connecting local chefs and local farmers

As someone who considered growing vegetables and selling to local markets for a couple years, and plans to go through with it, I have come across numerous problems in how to do it.  There regulations I need to learn about and follow are an obstacle, but the main problem is learning who will buy my produce.  Should I sell to local restaurants, set up a farm stand or sell another way.  I have become convinced that small farmers would benefit from education regarding, in particular, how to market their goods.  But I do not limit this education to farmers.  I want to incorporate consumers, whether local chefs, market owners or anyone interested in buying local food for whatever reason.  It seems I might be on to something.  In an article addressing a survey conducted by the University of Nebraska and backed by the USDA, Brad Zumwalt pointed to a disconnect between local farmers and restaurants (Zumwalt).  Zumwalt relied heavily on logos, citing statistical evidence to make his points.

In this survey, local chefs were questioned about their buying practices of local foods.  Reasons for buying these local foods are the freshness and quality.  The chefs appreciate the relationships they develop with the farmers.  The chefs’ customers request local food.  The last main reason, according to Zumwalt and the study, is that the chefs often find unique ingredients from local farmers (Zumwalt).

Many of these local chefs would buy more, but they face obstacles in doing so.  Forty-three percent of chefs cite logistics as a major one.  It is difficult to get enough produce delivered at the right time and place.  Another thirty-eight percent would order more if they could get it easier.  Thirty-three percent of local chefs would buy more local foods if there was a wider variety available.  Interestingly, only eleven percent cited seasonality as a reason for not buying more produce.  Zumwalt wisely points out that most of the local chefs have a seasonal menu and therefore do not worry about foods that are not in season (Zumwalt).

How then can the local chefs wanting to buy more local food accomplish their goal?  Zumwalt suggests creating a database of desired produce and availability of it.  According to Zumwalt no database is planned as of now (Zumwalt).  I certainly agree that an easily accessible list of available and desired produce will help overcome gaps in supply and demand and simple logistical issues.  I would go further.  As the article indicated, the chefs greatly appreciate the relationships they develop with the farmers.  What better way to help foster these relationships and exchange information about desired produce and its availability than in a seminar or symposium targeting both audiences and addressing these marketing problems?  Instead of producers and consumers floundering around trying to find each other, these two groups would meet and learn about markets and marketing and production together.  Contacts between the two groups would be established immediately.

Sources:

Lazere, Donald.  Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy:  the critical citizen’s guide to argumentative rhetoric. Brief Edition, Boulder, Paradigm Publishers, Print.  2009, 42.

 

Zumwalt, Brad.  “Buying local produce can boost profits for chefs and growers, NU survey shows.”  Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society. http://www.nebsusag.org/newsletters/Feat83.htm.  Web accessed 10/20/12.

 

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What is the best option?

Gun control is a debate that infuriates Americans around the country whether they are for gun control or against it.  With the up coming election for the President, this is one of the topic that is picked up on by the voters and the politicians.  If you vote Republican its about the second amendment, if one vote Democrat it is focused on the limitation of guns.  Both sides present strong opposing sides to the issue.  With this issue people tend to get caught up in the fervor of the argument and forget the issue at hand.

An article from the New York Post talks about how a survivor from the Aurora theater massacre last July, has setup ad space focusing on gun control.  The survivor instead of pleading for more restriction, wanted to know the plans that the Presidential runners will do about it.  He proposed that they give him an actual plan on how they were going to deal with this problem.  This is key in this issue it doesn’t mean a thing if all people do is talk about it, for progress to be made there has to be action.  Each political party can talk all they want but unless they present their plan on how to deal with gun violence then it is pointless.

For there to be less damage in out society from violence then we as a whole must take steps in order to prevent and protect the ones we love.  Gun control is vital due to the fact it enables for the safe distribution of weapons to the population.  This is only the beginning our society needs to put greater limitations on who is able to get a gun in the form of evaluations of the mental state of the buyer, monitor the internet for possible illegal gun purchases, and gun safety awareness for those who own a gun to prevent accidental shootings.  It is steps that will allow for us to gain a safer America, action is needed instead of just words.

