I have learned a lot about both writing and about food this semester in GSW 1120.  As for writing, I have learned to slow down the writing process in order to give myself time to thoroughly research a topic and then make my own ideas and opinions regarding the topic, which will benefit the overall quality of my final paper.  I have learned to do this by creating an outline for my papers, guiding me through my argument from introduction to conclusion.  I have also learned to create a proposal, which initially allows me to analyze the research I have conducted on a topic and to state my thesis as well as a brief overview of my paper.  By creating an outline and proposal I allow myself to create a very well constructed essay.

I have also learned about source synthesis this semester in GSW 1120.  Source synthesis occurs when one compares sources and connects ideas and concepts between sources in one’s paper.  Doing so further develops one’s argument by demonstrating how two or more sources either agree, disagree, or elaborate on a topic.  Incorporating source synthesis into an essay forces the writer to analyze the sources one has found and really challenges the author to connect the ideas present in the sources.  Ultimately, source synthesis results in a well constructed essay with clear ideas and connects between these ideas explored thoroughly.

On top of learning more about the writing process and enhancing my writing skills, this course has taught me about food.  Throughout this course we have discussed issues related to food and have read many academic articles concerning the food industry and food politics.  I have learned about the local and organic movements and the benefits of both of these movements, and I hope to utilize this knowledge in the future to improve my eating habits and to lower the impact I have on the environment while supporting local businesses. 

This course has improved my writing skills and has equipped me with knowledge about food that I did not previously have.  I plan on utilizing the lessons I have learned in this course to enhance my writing for other classes and to enhance my life and the impact I have on our environment.  I plan on constructing either an outline or a rough sketch of a proposal for future papers in classes, which I believe will result in well-written and concise papers.  I also plan on incorporating synthesis in these future papers, since I feel that after having done so for this class I have improved my writing and it has resulted in some of the best essays I have ever written.

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Michael Bulkowski from Revolver

I loved having Michael Bulkowski from Revolver visit us yesterday! You can learn more about Michael’s restaurant at this site. Michael spoke to us for a little bit about his past as a chef. Michael learned to cook in the kitchen, not at some culinary school, which I think is more practical and natural. He spent some time in Las Vegas and then moved on to Chicago where he became interested in local food. Michael now owns Revolver restaurant in Findlay and tries to focus on local ingredients and rotates items seasonally. I thought it was really interesting to learn that Michael has never served a dish twice in his restaurant. He rotates the menu weekly, and while he may make a similar dish to something he’s served before, he’s never served the same thing twice. Revolver sounds like an amazing restaurant and I would love to go there someday.

I agree with Michael’s philosophy on food, and over the summer I hope to shop at our farmers market in Perrysburg and to cook some fresh, local food. I completely agree that it is so important to fuel local economies by purchasing local, and if for no other reason, the ingredients are just so much fresher. Plus, you KNOW where the food is coming from. That is shockingly not a common occurrence. I, however, disagree with Michael on his stance against organic food. After writing my research essay I understand that organic items are being influenced by large corporations, but it is possible to consume organic items and still receive the benefits these foods provide, if one is an educated consumer and continues to shop local.

Michael made us an AMAZING meal with foods I had never had before. We had a slowly poached egg, which I surprisingly really liked, even though soggy eggs usually freak me out. We also had lentils with fresh bacon and a duck sauce, and fried bread with parmesan cheese. I’m not doing justice to this meal by trying to describe it, it was so good. I loved getting to see a real chef cook, but at the same time I kept imagining that he probably felt like he was in a zoo being stared at the whole time. It was a really special experience!

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May the Force be with You!

My essay is about organic food. I found a lot of disturbing research about the impact corporate companies are having on the organic food industry. These companies are trying to gain a piece of the organic food industry’s profit by creating mass-produced “organic” foods and by lowering industry standards. While this is true, I argue for the consumption of organic items, because they have many benefits. Organic food is generally healthier, contains far fewer pesticides, and the methods used to produce organic items are better for the environment and promote sustainability. I encourage consumers to purchase a mix of organic and local ingredients and to be an educated consumer when shopping for organics in order to combat corporate influence.

For this essay I used a few articles from the packet we were given when Ed Lachowski came to visit. I also found many articles through EBSCOhost. My essay is formatted a bit differently than one would expect, since I introduce my counterargument right after providing a definition for organic. I then spend the rest of my essay combating the counterargument I established. My essay is a combination of an arguing the position essay and a possible solutions essay.

