“What kind of job is that going to get you?”
“Do you really think that there will be enough job opportunities with that major?”
“That’s fun and all, but, you have to be realistic.”
“You need to make sure that you are going to be economically stable.”
My grandfather is a counter.
He lives on a ranch, surrounded by rows of agriculture, grazing cows and nibbling goats. Every time we drive past them, he counts them aloud.
Ever since I can remember, my grandfather’s top choice of pastime has always been dominos, the table-top game consisting of numbered game pieces and one’s ability to think cleverly. As a way to make the game more challenging, he has always pushed us to think faster and to not settle with counting on our fingers, since the game calls for mental math.
From attending high school, an opportunity my grandfather did not have, I have studied levels of mathematics beyond what he has been taught. Nevertheless, he has expressed a greater love and impressive knack for numbers than I ever will.
My grandfather is the person who brought our family to the United States.
Had he not eleven children to support, perhaps, he could have attended a university, rather than laboring with construction crews on buildings that support a number of the universities in Southern California. I believe, that if he seen as feasible the choice to do so, he could have gone on to be a successful architect.
I understand my grandfather’s surrender as making accessible to me a wider range of choices, concerning what I am able to do with my life. He worked so hard so that I may have ability to choose whatever made me happy, without financial or familial burdens. If I choose to study something that may not potentially sustain me very well financially, but makes me happy, that is fine. If I choose instead not to continue my education, but, rather, to experiment with other aspects of life, it may not be the wisest choice. However, I have been given the freedom to make that choice; nothing has been imposed or forced upon me.
The night centered around food displayed on the table; participants gravitated toward food subjects. The concept, that food, inevitably, has a lengthy history before arriving to the table, revealed a split in views of participants at our table.
One viewpoint considered the amount of energy that is put into the production of food:
the people who
the factoring process,
again, the transport
and preparation. This elaborate cycle, in actuality, makes the production of food more expensive. We spoke about the importance of researching where the food people consumed came from and the process it went through before getting to the table.
A second viewpoint offered, expressed dismay at the amount of time it would take to investigate the food items one consumes. The degree of effort involved in tracking where each “food product” one may purchase comes from, as well as the methods behind its production, would seem impossible to fulfill.
Although it comes as an inconvenience to the consumer, this censorship of information benefits retailers by obscuring ethical pressures connected to the purchase of certain items. For example, the retailer Walmart profits considerably by concealing information about how much out-sourcing it does, along with information concerning the conditions and pay its foreign workers endure. If the public were more aware of this type of information, striking and boycotting would likely occur, devastating the company’s profits. Information that may provoke actions such as this is best kept under the table for companies’ financial interest.
Nearly all of us can recall moments when we have been horrified by news of an outbreak, poisoning, or some other form of revelation in respect to our food supply. Afterwards, however, many of us reverted back to daily habits, the thoughts and revelations we may have had earlier, lost.
To offer an example from popular media; in the documentary Food Inc., Barbara Kowalcyk, the mother of a two-year-old boy who died of E. coli poisoning contracted from meat purchased at a common fast food restaurant, relays her story regarding potential consequences of not knowing the history of food before eating it. Luckily, she chose to center her energies in facilitating change, and is now an avid advocate for food safety; unfortunately, this re-direction of energies was initiated only after the issue drastically altered her life.
It seems imperative that we must not wait for something so devastating to happen in order to start making more thoughtful choices. Information is available; albeit, it is often obscured. Uncovering what, specifically, is involved in producing the food we consume, takes a lot of time; but, time spent digging, along with time spent making publicly available, information that is uncovered, seems necessary to increase access to the possibility of making thoughtful choices.