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Virginia’s economy broken down

The article, “Politicians duck details of Virginia’s economy,” brings up some interesting points about Virginia that many of Virginia’s own residents would find hard to believe.  Virginia’s economy when compared to economies of other states around the country is actually a better, more prosperous economy.  Virginia’s rate of unemployment is only 5.8 percent, compared to the rest of the country that has a combined average of 7.8 percent unemployment.  Virginia is on the low side of the spectrum in this sense.  It also breaks it down and talks about how the regions of Virginia are becoming more economically prosperous as a whole.  From Northern Virginia to Chesapeake to Southwestern Virginia, the economies within one another all over Virginia are starting to come out of the recession.

This article presents rhetorical strategies by presenting numbers and showing that Virginia’s economy is slowly on the rise.  It persuades the audience by presenting them with numbers that are realistic to believe.  For instance, they wouldn’t believe that Virginia’s economy rate had dropped by nearly half over the past few months.  That is just too drastic of a change for in too short of an amount of time for anyone to believe.  However, this leads into credible evidence.  This evidence of the housing market in northern Virginia, unemployment rates in Virginia, and the coal industry all seems to be credible.  In a blog a few weeks ago, I posted about how Virginia’s one of the most flourishing markets for jobs in the nation, and this evidence just goes to back that up.

I agree with the main points of this article.  At the end of the article it talks about Obama’s environmental protection agency and how that is killing the coal industry in Virginia.  I know for a fact this is true because I have family that is associated with the coal industry in Virginia.  This article connects with Lazere by bringing in the full spectrum of Virginia’s economy and not referring to it just as a whole.  It speaks about each specific region and tells us what is happening and how things are getting better in that precise part of the state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Schapiro, Jeff E. Richmond Times Dispatch. 14 October 2012. 15 October 2012 <http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2012/oct/14/tdmet01-politicians-duck-details-of-virginias-econ-ar-2281234/>.

 

Lazere, Donald. Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2009.

 

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Personal Experience

I have already discussed what research has claimed to be the benefits of participating in sports and other extra-curricular activities. In this post I will be discussing my own personal experiences that have come with participation in sports in my high school. I have grown up within a very active household. I played little league when I was young and continued to play softball and volleyball in middle and high school. I can say, without a doubt, that being on a team helped me achieve the academic success that I did. I learned many life lessons that can only be learned by being on a team. I learned time management. I wasn’t able to leave school and immediately begin my homework, but instead had to find time after practice or on long bus rides to away games to study. Playing sports also helped me maintain and active and healthy lifestyle. With the increase in childhood obesity, it is easy to understand the importance of participating in some form of activity after school.

This article discusses what they consider to  be the most important benefits of high school sports participation, all of which I agree with. This article was mostly stating the benefits of high school sports in contrast to club sports. However, they should still be highlighted. The first benefit is “representing a community”. Whenever we traveled as a team, we were made sure that we acted appropriately because we were not only representing our team, but also our school and our town. Their second is “recognition of your achievements”; just like everyone else, it is always nice to be recognized for your success on the team. They continue to list: “understanding the sport hierarchy” and “development of leadership roles”. I believe that all of these outcomes of sport participation greatly impact a student’s academic success and social skills. By being on a team you learn the importance of respect and teamwork, which you can carry on into college or anywhere else.

If schools are considering cutting the funding for high school sports, all of the great benefits will be thrown away.

“5 major benefits of playing high school sports.” unigo. N.p.. Web. 15 Oct 2012.<http://www.unigo.com/articles/5_major_benefits_of_playing_high_school_sports/?taxonomyId=0>.

 

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Post 5; 14 October 2012

This is what Sam Laird calls an “infographic” that highlights several statistics that are fundamental for understanding the relationship teenagers have with technological devices (Laird).  Laird doesn’t make an argument in his article, but in presenting this infographic he raises a question that underlies my blog topic: “Is tech saturation good or bad for the modern teenager?” (Laird).  All of the articles I have read this far have left me with the opinion that there is no right answer to this question, and Laird seems to agree when he says, “arguments can be made either way” (Laird).  He also claims that it is inarguable that “today’s teens are more wired than ever” (Laird).  Whether this is a good thing or bad thing has yet to be determined.

