Forks Over Knives

Lee Fulkerson’s Forks Over Knives documentary explores the claim that diseases can be controlled and possibly reversed by changing the American diet from animal-based foods to whole foods and plant-based foods. Not only is the American diet overflowing with animal-based products, it is also flourishing in highly processed foods.  Obesity statistics are skyrocketing along with our top leading causes of death, cancer and heart disease.  Hypertension and diabetes are other food-related diseases that may arise as obesity takes over.  The doctors and research cases that are revealed in this documentary display how they went about proving that your diet can become a form of medicine when executed properly. This is not a new concept. In fact, 2,000 years ago Hippocrates made the statement,  “ let food be thy medicine”.  The science and research behind his statement wasn’t applied until the 1950s as researchers, such as Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell began putting this claim to the test.  They conducted labs that exposed rats to animal nutrient cultures and many more.  They also pulled statistics from other nations, such as Kenya or Japan, and compared their disease rates to America.  One study shows that America’s breast cancer rate averaged nearly 80 times that of Kenya, simply because Kenyans did not have access to the protein and dairy that Americans have access to.  One of Dr. Esselstyn’s patients, Anthony Yen, who is a Japanese native that moved to America as a healthy adult.  Yen soon began endulging into the fast, convenient foods of America and shortly became a victom of weight gain, heart disease, and 5 bypass sugeries.  Yen explained how the Japanese diet consisted mainly of rice, soup, and vegetables, and that American’s servings of meat per person could feed a whole family in Japan.  There are a handfull of degeneratively-diseased patients reveiwed throughout the film who have made the decision to follow a whole food, plant-based diet, including Yen.  Each patient received worthy results after committing to the diet, and some were even able to ditch the pills, reverse their disease, and exceed their life expectancy.  In conclusion, Dr. Campbell and Dr Esselstyn pinpoint animal-based foods as the cause for disease, especially for cancer and heart disease.  Dr Campbell believes that authorities are avoiding this valuable concept in order to protect the status quo, which is ridiculous.  I know that doctors will recommend diabetics change their diet and it’s up to them to decide whether they want to listen or not, but sometimes healthy foods are not accessible or affordable to patients.  Having the support from authorities would be helpful.  As seen in Food Inc., the food industry has so much power that authorities are allowing them to produce tons of unhealthy foods that have been known to raise disease risks.  Dr Campbell believes that America could decrease health care costs by 70%-80% if everyone were to adopt this dietary pattern.  It’s a shame how much money is put into America’s health care and yet our nation is sicker than ever.  Food is essential to us because of its nutrition, culture, and tradition, but instead of “living to eat” we should learn to “eat to live”.



Last Wednesday, scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed SoFi, a soft robotic fish. The New York Times claims that its purpose is to observe the life and habitat of fish, which scientists believe to be conceivable because of SoFi’s ability to mimic a real fish. Scientists across the globe have experimented with robot fish in the past, but SoFi is noted as a more advanced robot fish. PhD Robert Katzschmann stated that, to his knowledge, SoFi is the first robotic fish to swim untethered in 3D for extended periods of time. SoFi is water proof, runs off of battery power similar to smartphones, and has the ability to control its own buoyancy and weight distributions. This fish also has a camera, a two-way hydrophone, environmental sensors, an operating system, and a communication system. SoFi is relevant to society in part that it may become more prevalent in the future. Scientists foresee SoFi being a pollution tracker, environmental monitor, and a piece of collective intelligence. Scientists also believe that it can be essential to understanding and protecting marine life, therefore, future investments in robotic fish are highly possible. In relevance to our class, SoFi is a great demonstration of the assumptions made within mainstream economics. The first assumption being that environmental issues that arise can always be fixed with technological innovations. Secondly, the economy uses the environment as a supply depot to better equip the economy. For instance the majority of the New York Times article brags about how flattering and informative this experiment will be as humans get to explore the habitat and behavior of fish species from the perspective of a fish and “uncover the mysteries of marine life”. Scientists are taking advantage of marine life for their own entertainment and technological advancement without thinking of the repercussions to marine species. For instance, the lead scientists of the SoFi experiment stated, “If a shark would have come and ate our fish, that would have been the most amazing footage”. What about the shark’s health after ingesting this high-tech device? Will this robotic fish make matters more complicated in its potential efforts in benefiting endangered environments? Why spend tons of money on an unsustainable piece of technology that’s bound to have malfunctions? I don’t see robotic fish being dependable solutions for environmental endangerments. There’s a possibility that SoFi may be making these environments more vulnerable all while stealing the attention of scientists from environmental health concerns and steering them towards making more efficient robotic fish. The first time I read through this article I became greatly biased against SoFi and did not see any reason for investing in such a thing. One reason for becoming biased came about after making the connection with mainstream economics and its heavy intrinsic value in the economy over the environment. The main reason was due to the author’s ironic title choice, “Robotic Fish to Keep a Fishy Eye on the Health of the Oceans”. The title gave me the impression that SoFi was made with the intent of protecting and resolving endangerments of marine environments, which is not the case. Katzschmann admits that the primary goal of the robotic fish was to provide an advanced tool for biologists.

