For a primer on Donuts & Broccoli, please go here!
For our first Sunday edition of Donuts & Broccoli, I bring you a YouTube series on “gourmet” recreations of some of your favorite junk foods, and a video giving another perspective on something that’s been on everybody’s lips— plastic straws.
Bon Appétit’s YouTube series “Gourmet Makes,” hosted by the magazine’s Senior Food Editor Claire Saffitz, is universally considered a delight. You don’t have to ask anyone, you can just trust me— Claire rocks. Her cookies rock, her Twinkies rock, and her Stacey London/Elsa Frankenteen-esque hair stripe rocks.
“Gourmet Makes” follows Claire’s attempts to recreate classic junk foods by reverse-engineering them—from scratch! Claire, and the rest of the charming test kitchen staff, end up going down the rabbit hole in frenzy of creative ingenuity and many, many failed attempts.
Bon Appétit has managed to find a successful niche on YouTube by producing positive and trendy food videos that are more personality than tutorial. Sure, you can try and follow Claire’s instructions if you want, which include making your own food-safe silicon mold and hand-pressing little Oreo biscuits one by one—or you can just watch how excited Claire gets when it all works out.
Other videos in the ongoing series include Claire’s attempts to recreate Lucky Charms, Gushers, and yes, Twinkies from scratch—but while half the fun of “Gourmet Makes” is watching her have a small meltdown over the consistency of cornmeal dough, this latest installment is not only Claire’s favorite, but maybe the most enjoyable, because of how much fun she’s having.
Broccoli: “Banning Straws Hurts People”
There is no shelter you could have found in the last month, online or off, that would have shielded you from the unrelenting coverage of…strawmaggedon.
What began as an environmental campaign that asked consumers to be more conscientious of their single-use plastic led to nonstop media coverage and reports of straw bans in communities like Santa Barbara, California, where offenders will see absurdly high fines and even jail time. Starbucks announced it was to go plastic free by 2020, only to respond to protests from the disabled community who said that single-use plastic straws are necessary for their health and wellbeing.
Jessica Kellgren-Fozard is one of the best YouTubers producing content about disability & LGBT rights, doing so with a cheery demeanor and a vintage flair. The exasperation you may hear in her voice in this video is due to how relentless the back-and-forth coverage over plastic straws has been. Jessica covers the situation from the perspective of the disabled community, providing patient answers to all the but’s and interjections that have come from well-intentioned but unyielding environmentalists.
I understand where proponents of the straw ban are coming from. Back in January I made going straw-free a New Year’s resolution, after seeing some Buzzfeed video about someone doing the same. I even bought a little pack of reusable acrylic straws (only to forget to bring them out with me, most of the time). Today, when so many of us are overwhelmed with concern for the future of the planet, we sometimes get desperate to find some action that we ourselves can take, in order to feel a little less powerless. The issue of straws seemed to present a simple problem, with a simple solution: mounds of plastic are littering the sea because we choose convenience over sustainability—case closed.
But it’s exactly with issues like these where we forget the importance of underlying power structures. We forget the disabled in these situations, or else expect them to give up their quality of life to lighten our individual guilt. We forget that, as with so many environmental issues, the bulk of the damage is caused by unchecked industry—0.025% of plastic in the ocean is made up of plastic straws, as Jessica says in her video. 46% of it is fishing gear.
In a world where a lot of us want for something, just once, to be simple, it can be hard to see that everything— even plastic straws— demands nuance. Luckily, Jessica and other educators like her make it easier.
That’s been your donut and brocc for the week, thanks for tuning in! Stay hungry 🙂