“These are the general public. They are sincere, intelligent people who just don’t know the lingo,” actor Alan Alda told a sold-out auditorium of scientists at his recent lecture at Cornell University I had a chance to report on. They’re also the funders, and the people you go to in Congress to get money from for your project.”
As a student interested in science communication and policy, this really hit home: the “general public” is not dumb; our representatives in government — the ones who lobby for funding for our research — are not [typically] dumb. Continue reading →
In 1911, California became the 10th state to establish a ballot initiative political structure, under the pressure of progressive Republican Governor Hiram Johnson. Though amended since, this unique system has given Californians the opportunity to launch political agendas, predominantly surrounding morality and civil rights, which other states may not have the capacity or legal incentive to pursue. One example is Proposition 37, which placed the issue of labeling of genetically engineered foods, consumer rights, and transparency in the food system into the limelight in 2012. In this attached paper, Continue reading →
As you drive down the streets in India, it does not take long to realize that the dogs on the side of the road are a microcosm for much of the country: An incomprehensible population density, they float in packs, and seem eternally happy despite what an average American may expect in sharing their living conditions. Continue reading →
At face value, the cooperative system of India’s dairy industry seems like an economically sustainable and just system: Individual farmers should have the power to make collective decisions. However, as demonstrated between our vastly contrasting visits to a dairy in Pune, and Schreiber Dynamix Dairies Ltd., also in Pune, the system literally can be milked.
In stark contrast to Sula Vineyard’s slight pessimism about the 1% market for wine in India, FreshTrop Fruit in Nashik has a different perspective: 1%, or even 0.5% of the population in India is a business opportunity. Even a small percentage of one billion is still a lot of people! Continue reading →
I have seen countless horror photos of malnourished children and adults with arms the diameter of a broomstick, but never before have I stood face to face with them.
Because my group is so small — only eight students — our course coordinators opted to send us from Aurangabad to Nashik via train. The above was the sight we encountered in the train station that morning, just barely before 5am. Dozens of people buried under all of their belongings, trying to keep warm from India’s unseasonably cool weather.
I have only experienced a train once before, but that was last year in Italy. Continue reading →
Our small group had the privilege of joining Naresh Jain, an associate at Bhakti Soya Pvt. Ltd, for a few hours filled with analyzing the value addition of soybean processing: from the agricultural product market to the soy processing plant.
The morning began at Jaina market, where we observed the process by which soybeans and other locally grown crops are sold. According to Jain, India’s market infrastructure is owned and operated by the government; Continue reading →
As a winter session course in Cornell’s International Agriculture & Rural Development department, I have had the opportunity to travel to India during the month of January to study their agricultural system. My particular group project is related to value addition of crops in India’s agricultural economy, and we have/will have the opportunity to see such first-hand. I plan to document a variety of reflections throughout the trip, as Internet access allows. Continue reading →
This summer, I finally participated in the one activity that most-defines every Cornell students’ stay far above Cayuga’s waters: I frequented the Ithaca Farmers Market. I had been to a farmers market before, but nothing like this. I am fairly certain that the culture shock even surpassed that in which I experienced in my first week at Cornell, seeing as I had never been to a “city” (yes, I think of this as a city).
I never quite understood why EVERYONE raves about the Ithaca Farmers Market. Continue reading →
My attempt to report on the recent GM Maize study, “long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” from a “neutral” standpoint — research paper on a scientific controversy for my science and technology course.
Frankenfood: Do We Have a Right To Know What Is In Our Food?
Introduced into the food system inconspicuously, the use of transgenic, or genetically modified, crops has created an all-too-common political discourse between scientific communities and the public. Continue reading →
Framing in the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Debates —
Dr. Lillian Lee, a professor of Computer Science at Cornell University, recently contacted me to share her recently published study. She had out-of-the-blue read about my research interests on the Internet, and wanted to share this unique, interdisciplinary spin on my interests.
