Over the course of this class, it taught and focused heavily on sustainability: more specifically, being sustainable when producing and consuming food. This class is nothing like I have ever taken. Through videos, books, lectures and other ways of teaching, this class has made a seemingly boring topic, into a very interesting one. Every class we had engaged all students and promoted critical thinking about whichever piece of media we were discussing. This class was extremely influential for me because my family owns a fast food chain, called Jolibee. One of my essays during this class focused on Jollibee and how I believe that fast food chains use tricky advertising – not unlike most organizations in producing food – to attract their customers. For instance, Jollibee and McDonald’s both use their happy meals as incentives for kids to get their parents to buy them fast food. However, while buying them the toy, it not only lets them believe that eating fast food is all right, but also that their parents are supporting the industry that causes widespread obesity around the world.
Cowspiracy, which is one of the films we watched during the class, covers the production side of how meat gets to fast food restaurants. This film was one of the more influential films we engaged in and was one of the most influential on me. The beginning of Cowspiracy, by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, sets the tone for the entire movie. The purpose of this film is to “address the effects of cattle on the environment” (Andersen). The director’s transition from talking about global warming to al gore to industrial farming was almost seamless and worked perfectly for the film. I found it extremely shocking how just one-quarter pound hamburger needed 660 gallons of water just for that and even more shocking how one hamburger consumes just as much as it takes to shower an entire human for 2 months (Cowspiracy. But that wasn’t where the powerful facts ended, it went on for every second of every minute of this documentary. I found the way he collected information very interesting. He looked at it from every point of view and every aspect of this issue. He used interviews, facts discovered from various studies, using articles and literally every other source of information possible. I also found it incredible how he was able to link the topic of industrial agriculture to fishing and other industries which cause unsustainability.
To get into the details of the movie, I found it shocking how whenever he interviewed someone from different organizations and asked the real, hard questions, they essentially just dodged the questions and answered like a politician. The idea that these organizations that everyone around the world looks towards for advice on how to be sustainable and help the world are also bought out by the people who are actually causing the destruction of our planet. The way money is used to manipulate every industry in our world today is extremely shocking, yet, not many people know about this. Furthermore, the way money is used to hide what is killing us and our world makes things worse because the information we need to survive is being kept from us is extremely frightening. It is unfathomable to do this because even if these businesses are making money now, they have to/should realize that if wipe out the world and kill off everything around us, they won’t be making money anyway. They should begin to take a step back and see what they are really doing to themselves and everyone and everything around them.
This documentary needs to be seen by more people across the globe; in fact, not just this documentary, but every other documentary as well. This movie was a real eye opener for me and makes me truly believe that animal agriculture needs to be stopped and more regulations need to be put in place to battle this issue. I do not like the idea of being subject to a painful end because of the greediness of these huge corporations. They pretend like they care about their employees and other individuals, but don’t realize that what they are doing is going to kill everyone they claim to love. It’s crazy to think that he was able to create this film because he explores topics that no one else has, including looking in to the organizations that are meant to be helping us.
Just like Cowspiracy, many videos, articles and images around are truly eye-opening. Each piece of media represents something unique and is written or shot from the perspectives of great, individual minds. Some of these pieces include “This is Water” and “Consider the Lobster’ by David Foster Wallace, and Meet your Meat by PETA, and “The Scarecrow”. These pieces are unlike any other; this is because these works show another side to how we see things. As consumers, most of us are oblivious to how things work before the kitchen. By that, I mean, to the animals. Most meals served, to me at least, I never think of what the animals went through before it reached my plate; it becomes just any other meal to me. However, after seeing these films, I realize I need to be aware about these things. Each of these pieces are rhetoric, all with the same idea that animal cruelty is wrong; however, what makes these pieces unique is the way the slant is portrayed.
Firstly, in “Consider the Lobster”, David Foster Wallace begins by describing the Lobster Eating Festival. He talks about different varieties of lobsters, he talks about where they come from, and he talks about the background of lobsters and how they used to be peasant food – and now food for the wealthy. Subsequently, the article takes a hard turn when Wallace gets to talking about the festival. Instead of the typical propaganda article that praises everything about the festival, Wallace instead begins, essentially, condemning its existence. In his eyes, nothing about the festival is good and it is essentially promoting the live cooking of these helpless animals. This is how Wallace differentiates himself from other authors: he is able to make an article start off seeming like an informative article, and turn that into a very powerful rhetoric. Despite the piece being focused on lobster, it has a bigger message. This message is that all animals, no matter where they come from, deserve equal treatment to humans.