Since Laird’s article doesn’t make an abundant argument, this post deals more with the infographic he presents.  In terms of ethos, the graphic compiles data from “the Kaiser and Pew foundations” that are devoted to researching the relationships people have with technology in the twenty first century (Laird).  The infographic doesn’t blatantly make any claims concerning, in general terms, whether or not the use of technology has any adverse effects on teenagers, but allows the viewer to draw his own conclusions.  I consider this to be one of the more appealing qualities of the graphic.  The one claim that the graphic imposes on the viewer is that “heavy media use (across all platforms combined) is associated with lower grades and troubled kids” (OnlineSchools.com).  In order to back up this claim, the graphic displays statistics comparing the grades and general moods of teenagers who are considered “heavy media user[s]” and “light media user[s]” (OnlineSchools.com).  While the statistics are the graphic’s attempt to appeal to logos, I have a few problems with the misleading nature of the data.

The graphic defines the “Millennial Teenager” as someone between the ages of 18 and 34 (OnlineSchools.com).  In some of the data it is clear that the statistics pertain to this entire age group.  Several of the other statistics are misleading because it isn’t clear if they concern the 18 to 34 year old age group or the more conventional group of teens from 13-19.  As an example, the infographic claims “more than 25% of students choose a research source because it was the first search result” (OnlineSchools.com).  Does that include high school and college students?  Or is this data from the 18-34 year old age group?  Because the graphic doesn’t make this clear, I find it to be misleading.  The data may be perfectly accurate, but if the makers of the graphic had included exactly what group each statistic applies to I would find it to be far more convincing.

Lazere suggests that critical thinkers need “to be on guard against arguments that overwhelm us with compilations of statistics that may look impressive but that obscure individual realities” (Lazere 376).  I don’t think the makers of this infographic were trying maliciously to skew the data, but I’m hesitant to trust the statistics at face value.  Because the graphic defines teenagers rather ambiguously and also provides statistics pertaining to the elderly, it isn’t always obvious what age group the statistics apply to.  Overall, the infographic is a nice way to get a general sense of how big the role of technology is in the lives of teenagers, but I wouldn’t trust the data enough to cite it for my own purposes unless I could confirm exactly what groups the statistics apply to.

 

Works Cited

Lazere, Donald.  Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy: The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2009.

 

Laird, Sam.  “Is Too Much Tech Bad for the Modern Teenager?”.  Mashable.com 3 May 2012.  Web.  14 October 2012.

< http://mashable.com/2012/05/03/teenager-infographi/>

 

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Why some may be wary of science informing politics

In general, when examining political issues, or even things of controversy, it is important to find the viewpoints of people completely unlike ourselves in order to gain a completer picture of the problem and its solutions.  That’s why I was incredibly surprised when I stumbled across an article for The Christian Science Monitor.  In it, they were talking about a book by Chris Mooney entitled The Republic War on Science. I was surprised that even though the article was written for a group called the Christian Science Monitor, the author agreed with me about the role that science plays in politics.  Science should inform politics and to blatantly ignore science to create an anti-intellectual agenda is dangerous for any society.

But the author of the article, Gregory Lamb, brings up an excellent point in response to the book.  Historically, some liberals have twisted science in their favor by overgeneralizing data or even using their parties’ scientific reputation to support claims that are unfounded.  Good examples of these are the anti-vaccination movement in California, the large anti-genetic food modification movement, and the overstatement of some of the medicinal applications of stem cell research.  While some of these have some scientific foundation, except the anti-vaccination movement, they have been twisted into a form that better suits the Democrats’ ideologies.  If anything, this is just as dangerous as the somewhat anti-intellectual positions held by many of the far-right politicians and political pundits.

Twisted science creates dangerous outrage among the population over things that they may not need to be outraged about.  A good example of this is the anti-vaccination movement.  Created in the early 1900s and experiencing a re-emergence today, the anti-vaccination movement was created by John Pitcairn who opposed the mandated vaccination of children.  He opposed scientific data that heralded the positive outcomes of mandated vaccination.  Today, we’ve seen a resurgence of the anti-vaccination movement.

