In the “Ethics and Chemistry of Food and Cooking” project, our chemistry and humanities classes worked together to learn the chemistry side of food, and the ethical side of food. In our humanities class, we read a book called “The Omnivore's Dilemma” which taught us about the different farms our food comes from. There are local sustainable farms, industrial farms, and organic farms. We watched documentaries that opened our eyes to the horrible ways the animals we eat from industrial farms are treated. We also went on a field trip to Sunnyside Farms, a local butcher company, and I saw a cow get slaughtered right in front of my eyes.Watching these documentaries, reading the book, and the Sunnyside Farm experience really formed my food ethic. Our project in humanities was an essay about our developing food ethic, and how this project changed the way we now eat. In our chemistry class, we learned how to make the best food recipes using science. I learned how different parts off an egg (egg yolk, egg whites, and whole eggs) affect the density of cheesecake. My partner and I wrote a 5 page scientific paper on our experiment with the cheesecake.
Because these projects tied together interdisciplinary so well, I developed a great understanding of where my food comes from, how my food is cooked, and how my food tastes. Learning about each farm in humanities, but then learning the science behind it in chemistry flowed together really well. Learning where our food comes from and the chemistry it goes through to get to our plate went hand in hand, expanding my knowledge. This project informed me on where I want to buy my food from, and how I want to prepare it. The chemistry part of this project is essential because you get to learn what your food undergoes until it gets to the final result.
My main takeaways from this project was realizing where my meat comes from. I used to eat meat not being mindful of the life the animals lived. Now, after this project, I am so much more mindful of where my meat comes from. I don’t believe in killing millions of animals a day just so Americans can have meat for dinner. I was shocked when people said the meat today does not taste the same from back in the day. It’s crazy that back in the day it was a treat to get meat on the table for dinner, but now meat is a necessity with every meal. My biggest takeaway from this project was seeing that innocent animal get slaughtered, just so we can eat. That experience will always be in the back of my mind when eating meat. I was bothered when I learned that the government makes the fatty, unhealthy foods very cheap, making it the only option for poor people. That’s why we see so many poor people who are obese. I think it’s sick. The fact that poor people are literally forced into buying the unhealthy food is disgusting. These are the main takeaways of this project!
Food Ethic Essay
Living on a Farm
I’ve had experiences with animals in the last few years that have made me loose the drive to eat meat or dairy. Growing up on a beautiful 14 acre farm, with the Rocky Mountains viewable from the living room, lavender that naturally grows around the house, and a blue sparkly pond, I’ve seen cute baby pigs, chickens, and goats, living in my backyard, turn into meat on a plate in front of me. One time I even got to be apart of the process of slaughtering a few of our chickens. My dad will hang each chicken upside down by their feet along a railing out by the garden. Without hesitation, he cuts the head of the chicken off with a pocket knife. The chickens’ head falls to the ground and the body seizes as the dark red blood drips out of the corpse. After he killed three out of four of the chickens, he asked me, “Alli come try this.”
At first, I thought he was kidding, but he looked at me with a “don’t be a wuss” face. I walked slowly to where he was and he handed me the very sharp knife. He told me to be really fast with the cut so the chicken suffers the least pain possible. I think this chicken realized what was happening because it was crying and trying to move it’s little feet out of the rope. I held the chickens’ face in my hands and started slicing through its feathery neck. In case you didn’t know, chickens have a very tough neck so you literally have to use the pocket knife like you’re chopping wood. After I finished, I dropped the tiny head into a bucket and watched the chicken I just killed profusely bleed into the dirt. After the four chickens were slaughtered, it was time to pluck their feathers.
My dad filled up 4 large buckets with boiling water and let the dead chickens sit in there for about 30 minutes. This is the longest part of the slaughtering process. After they soaked in the water, my dad, mom, and a friend of theirs each picked a chicken to pluck. I, of course, picked the chicken I killed. Reaching my hand into the hot bloody water I grabbed a handful of feathers and ripped them out. The feathers came out like peeling an orange. I did this for about an hour until every last feather was plucked from this chicken.
