For my photo voice project I decided to go with a topic that I can talk about practically all day- Cosmetics. I know that other classmates have chosen this topic, but I think that it is still a great topic for me to explore, considering that I purchase makeup at least once a month. The questions that I would like to ask and get answers to are:
What choices do I have? Who’s selling me what?
Often times I find myself shopping at Sephora, a makeup store known as a “high end” cosmetic store. It is considered high-end, because its prices can vary anywhere from 5-10 dollars, to over 200 dollars per item. There are a few benefits for those who shop at Sephora, MAC or other beauty retailers that are not offered at the drugstore, like exchanges on makeup that has already been open, offers on returning used makeup to exchange it for a different one, point reward systems, and the possibility of trying it on before buying. As a consumer, this type of store is great, because you know that you don’t necessarily have to buy several of one in order to find the one for you. Being able to try makeup and then returning it if it doesn’t work for you is a great benefit, as we all have different types of skin, and therefore different types of products that will work for our skin. The downside of having the ability to return items, and try them on, is that for someone that consumes too much of one thing, is that you are enabling yourself to continue the purchasing. Another great thing about this website, besides the fact that for someone who really enjoys cosmetics over consumes them, most of these websites also offer information on the ingredients list. This makes it both convenient from the health perspective, and also from a consumer perspective because you can decide for yourself if the products are worth the price. This type of information can provide help to a consumer that may not be so familiar with cosmetics industry, or for someone who plans on purchasing cosmetics for friends and family. If someone is unsure about where to begin, they can also go in store to see for themselves what the industry offers (free samples, store assistance, ingredient list), or they can also read more online and on the website if they want to know if a product is cruelty free.
Since I recently faced different options for the birth of my son I decided to use this experience for my Photovoice Project. The pictures I have included are pictures from a book distributed at our Childbirth Preparation class. These pictures illustrate the different options in medical procedures an individual has when planning a hospital birth. The book outlines what it means to make decisions during birth, methods for induction, methods for fetal monitoring, methods for pain relief and further interventions if necessary.
When answering certain questions for this project I found I was able to answer:
- “How healthy IS it?”
- “What choice/s do I have?”
- “Do I really know what I need to make a healthy choice?”
As for how healthy the options for childbirth are I found that there were pros and cons for the different medical procedures available. Among the different options I was set on having a natural birth and if necessary an epidural was my choice for pain relief. I found that other pain relief methods would travel to my son and I didn’t want that. When it came to finally having my son I tried my very best to get through labor without any medications. I made it through 16 hours before finally giving into an epidural, but even when I had my epidural my son came and was perfect. Knowing the different choices and their different risks or affects truly aided in my birth planning. For myself, this book was extremely helpful in guiding my decisions in giving birth. It allowed me to feel prepared and be informed of the choices I could make. Overall, the book provided me with the information necessary to feel comfortable in making the decisions I thought best for my son and I in labor and delivery.
Birth planning and taking this class at the same time really opened my eyes to see or look at things differently as a consumer. I discovered that as a consumer I hold the cards of my own care. I realized that I control what goes in and out of my body, but with the right information I can make better-informed choices. I also found that I was setting the tone for my son’s health even before he was born by my food consumption as well as his experience in birth. Before taking this course I felt that I was not as informed or aware of my choices as a consumer. I wasn’t actively taking hold of my role as a consumer, but now after taking this class and after giving birth or creating a birth plan I feel empowered to make informed choices for my future health.
Diabetes is often misunderstood by the common consumer. Often times diabetics are stereotyped as being extremely overweight, inactive, unhealthy eaters. Many do not realize that this common visual is in fact false. Diabetes is not limited to those who struggle with controlling their weight. It can effect anyone, skinny, fat, healthy, or unhealthy in their habits. Chances of contracting this condition are mainly effected by family history and chronic stress, as well as daily living habits. Diabetes is classified as a disease that impairs the body’s ability to absorb sugars in the blood. It can be broken into two types: Type One and Type Two diabetes. Type One diabetic’s have difficulty producing insulin, causing blood sugar levels to rise or fall drastically. Type Two diabetic’s process sugars differently causing their blood sugar levels to fluctuate dangerously. Consumers should not limit their viewpoints of this disease to the stereotype. The photos shown below exemplify common everyday aspects of a diabetic’s life.
The two questions that I chose to address in this photovoice project are:
- What choices do I have?
- Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?
What choices do I have?
