My name is Jennifer Austin. I’m a freshman at Eastern Kentucky University and I am currently taking an ENG 102 class with Professor Benningfield. I was excited about this class before it had even started because my friend had told me a little bit about it. She told me that we would be discussing the current trend of vampires, and this topic interested me. When the class first started, we received a list of readings required of us. I noticed many of them dealt with vampires, so I figured it would be an interesting semester.
The beginning of the semester focused on the book Dracula. We were required to read the book and complete two- page reading responses for the chapters that were assigned to us. Those people who did the reading responses would be the group discussion leaders for the next class. We then had to summarize our chapter for the rest of the class to hear. The book was difficult to stay interested in at times, but it was manageable. Taking notes during the discussions in class helped me because I could just skim through the chapters that weren’t assigned to me.
After reading the book, we watched the movie and took notes on how the movie compared to the book. I thought the movie was very interesting. The characters turned out to look completely different than what I had imagined. It was nice to have a small break from all the writing. Using the notes we took, we wrote a four to six page critique and analysis of the book and movie. There were plenty of databases comparing the book and movie because Dracula is such a classic. I started on my paper earlier than most, so I wasn’t stressed to complete it on time. I thought it was an easy paper to write. It didn’t necessarily make me see literature in a different way because I have always been a big reader.
It is important to study literature in writing classes because it allows us to analyze the stories that we read. We don’t always have to like the readings. Every person has a different opinion. Professor Benningfield also had us choose a partner to work with and design a power point on a related vampire topic. I did my power point on multicultural vampire legends. I enjoyed the group project because it allowed us to split up the workload. I chose my roommate as my partner because it would be easy for us to communicate. Communication wasn’t so easy for my classmates. I think my professor chose this partner format because it required us to communicate with one another outside of class.
The second half of the semester focused on the current food industry in America. I was relieved to have the change in topic because I was worn out with vampires. We did the reading responses again with the book Omnivore’s Dilemma. I read the section about how cows are raised and slaughtered. This topic was very interesting to me because I have always been curious about the food I eat and where it comes from. We also watched the video Food Inc.. This documentary gave me a completely new outlook on food. I learned how the animals in large food industries are treated and how corn is incorporated into everything we eat. I didn’t know how people received E.coli until I watched how a little boy died as a result of eating a hamburger. As a result of the documentary, I am always cautious about the foods I order at restaurants.
After reading different articles and watching the documentary, we chose a topic that was related to the food industry. I chose obesity because I have always been determined to stay in shape. The topic of obesity also interested me because it is a growing problem in the United States. We had to write a five to seven page research paper on our topic. We also did an informal presentation of our topic in class. In just two class periods, I learned so many interesting facts about how food is made, the psychology aspect of food, and different types of illnesses caused from food. The informal presentation helped me along with the other students in my class by assuring us that we were on the right track. Many helpful tips were also given during this time to aid us in conducting research for our paper. I thought this paper was slightly tougher than the previous paper we wrote about Dracula. It was obviously longer, but I seemed to have a harder time finding the right information to go along with my main idea. The sites on the databases were extremely broad, so I only got a small amount of information from each site. Below is my research paper followed by my annotated bibliography.
Obesity in America
Obesity is a widespread and growing problem in America that has gained much recent attention. In the past 40 years, obesity in the United States has increased by over 50%, making two-thirds of adults overweight or obese (“Obesity in America”). In 1985, there were only eight states where 10% of the people were considered obese (Kluger). By 2006, 23 states had an obesity rate that exceeded 25% and no states remained with a low obesity percentage (Kluger).
Adult obesity isn’t the only cause of this obesity epidemic. Children have now caught the attention of many nutritionists and researchers. As adult obesity doubled, child obesity tripled. In 1971, only 4% of 6-to-11-year-old kids were obese; by 2004, the figure had leaped to 18.8% (Kluger). According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 20 million children younger than five years of age are overweight worldwide (Jennifer). These numbers didn’t increase naturally. There are specific reasons explaining why Americans have added on multiple pounds of excess fat. Sedentary lifestyles as well as over-eating high calorie foods have caused the obesity rates in the United States to rise exponentially in recent years.
