Conscious Consumption discusses industrial food system

The culminating event of Earthfest, put on by Students of Sustainability, asked students to examine what they eat and the effect it has on their health and the environment.

Boxes of couscous and noodles lined the table as event planners prepared for the presentation at Watson Theater. Conscious Consumption, sponsored by Students of Sustainability, closed out this year’s Earthfest activities.

This Earthfest was the first for SOS, a newly founded student organization on campus dedicated to raise awareness about the environment and sustainability. At the event, SOS members encouraged SU students to think further about the future and the next generation.

“All of the food is from Strong Hearts Cafe at Marshall Square Mall, which is a vegan café, “said Colton Jones, a psychology junior and SOS executive board member. “We are talking about the industrialization of agriculture and food and how we should become conscious of what we consume and its effect on our body the planet itself, our children and their children.”

Jones also said that the Conscious Consumption did not aim to tell students what to do or what not to do, but to present information about sustainability of the food system.

Jones started the presentation by screening a documentary called Samsara. The documentary showed the multilayered industrial food system, from production and processing to consumption. Chickens and cows crowded in small cabinets where they barely had any room to turn. Pigs were killed by electric shock and sent to be of dismembered, sifted and packaged.

Miles Marcotte, a geography and citizenship and civic engagement freshman, continued the presentation by showing the negative effects of the meat industry on public health and environment. He said that eating meat raises cholesterol levels causes cardiovascular disease. Marcotte also said the animals we get meat from eat a large portion of corn and vegetables that could have fed millions of hungry people. “In contrast, vegetables consume way less energy and benefit our health compared with meat,” Marcotte said.

After the presentation, audience members asked questions and expressed confidence about the conscious consumption of food.

“I’m wondering if the choice of vegetables and organic food works for those who have limited economic resources,” said Chantal Perets, a psychology and public relations sophomore. “When you have the food stamps which merely satisfy your basic need, of course you will choose the cheaper meat.”

Marcotte responded by saying that if more people become aware of the consequences caused by the consumption meat, including cardiovascular disease and environmental degradation, they would switch to vegetables. He said food manufacturers would increase the supply of vegetables and prices would then be accessible to almost everybody.

Paul Agrapidis, an entrepreneurship emerging enterprises and finance senior, said he believed in the cumulative effect of events that has led to advocacy for ecology and sustainability. “The Conscious Consumption has aroused my awareness that our choice of food makes a difference in our health and environment,” Agrapidis said. “Change does not occur overnight, but we will definitely make strides as we keep going together with SOS.”

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