The things about the second year of law school is everyone can start to deep dive into what they are passionate about. For me it’s Food Law, an up and coming part of law that most people scratch their heads at… except the 200 people I just spent a weekend with this past November at UCLA. The Food Law Student Leadership Summit, put on by Harvard and UCLA, is a conference where students from all over the country meet to tackle food policy issues as well as learn form some of the top food law professors and speakers in the United States. It’s an amazing conference that tackles all food related issues, from agriculture to labor laws, from foraging to SNAP programs. I met so many amazing people who want to tackle food issues! It was so nice to be surrounded by people who are also passionate about food topics.
This blogs chapters are a doozy. From wand weighing (which let’s be real, it sounds a bit like a penis contest to me… which my friend Kevin would tell you that’s all Harry Potter is about anyways… boys fighting over wands) to fighting dragons, to fighting to break social norms… it definitely feels like Hogwarts is more like law school than it is a magical school. This week’s theme is “weighing the heavy stuff.”
Chapter 18- The Weighing of Wands
So the chapter before this had everyone acting like little babies, whining that Harry put his name in the Goblet of Fire and it wasn’t fair… everyone forgetting that Harry is trying to be killed by Voldemort… so clearly this was all Harry’s doing because he loves danger (which he probably does… because he’s sometimes an arrogant little jerk) and wants to die. Anyways, now Harry and the other champions have to go through a want weighing ceremony with Rita Skeeter (the worst human reporter on the planet… which some may argue is what JK Rowling thinks of all tabloid reporters) lurking around. Why they have to get their wands weighed is beyond me… it seems very silly especially when Ollivander gave most of them their wands anyways… and by most I mean Harry and Cedric (that’s half right? and Harry’s ego counts for two people…amirite? haha). Anyways… they weigh wands and Rita Skeeter writes weird stuff about Harry being so young and innocent.
Chapter 19- The Hungarian Horntail
Ron of course is still not talking to Harry and everyone hates harry like normal, now they just have pins that say ‘Potter Stinks’. Nevertheless Hagrid the friendly giant shows Harry what the first task will involve. Hagrid fancies the giantess leader of the Beauxbatons school and also shows her the first task. Harry is like “whoa what the heck, I’m a little boy, those are big dragons, this is insane, i’m going to die, boohoo.” Then he tells Cedric and Ron acts moody.
Chapter 20- The First Task
The first task comes upon them. Moody hints to Harry what he should do and Harry freaks out. Hermione helps Harry practice the Accio spell. Ron keeps his distance. The first task day arrives. Everyone picks out their dragons. Harry is the last to go… he gets the Horntail and everyone survives the dragon task. Harry uses a broom…Swoosh swoosh, he also survives and ties Krum for first place. Now Harry and the other champions have to figure out the weird egg they got.
Chapter 21- The House-Elf Liberation Front
With the first task behind him, everyone celebrates. Ron becomes Harry’s friend again (dammit Ron why are you like this?) and Harry opens the egg to only hear screeching. (I get that this synopsis is weird, but this whole book is weird…and not one of my favorites because teenagers are so freaking moody, but so are law students so I guess it works.) Rita Skeeter bothers everyone, goes after Hagrid for an interview. Fred and George tell Hermione how to get to the kitchen where the House-elves are and she finds Dobby and WInky (Crouch’s old house-elf) working int he kitchens. She’s bothered by this. Hermione becomes even more determined to help these house-elves get paid and respected, even though Winky and every other elf besides Dobby don’t want to be paid. And then everyone laughs about Percy being a stuck-up brown noser.
Oy vey… I understand why they cut so much of this for the movie… while I enjoy Hermione’s activism I don’t think too many audiences would want to watch her going on about elves. BUT I DO ENJOY READING ABOUT IT, BECAUSE GIRL POWER! It’s heavy stuff to take on when nobody else really cares… sometimes that’s how being into food law feels. There aren’t many opportunities to get involved in food law the way want to get into it. Just yesterday my mentor told me that he didn’t know how to help me find opportunities to do the work I want to do. He said it was interesting that I have decided to build my career on a social cause.
What is that social cause? Changing the idea that food is a privilege into the idea the food is a fundamental right. And what do I mean by food? I’m not talking about processed, packaged food filled with hidden sugars and preservatives, I’m talking about healthy, regionally grown food options. A lot of people don’t understand what I’m talking about, because they have food, fridges full of packaged food, freezers stuffed full of frozen chicken nuggets and pizzas. People who think they are unaffected by food deserts or food swamps are mistaken. Just because you can afford to buy food from he local grocery store, doesn’t mean you haven’t been duped into buying unnatural harmful food items… and that you aren’t making yourself sick.