Both the leisure time and work time of the average American has changed as a result of the nation becoming industrialized. Rural regions were turned into urban areas filled with buildings offering multiple office jobs. The typical farmer was left with little land left to farm on and was forced into a new profession. The problem with these new job opportunities is that they require little, if any, activity. In 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that less than 20% of jobs required moderate physical activity (“Obesity in America”). As a result, the average American man is now burning 142 fewer calories each day than he did in the 1960s (“Obesity in America”). These calories add up with time and cause excess weight gain.
The decreased physical activity wouldn’t be an issue if it were counterbalanced by an increase in exercise during leisure time. The problem is, most Americans don’t meet the recommended amount of daily exercise. The fraction of Americans who say they meet national guidelines for exercise is 25%, but objective measurements suggest the actual percentage of adults who get enough exercise is closer to 5% (“Obesity in America”). Taking a walk around the neighborhood or even pacing back and forth while on the phone would be considered exercise. However, most people choose to sit down for a large portion of their day. The average American spends 55% of his waking hours sitting down in front of a computer or television (“Obesity in America”). Americans have simply become lazy because they rely on our industrialized nation to do everything for them.
Lifestyle changes are especially obvious when observing children. Running, riding bicycles, and playing outside have been replaced with indoor activities such as watching TV, playing video games, or using the computer. Busy and dangerous roads are close to many houses with children. Parents are partly to blame for childhood obesity. In today’s society, parents face the fear of their child being hit by a car or kidnapped. They spend money on addicting indoor games because they don’t trust the outside environment.
When children aren’t playing games under their parents’ watchful eyes at home, they are at school. Schools could make a major change in child obesity rates because they demand eight hours of every child’s day. The problem is most schools don’t even list physical education as a high priority. In fact, only six states currently require physical education in every grade level (Lueke). Without physical education, children lose knowledge of how to make healthy lifestyle choices. The problem with childhood obesity is that they will most likely continue to be obese as an adult. Their unhealthy lifestyles become habitual and they carry the bad choices with them throughout their lives.
Watching television has many consequences linked to obesity. Not only does it take up time that could be spent exercising, but it also causes a person to eat more. Television is the single largest media source of messages about food (Chung). Many food advertisements will alter the images of food. Most of the food advertisements seen on television are for high-calorie and low-nutrition foods. In fact, less than 5% of all food commercials are for healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and milk (Chung).
Children spend most of their time watching shows on channels directed towards a younger age group. Food marketing companies know this, so they spend billions of dollars in advertisements for children to watch during commercial breaks. The average child in the United States views thirteen food ads on television each day (Harris). Their brains are like sponges, soaking up every bit of information they can hold. After watching so many food commercials filled with enticing toys and other children having fun with food as the central message, they won’t be able to resist the desire for the foods advertised. The advertisements of food products affect a child’s brand preference, food choices, and requests to parents. Most parents will give their children the food they want rather than healthier food choices in order to keep them satisfied. These cravings for the foods advertised on television are what have led Americans to overeat high calorie foods.
One of the easiest places to find high-calorie, greasy foods is at fast food restaurants. These fast food chains continue to multiply in numbers in an effort to feed America’s growing population. They station themselves in close proximity to schools and neighborhoods to allow easy access to cheap, unhealthy foods. The foods offered are pumped with endless amounts of sugars, oils, and fats to satisfy the hungry minds of the customers. Their customers are lured in by dollar menus and kids meals containing special toys.
Consuming fast food wouldn’t be such an issue if Americans had a sense of portion control. Unfortunately, portion sizes have increased dramatically since the 1980s. Only a handful of people are aware of the correct portion sizes they should be consuming. According to the Food Guide Pyramid, people should consume their largest portion of food from the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group. It recommends six to eleven servings of grains. One serving of grains is one slice of bread or one-half cup of cooked rice or pasta. The vegetable group is ranked right behind grains, recommending three to five servings. One serving of vegetables is three-fourths cup of vegetable juice or one cup of raw, leafy greens. The fruit group recommends two to four servings per day. One medium apple or one-half cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit is considered one serving.
