Take Two!

So, that last blog post on the train ended short because I fell asleep. This morning I traced out the route of my upcoming circumnavigation on a map for my current hosts in Virginia, and they commented on how long many of the flights are I’ll be taking. I’m generally incapable of napping during the day, but my body makes some serious exceptions when I’m on buses and trains and planes. I suppose that’s mostly a good thing, given that I’ll be able to sleep to occupy my time on many of the longer travel legs this summer. However, I also think I should work on my ability to write a blogpost in a moving vehicle without falling asleep on my keyboard.


In the past few days, I’ve booked two Airbnbs and one hostel out of the ten or eleven total places I’ll stay. While it felt great to get a few checks going on that list, I’m currently caught up in some stress about getting a new passport. I only have nine blank pages left in my current passport, and only six labeled “Visa” at the top of the page. While that should be enough for my travel this summer, I really don’t want to have to make a pitstop at a U.S. Embassy while I’m abroad to try to get a new passport. I’m bummed I didn’t think about this sooner, but with the expedited passport process, I should be able to get my passport and then my Ugandan Visa (luckily, the only physical visa I will need in my passport for this summer) in on time.


Beyond trip logistics, a few recent experiences of mine have certainly affirmed my chosen research topic: food. I believe my very stimulating conversation with my Uber driver to O’Hare last week epitomizes how universal and pressing topics of local food and food security are. (My Uber driver and I discussed everything from the Uber driver’s experiences hunting and gathering with Indigenous Malaysians to why there aren’t apple trees planted in all Chicago parkways.)


More recently, here in rural Virginia, I’ve eaten home-caught/hunted fish and venison for the past two dinners. At home in New York City two days ago, I rummaged through a pile of imported, bruised, on-sale grapefruits trying to find one that was a decently grapefruit-y color and shape. Last week, back in Evanston, I attended a benefit dinner cooked out of grocery store food waste. The food would have been thrown away had it not been for the two high schoolers who collected the food for their class project (and then created a gorgeous, delicious meal out of it).


Clearly, these experiences touch upon a lot of different topics and provoke a lot of wide-ranging question, but there are also an infinite number of stories and dilemmas that quietly transpire along with every bite of food each one of us ever takes. The world of food is quite a complicated one, just like the world itself. Urban food networks consist of community organizations and government policy and capitalism, scarce natural resources and expensive man-made ones, and lots of hungry people with different dietary requirements, incomes, and cultural norms. From Kampala to Tokyo to Rosario, the incredible variety of forms of food culture I’m sure I will encounter will only allow me to engage with such a modest portion of all that there is out there to explore.


Sheesh, good thing this grant lets me go to so many countries!