I used several sources in my essay. I used a few journal articles which provided intensive information about organic food and the issues with corporate influence on the organic food industry. I also used some shorter articles from magazines like Better Nutrition which gave information about the benefits of organic food and ways to combat corporate influence.

I learned quite a bit when writing this essay, considering that when I began the writing process for this essay I barely knew the definition of organic. Now I understand what organic means and the dangers and benefits arising from the organic industry. I think the most important thing I learned was that organic is not a hopeless cause. It is possible to reap the benefits of consuming organic despite the influence from the corporate sector if one shops carefully and also consumes locally produced organics.

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Research so far…

So far I’ve decided on researching organic food for my essay.  I noticed there were a few articles concerning organic food in the packet we had had been given to prepare for Ed Lachowski’s visit, so I’m using a few articles from that packet in my paper.  I have also found three articles through EBSCOhost focusing on organic food. 

The US EPA website “Organic Farming” along with Iowa State University’s webpage titled “What is Organic Agriculture?” (both from the Ed Lachowski packet) offer a brief definition and introduction to organic food, which I plan on utilizing in my introduction and background information paragraphs in my essay. 

“Getting Real about the High Price of Cheap Food” by Bryan Walsh was an article in the Ed Lachowski packet which concerns the benefits of eating organic food versus consuming conventional products, which I plan on utilizing in my paper to demonstrate the positive aspects of eating organic goods.

“The Cost of Low-Price Organics: How Corporate Organics have Weakened Organic Food Production Standards” by Christine Green is an interesting law review analyzing how large corporations are having a negative influence on the regulations set on organic food.  I want to use this information in my paper to provide a counter-argument against my thesis that organic food has many benefits and should be consumed.

“A Shopper’s Guide to Organics” by Laurel Vukovic and “The Organic Conundrum” by Neil Zevnik both deal with handy advice on how to best shop for organic items.  Each article gives tips on how to read labels and what to look for when shopping for organic items.  I want to use this information in my paper to explain how it is possible to be an educated consumer and make smart choices when buying organic.

“Lost in the Supermarket: The Corporate-Organic Foodscape and the Struggle for Food Democracy” by Josee Johnston, Andrew Biro and Norah MacKendrick focuses more on the language and symbolism corporations use to target a “greener” audience by using key words and ideas associated with organic and local eating, such as “family-owned company” and “natural.”  I haven’t finished reading this article, but it seems like it has potential for my paper, I’m just not sure how I’ll use it yet.

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Response to Naik’s and Witchel’s Articles

“Did Jamie Oliver Really Put School Dinners on the Agenda?” by Asmita Naik focused on whether or not the media, mainly Jamie Oliver’s documentary on school lunches in Britain, affected or influenced government agenda on food reform. Naik explains in the article that food reform was a hot topic in Britain years before the documentary was filmed. Naik also examines how the documentary, while it did not put food reform on the agenda, may have increased awareness of the issue to the public, possibly making it appear that the media had a larger impact on food reform. Naik’s article was interesting but the subject matter was a bit dull in my opinion.

“Putting America’s Diet on a Diet” by Alex Witchel focuses more on Jamie Oliver himself, and his new television show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” set in America. Witchel sets up the new show by giving information on the town it will take place in, Huntington, West Virginia. The town was chosen due to its high obesity and poor health ratings. Witchel then goes on to provide a background on Oliver and his successful charities and previous television programs, focusing on reform in Britain. Witchel speaks highly of Oliver, though he does state that success is not eminent. Witchel explains that American’s camera lust may prevent any successful change from occurring.

All in all, the two articles are very different. Witchel’s article seems to argue that Jamie Oliver, along with the media sponsoring his television shows and charities, has championed for the cause of food reform, and that such reform would not be so popular without Jamie Oliver’s campaigns for change. In Witchel’s online article for the New York Times, Oliver is described as a “messiah” for food reform, giving little credit to the British government for change in this area. Witchel quotes Oliver stating, “I got a billion dollars out of the British government and put it into the school system…[b]ut it’s still in transition, it’s not all glossy yet.” Jamie Oliver is painted to be the lead figure in the fight for food reform in Witchel’s article, but Naik conjures up a different image. Naik disagrees with Witchel, by declaring that the British government already had food reform on the agenda, before Jamie Oliver sought reform and the media drove this issue into the public spotlight. Naik states in her online article from The Political Quarterly, “In conclusion, the notion that the media drives food policy on healthy lifestyles is not supported. The simple answer to the question must be: `No, Jamie Oliver did not put school dinners on the agenda.’ However, he and the media machine did contribute to promoting and developing existing policies, and to facilitating their wider acceptance among the public at large.” This quote exemplifies Naik’s argument that Jamie Oliver and the media did not have a large impact on reform, contrary to Witchel’s assertion that Oliver’s television programs and charities have encouraged reform in Britain.