After each chicken was done being plucked, the last process of slaughtering chickens is the most gruesome, gutting the chicken. My dad is the only one who knew how to gut the chicken. He threw on some long gloves all the way up to his elbows. Reaching his arm all the way into the chickens’ body from the neck, he pulled out each organ of the chicken in one handful. Because I want to be a nurse, I found this cool and interesting, while my mom and her friend were gagging in the back. My dad handed me a glove and let me gut my own chicken. I reached my hand in there and it was still warm, like the chicken was still alive. Because I’m not as skilled as my dad at gutting chickens, I wasn’t able to gut the chicken in one handful. I reached my hand in the chicken about 3 times before the chicken was fully gutted.
Thinking back to that experience, I remember I felt horribly guilty killing that chicken. I remember thinking, those chickens do not deserve to be killed just to be eaten by humans. Now, after this project, I realize how good of a life those chickens had. They were free range chickens, raised the way they are designed to. In industrial farms, chickens live up to 42 days. Free range, wild chickens can live for years. Industrial chickens barely have any space to move, (each chicken having about an 8 by 11 inch space), but by the time they’re slaughtered the space is gone, due to fattening so fast. Chickens are built to eat wild seeds, insects, and plants. Instead, in the industrial food system, they are stuffed with fattening grain and corn. The chickens tend to fatten up very quick because they can’t move around and are being force fed fattening food. “The ideal industrial food consumer would be strapped to a table with a tube running from the food factory directly into his or her stomach.” (Quote from Wendell Berry’s: “The Pleasures of Eating” article.) I realize the chicken I had killed had a life way better than the industrial chickens, who are fed corn to fatten them up, who barely ever see daylight, and who have no room to walk around.
Throughout my life, my family has always seen food as a source of energy, not something enjoyable. My mom and dad have always been healthy and active. We usually have meat from our farm or fish and vegetables for dinner and you will never see junk food in our fridge/pantry. They taught me that their animals are healthy to eat because it was raised right. When they told me that, I thought there could be no difference between what you buy at the store and the meat you buy locally. This way of living used to bother me because I would always want to eat the food my friends were bringing to school for lunch. I remember seeing lunchables, gushers, caprisuns, and chips in their lunches and I would be so jealous because my mom would pack me with salad, fruit and vegetables.
Now, after all these years of them eating healthy, I can understand why. My parents, having such an active lifestyle, who are healthy and buy their food locally, has been apart of developing my own food ethic because I’ve grown up into it. I grew up learning about growing your vegetables and fruit in gardens, and about raising your own animals to eat. I’m still developing a lot of my food ethic, but I can say that eating more locally and organically when I’m not with my parents, is the start. I want to also start eating mindfully, not gulfing down my food when I’m hungry or in a rush.
I believe people in America have no knowledge of where their meat comes from, nor do they care. They think, if this meat is cheap, tasty, and convenient, it's good to eat. I also believe some Americans are pushed to buy the cheap meat because it’s the only meat they can afford. Some people want to buy this local, healthy meat, but are unable to. If America can invent internet and fully hybrid cars, then we can invent a way where everyone has access to local meats, fruits, and vegetables at a reasonable price.
In our project we experimented with the different structures of an egg and how they can change the density of cheesecake. We took a basic cheesecake recipe but altered the form the egg was in, making one cheesecake with 5 yolks, one cheesecake with 5 whole eggs, and one cheesecake with just whites of an egg. Each form the egg is in, whether it be whites, yolks or whole eggs, there is a different chemical structure. The different chemical structure, the lighter/denser a cheesecake will be.
As eggs bake in a cake, the proteins denature and coagulate with the starches in flour to help to form the cake. When only egg whites are being baked in a cake, because they do not have as much protein as a whole egg or yolk, there’s not much protein the whites can coagulate with, making the cake much lighter and fluffier. Egg yolks are essential to making a cake denser because they contain emulsifiers that help form a thick batter that doesn’t separate. (An emulsifier helps two items that don’t usually get along, (fat and water in this case) get along.) Because egg yolks contain most of the protein and all of the fat, they are key to making a cheesecake denser. In our experiment, we found that our cheesecake that had 5 egg yolks was way more dense, while the cheesecake with 5 egg whites was fluffier.
