Tuesday, May 12, 2015

April 24, 2015 Summer Internship experience

Last summer I was an intern at the Yale Peabody Vertebrate Zoology Lab. My lab partner, Jake Longley and I skinned over 100 specimen, from lizards to sea turtles. I have always had an interest in biology, and zoology is a branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom. Zoology also explains the structure, evolution, classification, and distribution of all animals both living and extinct, and how they interact with their ecosystems. I never knew of all the careers you can pursue, and that is something that I learned through The Evolutions After School program and Bay & Paul. 

Additionally, I have become interested in ecology, which pertains to environmental science in many ways. Bay & Paul helped spark my interest in environmental science, and made me think about the environment we live in. I have become more aware of the things people do to the environment. I have also improved my communication skills, so I can advocate and defend myself when environmental topics arise. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Artificial Farms?!

Reflection of Food, Inc. (Documentary; Kenner, Robert)
By: Anna Khairi

Farms. Farms. Farms. What do you know about farms? Cows, chickens and pigs roaming their unequally divided area, would the first thing that pops into your mind. It's unfortunate that it's the image painted into the young and older minds of our community.

Behind the conventional farmer's barn lies a dirty little secret. Food, Inc., a documentary, only touches the surface about the true meaning of "farms" to big corporations like Monsanto. Well known fast food destinations (like McDonald) revolutionized the food industry. McDonald is a the largest purchaser of ground beef in the United States. It doesn't seem like it would pose a threat to what we eat, but it does. Since McDonald floats at the top of the pyramid, they are able to control 80% of how the cows are raised. This allows for their burgers to taste the same. They determine how beef are produced.

This doesn't just apply to fast food. It applies toward the meat we purchase at the grocery store. Most meats are controlled by 3-4 large companies. We give them that power by sourcing them for our dinner pates. Chickens today get slaughtered in half the time as they use to 55 years ago; chickens now, are twice the size. Since people tend to eat more white meat, they genetically engineered the chicken to have larger breast.

That doesn't sound something that a typical farm would do. In children's books, cows eat yellow sweet corn. That's unconventional for them; normally they'd eat grass. These small things are noticeable. I don't really support how this film justified these large corporations, perpetrating them for their actions because of their benefits for the general population; however, I do agree that these companies were in the wrong for antagonizing smaller farms for harvesting their GMO produce, when the wind blew it over.

I think we can do something about this situation at hand. We can stop/boycott these large companies or even just educating the public about what goes on in these "farms." It would also be hard to take such an immense step like that. The companies own the majority top brand meats and produce. And because of that, it's harder to leave something when it's more at you convenience.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie. I thought it was very interesting and not boring. I'd definitely recommend this film to my fellow peers, educators and community. The graphics and animations, were phenomenal. The transition from different subtopics didn't drag out; it was very informative and kept my attention!

These corporations, are the artificial farms.

"A Place at the Table" Documentary

I recently watched the documentary “A Place at the Table”, which highlights the concept of a food desert. The documentary follows the lives of a few different characters, including a single mother living in Philadelphia, and a middle school student from Colorado.  All the people shown, even though they’re from much different places, face the same issue of not having sufficient access to fresh, healthy foods, and as a result end up having to opt for packaged and processed snacks and “instant meals” (e.g. ramen noodles, microwaveable mac n’ cheese, etc) on a daily basis. The documentary also addressed the role of the U.S. government in the people’s health; the limitations that a “food stamp diet” has on the intake of needed nutrients, the lack of sufficient funding for quality meals in schools, and the effects of all these factors on our performance and functioning as a nation.

This documentary certainly opened my eyes to the fact that the word “starving” can have multiple meanings. Even though the poverty and starvation present in the U.S. isn't as severe as it is in other parts of the world, there are definitely people in the U.S. who don’t have access to food, and struggle daily to put something on the table for their families. Adding to this problem is the fact that many have to travel farther to get to a supermarket than to get to convenience store, and as a result, many kids are more accustomed to snacking on chips or cookies after school than on other healthier options, such as fruits and vegetables. The most interesting part of it is this: The problem isn't that America doesn't have enough food; in fact there is MORE than enough. ACCESS is the problem, and the fact that farm subsidies are going towards the wrong kinds of foods worsens it; in recent years, the prices of processed foods have plummeted, while those of fresh organic foods have skyrocketed. Lawmakers and even presidents in the past (including our current one) have tried to address the issue of food insecurity and use their positions to fix the problem, but sadly, these aren't the kinds of issues that are prioritized but the government as a whole. It will take much more manpower and involvement to open more peoples’ eyes to the issue, so that better and lasting initiatives can be taken to improve widespread access to healthy foods, because there are millions of Americans who face the issue every day. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

World Wide Decline in Large Herbivores

Big herbivores such as zebras and elephants are disappearing in huge numbers so much that they can potentially become extinct. William Ripple and his team focused on 74 species of large herbivores and came to the conclusion that they will continue to diminish in large numbers if something isn't done to intervene. According to Ripple this would come with great cost, ecologically, economically and socially. With this would also come the decline of carnivores, whose prey are going extinct. They also believe that with the loss of the herbivore population, other parts of the ecosystem will suffer. Besides lack of food for carnivores, there will be lack of seed dispersal, changes in habitat for fish, and slower nutrient cycles for plants.

See this link for more info on the topic:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150501151606.htm

More Than Honey

More Than Honey Documentary Review:

More Than Honey is a  short documentary that stresses the importance of bees, highlighting that they do more than just provide us with honey. Bees are extremely important to our lives and without them we wouldn't be alive.Many scientist have said that bees are the reason for one out of every three bites of food that we take. Many of the crops that we eat need to be pollinated by bees. Which means without bees, our crops wouldn't survive which in turn means we won’t survive. Big amounts of beehives have gone missing.1.5 out of the 2.4 million beehives in the US have just disappeared. Though this documentary didn't tear at the heartstrings, it opened eyes to a bigger picture. We need to figure out what we can do to stop these big amounts of bees from disappearing.

Food Inc. Review

      Recently I watched the movie Food Inc. which is a documentary about the horrors of the modern day food industry. It mainly talked about how all of the food industries are basically owned by  major food corporations. Companies controlling what the farmers do by forcing them to get into a large amount of dept and then threatening to terminate their contract. They talked about all the things that these corporations do not want to talk about like how the animals are treated, what is really in their products, and the risk this is all having on your health.
       It went through telling us the behind the scene of  how things like the cows, pigs and, chickens that come to our supermarkets are treated and killed. How chickens are kept in dark house with no room to move and are beings designed to grow too fast and therefore the rest of their body can  not grow up fast enough so they can not walk. Cows having digestional issues and breading dangerous diseases because of the corn based diet they are being feed instead of  eating the grass they are evolved to eat. Animals standing all day everyday ankle deep in their own feces, which causes the spreed of diseases that can get into the meet that we eat and cause us to get sick.
       The movie also talked about corn. How since it so cheap and it can be used to make so many things it is being massively farmed in America. Therefore it is in almost everything. It is being feed to the animals that become our bacon, burgers, chicken nuggets, ext., it is made into corn syrup and is used as a sweetener, it is in almost ever product in the grocery store. This is not good for us or the animals that we feed it to.