Response Paper: Facing Famine, My Daily Dives in the Dumpster, What's in Your Toothpaste

Topics: Dumpster diving, Poverty, Dumpster Pages: 5 (1714 words) Published: October 19, 2008
Health and the Common Notions
“Good health” can be defined as the absence of illnesses and a state of mental and social well being. In other words, in order to maintain optimal health, it is imperative to have a well-balanced lifestyle, which would include a nutritious diet as well as mental and social tranquility. Tom Haines, author of “Facing Famine”, David Bodanis, author of “What’s in your Toothpaste”, and Lars Eighner, author of “ On Dumpster Diving”, discuss various topics of health while challenging the notions commonly perceived to be true. Together, the authors provide harsh insight regarding health conditions in relation to famine and disease in third world countries, as well as, challenging common views arguing on the truth behind toothpaste, and the perceptions held of everyday dumpster divers finding food from dumpsters and their “unhealthy” lifestyles.

Famine is a widespread shortage of food that may apply to any species, which is usually accompanied by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Author Tom Haines uses the short essay “Facing Famine” to discuss the rising famine epidemic in high hopes of provide insight and a new perspective to his audience. Providing his personal experience of visiting a village in a third world country, Haines provides images and emotions to the reader illustrating the events that occurred. Immediately he recalls that on the first afternoon spent in the village he was promptly shown a shallow, wide hole with nothing but hard dry earth at the bottom. Due to the lack of precipitation from the drought the lush farming lands have withered away or died. In turn eliminating all source of income, causing poverty. Once in poverty each household could no longer purchase essential supplies such as water, food, and medicine, ultimately leading to famine. Haines next introduces reasoning why the government of this third word country is not at blame either: “Three times, the government tried to dig a well in this village” (Haines 3). The government had attempted three times to drill a hole in search for water however their attempts were unsuccessful or the drill bits would break. Clearly, the government is in the same state of poverty as the rest of the country, crippling its ability to help its citizens any further (Haines 3). There after Haines presents a slightly more depressing perspective through a brief conversation with Gebi, the villager Haines is temporarily staying with. Gebi notes that, in his village, if all things remain the same and the drought does not stop, he will only have enough food to feed his family for five more months (Haines 4). The drought is the effect, which is causing an entire countrywide famine crisis. This harsh reality as told by Haines is his way of informing his readers about the poor health conditions in third world countries. By providing examples on the poor standard of living and all the hardship these third world country natives are faced with, the author draws his readers closer, almost allowing them to feel the same pain and sorrow he is experiencing (Haines 4). Following the conversation at the end where one of the villagers expresses to Haines that his feeling of sorrow is in reality terror, Haines almost instantly empathizes when he says: “Is it empathy?...Or am I crying from fear?”. Despite the fact that neither Haines nor any of his readers actually put themselves in the position of these villagers, Haines seems to reason that his sorrowful tears are either from empathy or fear. Through the detailed examples, showing the problems third world citizens face, of his emotions, Haines allows his audience to connect to his feelings of sorrow and pain, while giving them insight on the famine epidemic. Assembling such extensive insight on famine strengthens his argument in which he, along with David Bodanis, provide challenging arguments on the common notions associated with good health.

Toothpaste is one of the...
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