Jerry Kokkinos

English 379- Pacific Island Literature

Documentation and Post-Project Reflection

Documentation– notes taken throughout project, steps taken to achieve ultimate goal of raising awareness on a serious problem that affects so many aspects of our society

 

“In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.”

I watched Robert Kenner’s documentary Food Inc. documentary, one that received an Oscar nomination.   

Theory within documentary: our food industry is hiding the American consumers from the truth of the products we are buying in our local supermarkets. 

Mention of Fast Food Nation, a book that is the carbon copy of Morgan Spurlock’s film Super Size Me, a documentary I had originally seen. 

In an online interview I found or Robert Kenner answering questions based on his documentary, he said he was inspired to make a film about the whole supermarket and how it has become industrialized, similar to the fast-food system. 

Very interesting statistic: we are spending less on food than any time in our country’s history, and yet it is coming at a much higher price.

Kenner talks a lot about how corporations are getting too much power; the business itself has become more about profit than it has about the consumers’ own good interests

His documentary was meant to be more than just food, but more about the consumers’ rights

We walk down all the aisles in one supermarket, we can see that only three to four companies actually run the food industry; everything is coming from the same location but we think differently because of the names

Products that have labels such as fresh farm or show pictures of westernized countryside life with animals and fresh growing crops: majority is fake and misleads our consumers; we are buying food that does not come from a farm

Food may have come from a farm originally, but it is processed in a factory

Documentary- shows the mistreatment of both animals and the factory workers, unsafe working conditions and low wages for a dangerous job

Micheal Pollan, author of Food Rules, appeared on the Daily Show: during the interview he talks about what the public can do in order to make sure they are eating healthier; he says the most basic thing for people to do towards making a difference is to eat, avoid cereals that turn your milk colors, and real labels

Major concern over raising this awareness: offering people the alternatives that will help us steer away from the unhealthy consumption that has developed over time

A lot of the solutions are unrealistic, take a lot of effort:

– reading labels on the back of every box

– breaking habits that people have had from a young age, drinking soda or eating meat

– shopping at organic markets, when so little are offered/present in our neighborhoods

Visited Whole Foods Market in Manhattan- you can tell the people that shop here are different from what we are accustomed to in a regular supermarket

Says a lot about who the supermarkets with organic/natural foods are targeting specifically; the upper class gets the privilege and opportunities to shop for products that are not made in factories or enhanced by chemicals

Does the health of the lower and middle classes not matter anymore?  The government doesn’t see it necessary to step in and stop these powerful corporations from continuing to ruin our institutions of society? 

Examples: schools are being affected by the products sold in vending machines; families are being affected because of the issue of money and what they can afford (why is it easier to purchase a burger at McDonald’s than a salad?)

The food industry is going backwards??

Talked to a few of the workers at Whole Foods: the company really strives to give back to the community

Their motto explains how they want to show how passionate they are about quality foods and want to contribute to people’s quality lives

5 % Community Days: give back 5 percent of their net sales and donate them to local non-profit organizations

Customers are the individuals giving their money, so Whole Foods tries to accommodate them; 5 percent days are planned in advance so that there are specific theme-based

Past events: Farms & Harvest, Environment, Hunger & Homelessness, Back to School

Interview- I focused on where the products are imported from, if they do any business with international corporations

Male worker (Tony Caruso) showed me fresh tomatoes, I brought up the documentary and the gases used to make the tomatoes in regular supermarkets seem authentic and fresh

Have some products shipped from Morning Fresh Farms, a Colorado family-owned business

Other products from Carolina Fresh Farms

There are some places that have licenses against corporations doing what they want with the farmers’ products

The reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act is an important start, petition available on the website

Posted link on Facebook, have told my friends and family members to sign petition, have also spoken to them about what I’ve learned

Good suggestions: cook food at home, eat and bond as a family, understand what is put into the food you are buying at the supermarkets

Setbacks: consistently reminding ourselves the battle we are in against major corporations that only care about profit and not the good of the people who spend their hard earned money on these products

Definitely think Food Inc. documentary should be shown to every family, they would understand so much more how serious this issue has become and how we cannot sit back and wait but rather we should take action now

Post-Project Reflection– reflecting back on everything I have been through this semester in both our class and more importantly my project

