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Kellogg’s Project

So I guess THIS will be the final week of blogs.

In class, we’re presenting our research topics, which I was actually impressed with. People have been doing a lot of really interesting things with the broad topic of “sociology of food.”

Here’s some info I’m using in my paper:

I chose to look at the 1980s because of the policy changes that happened in that time. Before 1984, the government (particularly the FDA and the USDA) were the only ones who were allowed to make specific public health claims. In 1984, the laws surrounding advertising became significantly more lenient. So instead of companies only being able to say “this product is healthy” they were able to say “this product is rich in _________ so if you consume this product, it will help you in this specific way”. As soon as the restrictions were changed, food companies immediately created advertisements that promoted their product in a different way. Before 1984 there were food trends, but after 1985 food trends changed quicker and increased in quantity. Before 1984, there was a trend in whole grain foods. In 1984 after the laws changed there was a huge push from advertising agencies to eat more dietary fiber because there was a study done that connected high fiber with a lower cancer risk. In 1985, there was an emphasis on having a low fat diet, which connected low fat foods with lower heart disease.

When companies were not allowed to make specific health claims in their advertisements, the government was the only source of information. But when private companies were able to make health claims, it created more direct competition because all of a sudden consumers were looking for products that fit the healthy food trends. It also led to an increase in product transparency. For example, before 1984, there was a claim linking fiber and lower cancer risk. After companies were allowed to make health claims, fiber content in cereals rose by more than a tenth of a gram per ounce. Cereals with high fiber content also rose in sales by 2 million. One of the conclusions I drew from my research was that in order to spread health claims, the government needs private companies because people tend to not pay attention to government notices. Private company advertising is much more effective than government funded advertising. More than people just not caring about government campaigns, two studies I found link nutrition to education.

So in here, we’ve talked about how people in better economic situations often eat better. But studies I found link poor diet to more than just finances. A study done by Texas A&M links geographic location with quality of diet. People in metropolitan areas and the north-eastern part of the country tend to have healthier diets than people in other areas. I found another study done by the USDA that links formal education with people’s eating habits. They conducted this study both before and after the law changes in the 1980s. They found that people with more formal schooling have a better understanding of what different foods do for your body. One of the reasons for this that they site is that government advertisements are found mostly in government places, like a public school. When people drop out of school or graduate, they lose contact with government health information. When private companies were able to share the same information as the government but they were able to reach more people.

Based on all that info, here’s my research question: How does Kellogg’s promote their products in terms of health factors. How have their advertisements changed over time? What nutritional elements do they emphasize? What are the cultural values do they reflect?

 

STAY TUNED!!

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Fast Food is at it again…read on, it’s actually not a bad thing!

Oh, fast food. You’re so funny. It looks like an industry where one entree (if you can even call it an entree) and quality is not exactly at the top of the priority list trying to make some big changes. This past week, Burger King has made a pledge to “cage free pork and eggs.” They also claim to be the first to do so.  But it looks like McDonalds already beat them to the punch. McDonalds already made that announcement two months ago in February. Oh wait. McDonalds never attached a date to their “pledge.” At least Burger King gave themselves a time frame, even if it is 5 years.

This is interesting to me because I think it speaks lengths to how in tune fast food chains are with public food movement and trends. I can remember back when people started to equate fast food with obesity. When documentaries came out like “Fast-Food Nation” and people started to see the ugliness of convenient food, the standard fast food chains like Burger King and McDonalds started introducing salads and offering bags of apple slices instead of fries in kids’ meals. Subway featured “Jared” who ate nothing but Subway for months until he lost something like 100ish pounds. These chains know what’s up. They know how to market their products, I’ll certainly credit them for that! And they know how to respond to consumer demand.

They seem to be doing that again. Enter: hippie-foodie-save the animals-movements. Clearly there is some portion of the population that is drawing attention to animal rights (which I think, and many agree with me, that having happy/healthy animals leads to much more delicious meat!) Even if fast food’s efforts are not completely sincere *cough cough Micky D’s cough cough no implementation date set cough cough*I think it’s really interesting and GOOD that they’re making an effort to acknowledge this emerging movement.

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Sociology is EVERYWHERE! (Also, my schooling is relevant.)

(I just want to say real quickly that I uploaded these at 11:58 on April 20, not April 21…darn wordpress.)

Anyway,

Sociology classes join forces real life, yet again!

So this semester I’m taking a class called Crime, Punishment and Penality (shout-out for that class by the way…its very good). Somehow the subject matter for that class has managed to weasel its way into many of my other classes. This time I read a blog article about how the group called Milk Not Jails is working to create an urban-rural alliance. They want to do this because of the tragic effects that the war on drugs has had on certain demographics and locations. (I guess if you bring the race component into it, I can bring in my Race, Ethnicity and Minorities class into this article too!) I know from my Food class that farming isn’t exactly the most economically beneficial occupation. Farmers certainly aren’t in it for the money. I also know from my Crime class that since the declaration of Reagan’s “war on drugs” there has been an insane jump in non-violent arrests/ incarcerations that lead to a life of recidivism, heavier crimes, and devastation for entire communities, usually minority communities. This group is trying to solve all of those problems with one solution: buy milk.

