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Notes Towards Day 5: Changing Human Nature?

Notes towards Day 5 of Food for Thought: Changing Human Nature?

I. "Fussiness about food is a normal part of a child’s development.
Young children are naturally neophobic — they have a distrust of the new."

(NYTimes on "6 Food Mistakes Parents Make")
Do you think that's the case?
Was it the case, in your case?
Answer that question, then call on someone else to
(how are we doing on the name-game?]

Have you become more or less neophilic as you have aged?
More or less willing to try new foods (or ideas?)

II. Coursekeeping
Sent your papers back y'day

general patterns:
some melodrama
of finding out the truth! behind! yr. family meal
focused on self-revelation, but what's the larger point?
why should we care that your milk doesn't come from where you thought....?
this is not a diary, but a documentary: think about your audience
also some papers not documented: slandering local markets/restaurants w/out evidence

read examples of two different conclusions:
one focused on the individual level (how can I change?),
one on the cultural level (I can't!)
(talk about different ways of constructing/ending/opening an argument....)

next assignment
is to apply this question to your new life:
How are you eating (differently?) away from home?
What does that look like/taste like/cost?
How might you research BMC's food supply....?
Who could you talk to?
Who among you works for Dining Services?

How advertised? let's look @
what are the key words used here?
how tasty? how costly? how local? how improvable,
and on what axes, in accord w/ what values?

How provide meals beyond-the-family-dinner-table?
What values should be in play on campus?
How important is organic? local? sustainable? CHOICE????
Which of the topics @
would you like to research? how would you??

  • Local Produce
  • Recycling
  • Fair Trade Coffees and Teas
  • Living Wage
  • Student Organizations
  • Philabundance
  • Waste Oil Pickup
  • Food waste composting program
  • Additional local foods all year round

[each assignment will focus on a different dimension of your writing; this week it's audience:]

Think specifically about who you are writing to:
the director of Food Services, w/ a suggestion?
Your classmates, w/ ideas about how they might reduce waste?
Friends @ other colleges, family @ home, local newspaper?
Who might care about what you have found out,
and how can you make the story compelling to them?

Reading for Thursday quite short:
three more NYTimes articles (I added one; see on-line syllabus)
whether local is green;
the environmental cost of shipping groceries around the world;
backlash to too much information/too much education??

Also on Saturday: meet on Merion Ave. for 12:30 pick-up
for our field trip to Pete's Produce Farm in Westtown (1/2-hr. away);
expected return by ....???

Questions about any of this coursekeeping?

II. Last Thursday, I tried to get you all to stage a debate between "Singer" and "Pollan"
and tried, @ the end, to get you to move beyond debating

(=trying to win an argument/buttress your own point?),
to ask what you might learn from the "other guy,"
what insights the conversation gave you in how to move beyond the impasse
(i.e. not beat him, but join him? construct a new position neither of you could arrive @ alone?)

for me, the insight was that you were operating @ different levels, and so talking past each other
(ex: Singer as quoted by Rivkin: "My interest is in...whatever works best.
If it is harder to move people on ethical grounds...
I'm all for the [humane] substitute" (i.e. manufactured meat!)
=that would also address Pollan's concerns about the health of the planet

Rivkin's two NYTimes essays shifts our focus to planetary limits:
greenhouse-gas emissions, saving the climate: energy issue
(for most, another issue: saving nature of a place, community)
one option In Vitro Meat consortium: provide protein technologically
moving out of poverty--> up the protein ladder

Write for 5 minutes in response to his final line
"What do you think? Can we change human nature? Should we?"
And: what would need to happen,
for you to feel that you could/should/must
intervene to change others' perspectives?

Anything to say out of that writing....?
Go on thinking about this; it will also be your posting question for this week
(play around w/ making your postings more interesting:
add a gr/avatar or images....)

Apply that question to a particular issue,
raised in the 2 recent articles linking the health care bill w/ food reform:

John Mackay, "Health Care Reform":
Rather than increase governmental spending and control, what we need to do is address the root causes of disease and poor health.....many of our health care problems are self-inflicted....We are responsible for our own lives and our own health.  We should...use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health.

Pollan, "Big Food vs. Big Insurance":
Cheap food is going to be popular as long as the social and environmental costs of that food are charged to the future. There’s lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes....

...rules may well be about to change — and, when it comes to reforming the American diet and food system, that step alone could be a game insurers would be required to take everyone at the same rates, provide a standard level of coverage and keep people on their rolls regardless of their health.

....When health insurers can no longer evade much of the cost of treating the collateral damage of the American diet, the movement to reform the food system ...will acquire a powerful and wealthy ally....

What do you think?
Do Pollan and Mackay have anything to learn from one another?
What do you have to learn from their talking together?
How do you understand the relation between taking
"responsibility" for the food you eat and your "right" to health care?
How do you understand the connections between
food (as ind'l choice and as system) and health (ditto) ?