I strongly debated if I was going to do a food blog for my term paper this quarter. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and this made me even more scared that I was going to mess it up (weird logic, I know). Now, I’m so glad I took the chance. I want to take a moment to reflect back on this past quarter and the experience of writing this blog.
Initially, one of the hardest things about writing this was finding my voice. I was scared to put myself out there – what if everything I tried to write just sounded stupid? I knew that I would have to add my own twist to the science I was presenting if I wanted to make my writing engaging but I wasn’t sure how to do this. If anything, four years of writing scientific papers had made me very good at taking my voice completely out of my writing.
My Italian friend gave me some great advice on the topic. He told me to just write like I would explain it to a friend and that’s what I’ve tried to do (with the exception of editing out the occasional curse word that slips out when I’m cooking).
I’ve always been pretty private when using social media and this was another barrier I had to get over in order to do this project. I’ve started to become more confident in my abilities and more comfortable with putting something I’ve written out for everyone to read, which feels really nice.
Another challenge was striking a balance between including the topics covered in class and keeping the blog relevant to the average college student. My goal with this blog was to write something that incorporated food science and nutrition to help other college students eat tasty, nutritious food on a budget and sometimes, it started to feel like I was losing touch with that goal.
I tried to stay true to the initial purpose of the blog but I was also very aware that a large portion of my grade was depending on this. Part of the criteria for this project was comprehensively covering the topics discussed in class. We have discussed so much information in class that it felt impossible to include it all. There were also parts that were extremely scientific in nature and I didn’t think most college students would appreciate reading an extremely detailed post on the wonders of organic chemistry.
I tried to even it out by writing some posts that were more scientific and others that were more practical in nature. I did my best to include all of the major topics we learned about this quarter while still trying to make the blog interesting and relevant to the average student and I really hope I managed to succeed on both counts.
Breaking down some of the scientific concepts was especially difficult. Many of them need a substantial amount of background knowledge that I take for granted but that students who aren’t studying science probably haven’t been exposed to. I wanted to give just enough of this information so readers could understand the more interesting concepts without having to read through five pages of background science. At the same time, I didn’t want to assume that something was common knowledge when it really wasn’t.
One of my professors refers to this as “the curse of knowledge” – she likes to say that once you know something, you can’t unknow it. When you get a concept, it is very hard to understand what it feels like to not get it, which in turn makes it hard to teach to someone else. I had to take a step back and remember what it felt like to have these ideas be completely foreign before I could determine how much information I needed to give to for the concepts to make sense to someone else.
Finally, the last major challenge I had with the blog was that of time. Writing alone is time consuming but preparing recipes and remembering to take pictures of them was the biggest struggle.
At first, I tried to make my life fit around the blog, which I was trying to fit to my class. This became incredibly stressful. It was time consuming and I was starting to lose enthusiasm fast. I realized that by fitting the blog to my life, and incorporating concepts from class, I could create something much more engaging and enjoyable, both for me to write and for others to read.
At first, I didn’t really want to share the blog with anyone. I figured my parents would look at it a few times but I wasn’t really expecting anyone else to read it. One of my wonderful roommates pushed me to publicize it a little bit. She told me I was being an idiot and that the whole point of writing a blog was to have people read it. Of course, she was completely right.
Once my friends started reading and commenting on the blog, it made the whole experience mean so much more. Instead of blindly throwing information onto the Internet, it turned into an interaction. It was also so cool to run into people I hadn’t seen in months and have them mention the blog, or have old friends from high school leave comments. Getting so much support and positive feedback on something that I was initially pretty scared to do felt really nice, and I’m grateful that my roommate pushed me to put the blog out there.
On an academic level, the blog was also a great chance to synthesize the information that I was learning in my classes. Now that I’m in my fourth year, a lot of my classes connect to each other or cover different aspects of the same concepts. This blog was based off one class in particular but I found myself pulling in other information that I had learned to expand on the topics I wanted to talk about.
I’ve always found that the best way for me to see if I really understand a concept is to see if I can teach it, and the blog was a really good opportunity to do that. I would start to type up a post and when I realized there were gaps in my own understanding of a concept, I would have to do some research and make sure I really understood it before I could figure out how to explain in it my own words.
It was especially important for me to be sure that what I was saying was accurate since I was giving information and advice on nutrition. There is so much information on nutrition out there that is flawed (especially on the Internet), and the last thing I wanted to do was perpetuate all of the misinformation that consumers are faced with today. After writing this, I feel much more confident that my opinion on the topics I’ve discussed are as scientifically correct as possible.
So what next?
I think I’m going to keep doing it!
Part of me thinks it’s a silly thing to do when I could be spending this time on school work instead but for all the reasons I listed above, I’ve really enjoyed this project.
There will be some changes – I wanted to talk about quite a few topics that didn’t really fit in with my class, so I’m excited to bring those up. Maybe I’ll try to include a little bit more of my personal life and eating habits too.
I’m definitely going to keep the science in there though. One thing I’ve realized this quarter is how much I love what I’m learning. For the first time in a while, I’m genuinely having fun in school and I can’t even begin to explain how good that feels. I think the things I’m learning are both useful and fascinating, and I definitely want to keep on sharing them.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who read this over the quarter – all of your support, feedback, and kindness meant so much.