness to buy omega-3 supplements instead of omega-3 bread has to do with American cultural constructions of food. Our palettes are primed for bread to taste like bread; we don’t want bread to have the fishy taste that comes along with deriving omega-3 by fermenting marine algae and purifying fish oil. Purifying omega-3 past the fishy taste, however, is too expensive to be worthwhile even to early adopters. Changing the taste of bread crosses the line in terms of changing a consumption staple. Fishy bread is not bread at all. This idea of taste and cultural choice is not new in any way and is not limited to America. Africans, for example, prefer their own cassava over the nutrient-enriched cassava found in South America that has been made available to them by humanitarian organizations. A major problem with the genetically modified Golden Rice, a different nutritional effort developed to fight vitamin A deficiency, is that many of its target areas want plain white rice instead. Americans, much like other cultures, have very strict understandings of food, causing little allowance for tampering or evident modification. Thus, the “natural” and “organic” movements. The probiotic market is a great example of this: Dannon’s Activia made over $100 million in its first year of sales—primarily because yogurt is considered “live”, a category comprised of essentially everything vegans can’t eat. Consumers are more willing to buy eggs enriched with omega-3 fatty acid incorporated via chicken feed, than bread with omega-3 acids added transgenically. Similarly, consumers are willing to purchase yogurt with an extra strain of bacteria added to it MARCH 4, 2013

TUFTS OBSERVER

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RE FE AT U because it is “natural” for yogurt to carry bacteria in the first place. But people who have access to food knowledge do indeed want healthy options. Whole Foods, for example, has been testing more affordable grocery prices and has been finding considerable positive reactions and purchases. In addition, Pom Wonderful’s antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice recently revitalized sales by introducing an inexpensive, smaller 8-ounce bottle. Bigger versions, however, pushed the envelope in terms of general consumption spending limits. These did not justify the health effects that Pom suggested would occur within two years of daily consumption. Originally, Pom’s “cheat death” campaign was vibrant enough to secure new buyers, but only for a few purchases. Only the early adopters have the financial priorities to be as secure as possible; the long-term investment is too risky for the rest of consumers. This is further complicated by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which essentially allows manufacturers to elucidate the health benefits of their products without FDA clearance, provided they don’t exaggerate the effects to the public. Thus, companies producing vitamin supplements don’t have to explain the decreased absorption rates of their products due to a lack of necessary co-factors, such as bioflavonoids in citrus necessary for Vitamin C absorption or fat-soluble compounds for Vitamin A. They don’t have to clarify micronutrient competition that occurs with packing so many vitamins and minerals in a single pill. Instead, vitamin supplements can be painted as exactly what they are named: a supplement for a healthy, nutritious diet that evades the public’s anxiety about invisible, long-range health benefits by being easily integrated into a lifestyle, relatively palatable, and portable. While some are willing to compromise with vitamin supplements, many general consumers view genetic modification as unnatural. Thus, scientific successes like the engineered sugar beet, which would make natural healthy sugar alternatives more accessible and affordable, are shot down by

investors. Similarly, a transgenic strain of yeast was developed over 15 years ago that cuts down the lagering process of beer by 332 hours, but the brewers who financed its development didn’t want to use it for fear of being blacklisted by using genetically modified yeast. Yet, as the old adage goes, what you don’t know can’t hurt you: the vast majority of US soybean and corn crops are genetically modified to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides, yet as produce they are presented before consumers as entirely “natural.” Consumer fear of industrially grown and modified foods may be well founded, but to a point. Modern agriculture, after all, in true Henry Ford fashion, is geared towards specialization and has thus lost the ecological and biological diversity that is essential for regenerating nutrients. Yield-focused mentalities have caused lapses in soil management which have lead to further nutritional degradation. Also, the refining process of food slashes the amount ofmany of its vitamins and minerals. People are cooking differently too, frying away important nutrients in the process. In other words, food is not as nutritious as it used to be, and won’t be as nutritious “naturally” any time soon. Ecologically speaking, certain food groupings often are more productive when grown together. These foods are clustered by a combination of environment and culture. Holistic management, for example, is a farming practice that incorporates livestock and produce into an agricultural system that eventually produces equivalent yields with higher nutrient enrichment and less environmental degradation. In the same vein, the Meso-American three sisters of maize, beans, and squash are comprised of a grass, a nitrogen-fixing legume, and a low-lying creeper—together they protect each other, conserve resources, and yield better outputs than three specialized monocultures one would find in traditional industrial US agriculture. Spicy food in tropical regions, too, is both culturally integral and geographically prevalent because the spice helps to preserve foodstuffs by killing off bacteria.

There is something about taste palettes and cultural meal pairings and biological output that just naturally go together, as if they were perfected over hundreds of thousands of years. America, of course, is an abomination of all this scientific correlation between cultural food groupings and natural and nutritional efficacy. Poor soil management has caused our fields to be less nutritious than ever before and the degrading will only continue with specialized, yield-focused agriculture. Moreover, America as a beautiful, diverse melting pot (and I’m refraining from using the more culturally appropriate term “salad bowl,” because there is nothing nutritious about it) suggests that Americans are privileged with the opportunity to consume all different types of foods from all different traditions without the natural dietary structures and limitations within the specific cultures themselves. In the case of the US, this access creates excess in terms of calories and a dearth in terms of proper diet. As Coca Cola is being poured into baby bottles in Chiapas, Mexico, we must remind ourselves that this micronutrient disaster is only getting worse. Feeding the world’s hungry with empty calories will cause a slew of developmental stunting and set us up for more food crises as the global population grows. The United States needs to set a precedent for nutritional deficiencies by fixing the food security issue that is at stake: many are not buying into health and wellness developments because they cannot afford them—but these developments should be a priority. Many do not have the luxury to incorporate alternative nutritional methods into their diets, because it would mean sacrificing their source of calories. America needs to revitalize its health by reconstructing cultural consumer understandings of food: that food, just like malnutrition, is temporal, and that it must change as we and our environment change. We need to encourage investments geared toward consumer nutrition that utilize the myriad scientific advancements in the field. We need to put our money where our mouth is. O


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Frankenfoods Free Trade and the GMO Debate

by Justin Kim 8 TUFTS OBSERVER Monica Stadecker

MARCH 4, 2013


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resident Barack Obama took a look around at the faces scattered across the House Chamber—an ambivalent congregation of allies and enemies— and made an intriguing proposition, not only to the members of Congress but also to his fellow leaders across the Atlantic. In his annual State of the Union address, outlining his second term as President, Obama explicitly called for formal talks on a free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union, two of the largest economies in the world. While this issue was not a focal point of his speech, Obama went on to declare that such a deal would “boost American exports, support American jobs, and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia.” Free trade between the United States and the European Union has undeniable benefits. Trade between the two powers currently accounts for approximately $613 billion annually, a figure that would likely increase exponentially if such an agreement were successfully implemented. This would not only generate lower prices for consumers, and galvanize economic growth in general, but would also strengthen political ties between the transAtlantic nations. While the timetable for achieving the deal remains somewhat unclear, it could take years, and possibly decades due to the extensive nature of trade talks. Negotiations will likely be turbulent, especially given conflict over protected sectors of the agricultural industry, particularly the issue of genetically modified (GM) foods, whose genetic makeup has been altered with DNA from other organisms. Despite proliferation of these genetically modified crops in the United States, European consumers have traditionally rejected these “Frankenfoods.” These differing attitudes across the Atlantic have historically been a major stumbling block in achieving comprehensive free-trade agreements. 1994 marked the first commercial sale of GM foods with Calgene’s “Flavr Savr” tomato. Over the course of the decade consumer concerns grew over the safety of the newly introduced GM foods. In 1998, a series of food crises and elevated consumer distrust led the European Union

to suspend approvals of all new GM foods. Meanwhile, approvals in the United States increased but these new EU regulations severely reduced the number of American agricultural exports. For example, prior to 1998 Spain and Portugal bought approximately 1.75 million tons of corn from the United States each year. In the 1998-1999 season, Spain bought less than 10% of the previous year’s figure and Portugal bought none at all. In May of 2003, the United States and 12 other nations filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), citing a violation of international

” Critics see GM foods as another unscrupulous scheme designed to maximize profits at all costs, even at the expense of our health, environment, and economy.

trade agreements by the European Union. The complaint specifically argued against a set of unreasonable standards for GM foods approval. While the WTO eventually ruled in favor of the complaint, policy changes have proven to be few and far between. Despite frequent attempts to pass reforms, the United States still does not require the labeling of GM foods on packaging, while the EU does unequivocally. Global trends suggest that now is an appropriate time to attempt to shift European attitudes. Genetically modified crops have exponentially increased around the world since 1992, and 29 countries now permit commercial production, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Over 10% of the world’s cropland is planted with GM crops, including 75% of the world’s soy-

bean crop, 50% of the world’s cotton, and 25% of the world’s maize. The long-term risks associated with adopting genetically modified foods as a staple of our diet are still hazy. The European Union and, with the exception of South Africa, the entire African continent, are predominantly GM-free. Critics see GM foods as another unscrupulous scheme from large biotechnology companies like Monsanto, designed to maximize profits at all costs, even at the expense of our health, environment, and economy. But, as with any debate, there are two sides to the argument. Proponents of genetically modified foods hail it as the global solution to world hunger. As fertilizers and pesticides grow less and less effective, they need to be replaced with another technology, one that will revolutionize agricultural practices and meet the rapidly increasing need for nutrition in a cost-friendly manner. BioCassava Plus is a project dedicated to genetically modifying the cassava, a starch root that is a dietary staple of over 250 million people worldwide, but lacks sufficient amounts of vitamin A, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients. Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the program seeks to augment the levels of beta-carotene, iron, and protein in a new breed of cassava that could potentially save millions of lives. But not everyone is convinced of the beneficial effects of genetically modified foods. Golden Rice, a similar program, seeks to increase the level of beta-carotene in a new strain of rice and showcases potential struggles ahead for BioCassava Plus; extensive opposition to the project has kept Golden Rice from entering the market for 13 years. Now that an opportunity to revitalize the troubled economies of both the United States and the European Union has arisen, the spotlight will likely migrate to genetically modified foods. The easing of safeguards in Europe will probably depend on a single question, given the lack of conclusive scientific evidence on the matter – do the benefits of GM foods outweigh the potential hazards? O MARCH 4, 2013

TUFTS OBSERVER

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Fishing For a Solution by Ruth Tam

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hen February’s midwinter storm blew through Boston, the strong winds generated waves rough enough to throw thousands of fish and lobster onto the shores of Massachusetts’ Nantasket Beach. The mess of twitching crustaceans and limp ectotherms was a sight to see against a two-foot deep blanket of white powder. It gave the impression that New England is still a site of storied fishing culture, its bays still teeming with fish that fill stomachs from this coast to the next. While many still romanticize New England this way, the image of plentiful oceans is slowly ebbing away. For years, researchers have lamented extreme cuts in fish stock and have urged reform in the fishing industry. These researchers estimate that Massachusetts cod has declined by 96 percent over the past 150 years and the legendary bluefin tuna is seriously endangered. While stricter guidelines (particularly the use of wide-mesh nets) have renewed entire stocks of haddock and redfish in years past, the resurgence of other populations is a long ways away. Fishery regulators have responded with tighter restrictions and lowered quotas, but not without a fair bit of criticism. In early February, the New England Fisheries Management Council voted to cut the quotas of two kinds of cod by 61 and 77 percent each. The backlash from fishermen along the Atlantic coast re6

TUFTS OBSERVER

MARCH 4, 2013

flected a years-long conflict between the scientific and fishing community. While scientists insist reform is necessary to save already endangered stocks, fishermen are losing their livelihoods in an industry they feel they’ve worked to protect for centuries. Given the current climate, who would enter the local seafood industry as it stands? The answer lies in Boston’s seaport district on the fishing pier just south of the Seaport World Trade Center. Every morning before sunrise, seafood wholesalers lift the garage doors of their warehouses to receive the catch of the day. They cut and package seafood for distribution to buyers as close as across the street and as far away as Japan. On the east side of the pier, a young company works just as hard as its more weathered counterparts.

Red’s Best is a seafood wholesaler founded five years ago by Jared Auerbach, a young upstart from Needham with no former ties to the industry. Since 2008, Red’s Best has attempted to streamline the centuries-old process of catching and selling fish with new technology. “The software we built can run on any wireless tablet anywhere,” Auerbach explained. “You unload the boat, run the proprietary software on that tablet and you now have this digital information. Not only do we have the best fish, the most environmentally friendly fish, we’re supporting the communities, we’re supporting the economies.” While seafood was once primarily sold at auctions, many new wholesalers like Red’s Best are trying to minimize


N ew

Photos by Ruth TAm

of it isn’t, and it’s very difficult to navigate through all of it.” To eat in the information age is to question what you put in your mouth prior to consumption. But Deal, whose family has owned the New Deal Fish Market for 85 years, doesn’t hear many questions about how his fish got to him. This isn’t to say that Deal ignores the concerns of the seafood industry. In fact, he refuses to stock species he believes are overfished, even if it’s not under regulation. In 2002, for example, he stopped carrying the Chilean sea bass, after learning from a special interest group that the species was being poached from Patagonia. Deal’s efforts are a reflection of the “I’m doing my share to help” attitude carried by many individuals in the seafood industry. While certainly not the only viewpoint, this attitude is at the crux of the conflict between seafood industry insiders (fishermen, wholesalers) and outsiders (regulators, scientists). Laddie Dexter, a lobsterman based out of Marshfield, has been taking his boat Happy Days out for over 50 years. To him, fish and lobstermen know their field and understand the nature of the job better than most. When regulators hand down shrunken quotas with little concern for how it will affect other species, Dexter doesn’t hide his irritation. “You’re not gonna get the regulators to agree with everything I think or do,” he said. “I think people spend too much time on computers on their so-called modules to figure out what’s going on.”