Consumers should be aware that diabetics have same choices as them. The difference is that diabetics have to be more aware of their choices and how it may affect their bodies in the long run. A person suffering from diabetes can eat anything that a non-diabetic can, as long as they are aware of the nutritional content of the food and the portion sizes. Being a diabetic does not mean that a consumer is limited in any way. Some people look at diabetes as being a limit upon their lives, but that is very far from the truth. Diabetic consumer have all the same choices that any other consumer has.
Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?
Diabetics must be much more careful in their choices than non-diabetics. Diabetics must keep careful track of calories, carbs, sugars, and fiber. Foods that are higher in calories, carbs, and sugars run the risk of being unhealthy and could negatively affect blood sugar levels. If the levels become erratic or out of control it could pose serious short-term and long-term health risks to the diabetic. It is both easy and difficult to be healthy as a diabetic. On one hand, it is difficult to be healthy as junk food is easy, cheap, and fast to get ahold of. It is an easy go to for many people as a food choice. This choice though, could potentially harm a diabetic and put them at risk for higher blood sugar levels. On the other hand, it is easy to be a healthy diabetic. To be healthy, a diabetic must control portions and eat plenty of healthy fibers to slow the absorption of sugars into the blood stream. Consumers often classify diabetics as being unhealthy when in actuality there are diabetics out there that are healthier than the majority of others. It all boils down to the individuals choices and how they care for themselves.
When marijuana was legalized in 2012 in the State of Washington, it was not much longer before recreational stores started popping up everywhere. Even in Ellensburg there are 3 recreational marijuana stores. Cle Elum and Roslyn also have 3 stores in the area. The growing popularity of the cannabis industry can not be ignored and because of its contents, consumers should be aware of what they are being sold and what their choices are.
What are my choices and who’s selling me what?
I took a trip down to Ellensburg’s very own Cannabis Central where I took pictures of a few of the products they had for sale. I asked for a sample of marijuana flower, oil, edibles, and body balm to take pictures of.
They provided me with a 2 gram package of “DDAWG QUIN-N-TONIC”. This is an indica dominant hybrid strain with a total THC percentage of 21.26% that costs $20. When it comes to marijuana there are 3 types you can get. Indicas, sativas, and hybrids indicas tend to have a sedating, full-body effect on people. The physical leaves are short and bushy and when consumed it is said to help with anxiety, insomnia, pain, and muscle spasms (Leafly, 2017). Sativas, on the other hand, are said to give you a “head high”, as well as make you more focused, uplifting and spark your creativity. It is said to relieve symptoms of depression, ADD, fatigue, and mood disorders (Leafly, 2017). Hybrids are a mix of indicas and sativas. They can be a 50/50 mix of the two, or they can be dominant towards one or the other. This appeals to people who do not want the full effects of either strain.
Next, they provided me with 1 gram of oil, with a total THC percentage of 75%. Oil is a more concentrated form of marijuana. It is much higher in percentage compared to other forms therefore the effects are felt much stronger. Depending on the strain and THC percentage, the price usually ranges from $20-$40. CBC is a component that is THC free and is very helpful with pain. With this, you do not feel like you are “high” and do not feel the effects that you would with indicas and sativas. Instead, the CBC affects only the sight of pain. CBC oil is said to be very helpful with individuals who suffer from frequent seizures. (Epilepsy, 2017).
Edibles can come in tons of different forms. Cookies, brownies, candies, tablets, just to name a few. They gave me a package of blue raspberry candy pebbles that contained 10 candies, each with 10 mg of THC in them, totaling 100 mg THC per package. Edibles appeal to the crowd who are intending to feel the effects of marijuana but do not want to smoke it either due to health or personal reasons.
Lastly, the body balm they provided me with 350 total mg of THC in it. Interestingly, it also contained Kava kava, which is notorious for its sedating and pain relieving effects on the body (WEBMD, 2017). Body balms, as well as lip balms, and moisturizers, are used on people who have muscle, skin, and joint pains in certain areas. After direct contact with the balm, the effects are supposed to relieve the pain temporarily.
Experience taking the photos
At first, I thought it might be awkward to go into a store that sells drugs and ask to take pictures. After I got over the idea, I went in at a decently slow time of the day so I wouldn’t be disrupting their flow of business. Fortunately, there was a friendly girl working there who helped me out without hesitation. I informed her I was doing a school project and needed to photograph a few items and she recommended a few to her liking that I should photograph. This project helped my thinking in consumer health because it made me realize that especially when it comes to drugs, we should know what we are consuming and who is selling it to us. The great thing about marijuana being legalized now is that when you buy it, it tells you who it is from, when it was harvested, what is in it, and what kind it is. As opposed to buying it off the streets and not knowing anything about what kind it is and what is in it. I think as college students we tend to trust our friends a lot when it comes to drugs and alcohol and if I hadn’t completed this course or project I may not have realized the impact that we as consumers have on our own health.
