Archive for March, 2011

Posted by: ahowland | 16th Mar, 2011

Food and Agriculture

Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature, Food Inc. was an enlightening film showing the behind the scenes of our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized corporations that have been hidden from the American consumer. It was a very education film that hit a wide range of topics from organic food, the “dollar menu,” diabetes and obesity, genetic engineering, Kevin’s Law, politics, and so much more. Watching the film greatly impacts you, and for me I was not able to eat meat all day after I watched it and I am still struggling with what to eat.  It was very disturbing to watch what exactly they do to the livestock, how they treat and raise them, and the conditions in the slaughterhouse. I was absolutely disgusted. And how the slaughterhouses treat their employees, such as Smithfield Foods, was horrendous. I am shocked that a lot of these places get away with everything they do. Luckily, there are movies such as Food Inc. to inform the average American what really goes on. The film’s website is also a great summary of the movie itself, providing many valuable websites about all the issues the movie touched upon. It provides a comprehensive reading list if you want to read books other people have published about the topic and tells you how you can personally take action and help the cause, such as buying organic or sustainable food with little or no pesticides and eat at home instead of ordering take out or fast food. It really is a great, very informational website.

Another thing I thought was interesting is that this week is National Agricultural Week to celebrate National Agricultural Day- March 15, 2011. National Agricultural Week is about learning about the impact agriculture in America has on our lives and what it gives us each and everyday-from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. The event is hosted in Washington DC, but all over the country it is being celebrated.

Posted by: ahowland | 10th Mar, 2011

Is Ignorance Really Bliss?

In class today we learned about Australia, but before we started talking about the country, Dr. Szulczewski asked us students to make a list of the top five things that come to mind when someone mentions the word “Australia.” Many students said kangaroos, koalas, eucalyptus trees, Steve Irwin, Great Barrier Reefs, the Outback and the like; all rosy, positive things about Australia. But that is not just the case with the country. Australia is suffering from a lot of problems such as invasive species, land clearings, a very long drought, and salinization of the soil, just to name a few. As Dr. Szulczewski mentioned, many Americans (and people around the world) have a very rosy, western outlook about Australia. When people think of Australia, they tend to ignore the problems and just focus on good things there, like the beaches, the coral reefs, and animal life.

A perfect example of this is when Australia is typed into Google, the only pages brought up about the place is tourism, traveling there, and many facts about the place. Nowhere in Google is there anything suggesting the problems Australia is facing if you just type in “Australia”. When you Google Image Australia, the same thing happens, there are pages after pages of pictures of the beaches on Australia, the cities, maps of the place, etc. It isn’t until page three (after 34 pictures) and not again until page 5 (last picture) is there a real photograph about a problem facing Australia: drought. I think then there are only one or two more pictures in 14 pages of images of an environmental problem occurring there (that’s roughly only 4-5 photos of a problem in Australia out of 420 positive pictures). You have to really search if you want to find an image like the ones below.

This is exactly what is wrong with the world today. People have these picturesque mindsets about places all over the world that make it seem like everything is alright, but its not. People hide in their ignorance. It is so easy to ignore the environmental problems of places around the world. But we all live in this planet together, and if one country is struggling and going through environmental degradation problems, there will be a chain reaction and eventually it is going to affect us all. How many other countries are out there struggling with the same or even more complex environmental problems and we Americans simply don’t even know about it because we tend to paint rosy pictures about those places, when that is not the case. It isn’t okay to hide in ignorant bliss when the planet is rapidly degrading. It is time to look past our picturesque outlook about certain countries in the world such as Australia and recognize that there are many problems facing every part of the world today.

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