s

the number of hands seafood touches to get to the dinner plate. Red’s Best’s delivery system is enhanced by their QR code tracking system, which provides consumers with as much information about their food as is available. For every package of seafood that gets shipped out of Red’s Best, the company provides a unique QR code that traces its contents to the location it was caught, the fisherman who reeled it in, and the gear that was used. Last month, The Washington Post published information from a study revealing that 33 percent of seafood sold in restaurants and grocery stores is mislabeled. In Boston, the estimate was 18 percent. Red’s Best’s idea seeks to find a simple solution to a nationwide problem. “There’s value in the story of the fish,” Auerbach said. “To us, we’re capturing that story anyway and now that it’s in a digital form, we can package that digital information for the consumer to add value.” Auerbach’s initiatives appear to make the most out of a difficult situation but not every customer is biting. Carl Deal, the owner of the New Deal Fish Market in Cambridge, sees both advantages and disadvantages to advertising the story of the seafood he sells. “It’s a plus because there’s a heightened sensitivity about that,” Deal said. “What concerns me, though, is that if we don’t have that information, people assume the fish was caught unsustainably. That needs to be put to rest. There’s a lot of information out there. Some of it’s the truth, some

Because of their experience, Dexter believes fishermen are the ones best equipped to judge seafood stock and his actions reflect this belief. In 1994 Dexter was awarded the industry’s Ambassador Award for his commitment to reform. 40 years ago, Dexter switched to lobster traps with doors that allowed undersized lobsters to escape. He adopted this new trap as part of a season-long study, but kept using them when he realized he was not only hauling in more lobsters, but the lobsters he was catching were bigger. These days, he uses traps with two escape doors. It’s these details that Dexter feels regulators ignore. Despite individuals like Dexter, who have adjusted their techniques to shifting standards, the New England Fisheries Management Council’s recent actions suggest that these isolated efforts might not be enough to stabilize New England’s expended fisheries. For regulators behind the “modules,” reviving the region’s storied fishing culture will require more than a disjointed collaboration between industry insiders and outsiders. The Red’s Best model acknowledges the need for more comprehensive solutions and their marriage of technology and business puts stake in the future of the industry. For now, it seems to be working. They opened another warehouse in Chatham just last week. “There’s no textbook to running a seafood company,” Auerbach said. “If there was, we probably wouldn’t follow it because our whole thing is about doing it differently.” O

MARCH 4, 2013

TUFTS OBSERVER

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s ew N

Frankenfoods Free Trade and the GMO Debate

by Justin Kim 8 TUFTS OBSERVER Monica Stadecker

MARCH 4, 2013


N ew s

P

resident Barack Obama took a look around at the faces scattered across the House Chamber—an ambivalent congregation of allies and enemies— and made an intriguing proposition, not only to the members of Congress but also to his fellow leaders across the Atlantic. In his annual State of the Union address, outlining his second term as President, Obama explicitly called for formal talks on a free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union, two of the largest economies in the world. While this issue was not a focal point of his speech, Obama went on to declare that such a deal would “boost American exports, support American jobs, and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia.” Free trade between the United States and the European Union has undeniable benefits. Trade between the two powers currently accounts for approximately $613 billion annually, a figure that would likely increase exponentially if such an agreement were successfully implemented. This would not only generate lower prices for consumers, and galvanize economic growth in general, but would also strengthen political ties between the transAtlantic nations. While the timetable for achieving the deal remains somewhat unclear, it could take years, and possibly decades due to the extensive nature of trade talks. Negotiations will likely be turbulent, especially given conflict over protected sectors of the agricultural industry, particularly the issue of genetically modified (GM) foods, whose genetic makeup has been altered with DNA from other organisms. Despite proliferation of these genetically modified crops in the United States, European consumers have traditionally rejected these “Frankenfoods.” These differing attitudes across the Atlantic have historically been a major stumbling block in achieving comprehensive free-trade agreements. 1994 marked the first commercial sale of GM foods with Calgene’s “Flavr Savr” tomato. Over the course of the decade consumer concerns grew over the safety of the newly introduced GM foods. In 1998, a series of food crises and elevated consumer distrust led the European Union

to suspend approvals of all new GM foods. Meanwhile, approvals in the United States increased but these new EU regulations severely reduced the number of American agricultural exports. For example, prior to 1998 Spain and Portugal bought approximately 1.75 million tons of corn from the United States each year. In the 1998-1999 season, Spain bought less than 10% of the previous year’s figure and Portugal bought none at all. In May of 2003, the United States and 12 other nations filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), citing a violation of international

” Critics see GM foods as another unscrupulous scheme designed to maximize profits at all costs, even at the expense of our health, environment, and economy.

trade agreements by the European Union. The complaint specifically argued against a set of unreasonable standards for GM foods approval. While the WTO eventually ruled in favor of the complaint, policy changes have proven to be few and far between. Despite frequent attempts to pass reforms, the United States still does not require the labeling of GM foods on packaging, while the EU does unequivocally. Global trends suggest that now is an appropriate time to attempt to shift European attitudes. Genetically modified crops have exponentially increased around the world since 1992, and 29 countries now permit commercial production, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Over 10% of the world’s cropland is planted with GM crops, including 75% of the world’s soy-

bean crop, 50% of the world’s cotton, and 25% of the world’s maize. The long-term risks associated with adopting genetically modified foods as a staple of our diet are still hazy. The European Union and, with the exception of South Africa, the entire African continent, are predominantly GM-free. Critics see GM foods as another unscrupulous scheme from large biotechnology companies like Monsanto, designed to maximize profits at all costs, even at the expense of our health, environment, and economy. But, as with any debate, there are two sides to the argument. Proponents of genetically modified foods hail it as the global solution to world hunger. As fertilizers and pesticides grow less and less effective, they need to be replaced with another technology, one that will revolutionize agricultural practices and meet the rapidly increasing need for nutrition in a cost-friendly manner. BioCassava Plus is a project dedicated to genetically modifying the cassava, a starch root that is a dietary staple of over 250 million people worldwide, but lacks sufficient amounts of vitamin A, iron, zinc, and other essential nutrients. Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the program seeks to augment the levels of beta-carotene, iron, and protein in a new breed of cassava that could potentially save millions of lives. But not everyone is convinced of the beneficial effects of genetically modified foods. Golden Rice, a similar program, seeks to increase the level of beta-carotene in a new strain of rice and showcases potential struggles ahead for BioCassava Plus; extensive opposition to the project has kept Golden Rice from entering the market for 13 years. Now that an opportunity to revitalize the troubled economies of both the United States and the European Union has arisen, the spotlight will likely migrate to genetically modified foods. The easing of safeguards in Europe will probably depend on a single question, given the lack of conclusive scientific evidence on the matter – do the benefits of GM foods outweigh the potential hazards? O MARCH 4, 2013

