Spoon University: For the Love of Food

Whether it is IMG_1880photographs of layered sandwiches, artisan ice cream piled onto chocolate waffle cones, or oozing mac and cheese, foodie voyeurism, if you will, has gone mainstream. Food culture has always been a reflection of changing times. Now with the influx of social media, it is dominating and creating a digital dining table that satiates the globe. This gastronomical hub has millions of food bloggers, chefs, and home cooks providing recipe inspirations, food trucks to try, food porn, and more. Spoon University is one of these food websites, catering towards college students. With over 100 collegiate chapters established, Spoon empowers students to write, photograph, and plan food centric events on campus and in the local community. Interested in the story behind Bucknell’s Spoon chapter, I grabbed coffee with the president and founder of this club, Dannah Strauss, to learn more.

Last September, Dannah saw Spoon University’s Instagram account and became immediately intrigued. She was compelled to establish this chapter because she wanted to pursue one of her passions at Bucknell and had yet uncovered a way to do so. She has always wanted to utilize her self-created major in Food Culture and Sustainability to educate fellow students. Spoon seemed like it could provide that much needed and useful food resource on campus she was looking for. She worked diligently throughout the fall in order to launch the Bucknell site at the beginning of second semester.

Dannah has always been passionate about food – not only the physiological importance of it but also the cultural and personal importance of it. Dannah explains, “It is a rare occurrence that everyone stops their day at the same time to do something together, but food does this. Eating functions on an emotional aspect because the table brings people together.” The college environment does not acknowledge the importance of breaking bread together, with everyone always rushing from one activity to the next. Additionally, many college students do not eat mindfully and intelligently. Dannah elucidates, “many grab what is easiest, eat fast, and continue on. Or, some count calories which is one of the worst ways to diet.” Whatever it is, many students could enjoy a more satisfying dining experience if they recognized problems and were given solutions.

Tuna stuffed heirloom tomato at Cherry Alley

Bucknell’s Spoon University provide a remedy to this college dilemma. The website and Instragram account provides many ideas of how and what to eat. From Bison and Commons Cafe food hacks, descriptions of the top restaurants, diners, drive-ins, and dives in Lewisburg to scientific articles about how to fuel yourself properly for a work out – or a nap, Spoon positively impact college students relationships with food around campus.

By becoming more mindful about food consumption, we also become more mindful about food waste. Americans waste enough food everyday to fill up the 90,000 seat Rose Bowl stadium. Last year, Bucknell students alone wasted 131 pounds of food during Bucknell’s Bostwick Cafeteria “Waste Weigh.” In this two hour lunch span, less than 700 students ate here, meaning the average student wasted .2 pounds of food. Food waste creates many social, environmental, and economical problems by contributing to climate change, hurting community health, and abetting world hunger and food security. The easiest way to deal with food waste on campus is to eliminate it.

Dannah strives to incorporate health and sustainability into her food endeavors and posts on Spoon. Her biggest frustration is her biggest hope. Although the term “foodie” is overused to the point of ubiquity and vagueness, the true definition, in my opinion, describes someone who cares what goes into a recipe, who waits that extra 30 minutes to let the spices simmer, who travels to stimulate the taste buds, and who understands the meaning behind the sustenance. Dannah is all that and, through Bucknell’s Spoon webpage, we have to chance to be that also.

Q and A with Dannah:b7vqt6Di

Favorite place to eat on campus and what? Chef David’s brussel sprouts at Daily Dish

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 8.34.08 PMIn Lewisburg? Amami’s breakfast wrap or breakfast salad. There are so many ways to mix and match flavor palettes there.

Nearby Lewisburg? Emma’s Food for Life. This restaurant has huge vegetarian and vegan pizza, veggie burgers.

Favorite food related documentary? Fed Up and That Sugar Film

Favorite food related book? Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser (in her bag as we spoke).

Street of Shops
Street of Shops









Bon Appétit



*All photos courtesy of @spoon_bucknell

The Importance of Art Appreciation: An Examination of Bucknell’s Samek Art Museum’s Current Exhibit, R. Luke Du Bois’ “Portraits and Landscapes”

Art enlightens us, challenges us, and speaks to us. When we take time to study a piece of art, we observe the elements, media, and methods used in the creative thought processes while also learning the history behind the work. As we lose ourselves to the rhythm of the paint strokes or in the beautiful composition, we also discover more about ourselves and our place in the world. Art delves into our subconscious, illuminating our own experiences and truths by connecting us to our past, reflecting our present, and foreshadowing our future. For many people, art’s expressive medium brings us joy and sadness, incertitude and insight, nostalgia and surprise. In itself, therefore, art is incomplete. We must go out and appreciate it to add that final element artists’ look for: our own perspectives.

