Sunday, November 22
Friday, November 20
Ok, so that was a good debate in class! But clearly we didn't have the proper amount of time to discuss it all as we should together, which is a shame the GM food issue is so critical.
So: I want us to continue the conversation over the next two weeks on our blog! How would you address the resolution yourself personally?
I am asking everyone to post their personal reflection on the issue here. In the comment line of this post.
You can come down one side or another, but you can also be undecided or less black and white. Wither way, please say what you are thinking and WHY. What arguments and rationales in the debate do you find most or less compelling? If you are Pro or Anti, what concerns on the other side might be legitimate (but in the end may be of low priority to you or perhaps fixable?)
Or, perhaps the resolution itself is poorly formulated and leads us to oversimplifying conclusions? What is a better way to think about the issue? What questions still remain that need to be answered?
Write to out here thoughtfully and drawing from all the various forms of arguments and evidence we've come across (I'd say a minimum of 150 words). Please sign your name too so we know who's thoughts we are reading!
As a consumer, voter, and cultural producer it is important to have a point of view on GM as it is likely to only between a larger issues in the years to come in our daily lives and globally....
The risks of GM foods outweigh the purported benefits and should not be allowed to be sold and planted.
Meanwhile, feel free to continue posting to blog items of relevant and interest!
Thursday, November 19
In the past few years there has been a mysterious and devastating decline in global amphibian populations. Among the major factors, scientists have identified infective fungus ("chytrid') as one. But how has this devastated different populations worldwide at the same time? Some belive it is linked to the food trade in...frog legs.
I $40 million dollar industry, the global movement of their meat might be spreading the pathogenic fungus. If true, it is a fascinating case of how food ecology and animal ecology are interacting in complex ways. Go here for an article.
Wednesday, November 18
Monday, November 16
With Atlantic tuna population estimated to be at only 15% of its pre-industrial levels and worries are that our favorite fish is reaching the end of its (fishing) line according to a recent report.
The organization that is responsible for protecting this valuable fish stock, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, has apparently wimped out on the best strategy for preserving them: rather than put a temporary ban on the catching of this lovely and tasty fish, ICCAT decided to go the route of lowering catch quotas by 1/3, a measure many say is not only largely unenforcible, but will likely increase illegal fishing of prized catch.
This report dovetails with the class reading on the USDA ruling on Monsanto's new GM soybeans that make omega-3 fatty acids, and which they claim may take pressure off of already overfished species like tuna. But is it the insatiable nutritive lust for omega-3's driving the appetite for big game fish? Seems somewhat of a fishy bit of reasoning considering our growing global love for sushi, and in Japan in particular. Not only has ICCAT been criticized for a while now as supporting unsustainable fishing practices that may drive tuna to extinction.
Indeed, if you go to the world's largest fish market Tsukiji, in Tokyo, the haul is evident. They move over 4 million pounds of seafood a day, and the tuna auction is the biggest there is.
Here is a video I took this last summer of some tuna staying cool in the July heat under smal blocks of dry ice, post-auction, at a smaller retailer at the emarket:
Friday, November 13
this movie related somewhat to the food industry and biochemical engineering / GM foods, and the corruption in agricultural industries.
"Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake - being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he's a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him." Written by The Massie Twins
Thursday, November 12
Wednesday, November 11
Sunday, November 8
“We're kind of a popular punching bag,” said Marilyn Wann, author of “Fat! So?”
As of yesterday, a truly sweeping and historic bill overhauling the US health system narrowly passed the House of representatives (now on to the Senate).
Among all the controversy and concern over health right now and our own class discussions and readings on nutrition, obesity, and health, one important thing to consider is the generalized association of "fat" with "unhealthy."
For example, in an article this week Peggy Howell, the public relations director for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, says: “We believe that fat people can eat healthy food and add movement to their lives and be healthy. And healthy should be the goal, not thin.”
As the Times article continues:
"That idea is gaining strength and popularity among a segment of the overweight population that feels as though traditional dieting to lose weight does more harm than good, ultimately benefiting the $30 billion weight loss industry, not the public"
Knowing that not only body weight itself, but susceptibility to weight related diseases is a complex interaction between environment and genetics, it is interesting to consider the categories of health that we use and their powerful, but perhaps also prejudicial and oversimplifying, extent.
Saturday, November 7
Friday, November 6
Thursday, November 5
Kendall Bess, right, reaches for a toaster pastry as Ameenah Saleh, left, maneuvers the breakfast line with her donut at Faraday Elementary School on the West Side. The girls. both 6, passed up the apples. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune / October 27, 2009)
An article in the Chicago Tribune this past week examines the food options given to Chicago Public School students, and nutritionists are a little concerned. Offering free breakfast to the students is a new policy to be lauded on many levels, but does the nutrition add up?
CPS says, hey, we are follwing USDA guidelines!
Chicago schools' food service director Louise Esaian defended the breakfasts, saying: "All of the menus served in Chicago Public Schools meet the requirements established by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture). In the majority of our schools, students are offered a choice at breakfast." She, however, did not mention that those choices include sugary pastries.
And here the ecology of information, consumer choice, and semantics rolls right in:
In fact, Chicago parents could be forgiven for not knowing doughnuts are ever served in school. That's because the word doughnut never appears on any city school breakfast menu the Tribune examined. Instead, the menus say MVP Breakfast, the product's brand name. City school officials did not respond to questions about why they use such an unrecognizable term on the menu.
But Kimberly Schwabenbauer, dietitian and marketing manager for the manufacturer, Pittsburgh-based Super Bakery, made it clear that she doesn't like to use the d-word when referring to her company's product: a round, sweet, cakey pastry with a hole in the middle. When she absolutely had to say "doughnut," she prefaced it with "quote unquote."
What does this say about education, much less nutritional education? The doublespeak is worrisome if we are trying to teach kids to be smart and critical thinkers, as well as healthy.
Wednesday, November 4
This month they have posted Sustainability as one of the themes.
From the site:
For this photo challenge we want to see what strides people are making toward becoming sustainable. Whether it's a big change in your community or a small tweak to your daily routine, photograph something that has the goal of sustainability.
This challenge will close on Thursday, November 12th.
How rad is this? I think its brilliant. Go check out the site and see what other people have submitted as their ideas of Sustainability.
**Check out this image of a Wave Power Generator. (Andy can you explain how this thing works?)
In our ongoing conversation about food labeling the the ecology of information, consider the "Smart Choices program" of select nutritional labels that food manufacturers have designed and prominently posted on the front of many foods.
Selling the sense of nutrition? Food companies say they are trying to do their part in helping consumers eat according to USDA nutritional guidelines; critics say they are trying to play with the visual language and authority of quantitative data to make things like Fruit Loops seem healthy for you. As one NYU nutritionist put it:
"The point of this program is to make processed foods look healthy when what you want is people to eat foods that have been as minimally processed as possible"
The companion video segment sums it all up quite well.
As it turns out, six weeks after first being reported on widely, federal regulators have stepped in and shut the program down saying that such systems could mislead consumers, which indeed seems like the whole point of the scheme...