TUFTS OBSERVER

9


TV

Eating Like a

Girl

Food Issues in HBO’s ‘Girls’ by molly mirhashem

H

BO’s hit series ‘Girls’ is well into its second season, and it seems no one’s gotten tired of talking about it yet. Critics at first slammed the show for being “monochromatic” and lacking all diversity, while other, more prudish viewers cringed at the raw and unglamorous sex scenes. Many others have picked apart the show for myriad reasons, while a seemingly equal mass have raved about it. But despite all this talk, very few have addressed the topics of food and eating in the series, concepts that have proven to be fundamental in the narrative. 10

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Anyone who’s watched the show, even if only once, has seen Hannah Horvath naked. (That’s Lena Dunham’s character, if there’s anyone left who didn’t know that.) We’ve seen her naked in the shower, naked playing ping pong, and of course, having sex. But it doesn’t take many angles of Dunham’s nude form to realize that her shape is not one we’re used to seeing on television. Many viewers have whined (most rather rudely and inarticulately) that Dunham is too fat to have sex on cable TV, as The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum noted in a recent tele-

vision piece. But not only does Hannah have a more realistic body shape than many women on cable, her character also has an important relationship with food. Dunham, who plays the double role of the show’s creator and its main character, is anything but oblivious. She knows she isn’t skinny; she knows that people comment on it. But rather than hiding it, or engaging in any ‘body shaming,’ she flaunts what she’s got. But on top of all her confidence and apparent comfort being fully exposed on-screen, Hannah’s character seems to be constantly shown


TV

eating, or talking about food. This creates a confusing dynamic for the viewer. The audience is urged to view Hannah as beautiful and desirable, despite the societal unconventionality of her beauty, but she’s simultaneously portrayed as gluttonous in a way that seems to mock her very body type. In an earlier episode this season, Hannah whines to Elijah, ‘I want to get married wearing a veil and I want to taste like fifteen cakes before I do it!’ While she struggles to get words on the page for her ebook-to-be, she winds up staring at a screen that says, ‘Twelve Fruits That Will Make You Fat.’ After the first time that Hannah and Josh (‘it’s Joshua!’) have sex, they share a steak dinner on his porch. Marnie or Shoshanna, women who are undoubtedly slimmer than Hannah, would never be shown enjoying a postcoital steak with a lover, let alone say, as Hannah does, they like their steak so rare,

it’s almost still dead. Through scenes like this one, Hannah becomes the poster girl for food and eating on ‘Girls.’ Just because Hannah happens to be the largest girl on ‘Girls,’ should her eating habits always be the butt of a joke? Maybe this isn’t Dunham’s intention; food may represent something more subtle and significant in the series. After all, many of the show’s important scenesespecially in Season 2-take place over meals. Shoshanna finds out that Ray is secretly ‘living with her’ during the same meal that Marnie and Audrey have an awkward face-off over Charlie. Jessa embarrasses her new husband over a fancy dinner with his parents where she exposes her tumultuous past. And, reaching back into the ‘Girls’ archives, the very first episode opens with Hannah at dinner with her parents. In an article from the Los Angeles Review of Books about the first season of ‘Girls,’ Jane Hu tries to

argue for the importance of meals in this way. She says that the show “uses food scenes as a way of driving plot, and exploring character development.” It may be a compelling argument, and it’s possible that this is Dunham’s intention, but many of Hu’s points seem far-fetched and overly analytical. And more often than not, ‘Girls’ is pretty blunt and tothe-point. Perhaps Lena Dunham just likes self-mockery, and wants her audience to know that she’s in on whatever jokes they might be cracking about her physique. Or maybe, more simply, she really likes food, and it’s worked its way into her writing of her own character. But as long as Hannah continues to have a cupcake within reach at all times, a food-centric joke on the tip of her tongue, and the heaviest body frame in the cast, there will continue to be something unsettling about the way the ‘Girls’ girls eat. O

robert collins and izzie gall

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A Passionate Kisser/Drosophilidae Emma Turner

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ndentated like the fruit flies. They suckle on pink lemonade. (Harder) Young tits is her nickname, the fruit flies call her by. The fruit flies want thick hips means fecund and fecund means fruit flies. The fruit flies just want something juicy, dripping, something to squeeze. They will circulate lazily on their fruit fly trips to peak down her shirt. These fruit flies pretend to be Hieronymus Bosch prints. The fruit flies love sweet skin. The fruit flies love knowing. Love not knowing if the room’s a kaleidoscope. But these fruit flies don’t question if the fruit fly’s wings spoon her too tight or too perfect. The fruit flies are brothers and all fruit flies want an orgy for one another because then they’d be in a garden of fruit, full of flies laughing and squinting at one another’s forgotten fruit fly shit. The fruit flies smell like body parts, dense and expired. The fruit flies killed the plant in the corner. Hard cores lie with the fruit flies.

Izzie Gall

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clockwise starting from the top: Leah Muskin-Pierret, LenĂŠa Sims, Monica Stadecker


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contributors: izelmaras, rrubin3109, laneflorsheim, mmoe01, sarahstranded, brendycakes, diradee, sheachez, pilesoriles, kelse

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kelseygilch, katjatorres, gabrielamros, maahryan47, adreyf, leneasims, helenb94, annaburgess18, aditiash, berni_ta, cnewms16

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AT FE TOP TO BOTTOM: MISAKO ONO, MONICA STADECKER, ALISON GRAHAM,

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BERNITA LING

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STARVING.

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This is an excerpt from “Jerk”, a short story in David Schwartz’s creative writing English senior honors thesis.