            The idea for this project first came to me after a discussion with a friend about possible issues I could look into researching.  The main goal was to find something that is important to the society in which we all take part in.  I wanted to raise awareness about an issue that affects our everyday lives and something we can help change or make a difference towards.  It is always a difficult task to educate people on a topic they might have no initial desire to learn about.  When they do learn something new it’s a matter of to what extent the information will be processed and used for the good of the cause.  My friend mentioned that she had seen the documentary Food Inc., and I was eager to hear about it since it is similar to the type of documentary Super Size Me is.  Both deal with the theme of food, but the central focus is what differs.  Super Size Me focused on what would happen if a person were to go on a fast food diet for an entire month, eating nothing but McDonald’s.  I feel that this experiment was somewhat useless because it is unrealistic for a person to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner all at the same restaurant for thirty straight days.  Its real purpose was to show how unhealthy the food they serve is.  In Food Inc, the attempt had more to do with educating consumers about what happens to the products they buy in supermarkets and other locations before they actually reach the stores.  Another key was to give a voice to the farmers who have no say as to what companies choose to do with these products they are buying from the farms.  A major theme that ran through my project drew direct parallels to what we have spoken about in class and spent a great deal of time focusing on.  The literature we read on Hawaii, the Philippines, New Zealand and the others had some of the authors writing against certain colonial perspectives and resisting to accept various cultural groups moving in to certain parts of their homeland.  It was only fitting to choose a project where resistance would be common throughout. 

            Doing the research aspect of my project was something I was already accustomed to.  I have been exposed to doing research projects in my past educational experiences and know what the process can be like.  It was easy to get started because I already had a documentary to watch, one that would be the influence of my entire project.  Researching books and political figures that could help me understand all the issues also fit the usual description: using the Internet to find the information.  However, I knew that I would need more; that’s when I decided to visit an organic supermarket, Whole Foods Market, located in Union Square in Manhattan.  I needed to talk to people who work where organic products are sold.  I had obtained a lot of information from the documentary but along with that came a plethora of questions that I needed answers to.  What I took away from the film most is the fact that some families can’t afford to eat healthy and they have no alternatives that they can turn to for help.  A family of a mother, a father and two teenage daughters were the highlighted family in Kenner’s documentary.  A problem they faced in general was that they both worked from early morning until late night and had no time to cook their daughters a good meal at home.  They have to do the easy thing and pull up at any fast food drive thru at ten o clock at night; of course this is also the cheapest option available.  The issue that the family encounters inevitable comes down to money.  The father has diabetes and needs to purchase pills that cost over two hundred dollars.  The family is now aware about how unhealthy the food they have been feeding their children is.  They want to change their habits and do what’s right for the two daughters.  The problem is they cannot afford the pills and buy products that will be beneficial to the health of the family.  This really frustrated me because the fact of the matter is that a salad at McDonald’s ranges between four to six dollars while a burger can be purchased from the dollar menu.  Everything is backwards and of course people are not going to question it because of how cheap the fast food is, no matter the unhealthy repercussions. 

            Some connections that I was able to make linked my project to other important issues that need to be addressed.  An area that has a lot of similarities with eating unhealthy and buying fast food is the issue of smoking and how bad it can be for your health.  In both cases, we see propaganda advertised all over magazines, television advertisements and the Internet showing how doing certain things will make you join a crowd of attractive, intelligent individuals.  They are trying to portray the type of people we all strive to be and it is foolish to say that a person doesn’t care what anyone thinks about them.  It is human nature to sometimes wonder and even stress over the opinions of people towards you, based on your actions, appearance, and overall image.  There is such a variety of different ads that I have seen displaying good looking people smoking, drinking, eating certain food types and of course modeling off a brand of clothing.  Everything we see all comes down to the profit companies can make from the consumers.  Being in Whole Foods Market made me realize, drawing back to Kenner as well, how the food industry has become a business.  Customers don’t think about it because their main prerogative is to purchase a substantial amount food that will feed all members of their family.  It actually makes us as consumers look bad considering the state our economy is now in.  We should be preserving money and spending it carefully; the food we choose to purchase should be satisfying to our taste buds but should not have a negative effect, whether it be long-term or short-term effect, to our health.  In reality, this cycle can lead to families losing even more money.  If we choose poorly in terms of the products we feed our families, we save money for the time being in terms of the grocery bill and other short-term expenses.  The long-term effects will be felt in the family’s income when members become ill and need special medical treatment.  Hospital bills, doctor appointments, medicines and other factors are involved when dealing with certain diseases, illnesses and malfunctions.  This shows how linked the food industry is with other major institutions within our culture.

