You Are What You Eat

| November 13, 2015

You Are What You Eat
You Are What You Eat
Lesson 8: Natural Resources: Agriculture and Food
Lesson 9: Natural Resources: Energy
The Context
Have you ever heard the terms carbon footprint or ecological footprint? Have you heard someone say, “If everyone lived like an American we would need six planets to support the population”? Statements like these refer to how many of our daily lifestyle choices impact the Earth, its natural systems and resources. And a major portion of that impact comes from the food we eat. Consider that the number one use of the resource we absolutely cannot live without is agriculture. That is right, significantly (and I mean significantly!) more water goes to support agriculture than anything else.
In this writing assignment, you will explore how your food choices impact the planet and learn about changes you may be able to make to reduce that impact. In Part 1 you will learn how your decision to eat certain foods affect your carbon footprint on the planet. In Part 2 you will learn about where the food you eat came from, how far it might have traveled, and the energy resources associated with those ‘food miles’.
The Question
Part 1: Diet choices
(1) Begin by calculating your ecological footprint, using one of the following sites:
• Global Footprint Network
(2) What is an ecological footprint?
(2a) Provide two examples of questions that the ecological footprint calculator that you chose asked you about the food you eat.
(3) List two types of food that could increase your ecological footprint. (Consult the associated Agriculture & Food lesson for information about this as well).
(3a) For the two types of food you listed, explain why each of these food types increases your footprint more than other food types. Be sure to consider every step in the production process of those foods.
Part 2: The origin of food
In this part of the assignment, you will select a food you commonly eat, with at least five ingredients in it. I would recommend using a breakfast cereal or processed snack food, as both have many ingredients that may be easily researched. You may also choose a recipe or meal that you make/eat often that contains 5 or more ingredients, and select three ingredients from that recipe.
(4) State the food you chose.
(4a) How often do you eat this food?
(4b) How many ingredients are in this food?
(5) Select three ingredients from your food and explain where those ingredients came from (that is, the most likely source). Be sure to include the miles traveled from where it came from to where you consumed it (the food miles for those ingredients).
*Tip*
Item (5) often perplexes students. Where do I begin? They often ask. Honestly, it is difficult to know exactly where ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and whole wheat flour came from. However, you can do research to find the most likely source. Most durum wheat, the primary ingredient in pasta, is grown in North Dakota, and then is likely sent to the manufacturer’s processing plant in a nearby state. If you are eating Barilla brand pasta, the wheat is processed in Ames, Iowa. From there it likely goes to a distributor and eventually makes it from the store shelf onto your plate. The point is, this project will take some digging. Former students have even reported calling companies such as Frito Lay to find out where they got their potatoes! If done right, it can be an eye opening experience and interesting investigation into the United States food system.
(6) What did you learn about your food, the ingredients, and distance traveled? In your response consider both a good and bad implication of having food ingredients and individual food items from many different places.
(6a) Will you continue to eat this food? Why or Why not?
*Tip*
In this part of the assignment, try to reflect on the foods you eat and the ecological impact of foods. In your reflection, think not only about the three ingredients you chose, but your diet in general. If you eat hamburgers, have you give thought to the meat, where it comes from, and how it is produced? Do you think there is a better way of eating that has less of an impact on our Earth? How does the government, media, and society in general encourage or discourage eating foods that are both good for the Earth and good for your body?
Technicalities
Crafting a short paper is often harder than a long paper! Papers should be between 600 and 800 words. At the very beginning of your response, please type your word count in parentheses, for example: (Word count: 751). Your paper should be written using tight clear and concise prose that demonstrates the main point or points you wish to convey using a number of different themes or components of being locally and globally aware.
Any outside sources (including the online lessons) used to develop your response must have an accompanying citation. Be sure to also include a works cited page that is consistent with the citation style used to write your paper. You will turn your document in for grading by uploading it to the Writing Assignment (TurnItIn) Drop Box. We use TurnItIn to scan all documents to detect unoriginal (that is, potentially plagiarized) content.
Plagiarism, in any form, will not be tolerated and will result in a ZERO for the paper (see syllabus for details about plagiarism). (NOTE: If you receive a zero for plagiarism, you cannot drop that assignment grade if applicable.)
*Tip*
The preferred citation style is the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (author-date). Please see the citation format document in this folder for guidance, or you can use Google to answer your questions about the Chicago Manual of Style format (for example, Google “Chicago Manual of Style, website citation”).
We also recommend that you use your online lessons as source for your assignment response. Please provide an appropriate in-text citation (for example: Lesson X, page X). Remember that the point of these writing assignments is to get you to make connections or linkages from the lesson content to your own life. It would, therefore, be beneficial to you to keep this in mind as you draft your response.
Information found in Wikipedia can be helpful when working on papers, but because everyone can edit it (that is, it is a wiki), information can be faulty. Therefore, you should not rely on Wikipedia as a source when doing research for a paper. Instead use it as a starting point, then look elsewhere; this will help confirm and substantiate material you may have first read on Wikipedia. If you use Wikipedia as a source for a paper in this course, you will be downgraded.

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