I puff out my chest, bigger, inflated. My pecs barrel out, spotted with that 25-yearold fur that just doesn’t know what to do with itself. I lean in and smile. Aren’t I too old for pimples? Two hands on my nose and, wait, I can’t see. My hands. Grace always talks about my hands. They’re big, she says. I grin when she says that. Before I can get it all the way to a gooey head, I’m starving again. Famished. I’m always starving unless I forget I’m starving in which case I’ll remember again. But that’s how man works. We’re just doing one thing after another to survive. We have to shit and then we get hungry so we have to kill so we can stop being hungry and then we have to shit and then we get hungry again. I push the door open too hard for this late at night and hear Sam in his room snoring. I pause and find the pattern. The inhale-exhale tempo fits well for some reason. I breathe, too. And you can hear it in the kitchen. His sleeping. It’s following me, like that stickiness, I can’t shake it. I just enjoy it. It’s so deep in the background that I can’t tune it out. But what if I could? What if I could give up a sense? Smell? Hearing? Sight? Touch? Hm. My thoughts go back to Grace. And what about the other senses that no one talks about? Like fear and thirst and hunger? Could I give those up too? To go through every day starving and shitting but never terrified of anything, not worried that you were starving or that you had to shit in the first place. To be too proud. The hubris of unhunger, to stare at your reflection all day with no reason to ever leave. To never go on dinner dates or never make a meal for someone. To never bask in fridgelight and search for sustenance. I decide on a combination of the feta and the grapes, dipping the latter into the former like little eyeballs in glue. They drop into my stomach one at a time, small stones filling me up. Salty, sweet. It’s good. O

Natasha Jessen-Petersen

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he fridge light hurts. I push past feta, grapes—where is it? I’m hungry. I turn my head. It’s late. How does it get so late? I straighten up, and it hurts my spine, as if one bead can’t fit into the next, like I’ve used up all the juice somehow. Now it’s just bone on bone all dry and aching. Exhausted. I swivel, and the stickiness clings to my foot. I pull hard but my skin’s stuck ’til there’s that loud smack. It’s cold. I walk over to the john to take a leak. It’s not the best bathroom—it’s small and cramped, but it’s all pink so if the sun hits it right and if you’re stoned enough you might think you’re shitting with starfish or something. Right across from it are two other rooms—my friends’ rooms, my housemates. I put a hand on the doorknob and wait as if testing my bowels. Waiting? For what? I don’t know. Prolonging satisfaction is my new masturbation nowadays. It’s late. I throw a hand into my boxers and scratch, scratch. I’m itchy. There’s something enjoyable about watching a tiny white bowl suddenly inflame with yellow piss, urine so ultraviolet it’s proof that you’re dehydrated. The type that makes you recount your day, tracing back to lunch, dinner—did I eat breakfast? I had put a picture of the New York skyline above the toilet because I like to stare at it while peeing. My whole house hopes to go there at some point—soon, we say. We say we need to get out of Detroit. But we need to make money first. And then we'll go to New York. Get out of this shithole and go to the City. I flush, it swirls, bubbling slightly because our landlord still hasn’t fixed it. As the murmurs die down, I wash my hands. I lift my head up, and it meets my face in the mirror. Oh.

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Runway on the hill by mackenzie brewster

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he world of high fashion at times seems untouchable. Just a four hour train ride away in the bustling streets of New York, models—many younger than most Tufts freshmen—strut down runways and set the scene for next season’s style. Television leaves us fantasizing about Carrie Bradshaw’s latest full skirt and wondering how Blair Waldorf finds a headband for every outfit. However, shows like The Rachel Zoe Project, America’s Next Top Model, and Project Runway hint that high fashion is also present in the real world. Of course, Rachel Zoe dresses celebrities for red carpets. Tyra Banks chooses one girl each cycle to model the status kind of clothing Zoe styles. Heidi Klum sorts through designers whose work will show up on the bodies of, let’s face it, Rachel Zoe’s clients. The high fashion industry is linked together, and as Heidi Klum would say, “You’re either in, or you’re out.” Based on the simple fact that most of us are college students paying college tuitions, it would seem likely that most of us are out. How can we feel glamorous here at Tufts when the closest thing we have to a runway is the pavement on the Academic Quad? In the hectic life of a college student, the contrasting colors of a shirt or the sharp shoulder pads of a coat seem low on the list of concerns; Winter Bash isn’t exactly the place for Oscar de la Renta striped ball gowns. But fashion 18

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envelops our culture and doesn’t have to be limited to the runway. In September, designers presented their Spring/ Summer 2013 fashion lines at New York Fashion Week. Just because a monochromatic orange outfit or an avant-garde ruffle might seem impractical on campus is no reason to disregard runway looks completely. You can purchase runway-inspired looks at many discount stores, but there are ways to obtain designer brands at lower costs. Rent the Runway (RTR) provides upscale dress rental services. With constant sales, wonderful customer service, and designer dresses for as little as $50, RTR is perfect for that event where you want to turn heads—and you’ll never have to repeat an outfit again. Similarly, Rue La La has a membership-based business model, in which a surplus of highend goods are bought and then sold at discounted prices. The merchandise stays in “boutiques” online for only 48 hours, so it is known as a “flash sale” site. Bluefly also sells discounted designer pieces, at 10 to 75% off retail prices. The site has personal shoppers available for added convenience. This spring take advantage of both the runway trends and the Internet revolution to be a player in the world of high fashion. Uptown or downtown, uphill or downhill, it doesn’t really matter. Let yourself feel glamorous. O


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black and white This timeless minimalist color scheme is one of the most wearable trends this spring. Spring designs show these colors contrasted across the body, from Chanel’s polka dotted top to Michael Kors’ vertical striped blazer and short suit. Model Karlie Kloss stunned the Ralph Lauren crowd in a floor-length sequined black maxi, paired with a classic white collared button-down and a black top hat. While this entire outfit might be too dramatic for class, its pieces are perfect alone. Invest in a white buttondown, and pair it with cropped black pants or a flouncy skirt. Add a patent-leather belt and a striking accessory and you’ll have this trend down.

The veiled look Silk chiffon, organza, and mousseline are the top three fabrics used in this feminine fad. Rochas presented a flowy, white, transparent and pleated maxi skirt with a crop top and cardigan, while Sophia Thaellet tucked a yellow V-neck sweater into a veiled high-waisted terracotta skirt. It’s not necessary to show the bare midriff in order to master this trend. Instead, show skin through pieces that reveal the mid thigh and shoulders. This look will add that lighthearted springy touch to pieces you already own.

flounce and frill

Intricate overlay

Let ruffles take center stage on your peplum shirt, your neckline, or down the slit of your skirt. As shown by Gucci’s lushly sleeved floor-length white dress and Acne’s frilly collared two-toned blazer, ruffles can go almost anywhere.

From Calvin Klein’s white strapless dress veiled with a black interlocking web to Céline’s fishnet low V neckline, designers took classic details to a new, edgier level. Make a statement with bold, textured prints and overlaying fabrics. Again, it’s okay to stray from pastel colors with this more gothic trend.

eastern influence

lush Leather

This spring, traditional Asian graphics and designs were revamped for the runway. Emilio Pucci and Mugler both showed short kimono-style structured wrap dresses. This trend includes angular shoulder pieces and belted tops, both of which minimize the waist. Don’t be afraid to drift from typical spring pastels in favor of deeper, primary colors that will pop.