Two to three servings are recommended for the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group. One serving is two to three ounces of cooked lean meat or two to three eggs. The milk, yogurt, and cheese group also recommends two to three servings. One serving is one cup of milk or two ounces of cheese. Fats, oils, and sweets are not needed on an everyday basis, so the Food Pyramid says to use them sparingly. Americans ignore this recommendation and continue to consume sweets at a rate higher than they should be. Americans consume the equivalent of 20-30 teaspoons of sugar per person per day (Spake).
Americans spend nearly half of their food budget on foods prepared outside of the home and they consume about one-third of daily calories from outside sources, much of it from fast food (Young). Fast food consists of many ingredients that the Food Pyramid doesn’t recommend on a daily basis. They typically have more saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories than homemade meals (Spake). Fast food companies have one goal, which is to eliminate competition by making their customers happy. They have continued to increase their portion sizes to assure that their customer will leave with a full stomach. When large amounts of food are shoved into the stomach, it expands, and the mind starts telling the body it is hungry even when it is not. People return to these fast food chains because they want the sense of happiness they receive from being full.
The major culprits of increased portion sizes are the fast food restaurants. Names such as Mega Mac, BK Big Fish, Big Foot, Dominator, Jumbo Combo, Big Bacon Classic, and Big Beef Taco reflect the growing size of fast foods (Munro). The original 1965 McDonald's meal of a hamburger, fries and a 12-ounce Coke contained about 590 calories. But today, a supersize extra value meal with a quarter-pounder with cheese, supersized fries and Coke reaches 1,550 calories (Motluk). The largest portion of hamburgers offered at both Wendy’s and Burger King are now 12 ounces, which exceeds the amount of meat recommended by the USDA for an entire day (Young). Studies show that the more food put in front of people, the more they eat (Nanci). Most people shove this food into their body without questioning if they really need it. It is obvious that portion size control has been skewed by fast food restaurants over the years.
Fast food restaurants aren’t the only places where an increase in portion size can be seen. Foods bought at the supermarket are also increasing in size. Lisa Young, a New York University nutrition researcher, found many examples of growth in portion sizes. Bagels use to be two to three ounces and around 200 calories. Today, they are five to six ounces and more than 400 calories depending on the type. A five-ounce bagel is equal to five slices of bread or 15 cups of popcorn, reaching the five servings of breads and grains that a person should consume for the entire day. The first Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar started out 0.6 ounces in 1908. Today, it is available in sizes up to eight ounces (Nanci). Movie theatres have greatly increased their average servings of popcorn. An order of popcorn in 1957 was about three cups. Now, a typical medium order is 16 cups and 900 calories (Spake). When customers buy these large portions, they are more likely to eat it all in one sitting.
Portion control has been lost in the minds of many Americans who want food and want it now. Food industries increase the size of their products in order to please their customers, and their customers eat it all. Consuming large amounts of food wouldn’t be such an issue if the additional calories were being burned off, but the industrialization of our country has caused Americans to become extremely lazy. Sedentary lifestyles along with consuming large quantities of high calorie foods have contributed to the obesity epidemic in America. Not enough people have knowledge of how the food they put into their bodies affects them. Without awareness of the problem, the obesity crisis will continue to grow.
Chevat, Richie, and Michael Pollan. The Omnivore's Dilemma : the Secrets Behind What You Eat / Michael Pollan ; adapted by Richie Chevat. New York: Dial Books, 2009.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma was where the idea of my research paper started. We read the book as a class. The book was about how food is processed. Using this information, we chose a topic that was somehow related to it. I didn’t use any exact quotes from the book in my paper, but the book deserves credit for providing a reason for my research.
Chung Donghung, et al. "Food and Beverage Advertising to Children on U.S. Television: Did National Food Advertisers Respond?." Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 84.4 (2007): 795-810. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
This article had statistics about food advertisements on different channels directed towards children. It explains why watching television is related to the increase of obesity rates in the United States. I plan to use this information to back up my claim that sedentary lifestyles mentally cause people to eat more without realizing it.