While many people refuse vaccination upon religious beliefs, some claim that the science is out on mandated vaccination as a safe means of inoculation.  This new resurgence was heralded by the MMR Vaccine Controversy back in 1998, which fraudulently linked vaccinations in childhood with autism.  Later in 2011, a full retraction of the original publication was issued.  But in the meantime, concerned parents refused to vaccinate their children from diseases like the measles because they weren’t certain if it would cause autism in the child.  This is the best example of twisting science in politics.  This led to policy implications that jumped the price of the vaccine and caused the pharmaceutical companies to go on the legal defensive.  Later it was revealed that the creator of the original study had doctored his results to get the results he wanted due to the potential money he would receive from investors for conducting further research.

Through these examples, we see that the problem with science and politics is not just the lack thereof, but also the manipulation of science for the personal benefits of individuals and political groups.  I can easily see why some on the far right are wary of the allegations and implications of global warming, as easily as I can see the frustration with many on the far left with the anti-intellectual position held by some on the far right.  While there are notable differences in the validity of the two claims of global warming and vaccinations cause autism, some people may choose to be more wary of theories with scientific backing like global warming and evolution when science can be twisted and historically has been twisted for the personal benefit of others.

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Supreme Court & the Health-Care Law

In the article Supreme Court upholds Obama’s health-care law by Robert Barnes published in the New York Times, the author discussed the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the new Obama Health-care Law. This decision has changed the course of American lives. The health care law now offers everyone a chance to have health insurance. In addition, it prevents insurance companies from being selective in what specifically they cover in their insurance plans. The new health-care act allows more and better benefits for everyone. This is especially true for women. The new act will allow them to have to have better preventative care. Justice Roberts went on to explain the split decision that came to pass: “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance,” he wrote. “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.” Throughout the article the Supreme Court takes the stance on the being neutral and acknowledges that “the law refers to the shared responsibility payment” meaning that every person is has a duty and responsibility to pay the tax so that everyone will benefit.  In contrast, there is a split decision between the courts and what congress believes.  The differences in wording between “penalty and tax and requirement and option” led congress to reject the initial act. This however did not prevent the courts from making the final decision to enact the law. The main goal for this article is to inform the public of the decision by the Supreme Court and what this means in terms of outcomes of the law.  Opposition views are also offered.

The audience of the article is all of the American people and appeals to logos as well as pathos. The logical appeal, or the notion that knowledge is power, comes into play because knowing is the most important step in making things happen. The sense of pathos is used because people care about their health. The author does discuss opposing viewpoints. In the text Lazere (2009) states that there are “cleans and dirties” as to how things can be presented.

In my opinion, I believe that men and women should be more conscious of the law and what the new health-care act has to offer. The new healthcare act allows for everyone to be able to have health insurance and allows for people to have the proper care and coverage whenever they need.  However, the implications that people are being “forced” to get health insurance and the notion that people have to pay for other people is not sitting well with others. This is a valid response because we as Americans value the ability to be ability to be able to “pick and choose” what is best for us. For the courts to have imposed a “tax” seems un-American in most eyes. I believe, however,  that this “tax” is helping everyone and will benefit all of us in the long run. Having proper healthcare is important to me. As a woman, I believe that proper healthcare is important and having insurance that is will cover all of my needs is vital.

Citation

Barnes, Robert. (2012). Supreme Court upholds Obama’s health-care law. New York Times.

Lazere, Donald. (2009). Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy. London: Paradigm Publishers.

33-43.

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What does your money really buy you?

After reading the Forbs.com posting titled: Oh, So That’s Why College is So Expensive by Steve Cohen, I began to understand why college tuition is rising so quickly. Cohen takes a unique perspective and argues that the increasing price of college tuition is due to increased amenities, but truly, it is to create an illusion and simply make the school look appealing to new students and their parents. Cohen uses sarcasm to both point out the benefits increased tuition brings, but also brings suggests these practices do little to improve the educational experience for students. Cohen compares the experiences he had during his years in college and uses it to point out the huge differences between school that used to cost $5,500 dollars a year and those that cost over $50,000 a year today.

