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10.27.22 | Sage Advice

Why You Should Be Eating a Global Palette

Cultures across the world are shaped by many things, like religion, technology, and economies, but a culture’s cuisine is often its greatest treasure. A global palette not only opens the door to learning more about a new culture, but also helps share the story of some of the world’s longest-lived and healthiest communities. And while every culture varies in diet, each exemplifies its unique take on living a vibrant life. 

In America, healthy eating is typically visualized through a Eurocentric lens, often reflecting things such as greens and smoothies. However, there’s more to healthy eating than just those popular linkages. Understanding the significance of cultural cuisine helps to explain that food for many across the world is much more than just an energy source and, instead, a representation of heritage and ancestry.

North African cuisine in Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, in particular, benefit from the influence of various cultures around the area, from the French to the Turks. Cultural dishes combine hearty ingredients like olive oil, fresh veggies and rich spices all bringing a plethora of nutrients to those who relish the delicious meals. 

In Japan, where the longest-living people on the Earth live in Okinawa, people have been following a similar cultural diet for centuries. Low sugar and dairy paired with meals consistent in rice, veggies and fish ensure that every meal is complete. And, even with limited fruit in their diet, the health throughout the culture still thrives. 

Italian culture is a perfect example of how misconceptions about healthy eating are proven wrong. Although the culture is known for its pasta and pizza, Italians are also known for their use of fresh, quality ingredients. While carbs fill many of their meals, the use of high-quality local vegetables and cheeses proves that even when you might not think you’re eating the healthiest, you still technically can be!

A quick look around the world is a great reminder of the health benefits and significance of immersing yourself in the foods of other cultures. And even if a cuisine may not read the healthiest on the outside, the thought and care put into it may be much more significant than we often realize. 

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10.06.22 | Sage Advice

Storytelling: Chicago’s Essential Book List

Similar to armchair travel, one of the best ways to understand unfamiliar cultures and experiences is simply by opening a book. Numerous authors and poets have been inspired by Chicago’s neighborhoods and residents and a rich array of literature has been created detailing the Chicago experience. And, since Sage Collective’s roots lay in the Windy City, we’re no stranger to the endless amount of rich stories we believe should be shared. From soul-nourishing poetry to unforgettable thrillers, here are a few of the classics that have endured for generations and continue to illuminate the city in new ways to all readers.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Erik Larson’s best-selling work of non-fiction set at the cusp of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair follows the lives of famed architect and city planner Daniel Burnham and one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Dr. H. H. Holmes. Throughout his notorious time in Chicago, Holmes lived in multiple residences, one of which was at 1220 W. Wrightwood Ave in Lincoln Park, which has been demolished and reconstructed as a single-family home. Larson creates a portrait of two men making names for themselves in a city that, at the time, was set to be the largest metropolis in America. Devil in the White City is gripping, gives a vivid glimpse into Chicago’s boom age, and shares a historic perspective of its inhabitants and how the city came to be known as the “white city.”

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street follows 12-year-old Esperanza Cordero growing up in Chicago’s Hispanic quarter. The novel is considered one of the modern classics of Chicano literature. Written by Sandra Cisneros, this coming-of-age masterpiece depicts the trials of being young and poor in Chicago and what it means to belong in the city as a young Chicana girl.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Considered the “greatest of all American urban novels,” Sister Carrie is the story of fame and aspiration in Chicago. Follow 18-year-old, dissatisfied Caroline Meeber from small-town Wisconsin as she rises to fame during the turn of the century in the big city of Chicago but continues to grapple with the loneliness and unhappiness she felt at home. Dreiser is considered one of the masters of realism, focusing on the instincts of his characters to drive the plot and presenting his characters to the reader without judgment.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

One of the greatest American novels of all time, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is perhaps one of the first books that come to mind when considering Chicago literature. Not for the faint of heart, The Jungle reveals harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants working in the industrial centers of cities. The Jungle does not shy away from gruesome details depicting the realities of Chicago’s stockyards in the early 1900s and caused a public uproar. 

A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks writes about Chicago’s south side like nobody else. A Street in Bronzeville, Brooks’ first book of poetry, is a display of her poetic genius and an ode to the beauty and hardships of the city’s south side. The sensational work of poetry touches on her own living conditions in Chicago as a Black tenant. And, many of the poems were created at Bronzeville’s South Side Art Center.

The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek

Stuart Dybek is a local legend, and The Coast of Chicago, one of Dybek’s earlier short story collections, is a testament to his genius. Dybek depicts the city in an honest, but poetic light true to his experiences growing up in Pilsen. The Coast of Chicago is an intimate portrait of the city through Dybek’s eyes, and each story in the collection is a little gem of Chicago-centric storytelling.

The main branch of the Chicago Public Library system, the Loop's Harold Washington Library
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01.21.21 | Sage Advice

Why You (And Everyone Else) Should Read More Poetry

Many of us discovered poetry during mandatory school courses and our relationship with the genre ended swiftly after, never to be revisited again over the years. There’s this common misconception that poetry is in inaccessible art form, that it has to be understood to be enjoyed. But poetry is like singing — you don’t have to be good at it to do it or to enjoy it. Put simply: it’s good for the soul. That’s why today, we’re making an argument for why you (and everyone else) should read more poetry.

Why Read Poetry?

First of all, poetry is easy to incorporate into your daily schedule. A single poem doesn’t ask much of your time or attention. One Huffington post article describes how easy it is to consume poetry by saying, “You can flip through a book of poetry and eat the poems like popcorn.” In fact, you can even have the delectable treat of poetry delivered to your email daily by the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day or Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day

Rather than being intimidated by the idea of interpreting poetry, let’s consider how many possibilities are offered in the act of interpretation. Poetry, as an abstract language, stretches our imagination and the boundaries of what words can do. It appeals to heart logic over brain logic. Poetry shakes off literal interpretations or concreteness… the idea that there is just one way of seeing. Mirroring this logic (or lack thereof), in most arguments on why you should read poetry, instead of choosing just one reason why, the arguments simply end on the open-ended question: “well, why not?”

The Impact of a Poem

Though, of course, poems can teach us new things and offer us a new perspective, much of the beauty lies in how a person uniquely relates to the poem. In the TEDTalk “What Happens When We Read Poetry” they purport that it is this reacting-to that makes poetry so meaningful: “Though a poem doesn’t make things happen, it happens — every time someone reads it. Rather than a static item printed on a page, a poem is an event that occurs with each new reader and with each new reading.”

Further exploring the idea of what happens when we read poetry, The Cut describes a study conducted in Germany where the bodily response to poetry was measured using a “goosecam” (which shows the movement of skin and arm hairs as people listen to poetry). Participants in the study were also told to press a button each time they got chills during the reading of a poem. 40% of participants physically showed goosebumps.

But even more, the neurological impacts (those not tracked by the goosecam, but by brain scans throughout the process) showed the impacts of the slow-building pleasure of listening to poetry. The study dubbed this phenomenon, the “pre-chill,” a sensation synonymous with the buildup and anticipation of unwrapping a chocolate candy bar. Before study participants ever pressed the button indicating they had been given chills by the poem, the pre-chill had already been occurring within them.

Poetry contributes to vibrant living. And the best part about poetry: there’s something for everyone. If one poem doesn’t stir pre-chills in your heart and goosebumps on your arms, the next one most likely will.

A hand writes the word poetry on a vibrant wall of graffiti
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