The students, faculty, and residents of Lewisburg are fortunate to have the Samek Art Museum on Bucknell’s campus. This incredible resource creates an environment where everyone can come together to engage with the pop-up exhibitions and permanent art installations that are relevant not only to art history majors but all people no matter what field, age, or background.


DuBois_SliderThe Samek Art Museum’s current exhibit hosts R. Luke Du Bois’ visual data analysis collection. As a musical composer and data and programming engineer, Du Bois was interested in how visual data analysis can be transformed into art. In his “Portraits and Landscapes” exhibit in Samek, Du Bois creates a fascinating, modern way to interpret portraiture. Portraits no longer have to be constructed through oil paintings; rather, personas can be constructed by the data analysis that we use to communicate everyday. Du Bois’ goal for his “Portraits and Landscapes” exhibit is to transform something seemingly mundane into an aesthetic masterpiece conveying meaning and substance.

To learn more about this, I met up with Art History major and intern for the Samek Art Museum, Kate Miller, to have her tell me about Du Bois’ movement. Kate begins by guiding me over to A More Perfect Union, a collection of maps revealing a dating lexicon of each state. “Du Bois,” Kate tells me, “joined dating sites all over the country and selected the most repeated word in the biography descriptions of each resident.” He examined how 16.7 million people describe themselves and what they seek for in others in their online data profiles. He geographically segmented the online daters and then used that most frequented word in place of the town name on the map. Kate explained to me how that single word can actually show what the town best characterizes, whether it involves an activity, a sports team, an emotion, or more. Through a simple heuristic, such as New Orleans word as “flood,” he identifies people who are lonely, confident, promiscuous, struggling, athletic, grief-stricken, and more. This map powerfully reveals what matters most to the residents, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Du Bois uses a similar technique in his 2008 piece, Hindsight 2020, a collection resembling eye charts in a doctor’s office. In this metaphor of LincolnSOTUEyeChartvision, Du Bois took most repeated words in each president’s State of Union Address and arranged the eye chart to have the most used word as the largest on top. George Washington’s most repeated word was gentleman, Lincoln emancipation, Hoover unemployment, Nixon (ironically) truly, and George W. Bush’s terror. Kate explains how this “panoramic perspective highlights what was most important at the time. The most repeated word is the keystone of their presidential influence, relating to their historic legacies.”

Another chart, Self Portrait, consists of a force directed graph presenting every email Du Bois has ever received by 1993. Kate ex3d61b_sep7_wesleyan_imageplains, the chart is “based on frequency of emails and emotional language such as I love you or I care for you.” Rather than a photo of just someone’s face, Du Bois’ self portrait shows “who he is as a person, what he values, what he is willing to devote time to.” By using computer algorithms to make his art statistically significant and precise, Du Bois creates an aesthetically pleasing artistic media portraying his humanistic identity.

After examining and learning about a few more of Du Bois’ pieces, Kate and I chatted about how Richard Rinehart, the director and curator of Samek, lines up relevant and innovative exhibits that constantly challenge, engage, and inspire all types of visitors. Head up the stairs in the ELC and discover or lose yourself in a tiny self created world right on campus.


Coming soon:

Gallery Engagement Team (G.E.T) Presents: Frequency

Frequency is G.E.T.’s Fall Gala in conjunction with R. Luke DuBois exhibit: Portraits and Landscapes

When: Friday November 13th 6-8pm in the Samek Art Museum (top floor of LC)
Includes: DJ (Liam Moore), food, trivia, and prizes

And if you go, please take Samek Art Museum visitor participation survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9DN9KB2

The Samek Art Museum aims to gain a better insight on the visitor experience regarding exhibitions and events. The data collected will help staff improve future programming. The survey will take at most 10 minutes to complete. The data collected will be strictly anonymous and we will not share the information you provide with any outside organizations.



The Transformative Effects of Meditation

This article features an interview with Jason Leddington, a Bucknell Philosophy Professor and avid meditator; my own research and personal experience with meditation; and a challenge I am giving myself and anyone who wants to join in.