            One of the biggest obstacles I faced was the original decision of choosing this project.  I admit that the idea was not mine originally but I took it from a friend’s suggestion and that may have caused the setbacks I endured. In a way having someone else throw ideas at me during a discussion and having me just choose one wasn’t the greatest choice.  I found myself hesitant at time to proceed with the project and was lost in direction of what to do next.  After seeing the projects of many of my classmates and looking at some issues or topics I could have chosen that interest me, I have learned a valuable lesson.  In any major project, especially one where you have to inform a public audience on a subject matter that draws some interest to you, it is much better to choose the topic yourself.  I might have chosen to do something about food anyway but probably would have taken it in a different direction that defined my personal interests more.  I have been meaning to start on the P90X workout system that was released to the public not too long ago. I regret not doing my research and focusing my project more on exercise and how we can change the perception that American society is lazy and obese.  Statistics back this point up and it has always been something I have been interested in addressing.  In my own case, I feel like I need to exercise more and get in better shape.  The project would have focused on the presentation of the P90X exercise program, healthy food tips and other information pertaining to physical fitness.  My actual project does do a good job getting people on the right path to a healthier life, so in a way a part of my regretted decision was recognized regardless.

            I am proud that I stuck with this project and actually came away satisfied with the amount of knowledge I obtained.  It was a great opportunity to research a topic I would never have considered otherwise and I am confident that I can continue my project further than just this semester.  Aside from the petition that I introduced to both my classmates and friends to sign regarding the Child Nutrition Act, just knowing what I now do can go a long way at family gatherings and social events with friends.  If I were to give advice to Robert Kenner or anyone else associated with his project, I would tell them to continue in their pursuit of spreading knowledge about this serious issue and come up with new ways to get it taught throughout our country.  In my opinion, a great area to focus on would be education.  Having this material incorporated into science classes could go a long way.  Teaching students on the elementary school level can help save them before it’s too late and they will turn around and tell their family and whoever else they can about the self-destruction we cause by living the lives we do.  Routine is a huge part of our ultimate goal being recognized, and how people have to break the routine they are accustomed to.  We tend to keep our habits the same because it is easier to do and all we’ve ever known, but in this case that will not benefit us.  Even though I learned all I did from this project, it is apparent how much hard work I need to put in to realize a fresh, new start for myself in terms of my eating habits.

Bibliography

Food Inc. Dir. Kenner, Robert. Featuring Gary Hirshberg, Michael Pollan and Troy    

Rousch. Magnolia Pictures, 2009. Film.

Kittler, Pamela Goyan. Kathryn P. Sucher. Food and Culture. New York. Thomson 

Wadforth, 2004. Print.

Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin, 2008.

Print.

Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation.

Whole Foods. Tony Caruso. Personal Interview.

 

 

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With only a few weeks left in the semester, there are some goals I’d like to accomplish.  These goals require the completion of major assignments in not only my English 379 course, but in my other classes as well.  In English 379, along with completing all my necessary blog entries and comments, I must study and do well on the final exam.  The most important component to the class is the final project that includes a presentation and paper.  I still have one interview to conduct, and more research on my part has to be done in order to complete my power point presentation for the class to see.  I am hopeful of raising the awareness I have been focused on from the beginning and also gaining my own sense of knowledge on a topic I have never been too familiar with until now. 

For my geology class, I have to study for both a lab final and a lecture final coming up in a few weeks.  I must complete my fieldwork observation hours for both my education courses, and write my final papers for each class.  The question that I would like to answer for myself is directly connected to my greatest challenge remaining, and that has to do with how I will be able to balance my time accordingly in order to complete all of my schoolwork and get enough studying time in for exams.  I work as a tutor at an elementary school and also coach a basketball team, so it has been a juggling act all semester to keep up with everything.  I feel like I am prepared in my expectations of what it will take to accomplish everything I am focused on.  I know I will persevere in the end while enjoying my celebration on the completion of all my hard work.

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English 379 Advertisement Blog

This advertisement is an exaggerated and unrealistic portrayal of Dairy Acres, an agricultural phenomenon, where different types of cows roam and make different flavors of milk.  The owners know the high demand that exists for fresh milk and have decided to take their business worldwide.