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Why Write a Proposal?

I think writing a proposal for a paper or a large project is really helpful.  Proposals allow you to get all your ideas down on paper, letting you plan out your essay and envision what further research or work you may need to do in order to meet your goals for the paper.  Having to write a proposal slows down the writing process and makes you take some time to plan out your argument, which in the end will make your paper stronger, since you took more time to think about and plan out what you wanted to say in the beginning. 

I’ve already had to write two other proposals this semester, one for a research paper for a history class, and another for a final project for a Special Seminar course.  It is important to practice writing proposals because there is a great possibility that you may need to write another in the future for a class.  Also, a proposal can help even if it isn’t assigned, since it forces you to take a refined look at the research you’ve completed, allowing you to design your argument and decide if you need to do further research or possibly choose a different topic.  If you struggle in writing a proposal this likely means that you do not have enough research completed, or you may need to change to a different topic.

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Special Guest: Ed Lachowski

I really enjoyed having Ed Lachowski visit our class and speak about organic farming.  He seemed really well informed on the topic, since he gave many reasons to buy items grown organically, and was able to answer everyone’s questions.  He explained how farming affects ecosystems, and the most important reason to farm organically is that organic farming tries to have a less negative impact on the environment.  I also enjoyed when he passed around the tomatoes and we looked at the labels to see where they came from.  Usually when I buy produce at the supermarket I wouldn’t think twice to check the sticker, and I wouldn’t have a clue what any of the information on the sticker meant.  Now I know to look for the number nine on produce stickers, since that signifies that the item is organic.  I also thought it was interesting to hear about saving seeds and heirloom varieties.  I was shocked to learn there are so many varieties of vegetables in the world (like over 4,000 different types of tomatoes alone), and we generally only consume a few types of a certain vegetable in our lifetime.  Next time I go to a farmer’s market I want to buy some vegetables and vegetable varieties that I’ve never had before, even if it means finding a yellow tomato.  Overall, I really appreciated having Ed speak to our class, and it really helped me settle on a topic for our upcoming research essay – I’ll be writing about organic foods.


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Oh, the possibilities!

I’m still struggling with deciding on a topic for my final research paper.  I’m currently throwing around three different ideas that I find really interesting, and I’m hoping that as I continue through the writing and researching process that I will be able to happily settle on one topic.  The three main ideas that I’m considering exploring right now are organic foods, ethnic foods and fair trade.  I will go through the 6 steps to identifying an issue from our text book for each of the topics I’m considering, to better explain my potential plan for a paper on each topic. 

6 steps to identifying and issue:

  1. Draw on your personal experience
  2. Identify what is open to dispute
  3. Resist binary thinking
  4.  Build on and extend ideas of others
  5. Read to discover a writer’s frame
  6. Consider the constraints of the situation

Organic Food

I find the topic of organic foods enticing because I know very little about what exactly “organic” means and as it seems like there are so many different varieties and items on the market that are considered organic, I feel as if I should do some research to learn more about this term.  Some questions I would consider addressing in a paper about organic foods would be what is the definition of organic, what regulations, if any, are in place to standardize this term, and what are the benefits of consuming organic products? 