If someone had never been exposed to discussions of consumer health issues and approaches, completing a project like this may be beneficial because it could inspire somebody to educate themselves not only about this topic but every topic. When people are more aware and educated there is more chance for change to happen and progress to be made. My project provides the general public with a basic standard of what you should expect to see when you walk into a recreational marijuana store.
Epilepsy. 2017. CBC Oil for Seizures. Retrieved from https://www.epilepsy.com/connect/forums/living-epilepsy-adults/cbd-oil-seizures
Leafly. 2017. Sativa vs. Indica vs. Hybrid: What’s the Difference Between Cannabis Types? Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/sativa-indica-and-hybrid-whats-the-difference-between-cannabis-ty
Web MD. 2017. Kava Kava-Topic Overview. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/tc/kava-topic-overview#1
For my photovoice project I answered the questions: How healthy is it? Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy? Who’s selling me what? And What choices do I have? I answered these questions in my powerpoint by comparing foods that one can buy in fast food chain restaurants or restaurant chains and similar foods that I made at home.
I made a food for every meal of the day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then compared the prices and nutrition information of my homecooked meals to that of the food of the well-known chain restaurants: McDonald’s (breakfast), Panera Bread (lunch), and Olive Garden (dinner). This answers the question, “Who is selling me what?” We all know that continuously eating food from fast food chain restaurants is bad for you, but sometimes we really need to see why. This is why I compared the nutrition information from those restaurants to my foods so that others can see just how much healthier it is, which answers the question, “How Healthy Is?” Homecooked meals have less calories, sodium, fat, etc. The price comparisons also allow you to see that cooking at home can be expensive, but we must also take into mind that the cost of eating out adds up as well. Also, in the long run it can be damaging to your health because it is loaded with so many things that can be harmful to you. Eating too much of this can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, etc. Towards the end of my powerpoint I answer the question, “Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?” with an explanation that centers around four main factors: time, cost, convenience, and choice. Ultimately, it is up to us to decide how to live out lives, but it is also important to be aware of what we are eating and just what choices we have, which is coincidentally another question that I answer with a list of pros and cons for both choices.
I don’t consider myself a cook. I know enough to vary my options a bit and actually feed myself, but as a bit of an aside to this project, I had never actually made chicken alfredo by myself before. Since I decided to make it for this project I showed myself that I could, so a point for me. This alone made the project a good experience, as well as taking pictures of my accomplishments and to inform others of the fact that they can also make similar healthier versions of food that is sold at their favorite chain restaurants. As a consumer, me answering the prompts listed above helped me realize that I really could just make my own restaurant-like foods, that are also delicious and filling rather than just going out. Although it may take more prep time than just buying something ready-made, I will more than likely have yummy leftovers I can reheat or turn into something else. This alone, is enough to convince me, since reheating leftover food from restaurant chains no longer tastes the same and often has a very greasy quality to it due to all of the oil and butter that is added when cooking it. This project requires work and your own research and a little exploring even. Whether that is just exploring the options that are out there as consumers or a little trip around town comparing advertisements or prices, depending on what prompt you are answering. This means that someone who has never been exposed to consumer health issues and approaches would definitely benefit from a project like this because they have to do the research to answer their prompt and will in turn find information that they had no thought of before, form connections, and even realize the types of techniques companies and businesses use to entice potential customers to buy or use their products. In all, the general public who sees my project and my writing on my blog, would be able to see the growth that I have gone through in learning about all of the topics we have discussed. Whether this be about pharmaceuticals or the types of care the elderly can have when they are sick or too weak to care for themselves. The general public will see that I have done my research. In my Photovoice project they will see an informed consumer, not someone who is struggling to make sense of the topic that is being discussed as I may have sounded like in the beginning, who is now in turn doing her part and informing other consumers of the options that are available to them out there so they too can make good choices.
During my time in this class, working on this blog, there have been two industries I’ve hit particularly hard: the pharmaceutical industry and the dairy industry: both of which may come off as hypocritical, as I do consume things from both these industries. I take a hormonal contraceptive to combat a scourge of hormonal acne that has struck me in my early 20’s, and when I make a sandwich, a slice of swiss really does make it great. However, the beef I have with these is misleading marketing about healthful effects of their products.
Who’s selling me what?