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For my project, I have watched the documentary Food, Inc., which is what my project will primarily be based around. In this documentary, the film provides a good foundation in terms of what areas of the food industry I should explore. I decided to investigate in the business aspect of the documentary by going to certain groceries and questioning the workers there. I have started by locating the specific stores (Wholefoods located in Union Square, NY) and scheduling days to visit the stores and possibly interviewing the managers or a few workers

I hope to address the question of whether people who work in the food industry are fully aware of the harm processed foods are doing to humans and animals or if they’re participating in a job where they are completely oblivious to its immoralities. Furthermore, I hope to gain a response from people who buy foods from these stores – why these choose to shop for organic products or why they dont.

Overall, I still have much of the interviewing part of the assignment to finish. I have researched my topic online, but I think now it is necessary to bring that information outward to our society.

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One of the more intriguing and serious social issues that we in America do not show enough awareness and concern over is the abuse of our animals.  When we look at a portrait of the classic American family, we see a father, mother, son, daughter and then more times than not we see a house pet, most commonly a dog or cat.  In essence, an animal not only completes most families, but it is able to bring friendship and love to people that sometimes cannot find it from other sources.  Animals are just like any member of the family household.  They need to eat at specific times throughout the day, they need to sleep when tired, they need care when they’re sick and they feel pain when they get hurt.  The human race and animal race are the exact same in my opinion, the only differences being the language barrier and the responsibilities between the two races.

Some people find it amusing to enter animals in contests where they hurt each other and the winner survives.  Realistically there are no winners in these competitions because both animals are seriously hurt and eventually both will be dead.  Money is involved which shows the greed of some people and to the extent they are willing to stoop to in order to make a profit, even if it means hurting others.  They might think that if they aren’t hurting other people its fine to do but animals are just like people and should not be treated in such a vile, sadistic manner.  Animal abuse can be understood through the symbol of a child in an abuse household.  Like the child, animals have no say in what happen, they are afraid and defenseless, and they have no one to help them unless people find out what is happening and how serious the issue has become.  It’s really sad to think that some people know about this and just don’t bother making an effort to get through to organizations and communities in helping resolve the issue.  Any start is a good start because the more time we lose in waiting, the more damage will be done to these poor, unprotected animals.

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Wine glasses touching, plates smashing,

A live band playing and the couple dancing.

Thinking back it’s hard to imagine how this came to be,

All the obstacles and distractions that tried to get in your way.

Your father telling you she has to be of the same culture,

Anything else would interfere with language and religion.

It would corrupt your children and ruin the family,

Your grandparents would be disappointed and people will look down on you.

Beaches, sailors on boats, the sun beaming and tourists roaming

Clubbing all night long and parties lasting until the morning,

Being able to drink when you’re eight years old and smoke when you’re twelve,

The lifestyle that most people long for but this being the norm on your small island.

Gossip and rumors spreading everywhere as

People bad mouth you without any legit reason,

You can do everything right and still fail in the end

It’s all part of the description of being a part of this culture

Welcome to the Nisyrian Greek Family!

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For my course project, I wish to explore “America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights” (Food Inc.). Many people today are aware that the foods offered at fast food restaurants, like McDonalds or Burger King, are hazardous to our health and well being. However, the extent of that awareness only goes as far as the food at fast food restaurants.  What most Americans do not realize is that most products that they buy from ordinary grocery stores also have remnants of hazardous elements. The food system in America is no longer about the natural process of growing food and making sure that what is grown is healthy and safe for the public; rather it has evolved to industrialization where food is now mechanically grown and altered to satisfy corporate profit.

This type of issue can be categorized as universal in that everyone is affected, whether directly or indirectly. Since most are unaware of where the products in groceries stores come from, they remain in the dark as to how their health is being affected and, more so, how their significant others (partner, children, siblings, etc.) are being affected as well. The questions that need to be explored for this particular topic are some of the following: What actions are government officials taking? How are they involved? Are they making efforts to alter the modern day food system to one that is safer for consumers or is it in making as much money as possible? Additionally, for my project, I wish to stress the message that people should fight against this system by buying foods that are healthy and safe. It is important for people to know that by buying the unhealthy foods created by the industrialized food system, we are only adding fuel to the fire and allowing the system to continue. 