This group has started in New York, so I’m really not sure the relevance of their cause in other states. But it’s an interesting premise, nevertheless. In New York, apparently the rural economy is very much linked to the prison system. The Milk Not Jails is trying to replace the economic dependence on prisons with the economic dependence on rural dairy farms and agriculture.

I’ve read their blog, and while I think it’s a really interesting idea, I’m not sure I really understand the logistics of how this can feasibly happen. It’s certainly an idea to pursue further though!

 

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Final thoughts

This last week brings us (pretty much) to the close of the semester. In this final hurrah to the study of food we got to what is, in my opinion, at the heart of the food conversation. Who has and who does not? Who is hungry and why? I thought the nuances of the arguments in the book we were reading were particularly interesting. But it made me think of things we were talking about in one of my other sociology classes. (Just fyi, we were reading Robert Paarlberg’s book Starved for Science.) In it, he was arguing that African countries are starving because they are just following along with rich western countries, who can afford to be picky with their food choices. I think there are so many things wrong with his statements. For one thing, he is denying the autonomy of leaders in African countries by making them seem like they lack the knowledge to choose what is best for their citizens. I also think he generalizes way too much by lumping “Africa” all together. Each country has its own leaders that make decisions for their own nation.

 

On another note, I want to wrap up my general feelings about the class in this entry since I’m not sure if we’ll be writing any more blog entries:

I really liked this class because it made me think about food in a completely new way than I ever have before. I learned so many things about where our food comes from and what my food goes through before it gets to me. I’m not sure that my eating habits have changed since taking this class (I still love meat and I’m not a big fan of vegetables), but my mind is definitely open to new ideas about food. And who knows, maybe I’ll even be a salad eater when I get back on campus next year…

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Impact.

Maybe I’m just hypersensitive to food things as a result of this class or maybe this class is having an actual impact on the campus. (I’m not sure which one it is, but I think it might be a combination of both.) It seems like more and more people are engaging in food related talk recently and I’m kind of excited about it! Actually, it might be a combination of things. Here are my hypotheses:

1-      After almost 3 years of being on this campus, I am well aware that the food at SU is not by any stretch of the imagination…satisfying. Some days it’s downright bad. The vast majority of my friends are juniors and seniors, which means that many of them have also gotten over the freshman excitement of making their own food decisions and landed on the same conclusion. This conclusion has sparked some hardy discussions about how SU should/could make the food better, what we’d like to see change, and what we would change if we were Pres. Lems. Long story short, maybe my social circle is the only ones who are talking about food changes.

2-      A potential reality: the food is actually getting worse.

3-      Another potential reality (maybe more plausible): it is spring. This means that fresh food could be rolling in fresh every day, BUT it isn’t. Since we’re here and not at home (which is the place that fresh food does actually roll in every day) we are extra irritable about not having good food.

4-      A for real reality: It is the end of the semester. Everyone is stressed. We need (fresh/healthy) comfort food. There isn’t any.

5-      People are speaking up: There was a survey about food on campus not too long ago, which is the first university administered survey of that nature that I can remember. Maybe people are coming to the administration and voicing concerns about campus food. (Perhaps as a result of this class?)

6-      There was an article about campus food in the Crusader. Coincidence? Maybe. But maybe there’s beginning to be a food revolution in Selinsgrove…

7-      I think those are my only hypotheses, I just wanted to add one last bullet point. 🙂

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Money doesn’t grow on trees…but fruit does

Guerrilla Grafters is a San Francisco based group that is challenging city officials and “civilizationone branch at a time.” Cities nationwide have planted non-fruit bearing trees (called ornamental trees) in order to have greenery without the mess of fruit. The Guerrilla Grafters have decided that it is completely wasteful to have all of these cherry and pear trees—which originally grew cherries and pears—without getting the benefit of fruit. I happen to agree with them and I think their ideas and methods are quite innovative.

Although their methods aren’t exactly legal, I think these graft happy people have the right reasoning. In San Francisco, there is no law officially on the books prohibiting fruit trees; the city just doesn’t give permission to people to plant them. Guerrilla Grafter’s methods? Don’t ask, just do! When a person has adopted an ornamental tree, a Grafter goes to that tree and splices a fruit bearing branch (from a different, fruit bearing tree) onto a branch from the adopted ornamental tree.

Basically, this group is acting on the ol’ “no taxation without representation” bit, only modernized. Tara Hui, the leader of the Grafters, advocates for citizen responsibility for public spaces. But she stresses that this citizens should only be expected to care for public parks, streets, etc. if they are part of the decision making process. Basically, the city isn’t listening to the desires of the public so the Guerrilla Grafters are taking on the responsibility of improving their environment without the help of the government.

The Grafters advocate for splicing the branches because they feel like it will solve some hunger issues that the city is having. The fruit being produced is perfectly good, and since it is on public property no one owns it, meaning anyone can take/eat it. It will provide fresh, nutritious fruit which is sometimes hard to come by. Grafting fruit trees also makes a much better use of already existing trees. It saves time and effort because the trees are already mature so the fruit will reproduce faster than if people had to start from scratch with a brand new tree.

Essentially, the Guerrilla Grafters are operating with the notion that just because someone is in charge doesn’t mean they’re right. The Grafters are working hard to create a more beautiful, healthy and cohesive community.

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