Throughout this project I realized that cooking and doing science can be very similar. There are many ways a cook and a scientist are using the same strategies in their work. A cook finds a new recipe, a scientist finds a new experiment, and they try it out. They see the ingredients they need for the recipe/experiment and they buy it. Once you have all the ingredients, you carefully add the correct amount of ingredient into the recipe. (Scientists probably measure their ingredients more accurately than cooks, though.)
I learned through the stoichiometry portion of this class that cooking and stoichiometry go hand in hand to. In stoichiometry, you balance equations. In cooking, you balance the right ingredients to make the food taste good. If you have an unbalanced equation in stoichiometry, you add the correct molecules to each side to make it balanced. In cooking, if your recipe doesn’t taste right, you add a little more of an ingredient to make it right. The differences between a cook and a food scientist are that food scientists make sure that the food is safe to eat, and cooks just cook it. Food scientists conduct research on food production methods, assess how food is transported, identify the nutritional value of foods, and test food for contamination. Chefs prepare meals for customers. Very different job descriptions, yet their work correlates scientifically.
Chemistry Scientific Paper
How Different Parts of an Egg Affect Cheesecake’s Density
Scientific Paper by Alli Stanley and Marisol Silva
Abstract Using a whole egg, egg yolk, or egg white significantly changes the density and texture of pastries. In our experiment, we wanted to find out exactly how much the type of egg would affect a simple cheesecake recipe. To the best of our ability, we replicated a vanilla cheesecake recipe altering only the form in which the egg was in. The original recipe called for five whole eggs so we decided to make two other batches incorporating five egg yolks into one batter and five egg whites into another batter. We measured the height and radius of each cheesecake to find its volume. After that, we conducted a blind taste test. We conducted this taste test to measure the density of our 3 cheesecakes. We offered them to try each cheesecake without commenting anything that would persuade them into deciding which one was their favorite. We did have a flaw in our experiment which was that one of the cheesecakes was raw so we had to warn our taste testers which one it was so they wouldn’t consume too much of it and get sick. We asked them to fill out a survey and, based on the results of that survey we found that the cheesecake with egg whites was the densest and people preferred its creamy texture. Our quantitative results also showed that the cheesecake with egg whites had more volume and density.
Introduction In an article titled, “The History of Cheesecake and Cream Cheese”, author Mary Bellis stated that Historians believe cheesecake originated in ancient Greece and during the first olympic games, cheesecake was served to the athletes. Cheesecake was spread from Greece all across Europe and the recipes continued to spread to different countries through immigrants. The recipe has altered throughout time, and one important change in ingredients that made cheesecake known for its creaminess is cream cheese. In 1872, American dairyman William Lawrence was trying to reproduce a French cheese called Neufchatel but instead developed a method to create cream cheese.
Cheesecake can be light and smooth while others can be made more creamy and dense. We conducted this experiment to find out which form of an egg would create a dense and creamy texture. Eggs play a big role in baking as they bind all the ingredients together adding to its thickness and moisture. When heat is added, the raw egg proteins unwind and link together making them loosely link together creating a thick but smooth texture. If overcooked, the protein shrinks and the cake drys out, cracking the cheesecake. Whole eggs balance both the fat and protein making a cake not too dense or creamy. Egg yolks noticeably change the color of a cheesecake giving it a golden tone to it. Egg yolks add moisturizing fat, creating a smooth and creamy texture. Egg whites contain protein molecules that are able to stretch, and when they are whisked, the molecules are able to spread out more, making it denser. We think that using five egg whites will result in a more creamy and denser cheesecake. Egg whites are 90% water, and the other 10% is all protein, which increases the total amount of water content in the recipe. Egg whites are meant to protect the yolk, so the whites are meant to be thick. Thickening occurs when raw egg proteins unwind and link together which is what happens when eggs cook.
