Observing Oatmeal

I just LOVE a piping hot, cozy bowl of oatmeal during the chilly fall season. I remember when my mom would always make me oatmeal with sliced bananas every day (with love!) before school in junior high and I always appreciated how it would keep me satisfied and warm through my entire first two periods of life science and algebra before lunchtime. Let’s learn about how this heartwarming dish made its way to America, helps kids in school, and is known for some of America’s funniest comics!

Oatmeal and History

According to Iowa State University’s Garren Benson and Lance Gibson, oats did not come to prominence until the period after the birth of Christ. Centuries ago, oats were used as a weed-like plant in cereals before becoming a standalone food. Some authorities believe that our present cultivated oats developed as a mutation from wild oats. They think this may have taken place in Asia Minor or south­eastern Europe not long before the birth of Christ.


Photo Credit: Jason Reo

The oldest known oat grains were found in Egypt among remains of the 12th Dynasty, which was about 2,000 B.C.. The oldest known cultivated oats were found in caves in Switzerland that are believed to belong to the Bronze Age.. The chief modern center of greatest variety of forms is in Asia Minor where most all subspecies are in contact with each other. Many feel that the area with the greatest diversity of types is most likely where a particular plant originated.

Oats were first brought to North America with other grains in 1602 and planted on the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts. As early as 1786, George Washington sowed 580 acres to oats. By the 1860s and 1870s, the westward shift of oat acreage in the United States had moved into the middle and upper Mississippi Valley, which is its major area of production today.

Oatmeal and Politics

Did you know that oatmeal is consistently ranked as one of the best breakfasts to power your brain before going to school? The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal deliver a steady stream of energy to your brain to keep the body alert for exams. While eating a healthy breakfast is one way to try to help boost your education, there are a few more significant issues facing the education system today.


Photo Credit: Silk

College Affordability

With college debt on the rise year after year, it’s no doubt that with the elections in full swing, college affordability is high on the political agenda. While Democrats are pushing for free college education through tax increases, conservatives are pushing for the creation of a student-investment plan that would allow private investors to pay a student’s tuition in exchange for a share of that students’ income over a period of time. Libertarians suggest eliminating guaranteed government loans so that payback prices for students do not artificially keep rising due to the increasing number of loans, and so that scholastic competition between schools results in a price drop for students. Ongoing discussion will continue in the coming months as the election gets closer and parties work to find a solution.

Common Core

Common Core efforts for standardized national education standards have resulted in problematic changes or elimination in several states, including New York, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and others. While there has been an ongoing debate about the amendments to common core or its ability to be repealed completely, one of the biggest problems being recognized for common core is its one-size-fits-all educational approach, which fails to adapt to different student’s learning styles and educational needs.


Photo Credit: Chad Sandsedt

The Black Lives Matter Movement/Racial Discrimination

While the Black Lives Matter Movement started in 2014, several instances of discrimination have unfortunately continued across college campuses (for people of all races), and students across the nation are demanding that action is taken from their universities. Demands have included training about how to make marginalized students feel more welcomed on campuses, to increased funding for campus diversity offices, to community-building activities for students of color to take part in, to increased representation of people of color in faculties and student bodies. While these actions will of course not solve the issue of racism completely, they are a step in the right direction.

Campus Sexual Assault

From Columbia’s mattress-carrying sexual assault victim to the Brock Turner sexual assault case, sexual assault remains to be a serious issue on college campuses. One of the biggest conflicts that have arisen with the issue today are affirmative consent laws, which clearly define what consent is supposed to be. Because of these laws, students have become confused about what consent means, and they have also used the laws as a defense for being wrongly expelled in sexual assault cases.

Following this, another issue is the government requirement that colleges report all incidents of sexual assault often encourages schools to do all that they can to sweep sexual assault cases under the rug, handling these sexual assault cases inappropriately for fear that reports of sexual assault will ruin a school’s reputation.

With so much media attention on the hotly debated issue in recent years as well as the rising support for the world-famous He for She campaign, discussion continues for how to best provide support for sexual assault victims, handle dialogue around sexual assault to avoid victim-blaming, and how to properly prosecute perpetrators of sexual assault in both a fair and just manner.

Steve Israel.jpg

Photo Credit: Bill Sobel

I had the pleasure of speaking with politicians from both sides of the aisle about the issue of educations. Congressman Steve Israel (D – NY) points out that education is an “extremely important issue” in which his book, “The War on Morris,” is full of lessons for Americans to learn about, from the war on terror and the dangers of government corruption and bureaucracy. He is thrilled that the book has sold so many copies to educate Americans on those issues.


Photo Credit: NBC News

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich recognizes the need for education to be dealt with in a non-partisan manner so that the needs of the American people are met first.  “[We need to] be open to all the arguments on every side so that everyone has an honorable ability to seek the truth.”

Oatmeal and Pop Culture

Oatmeal is most widely recognized in the title of Matthew Inman’s super-popular humor website, “The Oatmeal,” created in 2009, in which everything from siracha, to customer service calls, to how to suck at your religion is covered. Inman is a cartoonist born in my hometown of Seattle, Washington, whose hilariously funny comics have spawned a merchandise empire, fundraisers for important causes, online political arguments, and even legal disputes. Check out his witty comics today!

From Inman’s “Relationship Problems”:


Photo Credit: Matthew Inman

Banana Oatmeal Cups with Chocolate Chips


  • 3 mashed bananas (the more ripe the better!)
  • 1 cup 1 % milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cups (240g) Old Fashion or Rolled Oats
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp (42g) mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips together, and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans.

Spray a muffin pan and/or liners with with non-stick spray.

Stir the chocolate chips into the oatmeal batter.

Divide batter into 15 muffin cups. They should be just about filled.

Bake 20-30 minutes, you’ll see the edges just starting to brown and they will be firm to the touch.

The muffins may stick when hot but are removed easily when cooled for a bit.

Benson, Garren and Lance Gibson. “Origin, History, and Uses of Oat (Avena sativa) and Wheat (Triticum aestivum).” Iowa State University. Iowa State University Department of Agronomy, 2 January 2002. Web. 28 September 2016.
Inman, Matthew. “The Oatmeal.” The Oatmeal. Weberz, 2009. Web. 28 September 2016.
Neff, Blake. “These Will Be the Most Important Education Issues of 2016.” The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller, 1 January 2016. Web. 28 September 2016.