Apr 27

Food Inc evoked many different emotions from me, from concern to the animals being treated improperly to sadness over Kevin’s death from E. coli, and all the commons themes/emotions have to do with the deplorable lack of corporate responsibility.

We are constantly told by our parents growing up that our choices have consequences; good choices have good consequences and bad choices have bad consequences. After watching this film, it is apparent that these food corporations are somehow exempt from the consequences of their negligence. They are uses improper procedures and it is having a bad effect, the animals are getting sick and passing it along to the humans. This is normally because the procedures they are taking yield more money for them (such as hiring cheap illegal labor and feeding cows corn that takes less time to make them fat enough for slaughtering) with little to no regard to what their choices are doing.

It saddens me that these companies have so much control over our lives, and we don’t even realize it because we normally don’t think twice about the originations of our food and how the animals/workers have been treated, and how all this “greed” surrounds this food.

I believe what hurt me the most was that the food company that was responsible for Kevin’s death by E. coli didn’t accept responsibility for his untimely death, acting like tainted meat was beyond their control. It is obvious it wasn’t and by taking some simple procedures of caring about the customers and not just “How can we make more money” this could have been prevented.

I think this states that as a society we are very greedy and care only about money and not basic human respect. It really annoys me that this is the way corporate America is, from oil companies down to the food we purchase. I was definitely impacted by this and will try to be more conscious about where my food comes, even though it was hard. I really learned a lot about cooking from the Chi Chocolat demonstration today that showed how cooking your own food could be fun and doesn’t need to contain meat. I enjoyed the presentation and think the timing was great to do that activity after watching Food Inc, if we were to do it before I don’t think I would have gotten the same affect out of it. I would have asked “where’s the meat?”

One of a discussion prompts that I would have liked to have brought up in a Socratic Seminar was “All things considered, was the organic yogurt’s contract with Wal*Mart as good as the farmer made it sound.” We have to consider that the only reason Wal*Mart wanted it was to stay current with the trends of the consumers in order to earn even more money, the only green thing corporations seem to care about.

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Jan 18

“Farmer in Chief” was an interesting, thought provoking read. I’ll be honest, before reading it I didn’t really think twice about where my food came from. Being a student on a budget, all I cared about was the cost of my delicious food. The cheaper the food was, the more likely I was to buy it. After all, I didn’t know that there was a negative correlation between cost of food affecting environmental problems.

This text went in depth describing what needs to be done to mitigate the environmental problems. One of the biggest cases it makes is the need to decentralize the food industry.

Let’s face it, businesses all around the world are doing whatever they can to keep costs low during this time of economic uncertainty. Even the airlines are charging for items that should be included in the fare, such as checked baggage and soft drinks. They are forced into taking these measures in order to stay profitable, or at least break even. The same goes for the food industry. Centralizing works very well from an economic standpoint, they can focus solely on one product (such as bananas) cheaper than if they processed the product in local distribution centers.

Reading about how inefficient and how environmentally harmful these practices are actually made me think about the positives of globalization. We should be lucky that we live in the age of being only 20 hours (give or take) from anywhere on the globe. While it may seem inefficient shipping products from NorCal to SoCal via Alaska, it is important to realize that centralization allows for faster distribution with the resources given to us (i.e. not local farms). It is amazing to think how produce can be literally moved to the other side of the world overnight.

The text also gives an interesting resolution of bringing farming to the White House, with the Executive Chef preparing food from locally grown farms. I found it interesting how the author recommends for the chef to post where he got the daily ingredients. One of my original thoughts were, “Who would actually read this?”  Then I realized it would be interesting for incentives for the farms such as “White House Featured Farm” to boost the moral of farmers and the consumers who buy from those farms. It is also an interesting proposal to have the first family do gardening to try to encourage more Americans that “farming isn’t dead”.

Along the lines of listing sources, another resolution is putting an auxiliary barcode on food to track it’s origins, even showing pictures of where the animal is slaughtered. At this point, who would even considering buying the food, when they see the gruesome steps it took to get to the supermarket.

After reading this, I can’t look at cheap food (such as Fast Food, “snack food”, etc.) the same as I did before. I don’t want to admit it but by purchasing the food and supporting these companies I am contributing to the problem, reminding me of the phrase “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”.

This all seems to come down to economics, this could only happen if everyone, both producers and consumers, has money in order to “invest” in this. Economics will trump environmental concerns as more people are concerned about their personal finances than the future of the planet and everyone as a whole.

Lastly, I find an ethical dilemma regarding having the government pass regulations on food to consume as well as changing the definition of “food”. Ethically, can the government regulate what people put in their body? Giving incentives to purchase locally grown, nutritious solar food makes sense, but redefining what “food” is going to far.  They have good intentions, but ultimately it is limiting freedoms.

I wish I could have attended the Socratic Seminar on “Farmer in Chief” as I had a lot of observations and connections to make and wanted classmates insight, however, I was out of the class due to an interview with British Broadcasting Corporation. If I were to attend the Socratic Seminar, I would have used these prompts in order to spark discussions:

1. Whose decision is it to what citizens of a certain country put in their body? Is it ethical for congress to pass laws banning certain types of food?

2. Would changing the definition of “food” be beneficial to the decentralization of the food industry? Can we really change the definition of something millions of people are accustomed to?

3. Apart from educating the youth (as the text says through nutrition classes, lunch programs, etc.), how will the public be made aware of this campaign to decentralize the food industry?

4. In the interim, what can global agriculture leaders (such as Dole and Chiquita) do to mitigate their carbon footprint?

5. Will economics trump environmental concerns in implementing a plan to decentralize the food industry?

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