 The steps that I am going to take for this project to help me fully understand the issue at hand and the gravity of the consequences is as follows: there are many documentaries (some more well known than others) that have concrete information about what is happening with food today. One particular documentary is Food Inc by Robert Kenner.  Kenner has worked on this particular project for many years. It took him exactly six years to have the permission to release his project to general audiences. The information that he reveals to viewers is very useful for this project. He explores the governmental issue of the system as well as worker’s rights and the harsh and inhumane treatment of animals during the process. It is a strong piece of work that successfully captures the seriousness of the situation.  There are also many websites online that show examples of people fighting against the system – takepart.com being one of them. With these various sources, I will take all the necessary information and make a PowerPoint presentation for the class, and maybe try to incorporate a video presentation to go along with it, using a variation of both. 

Ideally, I would like to interview people involved in the documentary Food Inc. I plan to email the people in charge and try my best to have an interview with someone involved in the project. A brief five to ten minute interview, idealistically video taped by a friend, who have me sit down and ask the tough questions and we would get a live insight on the issues circling this problem, and what solutions there are.  If this does not fall through, I plan to interview people who work in the organic food industry and add another aspect to my presentation: how different food processed through mechanical means is from food grown and nurtured organically. It may seem obvious, but most people do not understand that what they eat on a daily basis is negatively impacting their lives every minute of every day.  In a nutshell, the sources I will be using for my project include the video content of the documentary, along with the interviews I am hopeful in obtaining directly related to the documentary, our course and the topics we have already learned and will continue to from this point on, and the research I will inevitably have to continue to pursue, both in books and articles found in a library or downloaded from the Internet.  Certain parts of this project may change, whether I decide to take something out and replace it with another concept of method of presentation, or I might just add on more content as I go along in my research and experimentation.

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I have never been exposed to the concept of resistance literature up to this point.  Thanks to N.V.M. Gonzalez, I might start to look at literature differently.  I have always felt that it depends on who is writing the literature and what points they are trying to get across to their audience that matters most.  People will have different perspectives on literature and what they look at in certain writing samples might vary among the individuals.  Their opinions have a lot to do with how they have been educated and sometimes even in the home environment they were raised in.  Now I do agree that the media, in this case the authors, are the people who try to sculpt us into believing what we are watching on television or reading in a book.  We are influenced by factors that are beyond our own control and essentially we are convinced that all words have a body and spirit behind them.  The counterpoint to this is the notion that some literature is written purposely and specifically for a form of entertainment, where no moral value is hidden within and we aren’t expected to come out of it with a certain belief on something.

Culture has a lot to do with the resistance of literature, as some countries might have to deal with language barriers between the translations of certain works.  A sense of ethnicity is sometimes lost within a cultural group and this leads to conflict regarding the literature and how people may refuse to accept it as their own because of all the concepts that may have been left out during the process of translation.  An example of resistance literature that I can think of would be a text written during one of the major wars that our country has taken a part of.  If you take World War II and look for specific texts written about it, you will get different perspectives from a German theorist and author than you would from an American.  They would try to sway their audience in believing that certain events took place because of certain circumstances and their writing would make us think that literature’s main purpose is to be political. 

Even though I don’t necessarily believe that there is a right way or blueprint set up to write something that would be considered resistance literature, there are a few guidelines that I personally believe you should follow in order to fall into the category that society has created.  In order to write literature that is resistant to a certain topic, you have to be sure to not offend people in the process.  It can get very personal when it comes to resistant literature because you may offend someone without any intention of doing so and it can lead to controversy floating about your image.  This is why I think that the best genre for writing a resistant literature piece would be a part of the satire category.  In many ways, Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and the exercise our class did when making our own Satirical Character is a great example of resistance literature.  I did not use the original name of the character my group was assigned and in a somewhat humorous piece of writing I try to get my point across about performance enhancing drugs, minus the technical stuff I would normally integrate in my writing.  Resistance literature has to do with taking the skills we have developed throughout our years of education and developing our own point of views on issues that our culture may look at in a completely different way from the other cultures throughout the world.

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     The, complex, was, where, we, met,

   Thirteen, naïve, stress, free, teenage, years,

                      January,

                   Relationship,

              Long, road, ahead,

     Prom, night, first, date, first kiss,

       Sweet, Passionate, Comforting,

        Magical, Thrilling, Sensation,

                And, just, really,

                 Right: really,

           Summer, different, past,

      Anger, Stress, no, longer, free,

          War, Animosity, Wanted,

     More, needed, love, and, appreciation,

         Neglecting, Uncaring, Anxiety,  

  Girlfriend, loyalties, agreement, discussion,

     Changes, and, maturity, but, I, knew,

         Much, effort, work, needed,

                    Madelin,

                    Rosario,

The, beginning, to, journey, and, end, of, childhood.

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