Free Writes Emilie Brouse

January 27

Our first in-class "Free Write" Assignment for the Argument and Exposition course is on the topic of food labels. The questions presented to us regarding our food label use are as follows:

  • Do you read food labels? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • What information do you think should be included on food labels in the United States?

While responding to these questions, I found that food labels are actually a really thought-provoking topic. I read food labels at times, but not often. I like to read them while picking out items at the grocery store, or if I buy something out of a vending machine- but not frequently anywhere else, like at home or at school, a friend's house, etc. I think I read food labels at the store because it's the main focal point at the time. Most other times, however, the food isn't the focal point so the Nutrition Facts aren't taken into much consideration.
I think the information presented on food labels in the U.S. is adequate at this time. I don't feel it's necessary to include a lot of further information on food labels, and that including such information may actually deter people from reading Nutritional Labels.

January 29

  • After reading the NY Times article, what information do you think should be included on food labels?
  • Who should decide what is included on food labels?
  • Did reading the article change your mind, or make you think about food labeling in a different way?

After reading the NY Times article on beef processing methods, I feel as though more information regarding the food in question should be included on food labels. The method of production used should be readily available for the consumer to consider before buying the product, as well as a list of ingredients used in production, especially if those ingredients could be considered harmful.
I think that the federal government should definitely have a hand in deciding what's included on food labels, as should food companies, as well as the general public. It most certainly affects us all as consumers.
This article did have an impact on me. I had no idea that chemicals like ammonia were being used in the meat production process! It caused me to think more critically about the labels on the food I purchase and consume on a regular basis and the standards required in food labeling.

January 31

  • After reading the three articles about the pink slime debate, where do you fall on this issue?
  • Should it be labeled differently?
  • Which argument(s) did you find most compelling? Why?
  • What preconceptions (baggage) did you bring with you to this debate that might be influencing your position?

The "pink slime" debate was one that I found really disturbing. I strongly feel that any process that includes drowning the food product in ammonia is one that shouldn't be used at all. Beef Products, Inc.'s practice of producing "lean finely textured beef" is simply wrong and unnatural.
I also feel strongly that any process used in food production should be visible for consumers on the product label itself.
I found the "Pink Slime: What's Really at Stake" argument most compelling because of the personal experience presented in it in which a meat-company consumer actually watched his son suffer and die, and his (obvious) extreme skepticism for meat companies and their professed commitment to food safety.
I don't think I brought any preconceptions to my reading of this debate that would influence my position on the issue.

February 19

  • What are the most direct causes of the exigence about which you are writing?
  • What economic or business conditions may play a role in this exigence?
  • What societal attitudes, fears, or values may have initiated it or indirectly supported it?

Some of the most direct causes of exigence in the food issue-related topic I've selected regarding problems with industrial agriculture include the following: continual use of land without proper rest, not rotating crops in a way that replenishes the soil, over-application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in soil, concentration of an unnatural number of animals at a single location, use of artificial growth hormones and harmful gases.
There are a number of economic as well as business conditions that play a role in this exigence, including the prevalence of the large-scale factory/industrial farm mentality, intensive growing practices that increase yields and USDA standards regarding fertilizer use.
Some attitudes, values and fears society could indirectly hold that support this exigence may include things like efficiency, sanitation, economic concern and convenience.

March 21

  • What solution to your crisis can you propose? How will your solution address specific elements or causes of the crisis?
  • How is your solution particularly practical, logical, manageable, ethical, humane, or economical?
  • What else has been tried or proposed? Why is your solution the solution your audience should embrace?

A solution I'm considering proposing for the crisis discussed in the Arguing Cause assignment is a more sustainable method of agricultural production. This solution would address many of the specific elements of the environmental issues presented. It will also address the general causes of the problem at hand by a more intensive look at the current system of agriculture's production and management.
This solution will be particularly practical, economical, logical, manageable, ethical, humane in that it is truly an economically feasible way to replace the current system. It would counteract the damage incurred through this system with reasonably manageable and humane practices of sustainable, eco-friendly agriculture.
There have been methods of sustainable agriculture put into action in our world today. These are systems that have been hugely successful and beneficial for communities and farmers, as well as for the health and well being of our precious planet. We should adhere to these practices and embrace them because we have just one Earth, and the care for it is in our hands.

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