Writing Assignments Handout

Spring 2003


All papers, whether short abstracts or longer pieces, should focus on basic questions:

·      What are the main themes evident in the narrative?

·      What is the scope of the work? Is it located in time and space (geographically)? If so, how?

·      What evidence does the author use? Case-studies? Demographics? Scientific studies? Government documents? Agency reports? Surveys?

·      Is the work written from a social, economic, environmental, scientific, political or other perspective?

·       What drives the argument? Economics? Human action? Ecological systems? Political or sociological ideology? Public Policy?

·      Does the author offer solutions, goals, ideas for resolving or addressing a problem? If so, how and in what manner?



16-credit students are required to write abstracts of journal articles they find for their Food Systems assignment (Tues., Week 3, April 15) related to themes in Freyfogle’s The New Agrarianism and for the Feenstra article[1] on closed reserve (Tues. Week 5, April 29).

Both 8-credit and 16-credit students should use the abstract model for their annotated bibliographies due with their final projects.


A good abstract begins with a complete bibliographic citation, then notes the main themes found in the text and also offers a short analysis of the material. The abstract should be written in 12-pt Times New Roman font, be double-spaced, and should contain 300-500 words (one or two pithy paragraphs). Hence:


Wilkins, Jennifer. 2000. “Community Food Systems—Linking Food, Nutrition and

 Agriculture.” Cornell Cooperative Nutrition—Food and Nutrition Section., downloaded, 3-26-03.

Wilkins offers a simple, digestible overview of the “Food Systems” concept in this online article offered by Cornell’s Cooperative Extension site. She gives a definition of a “Food System” followed by a list of components that distinguish local from global systems. Here, food security, proximity, self-reliance, and sustainability are all defined and connected to the food systems theory that is well located in the present. Along with a list of goals, Wilkins also offers a list of practical, community food system elements recognizable in many urban communities. Community-Supported Agriculture enterprises, along with farmers’ markets and community gardens, are among the most common elements found in local food systems. She also offers hints for individual consumer behavior that will enrich and support community food systems along with suggestions about how to incorporate them into individual lifestyles. Wilkins ends with a good list of reference works for further reading.

This overview affords beginners with easy access to terms and descriptions about food systems that are easy to understand and visualize. Highly descriptive in her treatment, Wilkins offers little analysis, trusting that readers will determine that this course is rational from economic and ecological perspectives. (This example is not double-spaced for paper-conservation reasons. Yours should be!)


Lappe, Francis Moore and Lappe, Anna. 2002. Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a

Small  Planet. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher-Penguin Putnam Pub.,Inc.

Moore begins her this book with an analysis and description of her acclaimed earlier work, Diet for a Small Planet. Here she announces once again that global food security is possible using available technology and sustainable growing practices. She reiterates that world hunger is a symptom of political allocation of food resources rather than a result of food scarcity. To make her point, Moore and her daughter, Anna, describe and analyze case-studies from the United States, Brazil, Bangladesh, New Delhi, Kenya, Holland, Belgium and France. Most of these studies offer some historical perspectives related to the social and political contexts in which the subject projects were formed.

Moore offers substantial arguments based on these case-studies, and with them, hope for a better food system that feeds us globally by focusing on sustainable, local, agricultural development and on strengthening and creating global policies that foster such a mix. Though an interesting read complete with good recipes and resources, Lappe’s book lacks a good index and so requires a thorough reading. It’s not useful as a reference resource but better lends itself to enrichment of political and ideological arguments about the necessity of supporting local food systems throughout the world.





All Farm-to-Table students are required to write two short (3-5 page) theme papers for this class and one, even shorter, analytical book review (Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, 1-2 pages).


The first paper (due Thurs., April 17) demands that students pick out one or two themes in Freyfogle’s The New Agrarianism.

·      Once the student has identified these themes, they are required to find at least one journal article that relates to the theme(s).

·      Seniors wanting advanced-level credit need to use two articles. Use the article(s) to inform a paper that describes and analyzes the theme(s) you’ve chosen from Freyfogle. In short, integrate the article(s) with your Freyfogle themes.

·      Begin with an introductory paragraph describing the themes and how the articles relate to the themes.

·      Fill the body of the paper with examples that explain and define your argument, using several, cited, examples from the texts, lecture and other course material.

·      Finish with a conclusion that reinforces your introduction and that offers a statement about the theme(s) and about the evidence you’ve presented. DO NOT spend very much time talking about “liking” or “not liking” what you’ve read. If you have criticism to offer, do so with examples and clear questions related to the material.

·      Always cite material in the body of the text (using footnotes, endnotes or parenthetical citations) and finish with either a full bibliography or endnotes that offer full citations of the works used.

·      First-year students are not required to write the second paper and will, instead, offer a final draft of the first paper. Depending upon student initiative, First-years may incorporate more than one journal article into the paper and may exceed the 5-page limit by a page or two on their second draft.


The Second Paper (due Thurs., April 24th) focuses on a description and analysis of Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. Only 2 pages in length, it should look like the abstract described above, but with a little more substance. Cite several, specific examples from the text and lectures as you describe and analyze the material.











The Third, Synthesis Paper (due Thurs., May 16th) requires that:

·      Students read and analyze Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and then link it to specific themes and ideas outlined in Barndt’s Tangled Routes, Chapter 3.

·      Learn how to incorporate block quotes when necessary.


Use block quotes (indented five spaces from both margins, justified, single spaced) when quoting more than three sentences from any text. Block quotes are great, but shouldn’t be over-used. You should outline and analyze material using your own words rather than copying large sections from the texts.[2]

·      We suggest beginning with Tangled Routes and then linking themes from that to pertinent ideas expressed in Fast Food Nation. Several connections should be evident, so don’t look for a “right” answer. This paper demands a thorough reading of both texts. Always cite specific references to ideas taken from, or quotations taken from, the texts.




8-credit students are required to write a 1-3 page thesis prospectus that outlines major theme, describes rational for the selected texts and that offers the reader a context for the readings selected in your bibliography. This paper should read like a bibliographical essay. In this sense, the body of the paper should be fashioned like a literature review—one that offers a description and short analysis of texts related to a central theme or themes and that includes material from class lecture, etc.


16-credit students must write a longer paper (7-10 pages) that functions much like a bibliographic essay (see above) and that expands on identified themes using specific, cited, references to source material from texts, lecture and other course material.


Annotated bibliographies should be comprised of at least 10 sources, three or more of which must be peer reviewed journal articles. Students wanting advanced-level credit must incorporate 12 sources, half of which (6) must be peer-reviewed. See Abstract description.





[1] Garrett, Steven and Feenstra, Gail. (n.d.) “Growing a Community Food System,” Community Ventures: Partnerships in

Education Series (Western Regional Extension).

[2] This what a block quote looks like.