The Rise and Influence of Food Science and Technology

Jonathan Wang, '10
Fall 2006, Brown University
EL65 The Cyborg Self

Hello, and welcome to the food science project. I am currently a freshman at Brown University, and I have written this project for an English class I am taking with Professor George P. Landow, "The Cyborg Self." The class covers many topics and literature concerning the cyborg, commonly defined as the fusion between man and machine. As a final project, I've decided to combine two very different parts of my life that are very dear to me: my love of science fiction and my experience working on a farm. This is a technically simple project that explores the idea of food technology in America today, describing in some detail many aspects of the current scene of popular food, and connecting them to ideas of the cyborg. Cyborg is not exlusive to robots, artificial humans and intelligences, and cold metal. Plants, animals, and landscapes are just as subject to a wide variety of technological tinkering, and this project intends to uncover many aspects of this.

I have spent a fair amount of time working on this subject. I have done enough independent research to read ingredients and nutrition labels on packaged foods, which I regularly do, and base my consumption decisions based on what is stated. Having worked on an organic farm for two summers, an experience which has changed my life, I feel strongly about a good amount of these issues. I have, however, attempted to remain unbiased to the best of my abilities. I have read several books, talked to numerous farmers, and experienced, first hand, clean and organic food preparation, from crops that I, myself, have sown, weeded, and watered by hand. Most of the information in this project is from my own experience and reflection, the rest is from light research. Unless marked otherwise, specific details were drawn from Michael Pollan's recently released book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, which covers many concepts that are covered here in far greater detail (but with less cyborg relation). Images were drawn from Google. All images (c) respective owners.

The format of the project is as follows: there are three starting places, which each serve as a sort of introduction to the rest of the project. Written as a hypertextual document, the user clicks on links (marked as blue text) to explore other ideas referenced under each topic. The idea is to create an interconnected environment that leads to a personal procession of the many facets of food science today. On the bottom of each page are three links: one that brings you back here, one that brings you to an index, and one that brings you to a finale, a conclusion. Feel free to click on anything you desire. The pictures were not placed by accident. Hover the mouse over them for a quick caption, sometimes enlightening, sometimes entertaining and light-hearted (this is as complex as the project gets). Most pages feature at least one picture, with a few exceptions. There are occasional links to outside websites, as well; unfortunately, the back button on your browser is the only option for returning to the project.

Thank you for visiting this project. Without further adieu, I present you with the three starting points for exploring the interaction between food and technology: