Who to Trust//Noah Strong
I came into the first day of my Critical Thinking and Writing class expecting to be preached at by some hippy-dippy professor with far left views of the course topics of “Food, Self, and Culture”. However, I was guided to question and investigate the outward intentions and appearance of government, people, and industry. Having been raised in a military family, I grew up in a culture of taking orders and obeying without debate. Until midway through reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, Eating Animals, I was content with my ignorance of the US food industry. After being enlightened about the harsh realities of the treatment of 97 percent of meat sold in the US, I culminated my first quarter of CTW with an investigative essay about my school, Santa Clara University, food service provider Bon Appetit. The 2nd quarter of CTW focused on American media, American violence, and their correlation. After reading Dave Cullen’s book, Columbine, which took 10 years to properly investigate, and other literary works that exposed misconceptions through thorough research and unbiased analysis, I focused on topics that relate to my life, the military. Besides learning about individual topics, CTW has taught me to question, research, and investigate a person or organizations motives before blindly trusting them.
The food serviceprovider at Santa Clara University, Bon Appetit Management Company (BAMCO), heavily influences student’s nutrition and lives. Throughout campus and on SCU’s website, BAMCO’s industry changing “Farm to Fork” program is heavily advertised. I investigated the misperception that all of Santa Clara’s food comes from the “Farm to Fork” program. Although SCU has an 11 million dollar a year contract with BAMCO, the “Farm to Fork” program only “strives to purchase 20 percent of its meat and produce from responsible local farms” (Thistlethwaite). A quick website search revealed that at least 80 percent of the ‘sustainable’ food that SCU students pay high prices for is purchased from large factory farms. The best research came from talking with Bon Appetit employee D’Amone who described unwrapping pre-portioned meat and produce every morning before serving it to kids under the guise of “Farm to Fork”.
Since the 2nd quarter of CTW focused on violence in American culture, I chose to look into our nations pride and joy, the military. After very limited research, I found many instances of the US government’s military corruption in its business, foreign affairs, and veteran affairs. Being a contracted ROTC Cadet and son of an Army Officer, these topics are very relevant in my life. I found that the ridiculously massive Defense budget is spent on contracts that are handed to defense companies without any competition, because those companies donate huge sums to the campaigns of friendly politicians (Caldicott). There is a material conflict of interest in Washington that keeps the US in constant militarization. My next essay involved the large scale PTSD malpractice in military hospitals. The US Department of Veterans Affairs is causing extremely high suicide rates because it is heavily over-medicating soldiers that suffered trauma with dangerous psychotropic drugs and addictive pain killers (CCHR). Too many sad real life examples exist, but the most touching was the story of 21 year old ROTC cadet Kevin Graham, who committed suicide after taking anti-depressants prescribed by the military hospital (Dreazen).
Throughout my time in CTW, my most rewarding methods of research came from reaching out to people directly involved in the topics I was writing about. A friendly conversation with D’Amone gave me behind the scenes access to Bon Appetit’s daily operations. By interviewing a Chaplain Major I was given insight into experiences with the Military Industrial complex. My most valuable primary research came when Master Sergeant gave me access to the PTSD test that is given to soldiers returning from combat.
I used to despise conspiracy theorists, but I have a newfound respect for trying to uncover the truth. I urge you not to look into the true intentions of a cause before blindly trusting them.
Dreazen, Yochi. The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War. New York: Crown, 2014. Print
“Military Veterans & PTSD Statistics – Pathologizing War to Sell Drugs.” Military Veterans & PTSD Statistics – Citizens Commission on Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
Caldicott, Helen. The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military-Industrial Complex. New York: New, 2002. Print.