A researcher in the areas of natural language processing and information retrieval, Lee studies the ability for computers to use human language as a communication medium — accurately, robustly, and gracefully. Continue reading →
I recently covered a panel discussion hosted by Cornell’s veterinary college for the Cornell Chronicle. The discussion surrounded the theme of fostering creativity in science. The panelists, like the lecturers at Roald Hoffmann’s birthday celebration (previous post), held joint roles in advancing science and arts, non exclusively. Continue reading →
For my journalism position with the Cornell Chronicle, I recently had the opportunity to cover the 75th birthday celebration of chemist Dr. Roald Hoffmann, Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus, Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor, and successful writer. The weekend included lectures from renowned scientists who have dually found their niche in the arts. As a current science student finding interest in writing, listening to these lectures was a huge inspiration: It localized these success stories with ammunition for me to realize that a huge component to understanding sciences is through the lens of the arts.
Aside from Dr. Hoffmann, another lecture I attended was by MIT’s Dr. Alan Lightman, Professor of Science Writing and Astrophysics. Continue reading →
You learned it in freshman biology: Penicillin was originally created by accident, but has since been hailed as one of mankind’s greatest discoveries. Today, antibiotics are used to treat everything from bronchitis to tuberculosis. For decades, small doses of antibiotics have been fed to livestock; when used in feeds, they help maintain rapid growth and low levels of disease across herds, allowing for affordable food prices. However, controversy has recently erupted over concerns of antibiotic resistance and public health. Continue reading →
Beef has been getting a lot of, well…beef lately. Between the recently published study at Harvard’s school of medicine linking red meat to cancer, and now the “Pink Slime” hysteria, many Americans have finally started questioning what they are purchasing in the grocery store. Continue reading →
As a dairy science student here at Cornell, I am often concerned that my views are becoming encapsulated within the walls of Morrison Hall, and not my own brain. While much of what I have learned about the food industry is from the dairy perspective, it comes from people who have been born in, and never have lived in the world outside of, the dairy industry. Studying Development Sociology has been incredibly eye-opening in allowing me to see society with a different lens. While I am not sure that my opinions have changed on a lot of the current hot-topic issues, it has been valuable to hear the other sides of such arguments. I had not realized how much my eyes were being opened to the food industry — as both a social motivation and a business model — until the day we were evaluating the milk price and DHI reports, and Daniel raised his hand and inquisitively asked, in regards to the negative profit margins: “Why be a dairy farmer?”
Over Spring Break, I was perusing the aisles of Wegmans in search of milk to stock my family’s refrigerator. Like many consumers, I usually just go for the cheaper brand, instead of paying attention to labels. In the midst of sending a text and referencing my shopping list, however, something caught my eye: A brightly colored decal on the glass, refrigerator door that read, “Our farmers have pledged to not treat any of their cows with any artificial growth hormones.”
I grabbed my milk — which also had this label — and hurried along with my shopping cart. Continue reading →
What do ancient Roman art, the Juicy-Juice commercials (“100% juice for 100% kids” that aired during “Arthur” and “Barney” on PBS), high school art class, “Snow White,” and Chipotle’s new “Back to the Start” Youtube sensation have in common? This certainly is not obvious. Old art portrays blemish-less, brilliantly hued fruits and vegetables; Juicy-Juice commercials deceive the health benefits of processed fruit, advertising directly towards youth and their poverty-stricken parents; in my ninth grade art class, I lost points because my apple in my stand-still oil painting was not a brilliant enough red, and was a bit lopsided; Disney is famous for their perfect fruit, like Snow White’s brilliant, red poison apple; Chipotle’s new ad plays on the idealistic, Old McDonald’s Farm that consumers are convinced still exists. Each of these media for portraying today’s food is (possibly unconsciously) contributing to the true naïveté of today’s society as to where their food comes from, how it is processed, why it is blemish-less, and what social structure such food provides. Continue reading →
What do you get when you have two minutes on national television, buzzwords like “organic,” “local” and “sustainable,” an intricate set of hundreds of hand-painted model pigs and Willie Nelson singing a Coldplay cover? One Heluva-good Youtube video: Chipotle’s “Back to the Start.” Continue reading →
For my “Development Sociology: Agriculture, Food & Society” course this past semester, I was asked to write a short essay about my connection to our food system. I feel that giving a copy of this assignment may be the best way to truly introduce myself.
Choice in Food: A Basic Human Right
When one of my peers or professors inquires about my family’s background in the agricultural industry, I am not an ounce ashamed to explain where the money that pays for me to attend Cornell comes from. Continue reading →