Personal Observation Assignment
Write 200-300 word (about one page double spaced typed) reflections on course material five times throughout the course. These should be your interpretations on themes in the class, not just summaries from the lectures or readings. You could explore topics that you don’t fully understand as a way to clarify your understanding. I want to know what you think or how the material is changing what you think. For example you could explore the impact of what you are learning on your food intake or you could reflect on a common theme in the course connecting material from two different classes. A few examples are supplied below. Each assignment is worth 2% of your class grade. Credit will depend on appropriate length and quality.
See below for examples.
(name and date)
Is organic really better for you than store bought groceries? I am not completely sure how I feel about this topic when discussing the concerns for health. There are not sufficient tests or information regarding this question to give a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer; unless I attend a farmers market, I do not concern myself about whether the Lucky’s I shop at contains organic produce. I am currently more concerned for the environment. Until recently reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Pollan, I assumed that all organic growers were the same, and all were just as good for the environment. I was caught off guard when I read that even organic growers can use the industrial method, or that ‘free-range’ does not necessarily mean constant access to grassy fields to roam for a chicken’s entire life. I believed that organic meant using the earth for what it’s best for; I pictured cows roaming fields that were not over-crowded and switching fields when growing crops to allow the soil to gather more nutrients for the next time it would be used. My grandfather was a dairy farmer in Half Moon Bay when my mother was a young girl and I remember hearing stories of the farm, and this is how I pictured organic farmers to be, not the CAFO’s without antibiotics or corn feed. If there were local farmers that were like the ‘grass-farmers’ in Pollan’s book, then I would be more inclined to religiously purchase produce from then. As it is now, I do not feel obligated to drive twenty minuets just to buy something that is not necessarily better for me, or the animals; Whole Foods markets are a step in the right direction in regards to being better for the environment, but is still not perfect.
(name and date)
I have always considered myself to be reasonably well informed about ethnic diversity and sensitive to issues of discrimination in our society. My undergraduate college considered one of its primary goals to encourage and cultivate multiculturalism. However, while I had heard of white privilege, I had never really thought about in detail or examined my own experiences. I think this is a great way to alter the focus of the discussion, to put the responsibility on the group in power to evaluate their relationship to society and other ethnic groups. Traditionally the discussion has been centered on the experience of racism, which requires the groups being discriminated against to speak of their experiences and raise the issues, which must contribute to the sense of marginalization. By having those in power speak of and think about how the social structure benefits them, consciousness will increase and the issue becomes one for the whole society to discuss. This helped me think about the mentality of privilege, I have always thought that I could pursue what ever work field that I wanted and the only thing that would hold me back is my own ability. This is not always the case for the less privileged. What can I do with this knowledge? My nutrition presentations with the Mexican-American immigrant community involve a group of people who have much fewer opportunities than I or my family did. Knowing the pervasiveness of this inequity helps me to be understanding of the difficulty of following health advice and not blaming people for a lack of knowledge or ability to follow healthy diets. This does not excuse people from personal responsibility to improve and take care of themselves and their families, but it is a factor in the disparity of health care.
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