Drifting from the hard-core vibe, leather this season is rich and sumptuous. Jason Wu combined multiple trends with his gray leather chiffon veiled midriff-bearing dress. Saint Laurent paired fitted black pants with a corset-like laced up neckline on a black leather jacket. Switch things up with leather shorts, then add a feminine touch with a lacy top or chiffon ruffled blouse.

anna burgess

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n io pi n o Bernita Ling

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Yet not receiving the “whole truth” of what actually lies within organic foods does not seem to affect many students here at Tufts. Attending a very eco-friendly school, the word “organic” seems to come up a lot. Many of my friends will chat about their latest trips to Whole Foods and/or Trader Joe’s with great pride and satisfaction. The extra money spent on the peanut butter cups was worth it to them because “hey, at least they’re organic.” But is the word “organic” being used correctly? People seem to have the tendency to substitute “organic” with “nutritious,” but that shouldn’t be the case, because the words are non-interchangeable. A stalk of broccoli may be grown conventionally, rather than organically, but that doesn’t change the nutritional value of that broccoli. Several studies, such as last year’s experiment done by students at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, suggest that organic food is neither more nutritious nor less likely of bacterial contamination than conventionally grown food. So why is there this tendency among so many people to automatically pin organic food as healthy? Because let’s face it, organic or not, those peanut butter cups are equally as bad for you. Well according to junior Anushay Mistry, “I’m not sure if [organic foods] are actually always significantly better for you, but it’s like the placebo effect—even if it’s not better, my body feels better.” Shira Faigel, freshman and member of Tufts Culinary Society, also states, “ I feel like there’s a connotation that organic food has become representative of healthy living. I feel like people assume organic equals healthy.” Interestingly enough, with both students, neither was able to explicitly state that organically grown food is undeniably better than conventionally grown. Which got me thinking, maybe this whole obses-

sion over organic food is simply due to its name? When people see the word “organic” attached to a carton of milk or a bag of chips, they gravitate towards it because of what it connotes. Maybe the “organic” in organic food is just marketing. Yet despite its lack of studies conclusively proving its advantages for our health, organic food has still become a billion dollar industry. However, this habit of ours to assume the absolute best from organic food isn’t necessarily our fault. This industry has done a great deal of cajoling to get us as consumers to believe every little thing that is put forth. In grocery stores, you don’t often see the word “organic” without the words “natural” or “wholesome” or “healthy” or “nourishing” right next to it. And the list goes on and on. It is those words and the intricately designed packaging of the foods that create a bizarre “must buy it” effect on consumers. We see all of these things, and then we see the advertisements with images of toned bodies surfing on the waves of a crystal blue ocean, and we assume that we can’t go wrong buying the organic pizza. But it is still just pizza. No better than nonorganic pizza. So please, eat in moderation. But even with all the studies and evidence proving that organic food is not really better than non-organic food, people still pay the price, literally. Comparing the Safeway price to the Whole Foods price of a pound of gala apples, you save fifty cents buying from Safeway. With parsley and cilantro, you also save fifty cents from Safeway, and these items are just a few of the many less expensive foods. Yet as mentioned before, unless you’re a baby, only you control what goes into your mouth. So if you want to spend the extra cash on food that really isn’t as special as what the industry has hyped it up to be, go right ahead. But if I were you, I’d save your money. There are way too many bills to pay. O

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e’ve all heard it before: the confusion of whether or not organic foods are better for us. Many argue that grocery trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to stock up on organic strawberries and eggs are worth the price. Others would rather stick to their local Stop & Shop. For years now this public debate has been ongoing, yet no one has seemed to reach a conclusive decision. While it is important to consider both sides of this argument, at the end of the day, only you can decide what goes into your mouth. If you want to spend the extra money on a banana, go right ahead. If not, well, go buy yourself an extra pack of gum. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic foods are the result of “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.” In simpler terms, organic food is made with fewer pesticides. Pesticides are usually used in the production of conventionally grown food, and they pollute our environment. From an environmentalist’s point of view, organic food is superior to its less expensive, non-organic competition. The accumulation of pesticides and other chemicals within the soil and bodies of waters is found less among organic farms. However, “less” definitely does not equal “none at all.” Following USDA regulations, organic foods need only contain seventy percent of organic ingredients. So what about the other thirty percent? How are these unspecified ingredients affecting the food, and consequently the environment itself? My guess: we’ll probably never know. We may receive part of the truth on the food label, but certainly not all of it.

Misako Ono

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The Plight

Modern Indian Woman of the

by Shobhita Narain

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n December 29th, 2012, Indians all over the world were left dumbfounded, helpless and shocked to their core after a 23-year-old Delhi gang rape victim passed away due to multiple organ failure in a Singapore hospital. “India’s Daughter”, the brave heart victim, or Damini (lightning, in Hindi), as she was labeled by the media, was the faint symbol of hope for thousands of sexually and socially oppressed women in India; her death was a haunting reminder to every woman who faced inequality at home, in the workplace, or even in public spaces. The widespread coverage of the gang rape exposed the world to the downright sexist, perverse and inhumane workings of the prevailing male power structure and its violent reaction towards the emerging, empowered modern Indian woman. But how does this male-centric chauvinistic outlook originate, and is there anything that can be done to change the current scenario? Take a quick look at the new Bollywood movies flooding Indian cinemas and you’ll immediately notice the markedly insignificant role of Indian actresses. There is a popular trend of “item songs” in which high profile actresses like Katrina Kaif, decked in skimpy outfits, mounds of kohl and unnatural pouts gyrate suggestively to the cheap raunchy lyrics of dance num22

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bers. Some might find these hit songs harmless, upbeat rhythms to dance to in clubs and pubs; however, for the impressionable, demographic of adolescent Indian men, these songs broadcast a truly disturbing message: the modern, scantily clad Indian woman is promiscuous and it’s fine to objectify her. Indian actresses are mere decorations in movies dictated by overly buff Indian actors who prove their manhood by teasing girls that giggle shyly in response and by beating up womanizing villains. In fact, Bollywood’s highest paid music artist-- the flamboyant and notorious rapper Honey Singh, pens lyrics that directly glorify sexual abuse against women, as inferior objects to be exploited by manly men. In a video done by a non-profit organization called “No Country for Women”, a series of interviews conducted by various Indian news channels of young Indian men showcased their deeply rooted misogynistic views toward women. They claimed that when girls wear provocative clothing, they’re asking for attention from male onlookers, so they pass lewd comments about them. On the other hand, a nineteen year old college student complained that men obscenely remarked about her attire even when she was conservatively dressed—she added that the way she dressed had nothing to do with grabbing art by Reema Al-Marzoog


