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After reading the introduction and chapter 1 of Just Food, I am definitely reconsidering Food Incs suggestion of eating locally grown food.  The facts Mcwilliams argues, such as that the fuel used to transport foods has less of a global hazardous impact than producing the food does.  Mcwilliams prefaced with the fact that his argument was going to be based on hard hitting facts, contrary to the arguments about eating locally grown produce (like the 1500 miles statistic which is pretty much a completely invalid), his argument was way too dry for me to develop any real passion for.    What he calls “exploiting and transforming” I call persuasive and effective.  Perhaps it sounds morally bankrupt of me to say this, but these are the times we are living in.  This is not to discredit any of the legitimate arguments Mcwilliams brings forth; however, if he wants teach people about practical environmental sustainability techniques, I believe he must employ some of the romanticism techniques used in the locavore dilemma that he loathes.  The technology and media available in today’s times have resulted in the ability to start a movement in 140 characters or less.  If Mcwilliams were to utilize some of these platforms, his arguments can be much more influential.

The question I bring forth is: does the romanticism employed by audio and visual aid as seen in Food Inc.  overshadow the hard evidence presented in the novel Just Food .

5 Responses to “A Good Argument Can Only Take You So Far”

  1. Julia Liss says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your point about these being the times we are living in and the need to add some romanticism to any proposed solutions. I have been thinking over the past few days about how there really is no possible solution for the whole world to get fed, and to eat healthily, while not harming the environment, while eating foods that taste good and are not produced using any chemicals, GMOs, or otherwise unnatural means. It simply is not an option. Most of the modern world is not going to sacrifice the kinds of foods they love in a dramatic way to save the planet. However, by giving people smaller scale goals that they can reach without having to make too huge of a change, we might see better results.

    • leahlanghans says:

      I also agree that some added romanticism would bolster his own ideas. Throughout chapters one and two, McWilliams keeps returning to the idea that his argument will never be as “sexy” as the locavore movement and their “eat local” slogan. To me, this seemed like a cop out. Even on the smallest level, behavior change is going to be hard, but the people who are reading this book are most likely interested in learning more about what they can do to have a bigger impact, so give them something to work with. Sure, “cook efficiently” isn’t going to look great on a bumper sticker, but someone who knows how important this step is as far as energy usage and sustainable cooking efforts is likely to become passionate about making a change. All it takes is that one person, excited to help other people learn, to make a change, and willing to put in the work to start a movement. So, we may have been a little bit off course with the “eat local” thing, I don’t think McWilliams gives enough credit to his own findings. Help people understand, and I believe that half the battle has been won.

  2. melzakin says:

    Another one of Food, Inc.’s suggestions, eat organic, must be reconsidered after reading chapter two of McWilliams’ Just Food. The documentary juxtaposes the slaughterhouses and factories to more “food conscious” places such as Polyface Farms and Stonyfiield Farms. Stonyfield’s organic farms are praised in the movie, and the film explicitly states that eating organic is a good way that consumers can help the mess that is our current food system. However, after reading chapter two of Just Food, I am strongly reconsidering the environmental benefits of organic food. While they do not use the chemicals that conventional farmers use, they implement “natural” strategies, such as copper, sulfur, and sodium nitrate, which have been proven to be more harmful to the environment. Just because something is natural, does not mean it is any less harmful. Therefore, while Food, Inc. was certainly an enlightening film, I do not believe that its claims should be taken as fact without further scrutiny.

  3. annakai says:

    I definitely agree with you, if McWilliams wants his stance on food system sustainability to gain public appeal, then he is going to need to use some romanticism techniques to help bolster public attention. This is, perhaps, why the “eat local” movement is so popular. It’s so simple, and it makes sense. As McWilliams pointed out, “it just feels right to buy local produce”. And he’s right. Prior to reading Just Food, I was completely on board with the whole organic/local movement, because in my head it made perfect sense: eat local, support the community, reduce emissions from transportation, and save the planet! Yay go me I’m so environmentally friendly! But my perspective changed when he explained LCA’s and said that the real concern is at the production level, not transportation. He really opened up my mind when he pondered, “could it be that we flock to this [eat local] idea because of its accessibility and simplicity rather than its inherent ability to actually solve an incredibly complex problem?”. Yes, I absolutely agree. But this is also why his argument lacks popularity. His case is more complex, and as you pointed out, dry. It’s not sexy or trendy and he has no catchy slogan for bumper stickers, tshirts, or twitter hashtags. So if he wants to set in motion his proposed solutions and gain global influence, then he is also going to have to find a way to appeal to an audience that thrives on simplistic concepts.

  4. alimeisel says:

    I agree with what you all said above; the movie may have been exaggerating, and McWilliams makes some good points in his book. This helps me understand why eating organic and local might not be the best options. However, it doesn’t help me understand what to do about the terrible situations in the slaughterhouses and chicken coops. On a basis of animal rights, which I think is important to a point, how is that the best way to eat? The movie and book focus on different things, which is fine, but I’m waiting for the book to address the conditions in the industrial factories. I don’t think I’ll necessarily get sick from them, but I’d like to know there is something humane about where the food I eat comes from. I don’t see this as a romanticized vision of the past, like we talked about in class, but rather a forward-thinking way of questioning what we choose to consume.

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