Tag Archives: truth

I Understand Nothing // Emily Wilken

It’s weirdly paradoxical to be in a place where you are aware that you are unaware, yet that is where this class left me. If there’s one common theme that seemed to run through everything we studied as a class and everything I researched on my own, it’s the idea that we are less aware and understand less than we often realize.

During first quarter, we read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. As someone who had fairly recently become a vegetarian, I was interested to read the book, but also expected that most of it would cover what I already knew. I was wrong. I found much of this book surprising. To me, the most shocking part of Foer’s book was his description of how the animal agriculture industry handles animal waste and how this affects people.

In total, all farmed animals in the U.S. produce 87,000 pounds of waste per second. This 130 times what the human population produces. There is no real regulation on all this animal waste. Most often, it is put into football field-sized pools. It often runs off into water supplies and toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide inevitably evaporate into the air. Children raised near factory farms are twice as likely to develop asthma, while children raised on a typical hog factory farm have an over fifty percent chance of developing asthma. People living near factory farms also have problems with persistent nosebleeds, earaches, chronic diarrhea, and burning in their lungs (Foer 174-176).

16005857314_ea882b615d_k.jpg

Before reading this book, I was aware (to some extent) that factory farming harmed animals and harmed our environment. What I hadn’t considered was how factory farming harms people.

For one of my essays, I explored how our culture tends to respond to the problem of hunger in the U.S. Often, people see food drives as an easy and effective way of responding to the issue. In reality, we are unaware of how inefficient food drives really are at addressing the problem of hunger. While the average person may be able to take a dollar to the store and buy a can of green beans, food banks are able to use $1 to purchase about four meals (often including fresh produce) because of discounted rates they have access to on food (Schilling). We are unaware of how the problem of hunger can best be solved through monetary donations because we want to feel good about ourselves when we donate a few cans.Â

In another essay, I argued that the clothing industry’s sizing system (or lack thereof) harms our self-esteem. Women’s clothing brands often label clothes so that women will fit into smaller than expected sizes. This sets women up to become frustrated, confused and disappointed. While waists of size 8 jeans often vary by three or more inches (Dockterman), women tend to be unaware of this and may tend to blame their own bodies when they can’t find clothes that fit. In addition, studies have shown that women inevitably have to try on a size larger than expected, the negative effect is greater than the positive effect in self-esteem experienced when trying on a size smaller than expected (Aydinoglu; Hoegg).

18301742_1141910845955788_5432780040114364743_n.jpg
Two pairs of American Eagle jeans. The pair in the back is a size 0, while the pair in the front is a size 4 (Bodley).

Perhaps the thing that best drives this point home from this class is something that we looked at within the first week or so: This is Water.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrOL-ydFMI

David Foster Wallace’s speech makes an important and challenging point that we are often unaware of our own attitudes and biases. Without realizing it, we go through life with a self-centric view, unaware of the perspectives of those around us. To be aware of other’s perspectives, we must do the difficult work of continually paying attention.

Overall, this class made me aware of a few situations and truths that I was not before. I hope that I continue to grow in awareness, especially in awareness of the perspectives of those around me.

anigif_sub-buzz-24053-1480896282-1.gif

I also think that sometimes we know the truth, but we refuse to acknowledge it for whatever reason. Like Foer says, “It’s possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep” (Foer 102). Is there any point to awareness if it doesn’t lead to some kind of change?

Works Cited

Aydinoglu, Nilfer Z. and Aradhna Krishna. “Imagining Thin: Why Vanity Sizing Works.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 22, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 565-572. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2011.12.001.

Bodley, Riley. “In this photo are two of my favorite pairs of jeans…” Facebook, 9 May 2017, http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1141910845955788&set=a.122027494610800.36926.100004106511339&type=3&theater.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Little, Brown & Company, 2013.

Dockterman, Eliana. “One Size Fits None.” Time, vol. 188, no. 10/11, 12 Sept. 2016, pp. 78-84. EBSCOhost, login.libproxy.scu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117821613&site=eds-live.