  1. I’m curious about what this term means and if there are any benefits to consuming organic products. 
  2.  I’m a little weary of buying into this term, because it may just be a popular label companies seek to stamp on their product to entice consumers to purchase the food, like “low-fat” or “light”, terms often used by companies to target consumers to purchase goods that will help them “lose-weight”.  I guess my main concern regarding organic foods is that I want to see if there is any merit to the term or if it’s just a bogus claim.
  3. I think it’s important to look at this idea from both the consumer’s and the producer’s point of view.  What values are driving either the consumer or the producer to buy into this term?  My main struggle in resisting binary thinking for this argument would be to consider the producer’s point of view, since I feel pretty cynical towards large food companies.
  4. I haven’t gotten to begin much of my research regarding this topic yet, but I imagine that my research will likely influence my opinions and attitudes towards this topic.  For example, if I find nothing negative about organic foods, I may be persuaded to change my paper and instead write an argument supporting the consumption of organic foods.
  5. I assume that as I research the topic I will come across theories and ideas regarding organic foods, and I’ll have to consider how these theories either back up or refute my thesis or ideas on the issue.
  6. The situation that gave rise to organic foods, to my understanding, is that consumers are unhappy about buying so many mass-produced, unhealthy foods that are filled with preservatives and chemicals.  So, it would likely upset my audience if I took a completely negative stance and said that all organic foods are fake and that buying organic, as opposed to buying local, perpetuates the system of mass-produced food.  I have to consider that my audience likely agrees with me but may have few alternatives to buying organic.

Ethnic Food

I once considered majoring in anthropology, and different cultures have always fascinated me.  One question I’ve always wondered about is what led different cultures to create unique ethnic foods?  I’d like to study some different ethnic foods and try to explain where these foods came from, or why a certain flavor or taste is often prevalent in certain cultures.

  1.   I’m curious about ethnic foods and cultures, and why there are so many varieties of and disparities between ethnic foods.
  2.  I’m struggling with identifying what is up to dispute about this particular topic.  Maybe one concept would be that ethnic foods are constantly changing and are influenced by other cultures, especially in the modern day due to globalization.
  3. For this topic I have to consider both my opinion and the opinions of the cultures that created the ethnic foods I’m studying.  What does the culture define as authentic?  Are there ideas or concepts surrounding certain foods in different cultures?
  4.  Again, I think that as I conduct research on this topic I will be more able to indentify and build on the ideas of others.  For now I am mainly unfamiliar with theories surrounding ethnic foods and the origins of these foods.
  5. Right now one theory I’m considering is that the environment of the area in which the culture originated likely influenced the food of that culture.  This theory would frame my argument because I would try to explain the theory and then provide examples as to why I believe in the theory.
  6. I would need to consider how food and recipes change over time.  For example, the Columbian exchange introduced many new foods to different parts of the world, like the tomato to Europe.  Therefore, many dishes that we see as Italian must have been very different before the Columbian exchange, because all Italian cuisine lacked tomatoes before this time.

Fair Trade

Finally, I’m considering writing a paper on fair trade.  I would seek to define fair trade and to provide examples of how and where to buy fair trade products.  If I do choose this topic I want to interview a local coffee shop owner who sells fair trade goods to learn why they participate in this movement.

  1.  I’m curious to learn more about this topic because I know it’s a movement that’s gaining speed and I’ve bought a few fair trade items before.  I would like to analyze whether or not buying fair trade has benefits, and what these benefits may be.
  2. I would like to see what products are currently available to being purchased through fair trade, and whether or not all fair trade is equal (that is, having equal benefits).
  3.  I need to consider the store owner’s perspective, my own perspective, the company who provides the goods’ perspective, and the fair trade farmer’s perspective.
  4. Again, I can see this happening after conducting some research, but right now I’m not familiar with any theories or ideas on this topic because I don’t know very much about fair trade yet.
  5.  I will try to focus on the theories and ideas that shape the focus of the articles I use when citing in my paper, after conducting research.
  6. I understand that fair trade is fairly a new concept and that it may be difficult to provide farmers or artisans the appropriate means for their products, especially when we live in such an industrialized, global community.  Since fair trade attempts to alleviate this problem I ought to consider how difficult a task this is and consider how well the system is working despite these conditions.

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Special Guest: Dan Rzicznek

Last Wednesday Dan Rzicznek visited and taught our class about hunting water fowl and how his eating habits are influenced by hunting.  Aside from having an Uncle who likes to hunt deer, I have never had much interaction with hunting as a subject and I thought it was really exciting to learn about.  After hearing Mr. Rzicznek speak, I have a much higher appreciation for hunting and the skill required to do so.  I’m also proud to say that I tasted some wild goose!  I never thought I’d have the guts to try game, and I’m really proud of myself for having the courage to try this new food, since it was really delicious!

These guys are actually pretty tasty!  Who knew?

These guys are actually pretty tasty! Who knew?

