Diet Cards vs. Food Synthesizers

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by emergencyfruit, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. emergencyfruit

    emergencyfruit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I'm curious about how food/rationing works onboard the Enterprise. We know that there are food synthesizers in multiple locations that can make anything you want, and if I remember correctly, will take verbal requests. We also know that at least Kirk has medical oversight of his diet - a yeoman brought him salad after McCoy "adjusted his diet card", with the obvious implication that Kirk was not allowed to go get something else from the synthesizer.

    So...how much dietary regulation are crew members subject to, and how is it enforced? Are you issued specific food cards ahead of time to use in the synthesizers (like Chapel used to get the kids all the different ice cream flavors)? That would seem to take the joy and free will away from having a universal food synthesizer. Since only raw matter is needed to produce food, I imagine rationing isn't logistically necessary, but maybe it's needed to keep crew members fit. But then we see that some crew members have alcohol or other treats in their quarters (Scotty's impressive liquor collection, for one), and how would Kirk gain weight if everything he ate was strictly controlled? That can't be right.

    Any theories? We never see a fat crew member during all five years of the mission, so they must be doing something right. :P
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    We might make a short hop to TNG here and see how Deanna Troi in "The Price" confronts the computer about "real chocolate". The computer argues that it is supposed to be providing healthy food - but Deanna seems prepared to press her point, suggesting that it is possible to talk the computer around to giving the user unhealthy alternatives eventually. Perhaps having the argument is a big part of the entertainment value?

    I'd think the system just monitors consumption and reports to the CMO, who can then decide whether to take action. Only in severe cases would the CMO tell the system to enforce a diet.

    There's a slight problem with that, in that Chapel is offering the kids combinations of up to three flavors. In order to do that, she'd need a huge number of cards, if the cards are what dictates the combination.

    But it's a game, done just to entertain the kids. And quite possibly, the cards play no real role in the game. After all, the game has no rules and makes no sense - Chapel says the cards represent flavors, but then proceeds to let the kids pick the flavors verbally. Even when she claims the result will be a surprise.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    When a starship crew member starts putting on too much weight, they just beam the fat out. :p

    In the first place, food technology in TOS was never clearly defined. In "Charlie X," there were references to a ship's galley, ovens, and synthetic meatoaf. In "Arena," McCoy hankers for a good old "non-reconstituted" meal. As for those ubiquitous food dispensers, we don't know if they were meant to be synthesizers. They could simply be the delivery end of an elaborate dumbwaiter system (although whatever a character ordered usually appeared almost instantaneously).

    In "The Corbomite Manuever," Yeoman Rand says she'll bring Kirk something else if he doesn't like the salad. So while McCoy as Chief Medical Officer can make dietary recommendations to any crew member including the Captain, he doesn't have absolute authority over what anyone eats. (Or the captain can override his authority, because he's the friggin' Captain.)

    A crew member's "diet card" could simply be a recommended meal plan; it doesn't have to be a physical piece of paper.
     
  4. emergencyfruit

    emergencyfruit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Ha! Oh, the future keeps sounding better and better.

    As for the cards Chapel used, I see what you mean. Maybe they're personnel-specific cards, not food-specific cards. As in, everyone on board has a card, which you enter when you make your order, almost like a debit card. For the kids, those might have been spare or guest cards. That would also gel a little more with the idea of "diet cards", and I suppose the connected accounts could be altered as needed. Makes sense to me!
     
  5. Sector 7

    Sector 7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Haven't you ever heard of Shatner's infamous girdle? His weight varied throughout the series. Either Kirk can violate his doctor's orders or McCoy isn't doing a very good job enforcing his diet. :devil:

    And don't get me started about what happened to Scotty's waistline...:cardie:
     
  6. emergencyfruit

    emergencyfruit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Yeah, *Shatner's* weight yo-yoed like crazy, but it's not his fault he couldn't physically contain all the awesome that was Captain James T. Kirk. :P

    My point is, in-universe, no one has weight problems (obviously, in our reality, it was and remains another story entirely). Given human behavior patterns, I find it remarkable that not one of 430 men and women on board struggled with having any food available at any time if they simply said the word. Either they are far more disciplined than we give them credit for, or some kind of management was in place to help them.

    I mean, come on. :D If you were going away on a very dangerous five-year mission, leaving all your friends and family behind to go live in space, not only would you be stressed as hell, but Earth(like) food would be the one comfort available to remind you of home. And if you were a redshirt, you've seen how the herd has been thinned lately, so it's not like you'd worry much about long-term consequences of a poor diet!
     
  7. Sector 7

    Sector 7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^I beg to disagree. Military people tend to stay fit (at least combat personnel), more so than civilians. StarFleet personnel are military, especially in TOS. My (in universe) thoughts are two-fold on this:

    1- due to long periods of less activity for most of the crew, long-term monitoring of their diets should be part of the CMO's duties

    2- as our knowledge of the need for a healthy diet grows, future space crews would be even more educated... thus willfully choosing healthy foods, with only occasional bouts of excess
     
  8. emergencyfruit

    emergencyfruit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    1. That's my point. There has to be *some* kind of regulation/oversight, be it medical or computerized by putting limits on access to the food synthesizers. I'm simply curious as to the mechanics of how it's enforced.

    2. I must also disagree. The problem even today isn't that we don't know junk food is bad for us. That's why we feel guilt (among other things) after overindulging. Knowing that a good diet is essential to good health and having the psychological strength and long-term wherewithal to resist temptation are two very different things. Unless we've found a way to turn off an evolutionary preference for high-fat, high-sugar foods in the human brain (particularly during times of stress), it will always be a struggle: it's merely human. So we must have figured out something to control those impulses - external, third-party monitoring would fit the bill.
     
