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BIOL 2313 (3)


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Northeastern University
BIOL 2313
Donald Cheney

From Italy to the Bronx: Grandpa Joseph’s Lasagna Melissa Johnson Plant BSpring 2011 Prof. Cheney April 22, 2011 2 Background Although my family is a mix of different nationalities, I identify the strongest with my Italian roots. My grandpa Joseph on my mother’s side was born in southern Italy and lived most of his life with his large family in the Bronx, NY, where he met my grandmother and raised his own family. My mother’s parents have lived with us for most of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandpa Joseph in the kitchen cooking for my sister and I. He would make delicious homemade mac and cheese and then my sister and I would fight over whether or not we wanted breadcrumbs on top (I was always anti-breadcrumb). He would make meatloaf and after forming it into a ball, he’d throw it up into the air and catch it to make me laugh. My favorite memories are of him dancing around the kitchen and singing the same verse of the song, “Darktown Strutters Ball,” over and over again. I would sing it with him and now I’ve heard it from him so many times I have it memorized. “I’ll be down to get you in a push-cart honey, Don’t be late, about half past eight. We’re gonna take off both our shoes, when they play the ‘Jelly Roll Blues’ Tomorrow night at the darktown strutters ball." These may not be the correct lyrics to the song, but its how my grandpa always sang it, so they’re good enough for me. My grandpa is a cheerful, funny man that made many delicious meals for my family, but my favorite is definitely his lasagna that he makes every year for Christmas. By far, my favorite time of year is Christmastime. I love the smell of pine, of the fire burning in the fireplace, sugar cookies and wrapping paper. I love the feeling of warmth and happiness when your entire family is gathered in one place just laughing and enjoying each other’s company. When I think of my grandpa’s lasagna it conjures up feelings and emotions that I equate with that content feeling you get at Christmastime, which is one of the reasons I love it so much (aside from the fact that it’s so delicious I could literally pass out from happiness while eating it). This meal is also important to me because I want to pass down the traditions I built with my family to my children one day. Growing up, we moved fairly often, so we never really had a home that was a childhood home for my sister and I. Although it was hard for us to move from place to place, the traditions we built as a family helped me feel 2 3 like my roots were planted no matter where we were. Even a tradition as simple as having lasagna for Christmas dinner helped make every house we lived in feel like a home. That is why I’ll continue to make my grandpa Joseph’s lasagna every year for Christmas and part of the reason why it’s so special for me. Meal: Lasagna First Course: Salad with oil and balsamic vinegar Ingredients: • Romaine lettuce • Green bell peppers • Yellow onions • Carrots • Grape tomatoes • Cucumbers • Red bell peppers • Broccoli Origins: All of the ingredients for this course were purchased at Lambert’s Marketplace in Westwood, MA. In order to trace back the origins of the produce I purchased at Lambert’s I first called the Dorchester location and spoke to a very unhelpful girl that informed me that they did not have a list of vendors for their produce. I then spoke with the manager at the Brockton location who basically laughed at me when I asked who their vendors were for their produce. He said that they have many many vendors for all their different produce but he was willing to give me names of a few of them. • C&D Harris Bros in Salem NH is a distributor of produce and refridgerated foods, among other products. The most detailed information I was able to get out of them was that their produce comes from farms from all over the Northeast, Canada, Idaho, Wyoming, and other midwest states. • D’Arrigo Bros of Massachusetts in Chelsea MAsupplies broccoli, lettuce and other fresh produce to Lambert’s. They have the registered trademark ofAndy Boy produce and they are a large company with several different locations. My emails to their food safety representative about the origins of their produce have gone unanswered for several weeks. 3 4 Second Course: Lasagna Ingredients: • • Ground beef • Salt, pepper • Yellow onion • Parsley • Garlic • Ricotta cheese • Tomatoes • Eggs • Sugar • Parmesan cheese • Basil • Lasagna noodles • Fennel seed Origins: Ground Beef • The Meathouse in Walpole, MA. When I asked about their suppliers, they told me that most of their meat comes from Poultry Products Northeast which is a meat distributor located in Hooksett, NH. They get most of their meat and poultry from the midwest and have programs to supply some of their meats from local and organic coops. They also get some of their pork from Canada. Vegetables • Lambert’s Marketplace Westwood, MA(see above) Spices • Trader Joe’s in Brookline, MA. Several of the spices say the country of origin right on the bottle, such as Malaysia and SouthAfrica. Ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, sugar, and lasagna noodles • Stop and Shop in Boston , MA. It seems as though all stop and shop brand products go through the same distributer, Foodhold USA. Every Stop and Shop brand product contains the same label: Distributed by Fooldhold USA, Landover, MD. This is such a major distributor of so many products that it would probably be next to impossible to track down exactly where any one product came from. I emailed a representative for the 4 5 company that was not able to give me any specific information about the origins of their products. Eggs • The Country Hen in Hubbardston, MA. I get these eggs all the time at stop and shop because the carton claims that they have “Sunlit barns and porches.” I figured that like many other product claims it would not live up to expectations but when I went on their website, they actually have an online tour with pictures of their facilities. It seems like a much nicer place to raise chickens than most mass production facilities. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the chickens really are free-roaming and do get fresh air and sunlight. Implications Ecological I was originally convinced that my meal had little ecological implications, but after learning that my vegetable did not com
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