Flawed Disposition // Timothy Lim

For as long as I can remember, the essays we wrote in primary school hinged on having a well-researched background and strong supporting statistics, but rarely did I ever need to do any data collection myself. The only times I would collect my own data to be used for scholastic reasons would be for lab reports in my science and occasionally for math projects. When producing essays for any of my social science or English classes, I would normally sit down for a few hours, research the topic and write like a madman. I would use mostly use secondary resources and never collected any of my own data for any argumentative essays. Continue reading Flawed Disposition // Timothy Lim



A college degree is worthless.  The classes you take? Not applicable to your life whatsoever. The benefits of the “prestige” of your university? Probably won’t help you beyond getting your first job.  From an objective perspective college looks like something everyone who wants a successful career just has to do to check the box.


But the real issue is that if you value college by the content of your coursework, you’re missing the point.  Even this Critical Thinking and Writing Class, which has illuminated us on some serious issues, is not about factory farming or environmentalism and is certainly not about writing papers.  With all the challenges and issues in the world, how much better off are you really for becoming a vegan and having a good slant if you still wear Nike and have no idea what’s going on in Syria? Continue reading AWARENESS // JIM O’BRIEN

Didn’t See That One Comin’ // Joseph Nichols

I can’t help but think that there was something wrong with me. After everything that I had learned about animal agriculture, I still continued to eat meat. I hadn’t even cut back on the amount of meat that I consumed. It was very easy to make excuses about why not: that Benson Cafeteria has primarily meat based dishes, that it’s hard to change eating habits in college, that lapses in eating habits will always occur, but people continued to prove me wrong. Many of my fellow classmates had made the switch to vegetarianism or veganism and successfully stayed with it, but I couldn’t do it. Continue reading Didn’t See That One Comin’ // Joseph Nichols

Expectation vs Reality // Sened Haddad

“No way! You’re so lucky you got it!” My friend Chase told me that he heard the food CTW class was the best class ever. Being the best class ever was his expectation, which then became my expectation. Chase told me “all you do in that class is cook, eat the food you make, and try foods the teacher brings in.” Wow. Can a college class get any better than this?


Now, for the question of this essay: did the expectation meet reality? Look at that gif again. 

Continue reading Expectation vs Reality // Sened Haddad

More Is Not Always Better

Over the last two quarters of this class I have researched several food related topics ranging from factory farms to abalone poaching. What has become eminently clear from all this research is that the food industry is more than just a bright shiny supermarket with everything you need lining the walls. The reality is that there are a fair amount of dirty secrets hidden from most consumers by the colorful boxes and loads of advertisements.

A focal point of the class has been on the factory farming practices that dominate the American meat industry. Through books such as Jonathan Foer’s Eating Animals, and films like Food Inc. new light has been shed on the process livestock are put through to produce the massive amount of meat this country consumes. In one particularly poignant passage in his book Foer describes the life of a factory farm pig as “pumped with antibiotics, mutilated, tightly confined, and utterly deprived of stimulation” (Foer 156). Sounds unappetizing, right? Well, that’s why these farms are so tightly secured, and often the only evidence available of these types of mistreatment comes in the form of undercover videos from animal rights activists.


This was exactly the case a few years back in 2013 when this picture was reportedly taken at a Tyson farm, and those are baby pigs that have been stomped to death. NBC released a video that this image was part of, which was shot by an undercover animal rights advocate in Oklahoma (Schecter). But don’t worry, America is not the only country where factory farms engage in terrible practices.

Over in Brazil two of the world’s largest protein producers, JBS and BRF, were recently the targets of a two year investigation that culminated in the shutdown of 6 of their meat processing plants (Daniels). The plants were found to have bribed government inspectors who then looked the other way when rotten meat, bone marrow, and other by-products were packaged in with the meat (Gillespie). Then Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Blairo Maggi, reported that tests had been conducted at the targeted plants which showed no threats to human health (Brus). Because, how harmful could eating rotten meat really be? So this meat issue is not just America’s problem, but truly a worldwide issue where corruption is a meat industry norm.

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's interim President Temer talks with his Agriculture Minister Maggi during a Global Agribusiness Forum in Sao Paulo

Brazil’s President Michel Temer (right) telling Maggi (left) what one can only imagine is something along the lines of, “Deny, deny, deny.”

Yes the Americas may be a stronghold of food related corruption, but Asia and Africa aren’t far behind as I found when researching the abalone trade that occurs between the two regions. The basics of the trade are this: poor South Africans poach millions of abalone from the ocean every year, smuggling operations move the abalone to Hong Kong, Asian consumers buy them there as a delicacy, smugglers are payed for their abalone with drugs, the drugs return to South Africa and are abused by poor communities (The Story of). The effects of this trade are devastating not only to the abalone population which is ravaged by the poachers, but also to the poor South African’s who get hooked on the drugs, thus ensnaring them in a vicious cycle of poverty.


Animals suffering for the human necessity and pleasure that is eating is prevalent in so many areas of the world that it is more the rule than the exception at this point in history. But why? Well from what I have learned during my time in this class the best explanation that I can formulate is that in general people prioritize their own wants and needs above the well being of animals, and that in being the ruling species of this planet humans are entitled to subjugate the lesser species to whatever suits our needs best. While morality is a highly subjective concept I personally find issue with treating animals like shit for their whole, and often extremely shortened, lives. But does this mean I’m going to join PETA and protest outside of McDonald’s? Not at all. I think the most reasonable action to take in order to at least reduce the horrible treatment of animals is to just reduceour consumption, and (Caution- Hot Take right here) STOP having so many children. Especially with the factory farm issue the whole reason these horrific systems exist is because the demand for food is way to high to be met by a sustainable and humane production system. With too many people demanding way to much food, animals don’t have much hope. Either the population has to go down, or consumption has to go down, and I think less of both would be optimal.