I never realized that hunting had so many restrictions and guidelines placed on it by the government.  Mr. Rzicznek explained to my class that each hunter needs to purchase a hunting license or a hunting card in order to hunt certain types of animals.  Also, there are restrictions on what breeds and species one can hunt and how many kills one can make per day.  These regulations helped me realize that hunting is strictly governed in order to protect the animals, to prevent species collapse and habitat destruction. 

Hunting takes a lot of skill.  Mr. Rzicznek showed us the decoys and the calls he uses when hunting.  He explained how hunting can take great patience, and how the weather conditions and weight of the gear can make it a painful and gruesome experience.  Hunters need to study the different species they’re hunting, in order to tell whether the prey is a male or female and in order to determine whether or not the animal is restricted, since guidelines can prohibit hunting a certain gender or species to provide for population control. 

I also appreciate Mr. Rzicznek’s philosophy on hunting and the connection he feels with the animals he hunts.  Mr. Rzicznek explained to us how he feels grateful to the animal after making a kill and that hunting has spiritual significance for him.  I think this is really special and that more people should engage in this type of connection to their meals more often.  I’m not saying I’m going to just run off and take up hunting, but I do appreciate the idea behind hunting as it was presented to our class, and I can see why people enjoy hunting now, whereas I had seen hunting as a disgusting sport before.  I had always seen hunting as a method for men to try and prove their self worth by killing the biggest animal they could find.  I now understand this is the standard practice for some, but not for all hunters, and that one can’t just group all hunters into a large category of animal-hating macho men.

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Synthesis: All About the Ocicat!

Fact:  I have been called a “crazy cat lady” many times in my life.  While I do not live alone in a household of cats with milk saucers dotting the floor, I am a true cat lover.  When I was younger I especially loved to read about different cat breeds, the domestication of cats, and the Ancient Egyptian’s fascination with the feline.  One of my favorite breeds of cat is the Ocicat.  According to the Cat Fancier’s Association, Inc.’s website, the Ocicat “is the only spotted domestic breed selectively bred to emulate the cats of the wild.”  And do they!  Ocicats look a lot like their namesake, the Ocelot, a wild cat that, according the National Geographic’s website, “live[s] under the leafy canopies of South American rain forests…and can be found as far north as Texas.” 

An Ocelot, the Ocicat's namesake from the wild.  Image from the National Geographic website.

An Ocelot, the Ocicat's namesake from the wild. Image from the National Geographic website.

The Ocicat is one of my favorite breeds, due to its wild fur pattern and its docile temperament.  According to the Catiator’s Ocicats website, the Ocicat’s “temperament is anything but ferocious. The Ocicat is confident as well as dedicated to its owners. Most Ocicats are quite extroverted around strangers, not at all bashful about checking out the possibilities for a few playmates or a lap to curl up on when visitors come to call.”  Cat Fancier’s Association, Inc. discusses the Ocicat’s temperament further by stating “Ocicats are quite bright and easily trained. Many will fetch, walk on a leash, respond to voice commands and readily adapt to household rules.”  “The Ocicat”, an online article by Jim DeBruhl, Sonja Moscoffian, and Shana Otis-Kuhnert, goes on to explain how to care for your Ocicat.  The article states “[e]ven the mature adult Ocicat requires no special diet or excessive grooming. Any well-balanced commercial cat food should provide and meet all the Ocicat nutritional requirements.”   The Cat Fancier’s Association, Inc. agrees and states “[ocicats] diets are the same as any domestic and their short coats need only the occasional bathing and grooming. They are not prone to any particular health problem and their broad genetic background gives them vigor and vitality.”  Overall, Ocicats are a gorgeous breed of cat, and display many sought after characteristics in a pet.  While I believe it is important to support your local animal shelter and to adopt a pet in need of a home, if I ever choose to purchase a pure-bred cat, I will most likely go for an Ocicat. 

An image of an Ocicat, from the Cat Fancier's Association, Inc.

An image of an Ocicat, from the Cat Fancier's Association, Inc.

Works Cited

“About the Ocicat.” Catiators Ocicats. Web. 15 Feb. 2010.

“Breed Profile: Ocicat.” The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). Web. 15 Feb. 2010.

 DeBruhl, Jim, Sonja Moscoffian, and Shana Otis-Kuhnert. “The Ocicat.” The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA). Web. 15   Feb. 2010.

 “Ocelot (Leopardus Pardalis).” Animals, Animal Pictures, Wild Animal Facts. National Geographic. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. <>.

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