Hoegg, JoAndrea, et al. “The Flip Side of Vanity Sizing: How Consumers Respond to and Compensate for Larger Than Expected Clothing Sizes.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 24, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 70-78. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2013.07.003.

Schilling, Erin. “Georgia United Hosts Annual February Food Drive.” The Red & Black [Athens], 7 Feb. 2018, http://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/georgia-united-hosts-annual-february-food-drive/article_34f61954-0bbd-11e8-9991-a790ef8f4fcd.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2018.

“This Is Water” Full Version-David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech. YouTube, 19 May 2013, youtu.be/8CrOL-ydFMI?t=20m30s.

Advertisements

The Truth? Never Heard of It. //Daniela Balaguera

Imagine being a first year college student who is both excited and nervous for finally attending college. You are getting ready for your first quarter of college and after figuring out how to find your classes online, you realize that you are pre-enrolled in a class called “Food Porn.”

I think baffled would be an understatement of how I felt. Food Porn was definitely not a class I thought I would be taking at a Jesuit institution. But, yet that was the class I was enrolled in.

What I didn’t know was how much I would learn from this course. This was not like all the other typical English courses that I took in the past. Nor was it solely focused on food porn. There was so much more in store.

Oh, boy let me shed some light on the new knowledge that this first year college student found out.

Image result for im a smart college student gif
Honestly I’m so Smart Now

Continue reading The Truth? Never Heard of It. //Daniela Balaguera

The Think Tank//Patrick Boos

It’s August of 2017, and I finally pull up my future schedule for the first time. Everything looks great until, no that had to be a mistake. There’s no way they’d make me go to a class that met from 7:20 to 9 p.m., right? Wow, was I wrong. Fast forward to the first day of class, and I still couldn’t believe that I was walking to class, all the way on the other side of campus, while the sun was going down. To make it all worse, the teacher seemed far too happy to be teaching a bunch of freshman at this awful time on a Wednesday night. I’m not a guy who can handle over-eager optimism, and this guy was just beaming at us from the start. Didn’t he know that I was a Biology major, a science student with absolutely no interest in taking another English class? Needless to say, my first experience concerning Nick Leither and “Food Porn” was not a great one.

Continue reading The Think Tank//Patrick Boos

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.

spirit.jpg

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.

0-Z5Y1VsPuuJMZ0THR.gif

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?

637956-Emily-Giffin-Quote-Life-is-about-the-gray-areas-Things-are-seldom.jpg

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?

tenor.gif

Shattering Secrecy, Noses, and Dishonesty // Mayra Sierra-Rivera

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Stepping into my first Critical Thinking and Writing class was unlike anything else I have experienced. I was so used to learning how to write very purposefully in my previous high school english classes and not ponder in depth about why or what I am actually writing about. Sure, there were some assignments where I lucked out and had a chance to write as I like (which is basically like so) but there was always a specific topic I needed to write about (which were not as interesting as they should have been). However, in this class we had free roam over a topic I had never written about: food.

We began the course by discussing happiness and what it meant to everyone, until we agreed that it varies from person to person. Individually in my mind, I compared happiness to the common saying “ignorance is bliss” and I am surprised to have been thinking in the direction the class was heading, which was towards exploring factory farming and dishonesty. The term “happiness” indirectly connects to morality because to live happily, we would want a clear head with no guilt.

The next class involved reading a David Foster Wallace article that discussed what it meant to be gourmet and how lobsters were treated at the Maine Lobster Festival. I used to think that a tank of lobsters in a restaurant was merely for decoration; as you can see, I was a little naive in regards to what people eat. Likewise before reading this, I had no idea there were enormous events centered around lobsters (or any food in general) and agreed with Wallace that the process seemed a little inhumane. Personally choosing a lobster to eat while it is alive and then having it squirm around in a pot until death seems rather extreme just to satisfy one’s luxurious taste buds.

giphy-3

My issue here is not with the eating of animals, rather the experience they have before they end up on our plate. If someone is going to pay for meat, they need to be able to justify paying so little and yet having animals treated badly. If it is because they are animals and don’t explicitly resemble humans, that is speciesism, which should be unacceptable. Animals deserve to at least have a pleasant life full of free space, good food, companionship and anything else they are known to like (much like humans). But they aren’t given this, not by a long shot currently.

