B.F Skinner, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, was able to teach pigeons how to play Ping-Pong. Through controlling the pigeon’s environment and conditioning their behavior through positive reinforcement, Skinner was able to have pigeons peck balls back and forth across a table. Skinner asserted that behavior, human or pigeon, is determined by one’s direct environment (Koren, Marina). However, unlike the simple-minded pigeon humans are much more complex. Skinner argues that human behavior is shaped through our changing environment—what we listen to, what we watch and even more importantly what we spend our money on.
As a bright eyed college student, I love these theories about behavior and what makes us who we are, however I was never so keen as to actually notice this in the real world. My critical thinking and writing course exposed me to the harsh realities of the food industry, and allowed me to connect Skinner’s environment driven theory of behavior to our food choices as consumers. Throughout my first year in college, I became an expert on the food industry through writing a plethora of papers on the revolting practices of factory farming and the marketing tactics of food corporations to generate more revenue. My CTW course and extensive research on the food industry has made me realize that consumer behavior on the purchasing of food products is largely influenced from the environment that food corporations have set up around food products.
One of the most influential research assignments I have done this past quarter was based on the popularity of super foods in the health market. Our demand for these highly nutritious foods is a direct result from the sketchy marketing behind these food products. Because “the term ‘super food’ is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, marketers can use the phrase freely” (Turner). I conducted an experiment just to see how much the term ‘super food’ influences consumers willingness to pay by comparing how much consumers would pay for a bowl of acai and a bowl of blueberries. Even though “There is little evidence that a Continue reading The behavior of wastefulness // Robert M. Ota→
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was pre-enrolled in a class titled, “Food Porn.” As a nervous first-year who had never visited Santa Clara University prior to committing, I started to second guess my decision. I didn’t know SCU had such strange classes. I didn’t have any expectations because I was frankly caught very much off guard by this bold title. After the first week of class where we discussed happiness and David Foster Wallace, it didn’t seem too weird. Then came the videos about the truth behind the food industry and the realities of factory farming. Clearly, I was in for quite the journey. My relationship with food, meat in particular, was going to change whether I liked it or not. Continue reading So What?// Daniela Baez→
When coming into freshman year of college, I had the illusion that I would be done with mindless writing assignments that had absolutely no real-world application extending beyond the stylistic devices employed by some author of some poem that I had to read for AP English class. So, when I found myself in a critical thinking and writing class at the beginning of the year I went into it moaning and groaning, preparing myself for two more quarters of mind numbing syntax and diction analyzing monotony.
The first day of class started with Professor Leither marching into the room at exactly the 5:40 start time and putting up our class’ introduction page. The title of the course was first to flash onto the screen- “FOOD PORN”. Well, this might get interesting after all, I thought. Next, Leither launched into a brief description of the course and how we would be discussing and writing about “food, self, and culture” over the course of this class. This is the moment that I stared in disbelief at the professor. Continue reading What are they feeding us? // Aidan Fromm→
Intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. A tedious process and the formatting required for every single paper I wrote up until this point in time, my freshman year of college. I came into second quarter absolutely dreading an English class, because that meant essays, which I convinced myself I was terrible at. All I knew before was no “I” no “you”, basically no voice. To say that this class changed my view of writing is an understatement.
One day I remember clearly is reading Eating Animal’s by Jonathan Safran Foer, and someone in the library asking me if I liked the book. I answered pretty confusedly because what I had been reading was full of grotesque stories exposing the truth about factory farming. However, I still answered “yeah” in a shaky confused voice. I think back to that day and I know now how I would answer that question. I don’t think it’s a matter of liking the book or not liking the book, I think it’s a matter of how well and accurately Foer exposed the dark sides of factory farming to those consuming their products. When it comes to Eating Animals, I believe the question that should be asked is, “are you convinced?” and I would answer in confidence, “yes, I am convinced factory farming is broken and I am convinced drastic changes need to be made not only in the ways I shop and eat, but also the ways that factory farms operate.” Continue reading Hate It or Love It // Kennedy Murphy→
A man walks into a dingy classroom filled with yellow and green chairs, a brown satchel hanging across his chest. He smiles at the students, who have been comfortably chatting with each other about school and life, before putting his bag down and switching on his computer to do attendance. The man checks the room one more time, making sure he didn’t miss anyone, before saying, “okay”. The students quiet down, and the professor takes a seat in a chair, closing the circle that the class sits in to discuss. He clasps his hands together and leans over the desk. “So,” he asks, “What do we think?”.
Walking into my critical thinking and writing class, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, I mean, the class is called Food Porn for crying out loud – what even is that? I probably thought the class was going to be about gourmet food, or something dumb like that. I was so focused on this name, Food Porn, that I didn’t think about the class title itself, critical thinking and writing. Continue reading “So,” He Asks Us // Allie Hogan→
Food has evolved from mere sustenance to a focal point in today’s American pop culture. It’s a source of inspiration, a creative outlet, and an instrument for social bonding. It’s transformed into a prominent art form, consistently bringing competition, conversation, and respect to those immersing themselves in the culinary world.