Here’s the really interesting thing about the dairy industry in the United States – it is one of the main receivers of farm subsidies in the country. Starting in the great depression and continuing into World War II, the industry was subsidized for economic reasons – the depression because dust bowl areas were suffering, and just a general decline in consumption – these subsidies were to keep these small family farms afloat. During World War II, it was to keep these farms producing while people were away at war and the United States was such a powerhouse. Production and subsidies continued – with the government having an investment in whether or not that milk got sold – the farm lobby has a good stake in many policymakers. So the federal government, on top of these subsidies, bought milk and stored it in Missouri as reserves for cheese and butter. But here’s the kicker: these reserves, in 1983, were valued at over 4 billion dollars. So the government switched gears and began to take a pro-dairy approach to policy making – it implementing an advertising board and commission that made a choice to heavily market dairy products such as cheese. Got Milk, if you’re familiar, is a product of this commission, known as ‘Dairy Management Inc.”
That’s the who, here’s the what:
The dairy industry most definitely wants you to look at their product as wholesome, and healthy. A glass of milk on the side of your meal is their recommended consumption: so much so that school lunch programs are not allowed to call it a meal unless milk is served with it. Again, I don’t think milk is per-say bad for you – you’d be better off consuming a glass of milk than an equally sized glass of vodka, or even soda; but rather, the products that milk can end up in in the normal American diet (the ones that Dairy Management Inc. is promoting especially heavily – they’ve worked with pizza chains to make sure there’s MORE cheese in certain products) are at odds with what many dieticians and, even other government agencies, say is healthful to eat.
How Healthy is it?
Again, I’m not doubting the benefits that milk can have on your calcium intake – it’s, weight-wise, the best thing you can consume if you’re looking solely at calcium levels. A glass of whole milk is a 103 calories, so it’s not especially bad calorically either. However, don’t let the milk lobby talk you into thinking it’s the only source of calcium: dark, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach or okra; white beans and soybeans; and some types of fish such as salmon, perch or rainbow trout are also good forms of calcium.
Milk, however, is something people can be sensitive to: lactose intolerance is relatively common among humans. It also can aggravate acne in those who are prone to breakouts; and those who consume skim or nonfat are more likely than those who consume whole to be overweight.
But milk itself is not the problem – rather, the problem is the things that milk pops into as an ingredient.
These products are some dairy products that I found in my family’s fridge – all of these are not especially healthy uses for dairy. These items include sundae syrup; various dips and coffee creamer.
Other dairy in our fridge also included cheeses – while the Brie and Provolone were slightly healthier, and more high quality in production, the shredded mexican cheese was not incredibly healthful.
This is the creamer – while the calorie count doesn’t seem to be high, it’s also an artificially low amount for coffee creamer. Just a tablespoon?
100 Calories for a topping? Wow.
2 tablespoons as a topping is 18% of your daily saturated fat.
Why is it difficult to be healthy/unhealthy?
It’s difficult to know what’s healthy because people like to make clear-cut choices – “I won’t eat X because it’s not healthy” is a really good rule until you get into a complex process, such as the dairy industry. While it’s not bad for you on it’s own, and can have nutritional benefits, it’s difficult to make these close calls because they are able to add things to it and make it not-healthy-at-all.
Overall, I thought taking these pictures and putting together this post was fun – I really love doing research, so learning so much about the dairy industry and its subsidies was something that I really took in stride. As a history buff, I also LOVED being able to dive into some Great Depression and WWII history. (I most definitely had the Molly American Girl doll!) Plus, learning about billions of dollar in what is basically cheese reserves parallel something I learned about Canadians – that they have a syrup reserve. We’re not the only crazy ones, apparently.
I thought it was interesting seeing what my parents had in their fridge – I got home for the holiday last night, and this morning, rustling through the fridge, I noticed their eating patterns while we were gone. My parents are fairly health-conscious people, but the holiday season (and I’m thinking, having their two daughters home from college) may have spurred them to spring on some items they may not usually dive into. I’ve realized I’m not an incredibly artistic person, through my PR degree, but at this point I’m comfortable enough behind a camera to construct something that doesn’t look like it came out of Blair Witch Project.
Being not versed in iMovie (I’ve tried!), putting together a long-form blog post was a little more my speed. I thought it was an intuitive project for me – even though I wish I was a little more humorous with my captions. I try incredibly hard to be funny and witty, but not quite sure that this topic could support something like that.
I’m also shocked about how calorically dense caramel syrup is – I’d make a joke and say I should “Switch to magic shell”, but I’m convinced that’d be even worse… somehow.
The first image below is of a can of soup, 8 ounces of soup cost $3.29.
The second image below is of a box of granola bars, the box cost $5.09.
The third image below is of a box of single serving instant macaroni and cheese, this cost $3.59.