Yesterday morning, I met with Jason Leddington, a Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell, who has been practicing meditation for well over a decade. Once we settled into a wooden bench warmed by the sun, he tells me how he awoke in a panic this morning because he had too many assignments to complete in too little of time. Torn between staying in bed or facing his seemingly Herculean tasks, he decided to sit down and perform a guided meditation. This ten minute body scan was all it took to completely shift his perspective. He felt more compassionate and less resentful to the people asking him to do things and he felt lighter from his stress relief. And now, here he is sitting with me, with a warm cup of coffee in his hand, crossing another commitment off his list. He notes, “A lot about life is difficult. We can’t change that. What we can change is our perspective.”

Jason first began practicing Zen meditation twelve years ago, the main form of Mahayana Buddhism that focuses on the meaning of life itself, before moving to Vipassana meditation, a meditation about psychological insight of one’s self. Vipassana, a less mystical and more practical approach than the former, focuses on the four noble truths -the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. These truths offer a relief in one’s own suffering, which can be reflected in our daily life. Jason explains, “even just sitting for three minutes has the ability to change our relationship to the world around us. Our experience is malleable.” With his peace of mind, compassion, and thoughtfulness, he alters his life in small yet significant ways.

He is also able to make a change in his students’ lives as well. In his Consciousness class, he teaches mindfulness. For the students who engage seriously in the class, Jason is able to notice subtle changes – not through their presence in class but in their weekly journals. His class creates the opportunity and framework for students to discover amazing things about themselves. Not only can Jason see the differences, but there is plenty of research studies showing the benefits of students practicing mindfulness and meditation. No matter what class, meditating for a few minutes at the beginning can give students and the teacher a sense of serenity that calms the mind, eases stress, subsequently increasing intelligence, creativity, concentration, and alertness. One study found that a whopping 41% of students allocated to the meditation group improved in both Math and English scores. 1

The reason I contacted Jason was because my own teacher in eighth grade had planted a seed in my mind about the benefits of meditation that I returned to years later. Last January, I joined over 6 million people who have learned Transcendental Meditation. Transcendental meditation is one of three types of meditation techniques, all differing with regard to the sensory and cognitive processes they require, their neurophysiological effects, and their behavioral outcomes. 2 Rather than just focusing on breathing and chanting, like a normal meditation, TM encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking – a state of pure consciousness. Hundreds of scientific studies conducted at more than 200 universities and research institutions over the past 40 years discovered the benefits of practicing TM, including reduced cortisol (the “stress hormone”), normalized blood pressure, reduced insomnia, lowered risk of heart attack and stroke, reduced anxiety and depression, improved brain function and memory, and greater inner calm throughout the day. 1 Meditating students also “have significantly higher scores on affectivity, self-esteem and emotional competence.” With some extra time on my hands before I went abroad, I attended a week long clinic to try out this practice for myself.

Confession: since that clinic ended, wwwI have not practiced TM once. I am glad I contacted Jason because he reminded me how fifteen minutes can transform one’s day. I told him one of the reasons I didn’t practice was because I could never calm my mind and get thoughts of out my head. He told me, “The only way to not be good at meditation is to not do it. Our minds can be chaotic messes but we just don’t let that chaos determine how we are going to act.”

This week I am taking the challenge to practice TM twice a day every day for one week. I am also having my dad and others participate to get more feedback and learn about their own experiences. If anyone wants to contact me and join in, my email is car046@bucknell.edu. Stayed tuned for my next article in which I will provide feedback.


  1. “Transcendental Meditation®.” Benefits of Meditation. Maharishi Foundation USA,, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
  2. Orme-Johnson, David W. “Comparison of Techniques.” Truth about TM. David Orme Johnson, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
  3. “Transcendental Meditation®.” Benefits of Meditation. Maharishi Foundation USA,, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Stop the Silence: The Solidarity March and the Spotlight on Human Rights

Tuesday evening, hundreds of students silently marched from Bucknell University’s Academic Quad to Hufnagle Park in honor of the many victims silenced by hate, discrimination, and oppression. Once in the park, the silence was broken by students’ performances, reflecting how this silence must end. Many students of all different cultures, social classes, ethnicities, religions, gender identities, and more, came to support the cause. As the introductory speaker Cindy Pelletier, pointed out, despite all of us looking different, look at the blood that runs through our veins – “our hearts, our bodies, all of us feel pain.” At a time when the mass shooting at Oregon College is on our minds, now more than ever, we must get rid of hate and crime. Solidarity means strength. And there are strength in numbers.