tumblr_njq5qbjam21rjatglo1_r2_1280

Factory farming is a topic that is always controversial as food is something everyone consumes and deals with on a daily basis. In class we read a book titled “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. At first I suspected the book would be a hardcore supporter of vegetarianism and veganism but it wasn’t. Foer attempted to suggest it is one solution to pollution, illness and the disgusting practices on factory farms, but he also wanted to expose all of the secrets behind them. Supporters of factory farming claim that is it beneficial in that it lowers costs for consumers. In fact, the economic benefits are evident: the prices of chicken and eggs hasn’t even doubled as everything else such as homes and cars has drastically increased in price in the last 50 years (Foer 109). While that may appear to be true if one only glances at the price on an item, they also pollute the Earth with methane emissions, animal excrements and consume thousands of gallons of water. As a result of factory farming, there are “externalized costs–farm subsidies, environmental impact, human disease” that ravage the communities we live in (Foer 109). Furthermore, the film Cowspiracy points out the 5% of domestic water use versus 55% for animal agriculture. Water is an invaluable source of life and the entire state of California has been in a drought for years, and yet so much of the resources are used for animal farming. And it’s not even the perfect farming that we would want — animals are abused constantly due to lax laws and lack of restrictions. In the documentary “Meet Your Meat”, our class witnessed the horrors that animals are subjected to constantly as they are raised for us. It was recorded by individuals who went undercover because they knew that factories would not allow the truth to be shown. In fact they state that if “factory farms had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian”. The video shows that animals are tortured inhumanely with prods and lack of space, to which they can do nothing about. But as humans we can, as educated social and political activists. This class has opened my eyes and has made me believe that this is not something people should allow to happen without any protest. The government is in charge of food regulation and has a responsibility to reduce the loopholes companies continue to take advantage of.

giphy-2

I discovered that even outside of the actual raising of animals, companies in agribusiness continue to be unfair and dishonest about their products. For one of my essays, I researched food labels. On many meat products the words “organic” and “free range” dominated the packaging, although this is more often that not untrue and a downright lie.  

YdmkQ

I came to believe that the government, particularly the USDA and FDA, has a moral and legal responsibility to provide honest information to those who buy the products. It made me change my ways as a consumer, being more careful on what I put into my shopping cart and therefore saving a few bucks, which everyone likes.

Another event that was different about the class was the meet up at a local Safeway near campus. Before heading there I thought we’d be looking only at the meat or were there for some other reason entirely; however, I was intrigued when our professor wanted us to look at how the store itself was lying and tricking those who shop there.

 

How so?

 

Well in particular, we found that the store was organized to maximize the sales of all products. There were sections of the store such as the florist, cafe, and restaurants that made the experience more sensory in that it makes the customer feel good and spend more time there. There was even a certain way to make customers travel through junk food aisles to tempt them while shopping for only the necessities. But in particular and what was most surprising to me was when we revealed that there is a very specific way of stacking items on shelves. The top shelf is often “local, gourmet and smaller brands” while the middle shelf “is considered the bulls-eye zone, the location that falls perfectly in the shopper’s line of sight. This shelf stocks the leading brands and best sellers. Some groceries will sell this prime stocking location to manufactures for a fee” (Notre Dame College). This secretive scheming might not seem to be a big problem to some, but now that I am aware of this method, I will put a lot more thought into what my family and I are purchasing. We don’t want to continue giving money to people or organizations that don’t genuinely care about us, our health and our planet. Do you?

ignorance_is_bliss_matrix

 

Works Cited

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York, Boston, London: Little, Brown, 2013.

Print.

Learning House Admin. “The Psychology Behind a Grocery Store’s Layout.” Notre Dame

College Online. N.p., 4 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.

What are they feeding us? // Aidan Fromm

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

Hate It or Love It // Kennedy Murphy

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.

Distaste For writing

First Quarter:

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