These images represent the high prices of gluten free options on campus. The images were taken at the C-Store in the SURC. Not only were the foods priced highly but there were so few options that I could only take a few pictures. The questions I chose to address with these photos were “what options do I have?” and “who has the upper hand and how?”. To answer the first one, I went to the C-Store to see what options students on a meal plan had, which were very few and far between. Only one individual shelf had gluten free options that were labeled and certified gluten free. It is obvious to see who has the upper hand in this situation – the producers and the sellers. Most individuals that eat gluten free do not do so by choice and must buy the overpriced items in order to eat. I have experienced this myself as well as my mom and some of my coworkers.
Taking these pictures did not really open my eyes to anything I didn’t know before because I have lived gluten free for years and I understand how we are a trapped market. I believe any individual that has never thought about consumer health or had to think about being gluten free would benefit from this project because it would make them pay attention to what other consumers have to deal with every time they go to the store. I believe that these images will give other readers the opportunity to understand and see what individuals that live gluten free experience when they go shopping – including the high prices for smaller amounts of food.
For my Photovoice project, I decided to go to a couple popular restaurant chains that advertise to be “healthy.” The restaurants I went to were Subway, Chipotle, and Panera Bread. These are places I go to eat pretty often because it’s affordable, good food, and they claim to be healthy. I have always been curious about whether or not these restaurants are actually healthier than most places, so I am glad that this class has me more aware and cautious about product claims and advertising and seeing if they are true. For my project, I looked at the calories, sodium, and sugar of the meals I ordered from these restaurants.
My recommended caloric intake from a calculator based from my age, weight, height, and activity level – 1786/day. It is also recommended that people consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium a day, and sugar 6 g a day.
How healthy is it?
Prior into starting this project, I was expecting Chipotle to be the “healthiest” for me. This is because they claim to use ingredients without any added flavors or preservatives, make their food in the kitchen. They also claim that their products come from small farms that don’t add any hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides to their plants and animals. However, Chipotle had the highest amount of calories at 615, and highest amount of sodium at 1645 mg. Panera Bread and Subway had close calories at 570-590, but Subway had more sodium at 1580 mg. As for Sugar, Panera Bread had the highest at 17 grams, Chipotle at 10 grams, and Subway at 6 grams. All 3 restaurants are a little “all over the place” on how healthy it is, but I would claim Chipotle to be the least healthiest out of all 3 because of its high sodium content. I was surprised at the amount of calories for Panera Bread because it was a salad and a sandwich, I was expecting the calorie amount to be high. Overall, I’d consider Panera Bread to be the “healthiest” out of these restaurants because it had less sodium and calories.
What choices do I have?
Eating at any restaurant, you have a huge selection to choose from. On most menus now, they show the amount of calories there are in each item. So using, “I had no other choice,” really isn’t an excuse now after deciding to eat something that wasn’t nutritious. There is also always the choice of cooking your own food at home, that way you choose where you buy ingredients from (organic, local) how you cook them, and what you add (seasonings, side dishes). Also when you cook your own food, you aren’t adding all the extra seasonings that most restaurants do.
Why is it so difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy?
As a college student on a very tight budget, I think one of the main reasons it’s difficult to be healthy and easy to be unhealthy is because most unhealthy foods are very inexpensive. While grocery shopping, it’s easy to notice that the unhealthy, processed foods are cheaper than organic, locally owned foods.
I really enjoyed doing this project! It has made me more aware of what I’m eating and putting into my body. The reason I go out to eat most of the time is because I get pretty busy to the point that I don’t have a lot of patience or time to make myself something to eat. One of my hobbies is going out and trying new different foods, but after this project I now want to stick to trying healthier, organic foods that don’t have so much sodium in them. After taking a picture of the foods I ordered from restaurants I enjoyed going to, I even realized that they aren’t that appealing or look good at all. Although it is difficult to be healthy/easy to be unhealthy, buying healthier foods is like an investment and beneficial because then you wouldn’t be consuming so much unhealthy food that could affect your body a lot.
Taking this class also made me aware of so many issues I never thought much about such as the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare, and the importance of sustainability. The readings I’ve done for this class made me see a whole different side of public health. If someone were to complete a project like this, I think it would benefit them by making them realize that what you see really isn’t what you get. Restaurants like these have advertisements everywhere claiming to be fresh, healthy, and delicious, so of course we believe them. Someone might start reading more into nutritional facts and seeing the amount of fat, calories, sodium, or cholesterol their food has. My project provides information and proof that restaurant chains who claim to be healthy are not. It also shows that it truly is easy to be unhealthy because unhealthy food is affordable and easy to get because it’s cooked for you.
Click here to go to PowerPoint >> PhotoVoice 2 final
(This PowerPoint contains answers to the questions I chose to answer for this project and photos.)