J500 Media and the Environment

Reflections on the semester: The whole enchilada by jmuselmann

Food is at the fiber of our very being. It is passed around piping hot with potholders, it is handed to us, self-contained, through the car door in paper sacks and divvied accordingly. It’s what we eat because our family does, our friends have tried, our mothers can afford. We throw it away, and we raise it high above our heads for to honor a friend or deity as an intentional sacrifice. Boxed up, it is heaved and flown across the world, passing some to bless others.

One way or another, people get their hands on food. And then we all have the decision of what to do with it. Some have the luxury of waiting to eat it, others use it as currency or a positioning of power, while for many others, who have not been able to make the decision in quite some time, it is always this: Put it into the holes in our faces in time to prolong death.

Of course by this point, we know we aren’t just talking about food. But rather, how food passes and intersects with our needs for a healthy environment and body whole. The need for change is dire and yet lingers on. The idea of going green is gaining unprecedented momentum, and yet, in many ways, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. People can easily eat their organic cake and not recycle, and we let them. But even within the green universe, there lies a wad of inconsistencies and tradeoffs to be sifted through and decided upon. It’s a voyage that has caused more than one breakdown in the grocery store, where I’m stunned into inaction, clutching my wallet in front of the onions, biting my lip at the global repercussions. Often I leave almost empty-handed. Pressure too great.

People say, “the choice is up to us” as consumers, but it sure is hard. Without good legislative infrastructure to guide food ways, it shouldn’t be surprising that it veers toward the same reckless trajectory as other things in this country, trailing irreversible damage in the wake of progress and profit.

Take me, for example: At least in some point in my life, I have recycled. I have also littered. Oh, and I have been the one calling into report the tags of those I see throw things out of their cars while driving: approximate time of infringement, rough location, type of violation, what kind of model and the company make. I guess this class has shown me that maybe I don’t need a number in my glove box to bring about change, I need only open my fridge instead.

—Jacob Muselmann


The holiness of hunger by Lauren Cunningham

I’m really not a very religious person. I was raised in a family who maybe went to church for both Christmas and Easter each year.

But if we’re defining religion as Merriam-Webster does, I can easily say that food is the only constant, ritualistic practice in which I believe. Yes, I do have to eat it in order to survive, but for me, and I think for many other people in American society, it serves as more of a connecting and comforting tool to which we can all relate.

from flickr.com

I have a pretty large family, and when we do get to see each other, it’s usually for some religious holiday. And you better believe we can eat. As most grandmothers do, all of my grandmas make the yummiest food, and they always have more than plenty to share. When I eat what they make, I connect to them and to the rest of my family enjoying the meal.

The fulfillment I think others get from their religion, I get from eating with my family. I love having a large family and being close to family members, and I feel closest with them at the dinner table — there’s always good conversation, everyone’s happy (probably because they’re eating good food). I get satisfaction and comfort out of having the reliability of family.

From the meals I’ve shared with family around the holidays, I can understand why food is interwoven with faith and religion. In most religions, food has great significance and symbolism.

The example of this I’m most familiar with comes from the practice of communion. People are taught that the bread is the body of Christ and wine is the blood of Christ in communion. Here, food is more than just something to look forward to on a Sunday morning  — it serves as a way in which to remember Christ.

Among most other religions, food also plays an large role in Judaism — in not just what people can eat, but also in how food is prepared. Some Jewish people only eat kosher food, which is food that is prepared in a certain way, such as animals who have been ritually slaughtered. Certain foods, such as matzoh or maror, symbolize specific parts of the story of Passover. This food provides a richer context of why Passover is celebrated, transforming what’s on the plate to be more than just something for survival purposes.

Especially in religion, food is much more than just a consumption of calories we need to keep alive from day to day. It provides nourishment for needs beyond the physical. It’s the common denominator among everyone. Everyone needs food. And when we share that food with family or with others of the same religion, we bond.

It’s a sacred idea to think that some of the foods we enjoy today are the same as those enjoyed thousands of years ago. Some of those same foods are mentioned in religious texts — the apple in the story of Adam and Eve. Food provides a connection, and in that connection lies comfort.

— Lauren Cunningham

About Me: Peggy Cox by margaretec
June 13, 2009, 12:21 pm
Filed under: J840 Week 1 | Tags: ,

Hello everyone, my name is Peg (nickname for Margaret) Cox and I’m a new student to the Marketing Program.  I work for J.P. Morgan in the retirement planning division and I feel fortunate to have great work that provides me personal and professional satisfaction.  Our work actually allows retirement plan participants to assess, plan for and reach their retirement goals.

