Tuesday, June 7, 2016

pics at the farm!

throwback to the tuesday group on the farm!

hanging out with the bees our first day...

... and with some soil and transplants on our last

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kendal's Post: Eating Animals

In conversation with Fiona’s post this week about making our own decisions, I would like you all to see this College Humor video (if you haven’t already) and sigh with me in recognition of the truth it spills.

Fair warning: the rest of this post is going to be pretty biased as I have come to these opinions throughout years of my own research and exposure to the topic. 
With this post, I seek to address an issue that has weighed on my heart for at least the past twenty formative years of my life: non-human animal welfare, especially the welfare of industrialized farm animals. I recognize that this concern may not take precedence for all of you, and I also understand that, for some of you like me, this issue and all of its components may be an overwhelming (and even triggering) one that you already feel educated about – and don’t need a gruesome reminder of. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, I encourage you not to shy away from the information in the links presented; however, I will tag those with violent imagery as gore because I understand how traumatizing they can be.

This Mercy for Animals video presents the facts, and sums up my thoughts on the problem quite nicely. I hope it also explains where the annoying, opinionated vegan stereotype (Q: How do you find out if someone is vegan? A: Don't worry; they'll tell you.) comes from.

Here are two more Mercy for Animals videos (without the cushy cartoon imagery) that expose further the cruelties food animals must undergo to sustain our appetites:

Tragic. Stomach-turning. Heart-wrenching. And if that isn't enough to get you to think about what it means to eat animals, chew on this. My response to this information has been to take meat off my menu (with the exception of my time in Thailand, where it would have been rude not to eat the food my host families had worked hard to prepare for me, I have been a vegetarian for seven years), but I have never felt fully satisfied with that decision. For the reasons I am a vegetarian, I should really be a vegan. This (largely internal and individual) process has looked like this: stumble onto some appalling shit that humans have done in pursuit of profit, cry a lot, watch a documentary [I haven't seen all of these, but they're on my list, so I'm putting them here: Earthlings, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Food Inc., and Cowspiracy - it is my understanding all of these films contain gore.], cry a lot more, get really mad, find and compile a bunch of vegan recipes with the intent to cut out all animal products, and then...I don't do it. It's too hard. You have to learn how to cook, and then actually cook. You have to eat vegetables! Primarily vegetables! I have always said that I'll do it [insert next "convenient" span of time here], and then I don't. I feel guilty because I think of the amount of emotional and physical pain, torture, and bloodshed that carries on indefinitely for me to be able to eat a milkshake or an omelette. So guilty that I stunt myself into not trying, which is the worst place to be for my own mental well being, and, of course, the non-human animals whose lives I'm making a living hell by continuing to eat parts of them.

Recently, it has finally clicked for me that sustainable growth is the result of a gradual, mindful shift in personal habits. There are so many reasons why I have been wanting to adopt veganism (seriously, look at the health benefits!); now is the best time to take that first little step. I have a plan that involves written goals and a pretty solid system of support (though more is always welcome!), and I'm excited to use what I've been learning all quarter to finally help me actualize the life I've been visualizing for years.

There is so much to talk about with this, but I've chosen to keep it close to my personal journey with food animals, and I would love to hear your story. Do you believe the hype around all of this? Are the examples I've chosen to have us look at isolated incidents, or are they indicative of what and who is going into your bacon, egg, and cheese McMuffin? Have any of these articles/images changed your mind about eating animals, or did you already have a clear idea of what was going on? General responses?

Finally, some helpful resources in case you're thinking about making a change, but don't know where to start:

Thanks for reading. I look forward to talking this over with you in class on Thursday.

Week 10 on the Farm 2016: Gratitude

Weather Forecast: mid-80s, mostly sunny on Tuesday, 50% chance of rain on Wednesday.

As we move this class toward closure and the farm moves toward our first CSA harvest, I'd like to revisit Robin Wall Kimmerer's teachings on gratitude and honorable harvest. John and I are deeply grateful to have gotten to know each of you during this course. You've helped us with our spring work, lightening our load and relieving our sore muscles. You've taught us lots of new things (and new words like "entomophagy") and inspired us to reflect more deeply on the work that we do and its relationship to the world. I think the most important gift you've given us, though, is hope. Your willingness to open your minds and hearts to us and to each other, to ask hard questions with gentleness and grace, and to think deeply about your relationships to both the human and non-human beings with whom we share this planet (and your relationships to yourselves as well!) affirms for us the beautiful potential within humans. Thank you for sharing your beauty with us this quarter.