Last year, three Bucknell students were expelled for making racist comments and slurs during a campus radio broadcast. Outraged, 1,700 Bucknell students gathered together after the scandal to promote justice and equality, showing signs of hope for change. Despite this, there are still subtle problems on campus, whether it relates to race, gender, mental illnesses, or any type of “differences,” harming college students everyday. These however aren’t as easy to change. The various poems, songs, and interpretive dances at this fall solidarity march conveyed the ways in which students on campus are still silenced by their differences.

“I know in my heart what’s true/ that someone else can change Bucknell/ but I dare you to.” This line in Amarachi Ekekwe’s poem captured the overarching theme of the eight performances at this fall solidarity march. The following interpretive dance of the student group, Extreme Creativity, translated human emotions of abuse and hate, as well as acceptance and love, into dramatic expressions with thought-provoking responses.

Ella Johnson and Danielle Taylor also expressed their own struggles on campus through their passionate reading of the poem “We Be Two Little Black Girls.” The powerful delivery, strong voice and rhythm, and spot-on unity captured the audience’s full attention. Ella also individually performed her own poem about her womanhood, moving the audience through various moods, and creating feelings in the richness of her words. She says, “I am that girl who is so sweet you might just get diabetes,” but “I am also that girl who used to think women were the most powerful until I learned that they can hurt.” Her anaphora adds a powerful poetic element that further emphasizes her lack of control over her own image.

Student Mary Oloukun also sang about these problems of abuse and marginalization. In her soulful, deep voice, she sang John Legend’s “If You’re Out There.” “If you hear this message, wherever you stand/ I’m calling every woman, calling every man/ We’re the generation. We can’t afford to wait/ The future started yesterday and we’re already late.” The message, along with her beautiful vocal chords, resonated in the crowd, making us aware that “tomorrow” must start today.

Following the performances, six student-run clubs came up on stage to remind and/or enlighten the audience about their purposes on campus and in the greater community. Black Student Union’s member Kwaku read a poem about his struggle as an African-American student, stating how his dad told him he has no “business in studying business because melanin doesn’t go well with millions.” Active Mind’s member Steph talked about the stigma around mental illnesses. She told us a frightening statistic that 19% of Bucknell students seek help at the counselling center – 7% higher than the national average. Of that 19%, 6.7% have had suicide thoughts or feelings (keep in mind these are just the students that seek help).

Then Provost of Diversity Bridget Newell spoke for Bucknell’s chapter of Athena, an organization that seeks to support, develop and honor women leaders. She spoke of eight attributes that reflect women’s contribution to leadership: authentic self, relationships, giving, collaboration, courageous acts, learning, fierce advocacy, and celebration and joy. She asked us, both males and females, to examine the meaning of these attributes and ask how we can apply them in our own lives. How can we undertake courageous acts to change campus? How will we become fierce advocates to position change for Bucknell, Lewisburg, and beyond?

LGBQIA+ also asked us to bring about awareness of certain problems. The two spokespeople, both in “celebrate different” t-shirts, gave a brief history of the LGBT history, beginning with the Stonewall Riots, and then educated us on the different symbols for gender, such as the pansexual and asexual flags. Then the students for Free Tibet explained Tibet’s history, focusing on China’s harsh restrictions on Tibetan human rights and how that caused 143 Tibetans to self immolate, including a young 15 year old. We held a short candlelight vigil and moment of silence to commemorate these martyrs and activists.

Lastly, international student and Ubunto spokesperson Leo, from Cameroon, Africa, concluded with a personal story. One night, a few years ago, Leo’s father was found bleeding in the street. He had been mugged by a teenager. Leo’s father, instead of charging the teenager for assault, invited him on a walk. Leo’s father chatted to the teenager about the danger in their community and how this boy is now contributing to the unsafe environment that people they both know and love live in. When Leo questioned his father’s actions, his father replied, “Son, people are haunted by their bad deeds because they haven’t been in contact with their inner beauty.” Now, the teenager, who is now an adult, is an advocate for community safety.

Leo’s father, as well as all the speakers and performers, show that every action we take not only affects our own future but others’ futures as well. This march brings to light issues on campus that must change. By rising to the challenge and making a difference, however big or small, we not only better our personal growth but someone else’s too. We have the power to transform our campus. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Happiness, however, is a sweet result. 

First year Beck Ho-en holding a sign that says "There is only one race, the human race."
First year Beck Ho-On holding a sign that says “There is only one race, the human race.”











FullSizeRender (14)
Students participating in the Solidarity March


Mary Oloukun sings with guitarist Jonathon Leung
Students, faculty, and professors gather at Hufnagle park