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Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

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Essay title: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

“Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser

One doesn’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to figure out that Eric Schlosser, in his book Fast Food Nation, has a bone to pick with the way America eats. The name of the book alone, carrying with it cultural baggage, reveals that he is not a fan of the great American hamburger. If you read the book, though, you will realize that he’s not half as much against the french fries that often go with that burger, although he’s no particular fan of those, either. Schlosser is very much against the fast-food culture, but perhaps more against the business practices that have allowed fast food to become a way of life. In the very beginning of the book, Schlosser tells the story of a Georgia high school that had a Coke Day, sponsored by Coca-Cola (which is headquartered in Atlanta). The principal suspended a student who wore a Pepsi shirt that day. Schlosser lays the blame at Coca-Cola’s feet. However, that’s a logical stretch. Schlosser does admit that schools need ways to beef up budgets and programs cut by local government. But he doesn’t blame the principal for denying the student’s right to choose his own clothing and express himself (a far greater issue) nearly as much as he blames Coca-Cola. Schlosser seems to say that a corporation is at fault for denying the student the right of free speech, when it was really the principal who reacted that way. In fact, through much of the book, Schlosser seems to take a stance opposite that of the judge in the McDonald’s obesity lawsuit. Schlosser seems to say that all of the fat and diet-caused disease in the United States is the cause of corporations producing food rather than consumers choosing to eat it. Schlosser does not use the health effects of food to convince readers that there is something wrong with the food industry, except at the end of the book when he discusses diseases caused by germs in the food, rather than the food itself. But failure to mention such things as the fact that cholesterol found in super-sized burgers can cause heart disease could be considered a rhetorical device. Schlosser assumes that his readers don’t want heart disease, and he assumes they have heard that eating beef tallow might well produce heart disease. In this respect, he is also using ethos: as an award-winning writer for the Atlantic Monthly, he can bank on his reputation in subjects like this one.

Mainly, however, the chapters in his book make extensive use of two rhetorical devices, logos and pathos. When speaking of vegetables, Schlosser tends to use logos. When speaking of meat, pathos is his main device, although he uses logos as well to build to a point at which pathos becomes compelling.

Chapter Five, “Why the fries taste good,” begins by praising a man named J.R. Simplot, the son of an original western homesteader. Simplot didn’t strike it rich, but built riches by cleverly investing amounts as small as 50 cents. In fact, Schlosser seems to admire Simplot. Schlosser uses the most straightforward language to describe Simplot’s rise from hourly wage-earner to “Potato Baron.” When Simplot began processing and selling onions as well as potatoes, his fortune increased dramatically. Simplot noticed that a company

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