He lists what a increased costs of college today actually buy you (the student). These benefits include “1) A really neat gym membership, 2) Incredible edibles”, 3) More majors, 4) Construction Cranes, 5) Wireless, 6) Washing machines that have a higher SAT score than you do, 7) Wanderlust, 8 ) Writing Resource Center, 9 ) Writing Resource Center, and finally, 10) Groupon Pricing.” Cohen takes each of these sections and outlines why these “costly benefits for students” really do not help teach or improve educational scores.

Examining modern college campuses reveals that much of what Cohen jokingly suggest is true. Colleges put large sums of money into improving the appearance of buildings, construct huge recreational centers and gyms, and they pay to have outlandish foods prepared (however it appears the “Incredible edibles” were skipped at Longwood in particular). Furthermore, Cohen suggests the colleges in an effort to increase the number of majors offered to make the school appear superior to competitors, colleges have created a system where many majors are essentially the same.

Additionally, modern upgrades to student dorms typically include cable TV, wireless internet, and fresh paint. In particular, the rooms in Frazer and Curry hall at Longwood have beer bottles in the ceiling older than me. Cohen’s point is the money is making going to make the school look better from the outside, but it does not always focus on keeping students happy on the inside. Parents want to feel that their money is buying something beneficial for his or her child, and with ongoing construction, pretty buildings, a huge gym, big sports team, and a huge list of potential majors many people lose sight of the true purpose of the school.

Additionally, the increased cost of college is increasing faster than the increases in faculty pay. This means the school is taking in more money and spending it on “school improvements, but it is not rewarding or hiring more teachers to improve the actual ones who teach the students. If tuition increases, I feel that good professors should be paid more, and more should be hired to keep classroom size down. Classroom size at Longwood, in my experience has been low, which I feel is a benefit to the educational process. However, many universities commonly have huge lecture halls with hundreds of students, and many more watching from online feeds. This creates a situation where students lose the ability to build a relationship with their teachers.

Cohen’s biggest point and strongest point for why colleges charge is his longest section: “10) Groupon Pricing.”. In this section he relates the cost a retail store college as a retail store. He suggests the increased cost of tuition is artificial mush like a retail store can inflate prices then offer huge “sales” to drum up business. Cohen accuses colleges of doing exactly thins, he says “Parents love to brag that, “My Sarah got a scholarship.” Colleges learned a long time ago that charging $50,000 and giving $10,000 in merit aid is a better formula that charging $40,000. Just ask Macy’s.” Recently there have been more schools offering merit benefits / aid. These discounts on tuition are applied for having a minimum level high school GPA , or a SAT score over a cretin point. These awards are not based on family income, and can be combined with other school aid. I suppose this may be true, and if so, I am curious how much Longwood engaged in these price inflations to increase the level of “discount” each student receives.

This article brought up an interesting perspective that has not been discussed until recently. The writing is completely one sided, and the author fails to address many of the counter arguments to this way of thinking, yet I am glad he wrote the article to help spur on the discussion of rising college prices. In my experiences at Longwood I have often felt my money could be better spent. Cohen’s closing words are, “Thinking ahead I wondered: Can we opt out of some of the fancy stuff and get a reduced tuition?” I think this is the key, if the cost of college continues to rise, can there be alternative to opt out of some amenities, should students have the power to decide where their money is going in the University?  I would like to see a system where every student can choose where a portion of their funding goes. If I want a new student center, then I can choose to put my funding towards that project, while others may prefer to put their money towards a new art building. I think this system would help individual students feel their money is going towards amenities they will use. Are colleges charging more to provide more for students’ benefits, or are students simply being marked to and these additions make their product more desirable?

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Debating For and Against Downsizing

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

Fox News recently hosted a small discussion between Alan Colmes and Lisa Wexler, two authors with contradicting viewpoint on the current issue of military downsizing.  Alan Colmes, author of Thank the Liberals, defends the government’s plan to cut military spending, while Lisa Wexler defends the soldiers who would be affected by this.  Both individuals offer sound evidence for, and against military downsizing.