MIT reveals soft robotic fish for documenting marine life

YMCA Advertisement

This advertisement was found under the health and wellness tab of Today’s website. The text of this ad reads, “When communities get better, the world gets better”. The saying is a bit over exaggerated but makes sense in the case that communities make up the world and therefore when one gets better the other will do the same. Although, I believe that this statement can also be proven wrong. For example, our world has gotten better in the sense that we have made a ton of progressions throughout history into a developed country. As we have learned in class, the world has not gotten better at preserving nature, becoming sustainable for the sake of earth and our future generations, etc. The bottom right corner of the ad reads “The Y. For a better us”, promoting the idea that there are benefits to having a Y in the community. The YMCA logo is placed in the top right corner of the ad to denote that this ad was created by the YMCA Company. The ad addresses the community through text, but only captures a picture of one specific individual in the picture. The ad consists of a young, African-American boy smiling as he rests against the handlebars of his bike. Is the ad attempting to target one specific race, gender, or age range? The background and the bike as a whole are omitted from the ad. For all we know this could be a random boy playing outside with no affiliation to the Y. He may not even be physically riding a bike given that the background is unclear. The boy could also just be posing for the picture instead of genuinely enjoying his bike ride as the viewer would assume. Embedded below the primary text is a bright green donation button. The goal of the ad is to receive donation money from people that come across the ad by promoting healthy living, unity, and a better world overall. The ad does not state specifically that the company wishes to use the donation money on improving their YMCA facilities although it is strongly implied through its text. By giving the company more money they can expand and improve their facilities which in turn will bring satisfaction to the company, as well as, residents that attend the Y, if that is indeed the company’s intention. Some viewers may see it strictly as a money bribe. Others may be able to see past the donation urge and see its promotion in healthy living through community efforts and activities and physical activity. Because a child is depicted in this ad it targets families or individuals with kids. Parents of younger children may see this ad as an opportunity to get a break from their kids. Not only will the parents get a break, but the children will have something healthy and/or active to partake in. An older crowd or individual without kids may find the ad to be inapplicable to them and only see the ad as a plea for donation.

Oyster Restoration Activity

My teammates and I have committed to several community service opportunities. One of the events involved an oyster project with the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement (SCORE) program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). This event was split up into two parts: oyster bagging and reef construction. Oyster bagging took place during the fall of 2017, while the reef construction occurred in the spring of 2017. The goals of this program are to initiate oyster restoration efforts, educate citizens of the value oysters have on our ecosystem, and to influence the higher-ups in hopes of better habitat protection as well as better restoration funding. Not only do oyster reefs provide a habitat for marine life and restoration of the oyster population, they may also prohibit nearby shoreline erosion which is one factor in coastal climate impacts. Another benefit of oyster reefs on the shoreline is water filtration and coastal flood prevention. After a short introduction the team was taken to a huge pile of oyster shells and given gloves, buckets, shovels, and net-like bags. As we paired off, one person was to hold the bag steady while their partner filled it ¾ of the way with shells. The bags were tied and loaded onto a truck. Each partner took turns with the shoveling until the entire pile of oyster shells was gone which took about 2 hours. We created over 200 oyster bags that day and were invited back for the second task in the springtime due to high oyster recruitment heights in the warmer months. The second event took place at Wappoo Cut Landing. As a team we lined up across from each other as we unloaded a truck filled with oyster bags. Like an assembly line we tossed each bag down the line to be loaded onto a boat. Once the boat had an adequate amount of bags a group of 7 people loaded onto the boat and were taken about 0.5 miles away from the dock to unload the bags onto the shoreline. There were 5 boat trips in total each taking a different group of people to the shoreline. At the shoreline, each group would line up along the water as each bag was tossed to the end and placed on the muddy shoreline. Several slips, scrapes, and falls took place during the process but with great teamwork we managed to construct an oyster reef. This oyster restoration event served as a great team bonding activity and shows how much we can get done by working together. The same goes for the community as a whole. We can help improve the environment if we all contribute to the many environmental practices such as recycling, decreasing land and water pollution, decreasing land degradation/deforestation, and cutting back on the many resources that we take advantage of. Aside from teamwork, we were reminded that marine life has its own connection of systems that must be restored in order to sustain life. Without reefs the surrounding marine species have lost essential food and shelter which in turn results in less marine species, oysters and fish included. Lack of oysters can result in unfiltered water and less seafood for humans. Likewise, reef less shores make the shore more susceptible to erosion meaning less land for humans.
The track team will be returning to DNR to participate in this event again tomorrow morning. I will post follow-up pictures/videos below.