Here's an 18-minute video of a TED talk by Kimmerer in which she talks about one of our first crops of the season and its teachings about giving, receiving, and gratitude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz1vgfZ3etE

If you feel so moved, consider responding with a comment about something or someone you feel grateful for in your life right now.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Fiona's Post: Lookin' to the Future

Week 10!!!! Now that we are at the end of the quarter I wanted to take some time to reflect back on what we’ve learned in this class…. Over the past nine weeks we have examined and thought about a lot of the issues in our current food system. I know I’ve learned a lot from all of you, and have really changed the way I think about my food. I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you from bringing up so many important and crucial topics! I’ve noticed that so many topics have drawn from individual passions and interests. On that theme I wanted to attempt to synthesis some of what we’ve talked about (keeping everyones interests in mind) and start a conversation on how we are going to apply this class past K. I want to focus on solutions/personal empowerment for our last class, be it large scale or small scale.  

Okay, first I looked into ways to farm/garden anywhere in the U.S. 

Check out this article about the top 10 cities for urban farming and the circumstances that made their urban farming boom. 

Next I wanted to look into ways to grow your own food in a backyard OR an apartment:

Take a look at these: 

Starting your own small scale garden in a house: http://eartheasy.com/grow_backyard_vegetable_garden.html

In this vain I found a TED talk about one women finding a way to garden anywhere:
(please watch)

Okay, after watching that and looking at the articles I would love to hear your reflections. Does it seem doable? In what way could you make your own food? What issues do you see with this? How can you use this wherever you live next?  

If this seems like an unlikely solution for you that’s fine! I know after looking into it I really want to grow my own food, but will I? Will I make the time? So I also wanted to look at a more personal relationship with eating. I looked into eating with intention/love. I found a lot of articles, but mainly they were just bossy and judge, until I saw this one:

I liked this blog post because it points out that your relationship with food is yours. So often we get caught up in how to’s: how to be happy, eat right, lose weight, make better choices. And, we forget that each of us is the best judge of what we need. After looking at this how do you want to change or keep your relationship with food? Does eating with intention seem like a solution? If so how? If not what is a better solution for you? 

I know these are just a few solutions/ideas, and in no way fix all that is going on in our food system. I just wanted to dedicate some time to think about how, we can each positively impact ourselves and the world around us (in some way). 

SO, ultimately, in your response’s I’d like you to reflect on how you want to apply this class after K. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Aya's Post: Culture, Religion, and Food

This post may be a slightly deviated from “slow farming,” but I believe this is still a very important food-related topic to discuss in this class. During my sophomore year, I took environmental science class here. One of the assignments was to write a paper about an environmental problem. I could choose any topic I wanted, so I chose “Japanese whaling” as my topic. When I selected the topic, I was ready to criticize the Japanese whalers. Some of the whale species they hunt are endangered, and obviously, people can still live without eating whale meat. But as I searched more and more about the historical background behind Japanese whaling, I got lost. While I understand whaling is a very unsustainable practice when you consider whales’ current status, I could also emphasize with the people who put so much cultural, dietary, and nutritional values on whale meat. Here, I give a few examples of people eating rare/endangered animals for various reasons.

Example 1: Japanese Whaling

The history of Japanese whaling dates back to the 7th century. Whales have been an important part of Japanese diet for more than 1000 years. Whales were very important resources for living, as the following comment of a historian suggests: “We don’t waste any part of whale. We eat meat and blubber and use bone for fertilizer. Every part is used” (Iwasaki-Goodman, 1994; please follow the link below and take a look at the picture!). 

The cruelty of whale hunting, however, is not deniable. Today, whales are killed by using grenade-armed harpoons, and they suffer 10~35 minutes before dying. Additionally, environmentalists are concerned that Japanese whale hunting may deplete the whale populations, as the hunting rate is much faster than the whales’ reproduction rate. In addition, some of the whale species they hunt are endangered.  