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business opportunities and social mobility for women. Thus the previously robust, confident Indian male has a growing sense of insecurity due to emasculation and growing social dislodgment. Hence, it follows that many of the recent hate crimes against women are occurring in metropolitan areas of India. As young, well-dressed, female professionals claim their places in formerly male-dominated fortresses of authority, the old-fashioned Indian male is resorting to aggression to subvert the evolving identity of the modern Indian woman. Take the horrific case of public groping and manhandling of a sixteen-year-old girl in Guwahati, Assam by a barbaric mob of twenty men outside a bar. Her fault? She picked a fight with bar employees, and as a modest woman wasn’t supposed to be in a bar. Even teasing-- the common, innocuous euphemism utilized in India to categorize the public sexual harassment of women by men-- is evident of the widely accepted idea that the victim is in some way at fault for the actions of the perpetrators of the crime. Rape is considered a male

prerogative, a sign of potent machismo, and a defense mechanism to show women their place in society. This all seems ironic, almost grossly hypocritical, that in a country where goddesses are extensively worshipped for wealth, prosperity and wisdom, a deeply embedded misogynistic attitude still prevails. The six coldhearted criminals who raped and murdered the Delhi girl will face the harshest of consequences, and her death sparked mass protests all across India to rally for women’s rights. But there will not be substantial, endurable change unless misogyny, a thread of the cultural fabric of Indian society, is unwound and discarded completely. This calls for parents, schoolteachers, and leaders in institutions of higher learning and workplaces to foster an environment of equality and healthy collaboration between the two genders. It must be emphasized that manliness, as aptly put by Times of India, isn’t defined by the inches in a man’s pants or his “player” status, but by his ability to respect any and every woman. O

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male attention, but about her own comfort and personal sense of style. One of the laughing men filmed in the video even went as far as saying that he only teases the hottest “commodities”. The grooming of young men is indicative of the deeply ingrained patriarchal attitude of the Indian society. Young boys are fed with a strong sense of entitlement and male privilege during their upbringing. Historically, women are viewed as financial burdens to their families as they must be given away to the groom’s family and aren’t allowed to earn money to support the household. This breeds hatred against women as they are seen as passive, submissive, unwanted members of the community. As the new, independent Indian woman carves her own path through the workplace and educational institutions, she is perceived as a threat to the concept of Indian masculinity in which the male members of society are supposed to be the chief guardians of the powerless woman. According to UNICEF, almost as many women as men are now attending college in India, creating more

As the new, independent Indian woman carves her own path through the workplace and educational institutions, she is perceived as a threat to the concept of Indian masculinity.

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Honey Baby (Maeve Bell-Thornton, Sam Cantor, Nicola Chang, Jack Lemay, Ruben Sonz-Barnes) photo by Sofia Adams

BAND TOGETHER

student musicians find their beat on campus by Gracie McKenzie reporting by Aaron Langerman

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racy Chapman. Guster. Harry and the Potters. Timeflies. Not bad for a school best known for teaching social conscience and global citizenship. But even before we were “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution,” Tufts students were making music together—the first official student music group was a barbershop quartet, founded in the same year as the university. We may not be a conservatory-style music school, but there’s definitely an artistic ambiance. All around us, musicians are heading to Granoff to jam at 11pm on a Friday, “din-dinning” in the back of an a cappella group, or just waiting for their moment in the spotlight, on top of a full class schedule. Some say that it’s Tufts’ “jam culture” that should be credited for this atmosphere of creativity. Thanks to a college application process that involves an emphasis on “well-roundedness” and an admissions department that prioritizes passion, there’s no shortage of musical talent on the hill. According to sophomore Will Lenk, “There are so many skilled musicians per capita here that, if you are a musician, you’re bound to find people to jam with. Even people who don’t play instruments will come to jam with a group of people because they feel the music.” This appreciation of music might even be affecting our social life. “The scene here is changing,” says junior Brian McLaughlin, who sings in the student group Rare Occasions. “Underclassmen are starting to realize that the shows put on by [student concert 24

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booking] groups like Tufts Applejam are a much more exciting and fulfilling alternative to the lifeless basement party scene; people come to listen to the music and dance and socialize and it’s really a lot of fun.” However, while bands are becoming fixtures at both these student-organized events and at independent campus parties, the same Tufts atmosphere that leads to a thriving jam culture also inhibits the formation of consistent bands. As McLaughlin explains, “Tufts students are amazing, multi-talented people, but making original music takes a certain degree of focus and determination. Most people who seem interested just can’t dedicate the time or energy because they’re involved in so many other aspects of campus life.” These problems are exacerbated by a lack of institutional support. Though Tufts’ students themselves support both jamming and the bands’ live performances, the administrative system in the Granoff music center often inhibits student bands from thriving. Musicians often complain about the difficulty of reserving practice space (bands can only reserve up to four hours a week) and gaining access to musical equipment. Specifically, sophomore Peter Stone of the Rare Occasions wishes “a better PA system were available in Granoff ’s practice rooms.” According to the band Waldo, these smaller issues are telling of a larger bias. “They make very little of their equipment available


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to folks outside of the Tufts’ affiliated music scene,” laments Lenk, the singer. “With such a deep body of musicians on campus, you would think Tufts would make their musical resources more widely available.” While these independent student groups are struggling to make a name for themselves on campus, they also complain that the music groups that are affiliated with the school, such as a cappella and instrumental ensembles, have more consistent performance opportunities. It’s not that these student musicians want to be recognized by the school; in fact, they’re quite happy remaining self-reliant. All they’re asking for is a forum. “[Tufts] could do a better job giving opportunities to independent groups to perform in front of an audience,” Lenk says. “Most open mic nights are student run [such as Vulvapalooza or through SSDP]. Tufts should host more open mic nights because there are so many good musicians and bands already here.” Tufts may not host many events for student bands, but they do provide one opportunity: the Battle of the Bands. The winner of this competition, which will be held this year on April 7, gets to open for Spring Fling. Last year, the Rare Occasions took the slot. According to guitarist Stone, “I was going back to Spring Fling [after our set] through the secret musician entrance. I was behind this old dude, and they tried to stop him, but he was like, ‘Hey, I’m with the band!’ When I realized he was in Guster, I stopped him and introduced myself. He told me that they played Spring Fling when they went to Tufts. It made me think: if Guster got successful, then the same thing could happen for us! So we gave them our demo, and never heard anything.” So the real world counterparts of Tufts’ student bands might not be the most supportive. Fortunately, this is not true of the campus music culture. Older musicians mentor their younger peers in Tufts 2016, who “might be the coolest class musicwise to come through Tufts so far,” according to McLaughlin. Student groups Applejam and Midnight at Tufts are giving other students more chances to perform through

the concerts they organize on campus. It’s clear that this creativity is here to stay. And that’s good not just for the university, which gets positive publicity through the real world success of these bands, but also for the student body. Before Maeve Bell-Thornton found Tufts’ musical community, she felt like she was missing out on college. “I was so sad—just a lonely musician without a home,” she recounts. After a different venture freshman year, Young Excursion, she now plays with Honey Baby, and is looking forward to recording music and filming a TUTV video soon. “You know it’s good in a band when you’re meeting to play, even when you really don’t have to,” Bell-Thornton explains, “and we’ve been jamming all the time. I don’t get anything else done, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Whether or not Tufts is supportive of its student bands is not clear, but it seems that no matter what, these bands will continue to thrive. Thanks to the jam culture, even the busiest Tufts students can participate in music. The bands that survive through scheduling conflicts have opportunities to perform in Battle of the Bands and concerts organized by the student groups Applejam and Midnight. So who knows? That girl in front of you in line at Hodgdon, or the kid hogging an entire table in Tisch, or the group guarding the cannon until sunrise—any of them might be the next big Tufts performer. O

There are so many “ skilled musicians here per

capita that, if you are a musician, you’re bound to find people to jam with.

