Food and Society/Commodity Chain Analysis Assignment –

Food and Society/Commodity Chain Analysis Assignment
This assignment asks you to do some detective work to investigate the sources of the products you consume. You’ll be asked to choose a specific product and trace it from source to consumption. This type of project is called “commodity chain analysis,” since it starts with a product (a commodity) and uncovers the chain of events, people, and materials that produced it.
The goal of this research project is to uncover the hidden social and environmental relationships behind the products that we consume. What follows are the instructions for each stage of the project.
Due Date
Assignments are due at the start of class (4:30pm) on Thursday, December 3, 2015. They may not be faxed or sent as an e-mail attachment. NO exceptions.
The penalties for lateness is strict: 10% per day with no extensions except on medical or compassionate grounds as specified by university regulations.
Choose a food commodity to investigate
This should be a general commodity and not a brand name (e.g. eggs, beef, wheat, bananas, etc).
Investigating your commodity
After you have chosen your commodity and I have approved it (not required but recommended), you want to conduct in-depth research on your commodity and begin to put your analysis together. Some questions to consider with your analysis are:
? Where there any conflicts over the product that has had implications on the commodity chain?
? What materials go into making the product and where do the materials come from?
? Where does the manufacturing take place? Or, if this is an agricultural product, where does the planting and harvesting occur?
? Who performs the manufacturing or harvesting tasks? Do they face any environmental or health hazards in their work?
? What are the environmental conditions in the countries or areas where the manufacturing or harvesting takes place? What are the political, economic, and labor conditions there?
? How did the product get from one point in the commodity chain to another (e.g., from the manufacturer to the place where you bought it, from the supplier of raw materials to the manufacturer, etc.)? How far did it travel? What can you say about the environmental impacts of this activity? What can you say about how this connects you to other parts of the country or the world?
? What companies manufacture the product? What else can you find out about this company? (Is it part of a larger conglomerate? Where are the headquarters? How big is the company? Etc.)
Answering these questions will require a good amount of work, using a variety of resources—including library materials and web-based resources. BE SURE TO USE REPUTABLE SOURCES. You will need to use your imagination and your best detective skills in order to complete the assignment. Even so, you will probably hit some dead-ends in the process. A few dead-ends are acceptable, but if you have trouble getting any useful information, you should choose a different product.
As you continue your research an expanded outline of your research paper and a list of sources about your commodity will be generated. This is a crucial step in helping complete your commodity chain research paper.
Writing your research paper
Your research paper should answer the following questions:
1. Describe the product you have chosen and how it fits into individuals routines. How often do people consume it? Why do people consume it? Give some general background on the product, and ultimately, explain why it is worthy of a commodity chain analysis.
2. Describe the results of your commodity chain analysis and the process by which you came to these results. Try to describe as much of the full commodity chain as you were able to uncover. Diagrams might help in some cases but are not required. Also, be sure to make it clear how you went about getting this information. Explain what sources you used for different pieces of information (and cite them), so that someone else could, in theory, re-trace the commodity chain and find the same things you found.
3. Explain and describe the hidden social and environmental relationships behind your commodity. How does the production and consumption of this product affect social relationships locally, nationally, globally?
4. Explain some alternative ways of producing and consuming your commodity and how it will improve the social and environmental relationships behind your commodity
5. Conclude with a discussion of what you learned about the social relationships of production and consumption by examining your commodity chain.
Stylistic Guidelines
Stylistic Guideline:
– All assignments must be: 12-14 pages in length; use 12 point times new roman font; have 1” margins around all sides; pages numbered, and all paragraphs must be indented and double-spaced (two spaced between paragraphs, NOT four).
– Give your assignment an interesting title.
– Citations are to be completed in APA format. For this paper, use in-text citations (footnotes or endnotes are not permitted). A good free online guide is available at:
– Source materials (articles, books) to be used for this term paper can only be selected from reputable presses and peer reviewed academic journals.
– A note regarding direct quotes/block quotes: at this stage of your academic career, the ability to synthesize material is crucial. The use of direct/block quotes should be used cautiously and in situations were it only strengthens your argument.
Submission to
– Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea, or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing via in-text citations. Plagiarism is a major scholastic offence.
– Students are required to submit a digital copy to on the course WebCT. The paper will not be considered submitted until this done. The digital copy must be submitted before 4:30pm on Monday, December 3, 2015.
– Students can only make ONE submission to
Criteria for Grading Assignments
The paper will be evaluated, considering the following points:
1. The relevance of the sources that were used
2. The general organization of the text and clarity of the writing.
? Be sure that the outline of the paper is announced in the intro.
? Be sure that links between different sections are clear and well exposed.
3. The quality of the reasoning, use of evidence and practical examples.
4. Insightfulness, creativity and critical attitude. The paper should cover more than a
description of some object, beliefs, practices.
A/A+ — Extraordinary (85-100 Percent)
In addition to having all of the criteria for an A-, provides a unique synthesis and analysis of existing literature, along with supporting evidence for a thesis that constitutes a potential contribution to, and advance of the discipline, and is thus potentially publishable.
A- — Excellent (80-84 Percent)
Content: The paper is outstanding in its thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and care, establishing the author’s authority.
Displays awareness of, and purpose in, communicating to the reader.
Conveys a solid understanding of the relevant information and the context in which it is presented.
Establishes a clearly focused controlling argument as part of a sound analysis with a compelling conclusion.
High-level scholarship, evident in exhaustive citation of relevant sources.
Fluent expression, written with freshness and clarity
Demonstrates coherent and sophisticated organization; makes effective connections among ideas.
Displays superior, consistent control of syntax (i.e., arrangement of words in sentences and paragraphs).
B — Good (70-79 Percent)
Content: The paper is competent but not outstanding, with the author’s authority not completely established.
Addresses the assignment clearly and analytically.
Establishes a clearly focused controlling argument, with effective support.
Good analysis with some compelling conclusion(s).
Cites relevant sources.
Demonstrates clear and coherent organization.
Well written, with a consistent control of syntax, sentence variety, word choice, and conventions of standard English.
C — Satisfactory (60-69 Percent)
Content: The paper is satisfactory, but could be improved in numerous ways.
Addresses the assignment with some analysis, but is more descriptive than analytic. Satisfactorily establishes a controlling idea, but does not develop an argument.
Lacks a convincing presentation of material, with some superficial and undeveloped material, and a straying flow of ideas.
Cites some sources.
Demonstrates adequate organization.
Displays adequate control of syntax, sentence variety, word choice, and convention of Standard English.
Some errors and omissions slow the reader, diminish understanding, or undermine the authority of the writer.
D — Unsatisfactory (50-59 Percent)
Content: The paper is deficit in numerous ways.
Addresses the assignment inadequately, even though the author shows a familiarity with the subject.
Shows insufficient awareness of needs of the reader in relating written ideas. Lacks or strays from the controlling argument.
Lacks generalizations, or provides generalizations with inadequate support or analysis.
Fails to cite sources.
Displays random or confusing organization.
Shows deficient control of syntax, word choice, and convention of Standard English; errors impede understanding.
Serious errors and omissions make for tedious reading, impede understanding, and seriously undermine the authority of the writer.
F — Seriously Flawed (Under 50 Percent)
Content: The paper lacks the writing skills expected at the university level.
Fails to address assignment.
Lacks a controlling idea.
Displays inability to generalize, analyze or support ideas.
Fails to use outside sources.
Style: Lacks organization or organizes illogically.
Shows inadequate control of syntax, word choice, and convention of Standard English.

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