JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Why the cheese sandwich matters

August 3rd, 2004 · 2 Comments


At Fort Clatsop, we heard a presentation describing what the Corp of Discovery ate during their winter camp time. Apparently it was neither Lewis nor Clark but one of the privates who recorded the number of 131 elk. This number has been used as evidence that the men each ate 8 – 10 pounds of elk meat a day, a number that is also disputed. As the ranger illustrated, who could eat 40 Quarter pounders a day? Not even Lance Armstrong. The 8-10 pound figure has become legend and lore of Lewis and Clark.

One entry in the journals revealed that the men ate six pounds of jerked meat in two days. The Leung Family Laboratory operating on location at Fort Clatsop scientifically determined that four ounces of turkey jerky would not last us one lunch.

However much the men ate, it intrigued me to hear how important the journals of the Corp are. Lewis and Clark copied each other’s writing every day. Lewis would copy Clark’s entries into his journal and Clark would copy Lewis’, to ensure that at least one copy of each would endure.

I thought about weblogs, and how it is disputed and debated what kind of information we should write in these posts. Does anyone care what I had for breakfast? For lunch? I’m not about to start listing all that I eat every day. But if I did describe such mundane facts from my life, would it be unimportant?

Or would someone two hundred years from now take note, curious to know whether I did eat 40 Quarterpounders a day. Maybe someday it will matter to someone. Someone trying to understand what life was like here and now. Someone perhaps who found a surviving copy of Supersize Me and wanted verification of daily diets…

I thought too that the way Lewis and Clark copied each other – occasionally making editorial remarks, such as when Clark commented that, unlike Lewis, he had not yet gotten used to eating dog meat – is a little like what we do with weblogs. We do copy each other’s entries. We copy each other’s ideas. We comment. In a sense we are preserving each other for now and for some future time when one or both of us may no longer exist.

Food also communicates. For example this entry of Christopher Albritton How hot does it get in Iraq? uses eggs to illustrate the heat.

So yes, Jeneane, keep blogging those cheese sandwiches!

Tonight – after I had written a draft of this post – Ted said to the girls when they were discussing the Corp’s diet of dogs:

How do we know that they ate dogs?… Lewis and Clark kept a weblog. Only they didn’t have computers yet….

Tags: blog

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rayne // Aug 3, 2004 at 7:46 pm

    The Corp of Discovery probably did eat that much meat — but the guesstimated daily amount of 8-10 lbs. is probably gross weight, including all skin, sinew, bones, antlers and hooves, less desirable organs or tissue that may not have been consumed as food. During the winter the men would have needed additional calories to keep warm; they may have been living an enforced near-Atkins-type diet, without much carbohydrate to round out their caloric needs. The guesstimated daily weight of meat consumed may also reflect unprocessed meat; surely some of it was dehydrated/smoked to preserve it, releasing a lot of water and weight. Was there any indication from the guides at Fort Clatsop to the contrary?

    That’s one of the important benefits of blogging, over that of diaries like Lewis’ and Clark’s. We can collaborate more fully, use both push and pull seamlessly to get to more of the truth. If only we could have heard the real depth of exchanges between Lewis and Clark…

  • 2 Julie // Aug 3, 2004 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you, Rayne. Please see the post I wrote above in response…