A look back at active reading

To reinforce those techniques (predict, question, make connections, visualize, summarize) one last time before you move on to ENGL112, read “Greed, Cancer and Pink KFC Buckets” by John Robbins in Chapter 3 of In Concert. (I’ll include it in the discussion too)


For your first post:

Respond to ONE of the following questions as your first post. Before you post, however, please read any posts your classmates have already written. If you have nothing new to add to a question, pick a different one instead.

When you first read the title, what did you predict would be the topic of the essay? Were you correct? Quote or paraphrase a sentence or passage from the essay to support your answer.
What connections can you make to the content of this reading? For example, do you know someone with cancer or have you been to a KFC restaurant? Explain how the connection you made enhances or improves the quality of your reading.
After reviewing the key details in the reading, what do you think is the author’s main point in this essay? What is he trying to convey to you, the reader, and what makes him effective or ineffective?

Remember to pick just one of the three choices above for your first post.

For your second and third post:

Please respond to 2 other classmates’ posts, or you may respond to any additional questions I post during the week.


by John Robbins

We live in a world of profound contradictions. Some things are just unbelievably strange. At times I feel like I’ve found a way to adapt to the weirdness of the world, and then along comes something that just boggles my mind. It is ironic that the largest grassroots breast cancer advocacy group in the world, a group called “Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” has now partnered with the fast food chain KFC, known for its high-fat foods and questionable treatment of its chickens, in a national “Buckets for the Cure” campaign. The program began last month and runs through the end of May.

KFC is taking every chance it can manufacture to trumpet the fact that it will donate 50 cents to Komen for every pink bucket of chicken sold. For its part, Komen is announcing on its website that “KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are teaming up … to … spread educational messaging via a major national campaign which will reach thousands of communities served by nearly 5,000 KFC restaurants.”

Educational messaging, indeed. How often do you think this “messaging” provides information about the critical importance a healthy diet plays in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing cancer? How often do you think it refers in any way to the many studies that, according to the National Cancer Institute’s website, “have shown that an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried or barbecued meats”? If you guessed zero, you’re right.

Meanwhile, the American Institute for Cancer Research reports that 60 to 70 percent of all cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Their number one dietary recommendation is to: “Choose predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes and minimally processed starchy staple foods.” Does that sound like pink buckets of fried chicken?

Pardon me for being cynical, but I have to ask, if Komen is going to partner with KFC, why not take it a step further and partner with a cigarette company? They could sell pink packages of cigarettes, donating a few cents from each pack while claiming “each pack you smoke brings us closer to the day cancer is vanquished forever.”

Whose brilliant idea was it that buying fried chicken by the bucket is an effective way to fight breast cancer? One breast cancer advocacy group, Breast Cancer Action, thinks the Komen/KFC campaign is so egregious that they call it “pinkwashing,” another sad example of commercialism draped in pink ribbons. “Make no mistake,” they say, “every pink bucket purchase will do more to benefit KFC’s bottom line than it will to cure breast cancer.”

One thing is hard to dispute. In partnering with KFC, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has shown itself to be numbingly oblivious to the role of diet in cancer prevention. Of course, it’s not hard to understand KFC’s motives. They want to look good. But recent publicity the company has been getting hasn’t been helping. For one thing, the company keeps taking hits for the unhealthiness of its food. Just last month, when KFC came out with its new Double Down sandwiches, the products were derided by just about every public health organization for their staggering levels of salt, calories and artery-clogging fat.

Then there’s the squeamish matter of the treatment of the birds who end up in KFC’s buckets, pink or otherwise. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has an entire website devoted to what it calls Kentucky Fried Cruelty, but you don’t have to be an animal activist to be horrified by how the company treats chickens, if you lift the veil of the company’s PR and see what actually takes place.

When PETA sent investigators with hidden cameras into a KFC “Supplier of the Year” slaughterhouse in Moorefield, West Virginia, what they found was enough to make KFC choke on its own pink publicity stunts. Workers were caught on video stomping on chickens, kicking them and violently slamming them against floors and walls. Workers were also filmed ripping the animals’ beaks off, twisting their heads off, spitting tobacco into their eyes and mouths, spray-painting their faces, and squeezing their bodies so hard that the birds expelled feces—all while the chickens were still alive.

KFC, naturally, did everything they could to keep the footage from being aired, but their efforts failed. In fact, the video from the investigation ended up being broadcast by TV stations around the world, as well as on all three national evening news shows, Good Morning America, and every one of the major cable news networks. Plus, more than a million people subsequently watched the footage on PETA’s website.

It wasn’t just animal activists who condemned the fast food chain for the level of animal cruelty displayed at KFC’s “Supplier of the Year” slaughterhouse. Dr. Temple Grandin, perhaps the meat industry’s leading farmed-animal welfare expert, said, “The behavior of the plant employees was atrocious.” Dr. Ian Duncan, a University of Guelph professor of applied ethology and an original member of KFC’s own animal-welfare advisory council, wrote, “This tape depicts scenes of the worst cruelty I have ever witnessed against chickens … and it is extremely hard to accept that this is occurring in the United States of America.”

KFC claims, on its website, that its animal-welfare advisory council “has been a key factor in formulating our animal welfare program.” But Dr. Duncan, along with five other former members of this advisory council, say otherwise. They all resigned in disgust over the company’s refusal to take animal welfare seriously. Adele Douglass, one of those who resigned, said in an SEC filing reported on by the Chicago Tribune that KFC “never had any meetings. They never asked any advice, and then they touted to the press that they had this animal-welfare advisory committee. I felt like I was being used.”

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