For nearly 30 years I’ve been an outdoor athlete.  Regardless of weather I’ve rarely missed a chance to get my gear on and get outside to run, walk or bicycle.  One of my favorite outdoor adventures was my hike around Jenny Lake a few years ago.  These days my outdoor addiction manifests itself in daily walks with my loyal canine companion, Scout.  I spend any other free time with my friends and my huge family; parents, eight siblings and their families.




I’m a giant fan of Harvesters, our local community food network.  It’s tough to think about people going hungry in 2009 so I do what I can through running an annual drive at work and donating my time and funds directly.

Although I’ve been recycling for years and my firm is paperless, my serious awakening to climate change was the Al Gore slide show which I saw a number of years ago.  In recent years, I’ve made the incremental changes that many Americans have made:  cloth napkins, no purchased water, fluorescent bulbs, my own bags to the grocery store, etc.  I am excited to learn more about sustainability so I can do more, personally and professionally.

Peg Cox

America’s Dilemma by alyv

Trojan PinataIllegal immigration is about so much more than taking jobs away from Americans.

At any time, there are between 12 million and 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States, according to the Census Bureau’s best guess. Most hold jobs Americans consider too lowly to do – jobs like those in agriculture.

Illegal immigrants usually work as seasonal workers, picking oranges in California or harvesting cranberries in Maryland. It’s no secret that illegal aliens work for cheap.

But as much as people complain about lower wages making job competition fruitless, it’s the cheap labor of immigrants that helps put food on the tables of most Americans, and most of the world.

Industrialized agriculture provides a large majority of the food for the world, so they employ a ton of people, some being illegal immigrants. Let’s think about what would happen if the America were to completely stop the influx of illegal immigrants.

• Big Ag would lose its stake-holdings in American agriculture, leading to an increase in the need and development of local farms.Immigrant-crossing sign
• The surge in local farming would decrease the methane, carbon dioxide and the rest of the pollutant cocktail that comes transporting food thousands of miles away or herding millions of pigs into tiny spaces.

But …

• Food production would plummet.
• The cost of food would skyrocket.
• Millions of people wouldn’t have access or be able to afford food.
• Starvation and undernourishment would affect thousands more than the 900 million people already suffering from lack of adequate food.
• The U.S. economy would go into the tank.

So, stop illegal immigrants, give Americans more jobs, reduce emissions and increase local farming? Or grant them amnesty and a chance to improve their lives, continue to feed Big Ag and risk the earth’s sustainability?

Is there a right choice?


Thanks to Guinness Wench and More Marin for the pictures.

Thanks to You Tube for the video.

Earth’s Green Thumb by alyv

The first green revolution grew out of the never-ending need to feed the increasingly ridiculous amount of people on the earth.

The green revolution of the 1950s ushered in a new age of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified organisms and monoculture farms expected to increase crop yields.

The list of problems caused by this mad rush for food – soil erosion, eutrophication, salinization – has left the earth’s soil, and most ecosystems, virtually beyond repair, and millions of undernourished people.

The acreage of arable land across the world continues to dwindle, leaving some experts to predict the amount of acreage left for each person to be smaller than the size of a quarter-acre suburban lot (which is really alarming if it takes four worlds to sustain you like it does me).

Well, the first green revolution has had enough time to destroy the planet’s ecosystems, and I say it’s high time for the new era of Green revolutionists to show them how growing food is really done.

Contour Plowing

In a word: agroecology. Agroecology plants the sciences of agriculture and ecology in the same field, where they grow off each other’s knowledge to yield the best – and most – food in a sustainable way.

Agroecology means terracing crop fields. It means contour plowing and strip farming. It means reduced tillage and natural mulch.

It’s a new way of planting, watering, growing, harvesting that yields far more (up to eight-fold) than fertilizers and pesticides, and helps humans work with nature, rather than bending it to our insatiable will.

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have had their chance. Let’s remove the grime from our Mother Earth and let her show us what she can really do – on her own.

These concepts don’t have to be hard to understand, and it really is easy for everybody to be an “Everyday Environmental Hero.”


Thanks to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point for the photo.

Thanks you You Tube for the video.