Eric Schlosser, an award-winning investigative journalist, is an Atlantic Monthly’s correspondent, whose literary work has appeared in various magazines. His skills and knowledge as a journalist and reporter have served him right in gaining praises in a number of industries. What We Eat is an excerpt from Fast Food Nation, one of Schlosser’s best selling books nationally. His experience in the literary world, which enabled him to write dependable, creative and impressionable articles, is fodder for him; his reliability and credibility is a sign of a well respected and trusted writer who enjoys immense authority. In his articles What We Eat, Make Peace with Pot, and Why McDonald’s Fries Taste So Good, Schlosser uses his persuasive ability to reveal the dark secrets and influence the opinion of the readership.
What We Eat is a display of the several ways in which the industry that deals with provision of fast food has corrupted the United States, and the writer’s rhetorically appealing tools renders credibility and conviction to his examples. Eric Schlosser employs appeals to ethos, pathos and logos to form a foundation and strong support for the claims that he raises. Most of the article’s appealing tactics come from the appeal to pathos. The article points out how fast food dealers aim at the working class and children. The restaurant owners are aware that most of the women have become part of the working team to supplement other sources of income. This creates a void on the duties that belonged to the housewife. The working nation finds the solution to this problem in fast food restaurants (Schlosser 2001). The writer’s depiction of how the Americans’ minds are crooked because of prevailing void evokes strong emotions. It makes the reader sympathize with the working class and treat the fast food industry with repugnance (591- 597).
Schlosser presents another appeal to pathos in the discussion concerning the unfair handling of the workers in the fast food industry. This industry does not require skilled and experienced workers; all what it needs is a group of naïve workers to take orders and operate machines. Therefore, the industry looks for people who are desperate and willing to work for a meager income. The workforce includes the teenagers, immigrants, disabled and the elderly. These employees have negative opinions about the work. By explaining how the job poses challenges to the workers, Schlosser evokes piteous emotions out of the readership.
Additional to use of pathos, the writer uses several logistical appeals to reveal how the industry has impacted the United States’ economy. In the first paragraph, Schlosser argues “fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny” of the society (Schlosser 491). He goes on to support the claim by arguing that, in 1970, Americans spent $6 billion on fast food while at the dawn of the last decade, the country spent $110 on the same. Currently, Americans spend more in fast food than in combination of computers, movies and books, a revelation that is shocking and almost incredible. The writer employs the appeal to logos to capture the reader’s attention; it is a statistic that convinces the readership that fast food is indisputably a part of Americans’ lives.
Another, equally persuasive, technique that the writer uses is the appeal to ethos. Throughout the article, the writer credits the sources from which he fishes information. For instance, he acknowledges Jim Hightower when he quotes Eat Your Heart Out, a book that appeared in the public domain in 1975. Schlosser is quick to cite and explain his source of evidence. The sources include reliable articles from credible sources. By so doing, the writer builds credibility and proves that his article is reliable in its original form. The sources prove that the views that the writer presents are not false. These views can be useful in the formation of an educated opinion on fast food.
In his article, Make Peace with Pot, Schlosser boldly takes on the issue of marijuana; whether its use should be legal in America. He claims that the war on marijuana is a historical waste of resources, and a source of misery. To support his claim, he contends that a “drug free America” (567) is an unrealistic dream and that some drugs pose worse dangers than the pot. Additional to this, he laments, the government’s attempt to fight the pot have been futile, and any move to deny patients useful medicine is cruel and misguided. However, the writer claims that the pot is a powerful drug and as such, people should use it with precaution (Schlosser, 2007).
Throughout the article, the writer employs various rhetorical appeals. Schlosser uses ethos as a persuasive appeal by demonstrating that he researched on the article. For example, he says that when Canadians raised complains about the ineffective medical marijuana, a spokesman gave a promise that the stakeholder would offer “a better grade” of the medical marijuana (566). Schlosser provides a credible and reliable source for this piece of information. By saying that the legislation to “criminalize possession” pends in Canada, the writer uses ethos (Schlosser, 2007).
The writer also uses logos throughout the article; he supports his reasons with evidence. For example, he says that approximately 54 per cent of Americans smoked marijuana in 1982 to indicate that any war on the drug is a waste. The figures remained the same in 2002. Additional to logos and ethos, the writer, by anticipating with the one that the readership will render its pity to, uses pathos. For example, he says that denying innocent patients useful medication is “irrational and cruel”. This gets the readership to render sympathy to the sick. Schlosser also uses pathos to reveal how harsh the punishment for marijuana users is.
Schlosser’s use of persuasive techniques in his articles is also evidenced by his article, Why McDonald’s Fries Taste So Good. In this article, the writer narrates about Simpleton, a farmer supplies McDonald with potatoes to prepare French fries. The writer argues that most Americans would agree that McDonald’s fries are exceptional. He further claims that the taste is as much dependent on the type of potatoes as it is on the oil used. The writer gives the similarity and the differences between artificial flavoring and natural oil in a dependable manner (Frank 2012). The writer exposes the fast food companies’ ignorance by exposing their actual motives. This, in a manner that is indisputable, reveals Schlosser’s use of pathos to persuade the reader and render credibility to the article.
The writer also reveals the real character of the fast food owners. While Americans think that the companies had the best interest in mind, Schlosser reveals the reality. McDonald hired Willard Scott to play his clown but dumps him when he feels that Scot is too obese to play that part. His worry is the business’s appeal and not the health of the Americans. By exposing this truth, the writer tempts the readership to treat the fast food company with disgust, but render their pity to Scott. Schlosser reveals that the company’s strategy to get customers is misguided and questionable. However, says he, some companies still have the interest of Americans at heart. These companies still make hamburgers by hand and peel potatoes each morning by hand. These companies provide their employees with health insurance, but McDonalds fails to pursue the same. By supporting his argument and accompanying it with examples, Schlosser fulfills the appeal to ethos (Frank, 2012).
In conclusion, Schlosser uses several rhetorical persuasion tactics to reveal numerous hidden truths in various industries. Through appeals to pathos, the writer attracts the reader’s attention. He brings out emotions from readers and influences their decision concerning his articles. The writer uses his ability to employ rhetorical persuasion to reveal the truth that other writer dismisses, but the Americans need to know. He reveals the hidden dark side of various industries that impact Americans. He is an icon, a star in the literary world, a representation of ability and wisdom.
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Schlosser closes the chapter with his description of a tour of a potato factory in American Falls, Idaho, which is one of the “biggest fry factories in the world” and a supplier for McDonald’s. Schlosser notes that, even though he understands and has seen the complex machine processes that sort, cut, and place the fries, flash frozen, and ready for consumption, in a warehouse, he nevertheless marvels at the delicious taste of the fries—which a worker guiding him through the plant provides him, at the end of his visit, on a plate with salt and ketchup. Although Schlosser writes that the fries seem “wildly out of place in this laboratory setting, this surreal food factory with its computer screens, digital readouts, and shiny steel platforms...,” he notes that the fries “were delicious,” and that he “asked for more.”
Although Schlosser has spent a great deal of time up till this point critiquing the fast food industry, its practices of the production of food, and its treatment of employees, he does not want to lose sight of what attracts consumers to places like McDonald’s in the first place. Indeed, the food has been finely tuned and crafted—by scientists, and over decades—to make us hungry, to encourage us to eat more. Finding fast food delicious doesn’t make one a bad person, as Schlosser demonstrates. It merely makes one human.