Today, many young people do not know how whales taste like, as there are many policies that regulate whaling. However, some people consider that whaling is important to preserve cultural heritage.

Sources used (you do not need to read them. I just wanted to give credits to the sources):

Peace, Adrian. “The Whaling War: Conflicting Cultural Perspectives (Respond to This Article   at Http://www.thrai.org.uk/at/debate).” Anthropology today 26.3 (2010); 5-9. Print.

Iwasaki-Goodman, Masami, and Milton M.R. “Social and Cultural Significance of Whaling in Contemporary Japan: A Case Study of Small-Type Coastal Whaling.” Key Issues in              Hunter-gatherer Research (1994): n.pag. Web.

Example 2: Shark fin soup eaten as a delicacy in China

The popularity of shark fin soup rose in the late 18th and 19th centuries in China. People enjoyed shark fin soup as a symbol of high status and luxury, and shark fin soup is still considered “one of the eight treasured food from the sea” in China. Shark fins are also used for medicinal purposes.  People believe that eating shark fins would make their bodies energetic, nourish their blood, and strengthen their organs. However, there is no scientific evidence behind these claims.

Although eating shark fins is not illegal yet, people are seriously concerning about the declining shark population. Additionally, the shark finning practice is highly controversial. Often, shark fishermen only want shark fins, but they do not want the whole body. So what they usually do is to catch sharks, cut their fins, and return them to the ocean. Sharks often can’t swim properly after their fins are cut off, and die eventually.

Sources used (you do not need to read them. ):

These are just few examples.

In your comment, I would like you to:
Find one animal or plant (or any other food item) that is rare/has a slow reproductive rate but eaten by people for cultural and religious purposes. Please briefly discuss about the practice. I focused on Asian countries, as I feel more familiar to their cuisines. However, please feel free to bring examples from any other parts of the world.

In the following paragraph, please briefly discuss your thoughts on my post. There are many directions you can go, and the comments do not need to be super long.

You do not need to write this down, but before class on Thursday, please be sure to know some pros and cons of consuming that particular food item.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Audra's Post:Cultural Appropriation and Cuisine

I wanted to begin this post by expressing how thankful I am for the mutual sharing we’ve done in this class. In perusing past posts, I’ve noticed (and enjoyed) how often commenters thank the discussion leader for sharing. I note this not to submit some strange request for you thanks (ha!), but to point out that no matter how “macro-level” we expect a topic to be, these issues are deeply connected to our individual experiences and often vulnerably so; we’ve seen how the “political” is personal. But, the personal is also political: the choices we make are exercises of our power and privilege that have real implications—however influential they might be. This, I think, is an entryway into discussing solutions through which we’ve begun to take steps. Let’s continue to use that lens! 

I wanted to devote this post to a topic that illuminates how tangled that personal-political relationship can be and how our personal choices when it comes to enjoying foods from cultures/traditions that are not our own are laden with power-dynamics and histories. I’ve thought a lot about—and felt incredibly paralyzed by—the imperial, oppressive, or otherwise problematic histories of many foods I like. My experience studying in Thailand, too, has compounded this confusion. Questions circulate about what, when, how, and with whom it is appropriate to consume certain cuisines. If our personal choices really do have meaningful and impactful political implications—like maybe contributing a little bit less to the oppression of marginalized people—what are guidelines for choosing “more justly” when it comes to eating outside of our own traditions or cultures?

I’d invite you to first read Soliel Ho's “Craving the Other: One Woman’s Beef with Cultural Appropriation and Cuisine.” She introduces the topic in a way that accentuates its concurrently political and personal nature. Click those other links she offers at the beginning of the piece if you choose (I’d highly suggest it). They each problematize and complicate “craving the Other” differently. (For instance, one author composed a comic that’s helpful to identifying how cultural appropriation operates in the realm of food).

What were your reactions to this piece? Did it elicit any memories about experiences you’ve had (either as appropriator or appropriated)?

Next, take a look at Phylisa Wisdom and Rachel Kuo's pieces concerning solutions (or partial solutions).

Are these compelling? Lacking? Problematic in their own right? If you can, focus your energy on thinking about solutions to avoiding (remedying?) appropriation (and evaluating those offered by the contributors above). 

I personally find this issue challenging, so I appreciate your willingness to help me learn from you all in this discussion!