New Approach Needed // Katie Wickstrom

When I headed towards the tee box at my high school golf practices, my coach always said, “It’s all about the approach.”

Never did I think this statement would connect to my Critical Thinking and Writing course, taught by Nick Leither, in my first-year at Santa Clara University.

Nick had a certain approach to open up overlooked issues, such as our food and our culture, to the class. He first showed us David Foster Wallace’s short video called “This is Water.” It highlighted the true meaning behind a real education. Wallace stated that a real education is not about our knowledge, but simply awareness. When we stop thinking about ourselves and become aware of our surroundings, we have an open mind to new perspectives. We then can choose what we think of them and how we act upon them. 

The class was then presented information about factory farms, the media, and violence through short clips, influential documentaries, articles, and informational books, such as Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Columbine by David Cullen. We also held intellectual discussions in class and from that point on, it was our individual responsibility to further research these issues for our essays and to approach them through a specific scope. In doing this, our essays would be relatable to students, and it still would convey the bigger issue. David Foster Wallace, for example, does a great job using this approach in his article, “Consider the Lobster.”

In hindsight, I had such a narrow, closed-minded and misguided approach to some serious and important issues. Before this class, I was ignorant to the whole gruesome, disease-filled, unethical and unsustainable practices of factory farms (Foer); in fact, being raised in Massachusetts, I was unknowledgeable of the true idea of sustainability. Furthermore, I was vulnerable to the news media and their tactics of sabotaging good reputations, such as Chipotle’s; I was also dependent on the news to give me simple explanations to the motives of acts of violence, like the Boston Marathon bombings.

Finger Pointing

For some Americans, they are like me; they are simply unaware. For others, though, they are aware and often choose to not think about it. Whether aware or not, the American public has been taking the wrong approach to controversial issues for a long time now. Who’s to blame for this? There’s a lot of finger pointing. If Americans didn’t rely so heavily on the news media for information, and if our news media was more inclined to show us the real truth behind the closed doors of powerful corporations like factory farms, then maybe we, Americans, would have a different outlook on life and would approach these serious issues with care for the sake of ourselves, animals, and the environment.

I approached one serious issue by thoroughly researching Chipotle and the outbreak of illnesses from the consumption of their food. I realized the news media’s considerable influence on Americans. Not only that issue, but also the issue that Americans are vulnerable and believe absolutely everything the news media says.

Chipotle has brought a whole new level to the fast-food industry with over 2,000 worldwide restaurants, advanced sustainable practices, and an increased amount of customers (Satran). Yet recent outbreaks of illnesses, such as E.coli, norovirus, and salmonella, from Chipotle’s food have opened the way for factory farms and the news media to sabotage Chipotle’s ethical and sustainable notoriety.

Why is it that factory farm want to do this? Well, “Pigs destined for a Chipotle Carnitas burrito receive no antibiotics, eat a vegetarian diet and must have access to either open pasture or deeply bedded pens” (Kuchment). On the contrary, pigs that are raised on


factory farms do not abide by these standards; and because of this, factory farms feel threatened by Chipotle. According to Farm Sanctuary, “factory farms dominate U.S. food production, employing abusive practices that maximize agribusiness profits at the expense of the environment, our communities, animal welfare, and even our health” (Farm Sanctuary). Factory farms have a huge presence in the food industry; and a company, like Chipotle, who comes in and reveals the truth about the unsustainable practices and unethical treatment of factory farms, poses to be a threat to these corporations.

And what about the news media? Well, the news media is a means for factory farms to work through to destroy Chipotle’s reputation. The overdramatic presentation of the incident by the news media makes the outbreaks seem like bigger problems than they actually are. Unfortunately, as a result of this, American consumers do not trust Chipotle and Chipotle’s sales and stocks have taken a tumble (Wahba). However, fortunately, with their new safety food protocol to prevent future outbreaks and their marketing of free burritos to gain customers’ trust back, Chipotle is headed in the right direction (Chipotle).

In spite of it all, it is important for Americans to become aware of issues, to think about them, and to choose how to act. Our choices- or approaches- to such issues, which are influenced by the news media, are obviously not helping and are only intensifying the issues. Most of us put up blinders and think that these issues will just disappear eventually. NEWSFLASH: these issues are caused by us, and can only be fixed by us. It’s time that the majority of Americans take a new approach to these issues that so few Americans have already taken. Try becoming a vegetarian, cutting back on meat, shopping from local and humane farms. It’s small steps and you, as an individual, might not think it will make a difference. But if we all just tweak our own approach a little bit, it will make a huge difference.

Your slight change in your approach might not get you a hole-in-one, but at least you will be closer to the hole than you were before.

“It’s all about the approach”

Works Cited

“Chipotle.” Chipotle. Chipotle Mexican Grill, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2016.       <https://www.chipotle. com/food-with-integrity>.

“Factory Farming.” Farm Sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary Inc, 2016. Web. 04 Mar. 2016. <http://>.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.

Kuchment, Anna. “Why Chipotle Insists on Humanely Raised Meat.” Newsweek. Newsweek LLC, 3 May 2008. Web. 04 Mar. 2016. <;.

Satran, Joe. “Steve Ells, Chipotle Founder, Reflects On McDonald’s, GMOs And The First 20 Years Of His Chain.” The Huffington Post., 12 July 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2016. <;.

Wahba, Phil. “Chipotle Is Blaming The Government And The Media For Their E. Coli PR Nightmare.” Fortune.Com (2015): N.PAG. Business Source Complete. Web. 1 Feb. 2016.

Wallace, David Foster. “Consider the Lobster.” : 2000s Archive : Gourmet Magazine, Aug. 2004. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

Wallace, David Foster. “This Is Water.” Commencement Speech to Kenyon College. Kenyon College, Gambier. 2005. Youtube. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.


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