Contrastingly, Meet your Meat takes an entirely different approach. Meet your Meat, unlike Consider the Lobster, is a video. This video discusses and shows how cruelly animals (cows, cattle, chicken and pigs) are treated at industrial animal farms. In today’s society, most companies care more about profit margins and deadlines more than they do the animal’s lives. Furthermore, Meet your Meat takes a more visual and crude approach. Rather than easing into it, the video goes straight into showing how the chicken, pigs and cows live. Personally, the video was so compelling and had me so dumbfounded that I actually could not finish watching the entire video. Through a more direct approach, PETA and the director of the video instantly shows viewers how cruel animals are treated in farms like these.
As said earlier, all of these pieces are unique; as such, The Scarecrow is unlike any of the other pieces discussed earlier because it takes a more promotional approach. It begins by showing the Chipotle logo before the video begins, then proceeds onto showing chickens being injected with growth hormones and cows being held in terrible conditions. As the video progresses, the Scarecrow, which happens to be the main character of the film, is shown opening up his own food establishment and cooked only fresh products. Although the message above his food stand is “Cultivate a Better World”, insinuating that the main point of the video is to get people to change; however, the true purpose of this video is to implicitly show the viewers that Chipotle uses organic, properly grown animals and fruits and vegetables in their food. The creators of this advertisement make it seem as if their slant is about wanting to better the world.
This is Water by David Foster Wallace is a commencement speech he was asked to give at the Kenyon College class of 2015 graduation ceremony. This speech was truly inspirational which talked about how a person can not only change himself/herself, but how an individual can also change the community around them. During this, Wallace talks about how everyone has options, how everyone has control of their actions; it just becomes a matter of the actions we choose to do and the options we decide to pick. Unlike the other pieces previously discussed, Wallace uses metaphors very heavily; this use of voluminous use of metaphors gives his speech a very unique aspect. Instead of having to directly state his point, he is able to do it through the use of metaphors and through a far more persuasive manner.
Later on in the course, we read The Honest Turh About Dishonesty: How We Lie To Everyone – Especially Ourselves, by Dan Ariely. This was a really thought-provoking book and is very different to the other texts we read and watched. This was different because it didn’t directly talk about the industrial farming industry and unsustainability. Rather, its discussion about how we lie to ourselves and the manner in which we do it provoked my thought about industrial farming. I feel as if that was the point of having this book read last.
The book uses a multitude of examples. One of the ones that stood out to me the most was the experiment concerning the bread delivery man at the offices. This experiment entailed a man selling bread at offices on an honor-system basis. He wouldn’t stand next to his bread while office hours were ongoing, he would just leave them and hope people paid. He found that people were less likely to steal money, but more likely to steal other goods. But that is one way we are lying to ourselves. By stealing anything, we are taking someone else’s money in essence. And this experiment was the experiment which got me to relate this book to the topic of sustainability. Linking it to one of the presentations which a group gave during the course, this experiment is just like how students think they are sustainable because they put their trash in the right place and are concerned about their water usage. In a survey I conducted myself, I found that all students said they were weary of their water usage, but over half showered for 10-20 twice a day. It’s understandable we lie to ourselves – we do it to make ourselves feel better about what we are doing. However, at what point do we have to stop lying to ourselves and face matters head on?
One of my favorite pieces that I wrote myself during this course was my dieting essay. While I was writing it, I thought it would be one of my worst essays; but looking back on it now I feel like its my best essay. This is because I feel like I incorporated all needed details in the essay. I talked about unsustainable living, obesity and the production side of making meat. I feel as if that essay is the best demonstration of how much I have learned in this class. That essay allowed me to cover every aspect of the class and I did not even realise it until looking back on it now. On that note, I extend the duty to become sustainable and live a healthy life to others around me. There are little things in what we are doing right now that could make a big difference – including lessening meat portions and even lessening shower times (even though we now know it doesn’t do much in the big picture).
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