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[UIUC] MACS364: Food Networks - S2014

Anita Chan, Author

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The first part of my designing process was the research. I looked through the Illinois Agriculture magazine and found a few interesting things from the first required reading. I read about how there were 74,600 farms averaging at 357 acres each. When I you multiply those both together you find out Illinois has about 27 million acres of farmland. I continued reading and discovered a few general topics. For example, foreign exports, growing interest in buy local, how fertile Illinois’ soil was, and the variety of crops that were being grow (from apples to peaches). From these topics, I was going to formulate my info graphic.

I continued to structure the focus of my info graph with my next source. The article, Growing Success”, had a direct link to how fertile Illinois’ soil was and the variety of crops that could be grown from it. There were many facts about how varying “specialty crops” were harvested year round by farmers. The article also went into how these farmers were ranked within the top 10 states in an industry generating 392$ million - helping to contribute to the economy and creation of jobs. Thus, these ended up being the messages I was trying to emphasize. I also wanted to show how small this fraction of farms actually was and I ended up using a statistic that ONLY 101,000 / 27 million acres contributed to this specialized farming industry. 


Marion Nestle has a strong opinion about Food Safety and the politics associated around it. From the chapters I read I think she is very “pro-public”. By that I mean she would like the public to be fully informed about what is in our processed foods especially in a scandal like the StarLink Corn affair. I believe she would find that my infographic lacks certain information. I think my infographic contains very few science and value based evaluations on food safety.

Although I explained what was being harvested, I didn’t go in depth as to the GMO / additives farmers used to enhance their yield. Nor did my infographic go into any evidence-based safety assessments. My primary focus was to explain what a specialized farmer was growing & what his impact was on the economy. Personally I think she would not be against my infographic, but she would like to see some possible risk statements from experts. It would probably be important to explain any un-publisized illnesses that the industry was trying to hide. Or if like in the StarLink corn scandal, were there any potential genetically modified organisms in the farmer’s yield. For the most part, I think she wanted me to display events that are happening in politics, which can be constituted as “shady” by the EPA, FDA, or even just the average consumer. Is there something on the shelves that is pending a recall? How safe are preserved foods? For example strawberries harvested in the summer yet being in stores year round. Rather than focusing on the economy and industry she would have wanted my infographic to be focused on the consumer's safety. 

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