But where does the weighing of heavy things come into play here? You see when Ron saw Harry defeat the dragon to win his first task, all of a sudden Ron was back on Harry’s side. He knew there was no way Harry was trying to elevate himself by putting himself in the line of dragon-breath fire. So his mind changed. However, when it came to Hermione’s cause, both boys still just couldn’t understand why she would ever want to tackle something that appeared so meaningless to them. They couldn’t understand the cause because it didn’t effect them… at least not directly. They were taught that this was normal, that house-elves were meant to be “slaves” to their masters. That these house-elves were just doing what they were supposed to do in society. And the house-elves (except Dobby) believed that too.
On the idea of food rights vs. food privileges, we’ve all been brainwashed into believing that the way we consume and view food is the normal. It’s the way food is meant to be consumed. But what if there was more to it? What if we actually took the time to understand what we were putting in our bodies? I mean, I’m a prime example of following social norms… I’m sitting in Starbucks drinking yet another drink because they gave it to me for free… I know it has an immense amount of sugar, but here I sit drinking it because that’s what I’ve always done (and I’m addicted to sugar).
And that’s just it, Starbucks, Fast-food, Processed food, easy food options… they are a way to make someone rich at the top, and make people sick at the bottom. Does it seem like I’m being dramatic?? Of course it does, because in America, freedom is being able to get a venti $8 drink from starbucks and a piece of desert bread or a donut to start your day. It’s not about being able to eat healthy or nourish your body, mind, and spirit, no it’s about nourishing someone else’s checkbook and wallet at the cost of your health.
Now, to add onto that, a lot of you know I work at Starbucks, and I have for a little over 10 years now… and here I am to tell you about the moral dilemma I have with that decision regularly. Literally 20-40 hours a week I push sugary drinks and unhealthy food options on people and their dogs (dammit people STOP GIVING YOUR DOGS DAIRY FILLED SUGAR! THEY WILL DIE!). I hate it, but yet, Starbucks helps pay for my overly expensive apartment (thought they pay me minimum wage to work like a house-elf which does not nearly make it worth it most days). Nevertheless I stay. nevertheless I give people drinks full of sugar and fat to start their day. Nevertheless, I regrettably watch kids get cake pops and parents give their children milk full of sugar. Nevertheless I stand there and watch the unhealthy epidemics of capitalism take a toll on society, because that’s what I’ve been told to do, taught to do, and can’t find a way to get out of it.
In law school these are the things that weigh heavy on your soul. You see the injustices of the world, and yet while you want to change it, while you want to stop just mindless going along like a Ron and Harry, and you want to be a Hermione… society stacks the odds against you. Society tells you to not bite the hand that feeds you, to do what you are told or you’ll end up a societal reject. So in order to have a place to live, in order to have a life… I continue to work and continue to spread the problems that I morally and ethically struggle with each and every day.
BUT that can change, and in 2018 I will be changing that. No that doesn’t mean I am going to straight up quit my Starbucks gig outright (remember I need the paycheck, even if it is small). You see each year I choose a word for the year, a word I try to live by. This past year, I didn’t do that, and well this past year has felt like a freaking mess the entire year… see what happens when you aren’t intentional with your year? So 2018 here’s the word: Self-care and Self-love. That’s right two words! 2018 will be about me, and not in the narcissistic way. No, this next year I will set goals and focus on taking care of myself starting with the food I consume.Sure, I cannot change the way every single person relates to food. I cannot give everyone access to good food all at once. At least, not yet, but I can start by changing the way I approach food and the things I eat… that means i’m unhooking myself from the sugar train, the coffee train, and meat trains and instead hooking myself to the veggies, fruits and fish trains. That’s right, I’m going Pescatarian in 2018. It’s not going to be easy, and I anticipate it not being perfect either. I anticipate their being minor slip-ups, and minor breakdowns over not getting to eat whatever I want whenever I want (dammit, there goes my American FREEDOM), but it will be worth it. So stay tuned.
The whole purpose of this is to show people that while we cannot change all the injustices in the world as we see them, we can change the way we interact with the things that weigh heavy on our hearts and it starts with ourselves. Hermione shows us that, she shows us how heavy this whole house-elf system weighs heavy on her, and how she truly tries to make others aware. Yet, Hermione cannot undo the brainwashing of all of those around her, but she can live her own truth. In law school, we are sometimes the Hermiones, trying to change the world, but feeling alone… but we can change the world for one or two more people or even ourselves if we would just truly try… and by changing your own ways of interacting with injustices in the world, you just might inspire someone else to change how they interact with the world.
So take inventory, what’s weighing heavy on your heart and mind? And then what can you do about it in your own life to change it? Maybe it’s being less materialistic, maybe it’s to stop drinking alcohol, maybe it’s to start volunteering more, maybe it’s to go and start living your passions and truths… maybe it’s just to start taking care of yourself a little more. Whatever it is, go and do it… you’ll be happy you did.
Until Next Time,