  9. Sector 7

    Sector 7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You agreed with me before you disagreed... so I win.:devil:

    [rapidly ducks to avoid whatever object Miss Emergencyfruit prefers to throw:guffaw:]
     
  10. emergencyfruit

    emergencyfruit Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I'll just observe that since you began by restating my point, albeit in a contentious manner, you agreed with me first. ;)
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Perhaps the first one Chapel inserts is a generic "I'm crew, gimme food" clearance card - but once Stevie the Picky One orders peach on his pistachio, she has to substitute the "I'm medical crew, gimme unusual and unhealthy food" special clearance card?

    Or perhaps she planned on giving each kid a card, emptied of all harmful content and only containing the clearance for two helpings of ice cream - and when the kid ordered three flavors, that is, three helpings, she needed to insert a new card?

    In any case, probably the poorest possible example for study if we want to decipher the capabilities and usage of TOS data chips! ;)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I really do thing that is all they were. And the individual square didn't have anything to do with a certain dish, they just gave you access to the system.

    What Christine was doing was play a game with the children, if Christine had had only one square left and Mister Picky had made his elaborate request, she would have assured him that the one square she had left would have been the right one. She gave him a alternate square because she had another square left over.

    When Kirk (in The Trouble with Tribbles) inserted his yellow square into the "food slot machine" what happened? He didn't seem to order anything, verbal or by buttons, but he knew that his tray was supposed to hold a chicken sandwich and coffee. One possibility is that he returned to his quarters and retrieved the correct square from his meal square collection. Or, that was simply the only thing on the lunch menu that day, no choices. Or, in some way Kirk made a deliberate selection at the time.

    We just didn't witness it happening.

    :)
     
  13. GSchnitzer

    GSchnitzer Co-Executive Producer Moderator

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    The script for "And The Children Shall Lead" has a little bit of information. To save myself some typing, I won't copy all of Scene 42--just the relevant comments.

    "Nurse Chapel is standing before the five shining eyed
    children. In her hand she is holding up a number of
    vari-colored cards."


    So the cards are described as "vari-colored"--as opposed to the regular "mono-colored" cards, I suppose.

    "The [childrens'] hands reach out to grab as Nurse Chapel responds to the cries of delight."

    CHILDREN IN CHORUS
    "Vanilla... Strawberry... Cherry
    and Peach... Chocolate and Licorice"


    (It actually sounds like one of the kids is shouting "Cherry and Vanilla" instead of "Cherry and Peach.")

    Folks probably remember that Stevie was disappointed with what he got:

    "It's coconut and vanilla. They're both white."

    So he reorders:

    "Chocolate Wobble and Pistachio"

    And Nurse Chapel inserts the two-toned card.

    Stevie appends his order "...and Apricot." (Well the script has "apricot;" his line as delivered in the episode is "...and peach."

    So Nurse Chapel removes the two-toned card she had put in and replaces it with a three-toned card.

    Here are the seven cards Nurse Chapel starts out with:

    [​IMG]

    The cards we see match up pretty well with the stuff the kids yelled out.

    Here's what appears to be a plain white card for "vanilla"--grabbed my Tommy Starnes:

    [​IMG]

    Here's what appear to be a plain red card for "strawberry"--grabbed by Ray Tsing Tao:

    [​IMG]

    Here's what appears to be a red and light-peach colored card for "cherry and peach"--grabbed by Don Linden (or perhaps it's red and white for "Cherry and Vanilla"):

    [​IMG]

    Here's the one that's a little confusing: what we see of it is a pink card (or maybe plain white) when it's grabbed by Mary Janowski. But earlier when Chapel is holding it, you can see that it appears to have some chocolate brown color. Perhaps it is half chocolate brown and half black (the half that is hidden behind the other cards)--and the *back* of the card is the lighter pink or whitish color.

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, we have Stevie O'Connel's cards. We have his original card which seems to be all white--or two very similar shades of white (for his coconut and vanilla):

    [​IMG]

    Then we have the brown and light green card (for "Chocolate Wobble and Pistachio"--whatever the heck "Wobble" is):

    [​IMG]

    Lastly, we have the brown and light green *and* light apricot/peach colored card for the "chocolate Wobble and Pistachio and Peach):

    [​IMG]
     
  14. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So how does Kirk's yellow square in 'Tribbles produce a (anticipated) chicken sandwich and coffee?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    :)
     
  15. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    It is possible that TOS food synthetiser cannot produce any meal desired on the spot, but it needs somehow prepare the food. The crewmwmbers order their weekly meals beforehand (from the computer console in their room, for examle), and the card identifies who the person ordering the food is. So when Kirk sticks his card in the machine, the machine gives him the meal he had preselected for that day beforehand. And Chapel just had preprogrammed few cards for the kids to play with.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    It also stands to reason that the cards would have some visible means of labeling the contents. Perhaps Chapel just pressed the edges in a pattern (or keyed in instructions while the cards were inserted in a reader) to make the cards change color appropriately, whereas Kirk doesn't go for color coding but has text on his datacards that becomes visible (but only to him, even in HD) when the card is pressed or something.

    For all we know, Kirk has programmed a complex, customized weekly menu into his food card, and fully knows what to expect from a Tuesday lunch...

    Fascinating how the color coding in "And the Children" actually holds up to scrutiny!

    Timo Saloniemi
     

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