Waldo (Connor Cunningham, dave Igliozzi, will lenk, JaKe mills) Photos by Misako Ono

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CA O M FF PU S Liana Abbott

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n the United States, we conceive of hunger and food insecurity as associated with certain types of places and certain types of people: large metropolitan areas and the homeless. In reality, however, it is an epidemic that affects large and varied groups of people across the country, particularly the poor. The defining characteristic of food insecurity, according to the USDA, is that food intake decreases severely due to lack of funds to purchase food with nutritional value. According to Feeding America, the 2009-2011 estimate of households facing food insecurity in the United States was 14.7%. And while the USDA reports that Massachusetts’ food insecurity in 2011 was below the national average, hunger and food insecurity is a problem that many here face daily. 26

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Somerville Homeless Coalition (SHC) responded to this in 1969 by establishing Project Soup, New England’s first free supper program. The program has become an important part of combating hunger and food insecurity in the Somerville area. The Project works with the homeless, struggling families, and immigrants, ensuring that they are able to feed themselves and their children. SHC’s annual report states that in 2011, 1,447 people benefitted from Project Soup’s food resources and the food pantry received over 3,000 visits. With locations in East Somerville and Davis Square, as well as a home delivery program and benefit outreach, SHC has created a safe place for their clients to find food that is offered by people who care: volunteers, church members, etc.


FF US O P AM C

Project Soup operates as an emergency food pantry out of Saint Benedict’s church in East Somerville. It offers food to Somerville residents who are having trouble finding their next meal. At first, clients were only able to take one bag of emergency food, and only dried food and canned goods were offered. Now, with the addition of a walk-in freezer, Project Soup’s manager Nina Siciliano said, “They’re now walking out of here with two to four bags. So it’s become more than just the emergency food bag that really doesn’t last them that long. We’re able to hold more food and give them fresher produce.” The efforts and monetary donations of many community groups, including groups from Tufts, such as the Community Based Research class at Tufts’ Community Health department, made this walk in possible. This transition from giving out dried food and canned goods to providing hungry residents with meat, eggs, and cheese has widened the program’s range of options. While further expansion is not necessarily the first thing on their minds for the future, Siciliano hopes to add even more options to create a more kid-friendly food selection. Volunteering for Project Soup is one way to lend a helping hand in ending hunger and food insecurity in our area. While they are not looking for volunteers to help sort food or cook and serve the food at their Monday night meals, Siciliano said

that they “are always encouraging people to do a can drive or a toiletry drive, especially around the holidays.” She says that the best way to contribute to Project Soup is to bring in donations to the food pantry. They receive about 70% of their food from the Greater Boston Food Bank. The other 30% comes from student groups, church groups, and others who are in the giving spirit. The donations bring awareness to the food pantry’s mission; as Siciliano said, “People should not be going hungry in this city because this is where we live, where we work. Hunger is a huge issue.” Since several of their clients are nonnative English speakers, Project Soup continues to make efforts to include many different cultures into their program. Through fliers, pamphlets, and posters written in different languages, Project Soup works to include all people, regardless of language barriers. Each patron’s level of comfort adds to his or her personal experience at the food pantry. In order to make the patrons more comfortable, Siciliano said that she would love to have volunteers to translate fliers or run events in their native tongue that explain what different vegetables are, how to cook them, and their nutritional value. “Translating is definitely a need … That’s a big variety of work that can be done,” she said. Project Soup’s main goal is to reduce the hunger and food insecurity in the Somerville Area, but they don’t stop there.

The well-being of the families and people they encounter are crucial to the program’s operation, and they remain connected with other support programs for low-income or marginalized people. Near her desk, Siciliano has a bulletin board filled with fliers that offer teeth cleanings for people with MassHealth and free tax services through LIFT. Siciliano says that her main goal is to make sure that these people don’t leave the food pantry feeling alone, and that she wants to make sure that her clients know that there are others out there that want to help them. The clients might come in feeling ashamed, but the hope is that they walk out feeling less self-conscious. The belief that hunger and food insecurity only happens in large metropolitan areas and only to homeless people has led to a stigma surrounding the use of food pantries. If hunger is to be dealt with on a local level, this misconception must be corrected. “I think a lot of people are afraid to come to pantries because they think it can jeopardize their status in this country if they’re getting any assistance,” Siciliano said. “It is make it or break it for some people: do I buy food or pay my rent? Do I buy food for my children or do I put oil in my tank and keep them warm?” It’s not just the homeless that are hungry: young adults, families, and the elderly are all facing this problem. Hunger is everywhere, and Project Soup is doing their part to end it. O MARCH 4, 2013

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ex tras

POLICE BLOTTER By David Schwartz and Flo Wen

ID Chief

Body

Two

Intruder Alert

TUPD officers responded to a call about unusual activity in the Lewis Hall Craft Center. However, TUPD was not properly dressed for the party: inside, they found nine students, naked and covered in paint. There was alcohol present, but the students were barely intoxicated (really?). The officers told the students to get dressed and vacate the premises. They were very cooperative and courteous throughout the encounter with the officers and now all of their clothes are different colors.

TUPD and Medford Police responded to calls about a “wild party” on Adams St. When officers asked one of the house residents to show his Tufts ID, he said that didn’t have one, because “having a Tufts ID is a waste of money.” The resident ended up showing his driver’s license and was charged with one count of hypocrisy in regards of his stance towards university identification cards.

Two nights later, TUPD and Medford Police were dispatched to Adams St. to break up a party in the same house. Medford police told the residents that they would be summoned to court for being “keepers of a disorderly house.” The host reportedly said, “I am not my brother’s keeper,” to which TUPD retorted, “That is not relevant.”

Officers responded to a security alert about a break-in on Whitfield Rd. One of the female residents reported waking up to an unidentified male standing over her bed. When she awoke, he ran out of the house. Somerville police was notified about the incident, and there is still an “ongoing investigation.” In other words, he’s still out there, watching us sleep, and we are terrified.

February 14, 11:45 PM

February 16, 12:42 AM

February 18, 1:32 AM

February 21, 2:40 AM

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FE U AT RE

MARCH 4, 2013

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knar bedian


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TUFTS OBSERVER SINCE 1895

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ple a se recycle


Spring 2013 - Issue 3  

The Observer talks food, fishing, consumerism, hunger, and music in Issue 3 of the spring semester.

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