GOOD

Guilt for Dinner

design mind on GOOD is a series exploring the power of design by the editors of design mind magazine. This is the last installment in a miniseries...


design mind on GOOD is a series exploring the power of design by the editors of design mind magazine. This is the last installment in a miniseries within that blog, which has run every Thursday for six weeks.

At every home, we started with a sit-down interview to ask the participants about their behaviors. After that, we had them show us the food in their kitchen. They displayed the insides of their cabinets, refrigerators, freezers, and pantries. Finally, we asked them to cook a simple meal of their choosing, after which we’d all sit down to eat together.

The part I found most interesting was how participants’ attitudes shifted when they switched from telling us about their behavior to showing us what actually went on in their kitchens. Time after time, no matter how healthy or clean or “good” a person said they were about cooking and eating, as soon as any of them were forced to show us what was in their pantries, they became self-effacing, guilty, and embarrassed. There were no exceptions. Everyone understood that they should be eating well, cooking nutritious meals, and being healthy, but they all felt like they were failing, regardless of the truth.

The research revealed to us an incredible pattern of guilt and aspiration in how people eat—an embedded cycle of should/don’t/want. Our research subjects believed there existed an ideal they had to live up to, but none of them thought they could meet that standard, so they felt guilty. And yet they continued to aspire to that goal.

I’ve since noticed that pattern in many other programs I’ve been a part of, and not just ones dealing with food. I think it says a lot about consumer culture: the culture of empowerment and being the best you can be, and the ubiquity of material objects—those things that are always available to buy and own, things that represent you, and your worth in the world.

Denise Gershbein is a creative director in frog’s San Francisco studio.

A version of this piece appeared in the May 2009 issue of design mind magazine.

Articles

The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Screenshot via Sweden.se/Twitter (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet