(credit: Getty Images)
What Should I Eat?
When I was in high school, my friends and I found that most of the people have no idea about what to eat for lunch every day. Therefore we built an app that could automatically generate food recommendation for students. On our app, a simple click on the button may generate more than 10 results, with rankings, comments, specials shown below. At that time, we were all teenagers from middle-class family, and eating for us was not only about gaining energy or nutrition, but also an experience of enjoying delicacy, especially meats.
(credits: Julian Burford)
Therefore, when I came to America, I felt like I got into the heaven: All meats are produced by large corporations in modern, scientific, advanced approaches; And the price of meats is low. According to Jonathan Safran Foer, author of national bestseller Eating Animals, the price of beef in the United States rarely changed (even lowered in some places) in the past 30 years (Foer).
But things started to change as I joined Critical Thinking and Writing(CTW). In CTW, after reading Foer’s Eating Animals, I know that eating meats that produced by factory farms will greatly create pollutions toward the Earth, encourage dishonesty within the food industry, and cause inhumanity treatment toward animals. Because the process of growing food became much more complicated and eating meats became such a big deal for the world we live in, making food choice now is an action of responsibility rather than gaining energy or enjoying delicacy. And, more importantly, my experience in CTW leads me to think more about the food itself and the connection between the food and nature.
In the past two quarters, I did six pieces of research related to food and dishonesty. For all these essays, I talked about the farmers market, solo eating, factory farming in China(which is my hometown), water sustainability in SCU, dishonesty in school dining hall, and how technology may change the food industry. Typically, I started my essays with my observation in my everyday life, and then expanded my idea by doing further research on the details that we usually ignore.
For examples, for my essay about dishonesty in the school dining hall, I first found that the school’s dining points policy is annoying. Thus I began to do primary research in order to support my conjecture that the school benefits from such dining points policy and there may be a conspiracy between the school and its dining service provider, BON APPÉTIT. After primary research, I found that a lot of students have the same feeling as I do. And I thought dining points policy might not be the only one case of dishonesty. With further observation and secondary research, I found that dishonesty is everywhere among the school dining service. Firstly, according to Eater (Shah, People), an international organization that has more than 400 employees in worldwide, most of the restaurants hire people of color mainly because people of color are usually paid 35% less than white workers in the restaurants industry. The school hires more people of color than white people so that they can lower its labor cost. Secondly, the school’s dining points policy provides a unique advantage for BON APPÉTIT to gain more market share from restaurants besides SCU. An interview I conducted with sophomore year student Michael shows that such unique advantage forces a lot of students to eat on-campus. Thirdly, SCU’s lack of vegetarian options also shows its dishonesty of its mission to provide a vegetarian-friendly community. Overall, I propose that if the school can’t show honesty and execute its mission as it claims, then the lack of honesty will become part of the school’s culture and further lead to greater dishonesty.
(credit: Waylon Bailey)
Thus, after so much reading and thinking, eating becomes a much more complicated thing for me. In the past, it is just about gaining energy and nutrition. But now, the ideas of dishonesty and food industry always come into my mind when I make a food choice decision. On one hand, I suffer from the pain of “knowing too much” about the food system (yes if I don’t know about the system then I won’t be worried about it). On the other hand, I believe it is my responsibility to know what I am going to eat and it is also my responsibility to inform others. Though my personal effort may not make a huge impact on the world, every little effort I make may spread such responsibility culture to people around me, making a larger impact on the community. So what do I eat? I eat local, less meat, and I eat responsibly.
Shah, Khushbu. “People of Color Are Paid 56 Percent Less Than White Workers in Restaurant Industry: Study. “Eater. Eater, 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.