Food, Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Perf. Richard Pearce, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo, William Pohlad, Jeff Skoll, Robin Schorr, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Kim Roberts, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin, and Mark Adler. Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2009. Film.
The documentary, Food, Inc., dug into the food industry and showed its viewers what is being put into the foods we eat and how it is processed. It also spent some time focusing on the treatment of animals and farm workers. I didn’t cite direct information from this documentary, but it did give me prior knowledge to begin writing my paper.
Harris, Jennifer L., and Samantha K. Graff. "Protecting the Public by Incorporating Scientific Research." American Journal Of Public Health 102.2 (2012): 214-222. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Apr. 2012.
This article focused on how food advertisements are a big contributor to the obesity epidemic, especially in children. It explained that children are easily persuaded to eat the foods shown in between their morning cartoons. I would like to use a few statistics from this article to back up my statement that advertising is one of the key contributors to obesity.
Jennifer Baran, et al. "A Meta-Analytic Review of Obesity Prevention in the Schools: 1997–2008." Psychology In The Schools 46.8 (2009): 695-719. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
This article focused on the requirements that schools must meet in order to prevent obesity. It discussed nutritional requirements, nutritional labeling, and physical education. It also explained how age, sex, and ethnicity may be a factor in the risk of obesity in children. I plan to use a statistic in here stating how many children in the world are considered obese.
Kluger, Jeffrey. "How America's Children Packed on the Pounds. (Cover Story)." Time 171.25 (2008): 66-69. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
This newspaper article described how obsessed America has become with food. It pokes fun at our Thanksgiving holiday because most Americans look forward to the abundance of fatty dishes during this time. It takes a more serious tone when discussing how America’s fast metabolism children can’t even keep off the weight. I used a few of the statistics in this article for the beginning of my research paper.
Lueke, Lesley. "Devouring Childhood Obesity by Helping Children Help Themselves." Journal Of Legal Medicine 32.2 (2011): 205-220. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
This was an article focused on childhood obesity. It explained the reasons for childhood obesity and the actions that should be taken to decrease the high percentage rates. I plan to use this article when discussing the sedentary lifestyle of children and how it is linked to obesity rates.
Motluk, Alison. "Supersize Me." New Scientist 184.2471 (2004): 46. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
This article gave the calorie difference in a McDonald’s meal from 1965 and today. It gave me the idea to compare meals from the 1960s and today. I used this statistic to back up my claim that fast food industries have increased their portion sizes to make their customers happy.
Munro, Irene. "How Big as a Serve?" Nutridate 17.1 (2006): 5-7. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
This article focused on increased portion sizes in fast food industries and how it relates to obesity. It was very helpful in explaining why these fast food restaurants put more food on their customer’s plates. It also proved that if the customers are given more food, they will most likely eat more than they would when presented with a smaller portion.
Nanci, Hellmich. "Portion Distortion." USA Today n.d.: Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Apr. 2012.
This article included research performed by nutritionist Lisa Young. She compared portion sizes of different foods over time. I plan to use her comparison of bagel and chocolate bar sizes near the end up my paper to wrap up the end of my paper.
"Obesity In America: What's Driving the Epidemic?" Harvard Men's Health Watch 16.7 (2012): 5-7. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
This article discussed how a sedentary lifestyle and over eating have contributed to the obesity epidemic in America. It gave statistics from different studies that were performed on thousands of men and women over many years. It stated that simply watching TV can increase the risk of obesity and the chronic diseases related to it. It also did a study on how many calories an average person consumes and how the number has increased over the years.
Spake, Amanda, and Mary Brophy Marcus. "A Fat Nation." U.S. News & World Report 133.7 (2002): 40. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.
This article listed food items from the 1900’s in comparison to the current size of food items and their calorie value. It explains how food industries have changed over the past 20 years and blames it for the increase in obesity rates. I plan to use this information in the beginning of my paper and gradually lead into talking about the health issues associated with the change in the food industry.