Lisa Wexler, who is against downsizing, begins by explaining how terminating a soldier during their enlisted duty is “immoral, as well as illegal.”  I examined Wexler’s argument in one of my previous entries and came to the conclusion that Wexler had the dominating argument.  If a soldier decides to quit without fully completing their contracted term of duty, they face the possibility of going to jail.  However, if the government decides to terminate a soldier’s position under the same conditions, there are no repercussions faced by the government.  She questions how “Uncle Sam could quit on these people?”  How is it possible that the government can effortlessly terminate a soldier’s employment while soldiers have no choice in the matter?  Not only would this be bad for moral, but this may also be bad for the way people view the military in the future.

Alan Colmes counters Wexler’s argument by presenting three points defending the government’s decision.  First, Colmes explains that the terminations will be based on performance.  Wexler denies the legitimacy of this point by presenting the fact that most sailors were not told why they were being cut and had no prior warnings.  Second, he states that the military’s “readiness” would not be compromised.  Basically, this means that laying off soldiers would not prevent the military from being able to strongly respond to national threats.  Lastly, he argues that this would help cut $487 billion, a figure agreed upon by both Republicans and Democrats.

Colmes goes on to argue that the Navy “should not be a jobs program,” and that the downsizing reflects a more modernized way of thinking on behalf of the military.  However, is this the most effective way to solve the military’s budget problems, or would this lead to even worse problems in the future?  The Fox anchor moderating the discussion provides the following question and statistics:  would forcing veterans into a workforce that already faces an unemployment rate of 8.1% be beneficial overall?  For veterans, the unemployment rate is around 12%, almost a third higher for non-veterans.  I believe this supports my overall argument that downsizing the military would harm the economy by increasing unemployment rates that are already too high.  While this may be a short-run fix for the military’s current budget problems, the introduction of more unemployed workers into the workforce would harm the United State’s economy overall and lead to more long-run problems.

In Chapter 12 of Lazere’s book, Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy, Lazere describes the uses and misuses of emotional appeal.  More specifically, he separates the term “emotional appeal” into two semantic categories: “cleans” and “dirties.”  Cleans are words or phrases connoting positive emotions.  Dirties connote negative emotions.  Both individuals involve clean and dirty words or phrases in their arguments that I believe allow a viewer choose a side that they emotionally and logically support.

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Breed Specific Legislation In Massachusetts: What are they doing differently?

Brittany Inge
ENG 400
Recently Massachusetts has made breed specific legislation illegal for the whole state. The governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, signed a law into effect that states “no city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.” The law also states that no dog can be considered dangerous or vicious just because of the breed of the dog. This is all part of broader law that has been created to change animal control. Among other aspects of the law, it created a “spay-and-neuter program for Massachusetts and imposes training requirements for animal control officers.” This means that it will be easier for owners to have their animals spayed and neutered as well as making sure that animal control officers have the extra training that they need. This article connects to Lazere by way of using logos in their argument. It is logical to have pets spayed/neutered and to generically cover all breeds with this law.
Another aspect of this law is that restraining orders, in domestic violence cases, will now be extended to cover pets and not just the human family members. This means that family pets won’t be able to be used against their owners for revenge purposes. Police officer Joe Magnani stated that he “like[s] the fact they included domestic violence protection in the bill” because this “will help [them] handle pets when [they] report to a domestic violence call.” The law also states what two things cannot be used to euthanize animals; carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. There are many groups that can be thanked for developing this bill. Among them are the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
This law is just the start for what needs to be accomplished when it comes to breed-specific legislation. All states should follow suit and have similar bills to this one. Most people think that banning dogs is the quickest solution to dog bites when it actually doesn’t help in any way except to hurt the owners. This law is the beginning to changing the way that the United States looks at pit-bulls and breed-specific legislation. I hope that this bill will help lawmakers understand that we need change and that this is a good solution to our problems.

Bowers, Kelly. “Breed-Specific Legislation Now Illegal in Massachusetts.” Dogster Magazine. 06 Aug 2012: n. page. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. .

Lazere, Donald. Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2009.

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