by Emily Bookstein, ’11
In spite of its nickname “the Farm,” Stanford offered students few avenues for studying the food system: it took years of student activism before the university added coursework in sustainable agriculture and set aside a half-acre for a sustainable ag practicum. But in 2009, student demand still overwhelmed the small farm classes and the campus food-systems community was fragmented, underdeveloped. As the leader of a food-and-farming student group, I believed that an educational farm would nurture a stronger student community and spark changes in food policy and personal behavior. When I and other club leaders discovered that the Dean of Earth Sciences, Pam Matson, was going to propose creating a 2-acre educational farm to President Hennessy, we seized the moment and started a grassroots campaign advocating the proposal. From circulating online and on-paper petitions to parading a huge carrot (made of chicken wire and papier–mâché) through White Plaza, we aimed to popularize and build support for the farm. Hennessy approved the proposal, and the farm is being sited. Continue reading
by Maria Deloso, ’15
Appetite for Change and the Stanford Food Project would like to invite you to Meat Your Farmers at 7pm in Annenberg Auditorium this Thursday, Februrary 7th. The event will consist of a film screening of the pro-farmer documentary American Meat, introduced by film director Graham Meriwether, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Debra Dunn (d.school) on the feasibility of sustainable meat. Panelists include Maisie Greenawalt (Bon Appetit Management Company), Rosamond Naylor (Woods Institute, Earth Systems department), Vasile Stanescu (Program in Modern Thought and Literature) and David Evans (Marin Sun Farms).
Films related to meat and animal products tend to focus on the negative (though important) issues surrounding confined animal feedlot operations (or CAFOs, as the USDA likes the call them). American Meat attempts to change this dynamic by offering the point of view of farmers who believe in what they do. The documentary looks at CAFO farmers struggling to get by as a result of corporate consolidation that has resulted, for example, in the top four pork producers controlling nearly 70 percent of the market in the United States (GAO). Given the problems at hand, the film ends with the provocative argument that grass-fed meat and more farmers are the solution to the problem.
With our panelists, we are excited to get a taste of several sides of the debate on what the term “sustainable meat” means. Continue reading
by Lewis Marshall, PhD Candidate in Chemical Engineering
Thank you for the question, but no, I would not be more comfortable writing for the Review. I do not think that meaningful self-determination is a product to be bought or sold on the free market. Poverty is not freedom. No one is free who is afraid to walk the streets alone for risk of violence. No one is free who cannot change jobs without losing access to healthcare.
But, I am still a libertarian. If you want to consume copious amounts of drugs in the privacy of your home, it’s fine by me. If you want to spend your life with a partner of whatever gender, or with multiple partners, or alone, I don’t think that’s the government’s business. If you want to end your life on your own terms, rather than live with a chronic, painful illness, I think that’s a decision for you and your loved ones.
The force of government should not compel you unless there is a public interest at stake.
by Maria Deloso, ’15
Proposition 37, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified (GMO) food, is a topic that I had been avoiding for a while now. Most of the soy, corn, and other foods we eat are genetically modified anyway, so wouldn’t labeling be a waste? I kept on ignoring the topic until I met some YES on 37 volunteers and decided to actually educate myself on the proposition. I found it slightly disturbing that big agri-businesses including Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, Bayer and Coca-Cola have donated over $40 million to shut the proposition down. Those in favor of Proposition 37 include the Environmental Working Group, United Farm Workers, and Sierra Club. If you check out the list of those in favor of Proposition 37, you can find most major environmentally and consumer-focused organizations giving public support to the cause. In contrast, the funding for the TV advertising we’re seeing comes from huge multinational corporations. That $40 million seems to have made a dent in public opinion. At the beginning of the Proposition 37 campaign (which needed 1, 000,000 signatures to get on the ballot), support was 2-1 in favor of passing the law. After these huge corporations used their money to “inform” the public with misleading statistics, polls show that Yes on Prop 37 is now losing. The Yes on 37 campaign barely has money to put on a single advertisement on tv, whereas No on 37 adverts hound me at the TV screens at Arrillaga and the internet. The truth is, labeling matters.
Many students seem to be on the fence about where to vote on this issue, so here’s a summary of the main points. Continue reading
by Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman, PhD candidate in Mathematics + Leslie Wu, PhD candidate in Computer Science
Eleven different propositions are on the California ballot this Tuesday, November 6th, ranging from tax hikes for education to GMO labeling and the death penalty. Here are a select few Stanford perspectives on these 2012 CA propositions.