Young, Lisa R., and Marion Nestle. "Portion Sizes and Obesity: Responses of Fast-Food Companies." Journal Of Public Health Policy 28.2 (2007): 238-248. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
This article focused on portion size control. It included statistics from the leading fast food restaurants McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King. The statistics showed how the restaurants increased their portion sizes around 1998 and then made small adjustments in 2002 after the nation made a cry for help with obesity. I plan to use this information in the part of my paper that discusses how fast food industries have skewed the idea of portion sizes.
On April 25th, we were required to watch a farmer presentation in Brock Auditorium. While attending the farmer presentation, I learned a great deal of information about Wholesome Living Farms that coincided with conversations we had in previous classes about the food we eat. The speaker, Will Meurer, explained that he first discovered his desire to participate in agriculture while he was attending elective classes for the Governor’s Scholar program. He decided he wanted to be a grass farmer, so he became a part of Wholesome Living Farms. Wholesome Living Farms has an open door policy to ensure people that their way of raising livestock is completely natural.
He focused much of his speech on cows being herbivores by nature. His farm continually moves cows to different pastures in order to keep their manure from building up. He claimed that each individual cow makes 27 pounds of manure each day. If the cows were to be held in one place like the cows in industrialized feed lots, the manure would become so high that there would be no room to walk. Wholesome Living Farms won’t keep their cows in one pasture for more than 2 days. Chicken are moved from fencing to fencing so that they can naturally feed themselves. He explained that the chickens attack the cow’s manure and dig through it for worms and other edible items. Therefore, the cow’s manure is a part of the process that gives us chicken meat and eggs.
Meurer then went into how America contributes to the industrialization of our food market. He said, “Every day you eat, you vote”. He claimed that the certainty of locality and seasonality have been replaced with an uncertain abundance of foods. In 1940, the first grocery store emerged and food traveled an average of 40 miles before it was consumed. Today, food typically travels over 1500 miles. 90% of the retail in grocery stores didn’t exist before 1900. This statistic proves that most of the food offered in grocery stores today is not natural. Our mechanical industrial view has changed how we see the world. Wholesome Living Farms tries hard to focus on how animals are treated during their lifetime so that we are able to view their sacrifice as meaningful. Meurer also related gardening to the fragility of life. He explained how during natural gardening, there are many risk factors that can kill the produce such as frostbite and parasites. The statistics in this part of his lecture really got me thinking about some of the things I consume and if they should be considered foods or not.
After the Meurer’s presentation, there was a question and answer session. I learned that the U.S. government puts a time limit on how long animals are allowed to live before they are slaughtered. The speaker explained that the age of the cow is determined by its teeth. Grass fed cows typically have teeth that look older than what they really are, so they are only raised for about two full years. A question was also asked about pricing of their food and where you can purchase it. Meurer stated that meat is normally five dollars per pound and that they can be found at the Farmer’s Market in Winchester. I thought this presentation was very interesting and it went along perfectly with what we were discussing in class. I would love to purchase some of their produce to see if I can taste a difference in the quality of meat.
Overall, I enjoyed the class very much. Most people dread English classes because they write about things that have no meaning to them. This class stayed on track with current trends and topics. The food industry section of this class interested me the most because I didn’t have prior knowledge of it. I learned so much about the foods I am putting into my body and I will take that information with me everywhere I go. I can no longer go into a restaurant and order a meal without thinking where the food comes from.
I would have liked to spend less time on vampires and more on the food industry. Vampires interest me a great deal, but Dracula is so different from the types of vampire novels available today. I would much rather read a current vampire novel. The reading responses were new to me this semester. I enjoyed them because I didn’t have to fully read every section of every book. I could take notes in class and catch up if I missed something. I also enjoyed watching a movie on each topic. I think it helped pull together each of the topics. I tend to get more out of a movie than I do when reading about it. I would also suggest completing the food topic research papers earlier so that there is enough time to do formal presentations after the paper is complete. I thought many of the topics were very interesting and I would have liked to learn the results of their research.