Scott’s story

Why would a 2nd year MBA student spend a significant amount of his time facilitating a DeCal class on ‘Food, Health and Sustainability’ in the Journalism school?

1.  I used to be obese

I’m currently in the best shape of my life.  My lipid profile isn’t bad either. But I wasn’t always this way. I used to be 30 pounds overweight and had chronic GERD and frequent back pain.  This was 2005.  My blood pressure and fasting glucose were creeping up to a danger zone. Was this a sign of insulin resistance? Perhaps. Regardless, it was fueled by lots of late nights in consulting, combined with calorie-dense but nutrition deficient meals (and lots of Oreo Cheesecake and beer).

In 2007 I settled into a new job and could finally grab control over my lifestyle. I had come back from a snowboarding trip completely exhausted and trailed behind the rest of the group throughout the trip. I had to fix myself. I took this as an opportunity to overhaul my lifestyle.  I researched “fat loss”, particularly leveraging the blogosphere. I began playing racquetball and started Crossfitting. I cut out empty calories, paid attention to where my food came from and started down the paleo/primal path.  I also learned a lot from Gary Taubes.  To share my efforts, I started a facebook page that chronicles my workouts and meals.

2.  We’re headed down a dangerous path

It wasn’t till I backpacked through Central America that I realized how food affects much more than just our bodies. Earlier that year, a friend suggested I read Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I had it on my Kindle but didn’t start reading until I was on a “chicken bus” in Nicaragua.   I was reading about the maize that made its way to the US on the same path that I was travelling. I looked out the window and saw cows grazing in pasture while learning about CAFOs for the first time.  I realized that this country, who’s GDP is 1/20th that of the US’s, produces its food in such a different way than we do. There was no military-industrial-agriculture complex and obesity was scarce (through rising). I discovered the connection that food has not just with our health but with the environment and society.

3.  I ‘m at Cal. I want to learn and connect with the brightest

Great… I was impacted by a book on agriculture and another on revisionist history of nutrition.  I lost a lot of weight and feel a lot better; what does this have to do with facilitating a class and getting involved with a blog!?

  1. I’m at one of the most progressive universities in the world
  2. Michael Pollan is an adjunct professor here
  3. I’ve taken several classes in corporate strategy, business models and marketing
  4. I’m passionate about health and sustainable agriculture, and there must be a class on this somewhere else at Cal, right?

Well, kind of. I found a DeCal course that was taught last Spring during my first year of business school. I cold-emailed Jenna asking if she was facilitating again in the Fall since there was nothing else offered that sounded interesting. She needed another pair of hands. I offered and suggested we incorporate another one of my passions: social media.  We assembled a team, developed a course and here we are half way through the Fall 2010 semester!

Hence “Food, Sustainability and Health in Social Media.”  The course is divided into how food affects 3 systems:

  1. The body
  2. The environment
  3. Society

We explore each of these topic areas through the lense of social media rather than textbooks and “traditional media.” Assignments are not delivered on paper to sit in a filing cabinet. Instead, students will write blog posts, comments and become a part of the global discussion.

While teaching is a great learning experience, I’m learning even more from my fellow [younger] millennials who are students in the class.  We have a great group of enthusiastic bright minds who are devoting a lot more of themselves to causes than I am. These are the people who are going to make a difference. Look out for some great writing from them over the next few months! This is their blog – all I can do is help create a platform for them.

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