Methods The goal of this experiment was to create a dense cheesecake and in order to achieve this, we decided to manipulate the form in which we incorporated the eggs in the batter. The original recipe called for the following:
Being cautious of the baking hazards, we carefully replicated this simple recipe three times only changing two batters. The one batter was just five egg yolks and the other one was five egg whites. Measuring volume from this unique shape would be difficult so we decided to do some math and estimate a few measurements. The first thing we did was measure the radius of the top of the cheesecake and the bottom of it.
The top radius of the cheesecakes was 22 centimeters and the bottom radius was 16.5 centimeters. We then had added them together and divide it by two. After that, we had to measure the height of each cheesecake but since the tops were uneven, we had to measure the highest point on the cheesecake and state in our results that that was the height all throughout. The table below shows what the height was for each cheesecake.
Form of egg Height of cheesecake (cm)
Egg yolk 7.6
Whole egg 6.9
Egg white 8.8
With the radius and height measurements, we used the formula πR2Hto find what the volume was for each.. We plugged the radius and height for each cheesecake and calculated the volume. Another way we decided to measure density and texture was by allowing people to sample our three cheesecakes and instructing them to fill out a survey asking for their opinions, using a blind taste test. The first question was asking what their favorite cheesecake was and why. Then we asked them wich cheesecake, out of the three, had the best texture and which out of the three was the densest.
Results In the survey, we asked 14 people which cheesecake (cheesecake A being 5 yolks, cheesecake B being five whole eggs, and cheesecake C being five egg whites) was their favorite, which was the densest, and which cheesecake had the best texture.
In the data we collected from the survey, cheesecake C was voted the favorite by nine people which is the 64.3% as seen in Data Table 1. Five people voted cheesecake B as their favorite which is 35.7%. This totaled up the 14 people that took our survey, meaning that no one voted cheesecake A as their favorite. Chart 2 Chart 2 shows that Cheesecake C was the most dense, while cheesecake A was the least dense.
Quantitative Results Cheesecake A - 8,847.58 mL Cheesecake B - 8,032.68 mL Cheesecake C - 10,244.68 mL Discussion The use of eggs plays a very crucial role in the end result of cheesecake. The egg is what modifies the texture and flavor, decides if the cheesecake is dense or fluffy, and glues all of the ingredients together. Unfortunately, in our experiment, we had a setback, cheesecake A was raw. We did not realize that each of these cheesecakes was going to take different cooking times. Without knowing, we cooked each of these cakes within the same time of each other. Now obvious, it would have taken more time for each cheesecake to bake because we are cooking different forms of an egg. Cheesecake A needed more time (baking time: 24 minutes), cheesecake B was perfectly cooked (baking time: 35 minutes) and cheesecake C was a bit overcooked (baking time: 25 minutes.) We know cheesecake C was overcooked because it had cracks, and a perfectly baked cheesecake is supposed to have a smooth surface and have a jiggly middle.
Unfortunately, we were also unable to measure the exact density of each cake because we did not have a measure to do so. Instead, we decided to create a less effective way of measuring density, a taste test. If cheesecake A had cooked, we believe it would have been denser than cheesecake C, according to our research. But because it wasn’t able to fully cook, we weren't able to see if our hypothesis was correct. The drying effects of the whites make the cheesecake batter denser, while the yolks makes the batter airier.
Conclusion As found in our results, cheesecake C was voted as the favorite, When asked to explain why a lot of people described it as creamy and fluffy. Its texture and density came from the egg whites and something that we did not intend on testing but noticed was how the egg whites gave the cheesecake a light color compared to the others. If you are going for a more smooth and runny cheesecake, you should use egg yolks. If you are going for a more airy and creamy cheesecake, then use egg whites. If you want something more in between dense and airy, then use whole eggs. This experiment will answer people's aspiring questions when they want to make the creamiest, densest cheesecake. If they want to know if the form of an egg can alter the creaminess/density of their cheesecake batter, they can use our experiment for the answer. An aspiring cook could use this information to know how that using 5 egg yolks instead of whole eggs will take much longer than a regular recipe but will make the batter dense and more creamy.