Works Cited:

Eisenhammer, Stephen, and Anthony Boadle. “Exclusive: Brazil to Ease Foreign Land Ownership with Restrictions: Minister.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 02 Feb. 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.

Brus, Brian. “U.S. Ranchers May Benefit from Brazilian Meat Scandal.” Capital Press. N.p., 31 Mar. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017.

Gillespie, Patrick. “Brazil’s Spoiled Meat Scandal Widens Worldwide.” GillespieMoney. Cable News Network, 22 Mar. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017.

The Story of the South African Quaalude. Dir. Santiago Stelley. Perf. Hamilton Morris. Viceland. N.p., 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 23 May 2017.

Daniels, Jeff. “Brazilian Meat Scandal Leads USDA to Redouble Food Inspection Efforts.” CNBC. CNBC, 25 Mar. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017.

Schecter, Anna, and Lindsay Perez. “Tyson Foods Dumps Pig Farm after NBC Shows Company Video of Alleged Abuse.” NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 20 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 May 2017.

Heart, Mind, and Soul

“Whenever you make a decision, whenever you act, you are never just doing, you are always becoming.” –Aristotle  

Throughout my life I have always tended to focus on finding deeper meanings. Whether it is through simple actions like doing chores or more substantial decisions like changing my lifestyle choices, when taking a step back and looking at the greater impact of my actions and how they affect me, I create purpose for myself. I have realized that all my actions contribute to the person I am today. I am constantly becoming.

Particularly through my Critical Thinking and Writing class at Santa Clara University, I was allowed to explore the deeper meaning in not only the topic of our course – titled Food Porn – but also reflect on my own life. Within the class we explored the realm of animal agriculture and its effect on our lives. Yet, even though this was the main theme of our class, we always seemed to focus on deeper rooted issues such as ethics, sustainability, awareness, and truth. The debates and discussions of these deeper concepts helped contribute to the development of my mind, heart, and soul. All the controversies and information I have been exposed to through my CTW class took part in creating the person I have become and am constantly becoming.


funny-random-facts-16.jpgFrom the start, our first activity done in class was intended to spark self-reflection and a deeper level of thinking. Our professor, Nick Leither, and his companion, Rosa Del Duca, created a sort of questionnaire called the American Happiness Project and Professor Nick presented it to our class on the first day. This paper included four questions about ways we defined happiness, and asked for us to draw a picture representing it. You can take the online version or learn more about the questionnaire here. As you can see, right off the bat I was exposed to an environment that encouraged exploration and critique of my own thoughts and beliefs. This exploration continued as the year went on.

Within the topic of animal agriculture, we were not merely presented with facts and mindlessly accepting them, but rather we dove into the notion of who was to blame for unethical practices, and how our actions of consuming animal products show our negligence because we are informed about the vast amount of injustice the animal agriculture business has on not only to ourselves, but to our world as a whole.

In one of my essay assignments I analyzed the development and changes in my mind and heart in relation to eating meat. When breaking down my choice to not be a vegetarian in light of all the new information provided to me I examined my mind’s rationality, of taking into consideration that it is truly a bad practice, but also observed the values of my heart, and how eating meat is tied to my middle eastern culture and holds a significance beyond nutrition and fulfilling my appetite.


Within this essay I was able to critique my own belief and decisions, which is exactly what this class is encouraging. Through my self reflection I am able to develop myself into the person I truly want to become. Going beyond the issues within the food industry we also delve into lying and cheating and how that has an impact on our lives. Rather than observing the on-the-surface notion that lying and cheating are inherently bad, we analyzed the why and so what. We debated the controversial topics of if it is ever okay to cheat and what impact cheating and lying have on your character. Rather than seeing our world in black and white, we sought out the inner workings of our world’s gray areas. In my last essay of the course, I looked into lying in relationships and examined our societies boundaries, or rather lack thereof, for determining when lying is right or wrong. Within the surveys I took of my peers, along with my research, I was able to explore these gray areas of human morality. I came to the conclusions here that it is the individuals themselves that are responsible for creating their own rules, yet when doing so they must keep in consideration what effect their rules and boundaries have on their character. If they allow themselves to lie and cheat, what does that say about them? This then led me to question, in all the times I have cheated or lied, how has that made an effect on my character?


With all the new knowledge I have attained, and reflection I have made on my life decisions I have further developed myself as a whole person. I am now motivated to continue to keep asking those BIG questions and create a more purposeful life for myself. My professor rather than showing me, held my hand and led me along the path of the unique development of my mind, body, and soul. Professor Nick was the one who made me even further question my actions, being, and realities of my world, so now I am here to challenge you to explore the questions of your world and develop your mind, heart, and soul. Who are you truly becoming?




In high school English classes, students are instructed to address prompts objectively, avoid using the word “I,” and most importantly, leave personal opinion out of the essay. Fearing deductions from anal English teachers, students would ensure to substitute any mention of themselves with the word “one” and attempt to address a general audience. Many students in Advanced Placement English classes also learned that high school teachers rewarded those who correctly used sesquipedalian words only English professors know the definitions of, so much of the essays written by such high school students are pomp, verbose, and full of run-on sentences that make the writer appear smarter. Continue reading FROM ONE TO I // FELICIA KUAN

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