“Regardless of your opinion on the death penalty itself,” writes Stanford undergraduate Lindsay Lamont of the Stanford Democrats, “it is clear that the current implementation of this policy in California is an ineffective waste of taxpayer dollars. Since 1978, about 900 people have been sentenced to death and only 14 have actually been executed. Prop 34 would change this sentence to life in prison without parole, saving potentially innocent people who have been convicted and saving CA $130 million annually. YES.”
Similarly, Stanford Amnesty International say yes: “not only the financially responsible choice for Californians, but also the only morally responsible option to protect human rights.” Continue reading
by Maria Deloso, ’15
On my flight to the Philippines this summer, the flight attendant asked why I wasn’t eating. Not knowing the easiest way to explain my diet in 5 seconds, I blurted out, “I’m a vegetarian.”
Immediately, the guy next to me who I had gotten to know quite well during the flight gestured to his chicken dinner and went, “Oh, now I feel bad eating this in front of you.” The conversation soon died (although he did later ask about adding me on Facebook at the baggage claim area).
I really wish people would question my eating habits more, rather than leaving it as an uncomfortable issue. I could go on and on about:
1. Feeling good,
In the past, I used to think that being vegetarian meant buying weird animal product replacements like Tofurky, mozzarella style shreds and tofu. With the exception of the tofu, wouldn’t animal products be the better diet? I don’t want a block of processed soy at my dinner table or “shreds” on my pasta. PETA’s suggested vegan meal plan always looked plain nasty– almost every dish requires some sort of fake meat substitute. Thankfully, there’s this thing called the Internet where I learned about roasting vegetables, making filling salads, and replacing eggs with ground flaxseeds. Continue reading
by Maria Deloso, ’15
So, according to the USDA, we’re supposed to be drinking three cups of milk a day. Yes, milk with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Such a rate of dairy consumption is unprecedented in human history. But should we really be surprised? This information is coming from the department that counts pizza as a vegetable and allows 70% of the ground beef we buy in grocery stores to be contaminated with ammonium hydroxide (found in your typical household cleaner).
But back to the milk issue. Interestingly enough, this topic was controversial enough for Harvard to come out with their own “healthy plate,” in which the USDA’s milk is replaced with good ole’ water. In fact– and I quoting directly from Harvard — “ Milk and dairy are not must-have foods—limit them to 1-2 servings/day.” If the top ranked university in our own nation is directly contradicting our own government’s recommendations, then who are we to believe?
by Maria Deloso, ’15
Farming directly determines what foods are available to us, which, in turn affects our own cultures and social norms. Looking at different ethnic foods, we can see certain trends. East Asian food tends to incorporate bok choy frequently, Indian foods lentils, and American food potatoes. While some of these choices may be attributed to the plant’s native land, others can be traced all the way back to history. But what is grown is just as important as how the crop is grown. The widespread use of conventional pesticides in lieu of a biointensive integrated pest management system (IPM) limits the consumer’s options in purchasing healthy, risk-free food. In essence, farms control our cultures and choices.
The case of Hawaii demonstrates the influence that Westerners had on the native diet, creating a trend that even exists now, centuries later. The Hawaiians preferred dog meat, a delicacy that the mutton and beef-loving Westerners were unused to. Cattle and sheep were soon brought in to satisfy these cravings. With a lower population density than usual, thanks to the diseases brought in by the Westerners, the cattle soon took over the cultivated fields. Continue reading
by Jenny Rempel, ’12
The following is an excerpt from Jenny’s weekly column in The Stanford Daily:
On the gas stove whose pilot lights never work, oversize pots bubble furiously under mismatched lids. There is a deep rumble as the overhead fan emerges from its stupor and begins literally sucking air out of the room, frantically trying to forestall another run-in with the firemen. It’s 15 minutes until dinnertime, and things are as they should be in Synergy.
Several friends spent the afternoon preparing pesto, whole wheat pasta, goat cheese salad, roasted asparagus and blackberry pies for dinner in this house of 50 students. Although things have become a little hectic in the final minutes before serving, all seven girls now helping in the kitchen have had a wonderful time cooking.
This is a rare scene on campus, though. While cooking is a daily part of life in cooperative houses like mine, the majority of campus residences don’t offer students meaningful opportunities to learn in the kitchen.
This is a missed opportunity for Stanford to teach students an essential life skill. Continue reading