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Notes for Day 4

Notes for Day 4 for Food for Thought

I. coursekeeping
Pass 'round envelope for cash/checks: your packets cost $15

Reading for Tuesday is first selection in that packet:
two selections from Andrew Revkin's NYTimes column, Dot Earth:
“Energy, an Ingredient in Local Food and Global Food.” December '07.
“Can People Have Meat and a Planet, Too?” April '08

on-line syllabus has active links to the site; you might want to go exploring there...

see also, from y'day's NYTimes: The Local Food Movement Reaches into the Breadbasket

All set for conferences?
Next Tuesday Malli and Emily before class; Anna right after;
Michelle and Holly midday on Wed.

Any more questions about the paper due tomorrow @ 5?
(in folder w/ last week's paper; also get a stapler!)
3 pp. analyzing your family meal through the lens provided
by Pollan (and/or Revkin; and other other research/interview):
for ex, Pollan says, p. 302, that the "family dinner is a casualty of capitalism"--
is that your backstory? What are the pleasures, and what are the
(economic, emotional, political, social) costs of the meal you described?
How much within your “foodshed” (regional food chain) do you eat? Why, why not?
How did this food get to your table? What matters in that story—and why?

deliberative moving beyond what you know experientially
(Leigh re: Horizon Organic Milk classic ex.)
also a deliberative move beyond telling a story to constructing an argument:
make a claim in the first paragraph, or tell us what question you are going to try and answer
back it up in the middle paragraphs, and use the final paragraph to move beyond it:
having nailed Horizon Organic, Leigh could end by saying, "now,
I wonder about that chicken we also get @ the local market...?")
i.e.: acknowledge the limits of your paper, gesture toward the next one;
make the final paragraph an OPENING, not a CLOSING one

II. Getting to know who you're talking/thinking with:
Get up,
introduce yourself to someone you haven't talked to yet,
discuss one another's dietary preferences
last week we described our favorite foods;
today, find out what your classmate will not eat
(because of principle, or because....?)

Introduce one another to the class

III. picking up conversation with your postings...

ihe: how is "organically" raised cattles a matter of symbiosis.

swhitt's ethical question: curious to see Pollan's ideal food situation. The vast majority of Americans are so reliant on industrial food that we would be incapable of feeding ourselves without it. Even experienced farmers are vulnerable to the quirks of nature. If we restored immediacy to the individual/food connection, I believe that we would also experience a rapid decline in population. It seems that this would be great for the environment and ultimately great for our species. But how could we as connected individuals psychologically and emotionally navigate this sort of regression? How do we choose between the survival of ourselves and our loved ones v. the survival of our kind, and is that a choice we may face in the foreseeable future (in the next 1-200 years)?

Stephanie Kim, ditto: I feel that he's not particularly giving us an answer or a hypothetical process that we should specifically follow to satisfy him.

IV. back to Pollan's writing style
He starts Ch. 9 by talking about the “literary experience” of Whole Foods:
making the food chain “legible”—
An “important substitute for direct observation,”-- but
“labels are industrial artifacts” (i.e.: writing signals ABSENCE)

So: how can we learn to read responsibly?
How know if the story we’re being told is true/to be trusted?

We talked about Pollan's language (my distrusting his use of the "pathetic fallacy"--
given emotions to plants). Let's look @ the
Images and Text from Polyface Farm Webpage:
We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.
We do not ship food. We should all seek food closer to home, in our foodshed, our own bioregion. This means enjoying seasonality and reacquainting ourselves with our home kitchens.

Mimicking natural patterns on a commercial domestic scale insures moral and ethical boundaries to human cleverness.
Our goal is to convey information about all the ministries of Polyface. It is not to sell product or answer questions. That is why it is not an interactive website.

V. Let's look now @ the argument Pollan develops in Chs. 16-17

go round and name yourselves, alternatively: "Pollan," "Singer"
divide into four groups (2 "Pollans," 2 "Singers")
prepare yourselves to inhabit the role of one of these men:
(stepping off from Sara's idea of what this classroom is: a conference)
in 15 minutes, I am convening a panel featuring these two men:
you are going to ventriloquize their positions
prepare by figuring out what your argument is, what you supporting data is
think about how you will counter the position of the other guy

Some resources to pass around:
Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life with Autism &
Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation

V. Re-seat yourselves: Pollan on the right, Singer on the left of the table:
what's the beef? what can you say to one another? is there a way to move beyond debate,
into some position/awareness neither of "you" has occupied before?

Ch. 16

281: preparing a meal in full conscioussnss of what was involved
"value in experience: reminds us of dependency on soil-plant-animal-man food chain/
fund'l organization of biota" (Aldo Leopold)
290: evolutionary trade-off between big brains, big guts
291: taste screens for value and safety (+sweetness, - bitterness)
295: omnivory allows adaptation;
satisfaction of being a generalist: pleasure of neophilia (variety) and neophobia (familiarity)
food preference strong social glue (downside to this: exclusion for/from difference?)
297: food problem existential: freedom from instinct=free will
(Rousseau: "the will speaks when nature is silent")
302: family dinner casualty of capitalism (cf. to your stories?)

Ch. 17
306: cultural confusion/schizoid quality to our relation to animals:
no reality check on sentiment or brutality--loss of eye contact
307: Singer: defend the way you live or change it
"Equality is a moral idea, not an assertion of fact";
equal consideration for everyone's interest
313: animals without faces no sufficiently sentient to suffer (?)
eating meat more convenient and more sociable
314: any personal dietary prohibition bad manners
alienated from rituals, traditions, history, inheritance
315: odd irony of animal rights: acknowledge all we share w/ animals, act unanimalistically toward them
316: human pain differs by virtue of language=thoughts about thoughts/imagine what is not
suffering depends on self-consciousness; is pain amplified by human emotions
318: tension between maximizing efficiency of capitalism and cultural moral imperatives
320: animal rightists' deep ignorance about the workings of nature
domestication is not slavery or exploitation but mutalism or symbiosis:
an evolutionary, not a political, development, of opportunistic species
321: crucial moral difference between CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation)
and a good farm: it deprives animals of "characteristic form of life"
for animal rightists: the problem of predation in nature
Puritanical discomfort w/ animals' animality
323: "bison is a human artifact, shaped by Indians"
predation indispensable for the group=species preservation
vs. pt. of view of animal rightists: concern only with individuals:
325: human morality based on individual rights an awkward fit for natural world:
morality an artifact of human culture; animal rights a parochial, urban ideology
327: eating animals most ethical thing to do for the health of nature (not: moral code or souls)
328: morally defensible animal protein: waht's wrong is practice,
not principle of eating umanely raised and slaughted animals
Ch. 20
410: what are the true costs of the things we take for granted?
a meal more ritual than realistic, re:
incalculable debts when we eat industrially/without a thought