Fast Food Nation Argumentative Essay Format

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English 102
Critical Response

Assignment: Write a critical response to one topic from selected chapters of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, after giving your reader a brief summary of the text.

[Instructor comments appear in bold, italic font within brackets below.]

The Workforce of the Fast Food Nation

The Fast Food industry in some eyes has been one of the smartest inventions this world has seen since the invention of the wheel. It has been driven by our stomachs and our wallets for 40 to 50 years and it's still growing to this date. The man who invented it can be called the smartest person, or best business man, this country has ever seen. The Fast Food Industry is so big that it has affected our health, changed our culture, and distorted our land ever since day one. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is a book about lots of charges that are backed up by some great research and lots of facts. He shows how it has changed our country and the people living and working inside. The book is very against anything that has to do with Fast Food from the way it was invented to the way it is running now. I agree with everything Schlosser states and know what he is describing because he describes my job at Chucky Cheese. It’s amazing how the fast food industry became as successful and dominant as it did. Out of all the factors that do go into the success, I believe the workforce will always keep the fast food industry at the top. [Good – You make a clear “Yes, and” argument: You agree with the author about the dominance of the fast food industry and then go beyond the book by arguing that the biggest reason for the industry’s success is how it treats workers. This argument allows you to offer your own critical perspective, rather than simply summarizing and repackaging what the author has said.]

In my opinion the way they run their business has propelled them to where they are now. It all starts in the Workforce. They prefer unskilled workers that have absolutely no experience. In their case, teenagers become their ideal employees. Where I work I talked to about 80% of the workers and asked where they have worked and for whom. 37 out of the 48 co-workers that I talked to said they have no experience before our job at Chucky Cheese. The ones that did have experience are 50 years old and got laid off from their long term jobs, and have nowhere to go. [Great evidence. You effectively use your own experience in the fast food industry to comment on the issues raised by the book. Your interviews with coworkers – and the statistics you include from those interviews – are especially effective.] It amazes me how well run fast food is! They target us because we have no experience and we have no almost no choice in where and what jobs we can get. That way we go straight to fast food so we can get the so called experience that we need just to go one step further and work at the mall. “Teenagers have been the perfect candidates for these jobs, not only because they are less expensive to hire than adults, but also because their youthful inexperience makes them easier to control” (68) [You cite Schlosser effectively and appropriately, but this quote, like others in the essay, is stuck in with no introduction. Try to transition more smoothly into your quotes by telling readers whom you are about to quote and how the quote relates to the content you have been discussing in the paragraph so far]. Schlosser states that teenagers are willing to accept the low pay and work the high amount of hours and that way we are the “target” employees. The reason for working at Chucky Cheese was because I went all through high school looking for a job and all that was available to me was fast food. Eventually I gave in and this summer I applied and got the job.

Fast food is not a very hard job to do; everything is set up just for us so it won’t be a difficult job and that a person with a third of a brain or less can do it. The hard thing about fast food is the amount of work. Fast Food Nation describes how everything is set up like the assembly lines in Detroit. Everything is done in steps from start to finish; it has all been prepared so it won’t be time consuming and there is a lot of output in a small amount of time. Schlosser states how all fast food restaurants have manuals, explaining how everything should be done. Some manuals were as long as 75 pages explaining how the burgers should be cooked and how they should be placed. It was almost like he was describing my training because I had to almost completely memorize a 50 page manual describing how I should weigh things and how and for how long things should cook. Then we were tested just to show them that we did look over the manual and if we didn’t get a certain score we could have lost our job without even working a single second [Again, you effectively use personal examples and paraphrases from the book to explain your response].

The way we are treated is also exactly the way Schlosser states. Fast food managers spend more time motivating the members of the workforce than really running the store. They want to make them feel like they are doing something special and exciting. “In absence of good wages and secure employment, the chains inculcate “team spirit” in their young crews” (74). He explains how if in some way the workers relax they are disappointing the coworkers and in the end they are giving them more work. That way they can motivate the workers to always be on time and go to work every day. ”One of these techniques is called “stroking” – a form of positive reinforcement, deliberate praise, recognition that many teenagers don’t get at home.” I can easily say that I see this everyday. I never noticed it until I read that exact quote. It blew me away when I started to look back and I noticed how almost everyday if I did something wrong it was okay. All they would say is try not to do it next time or that eventually I won’t make those mistakes.

Fast food corporations employ more people than other corporations in the world. They are paying their workers minimum wage for long hours and a job that demands too much work in such a small amount of time. The hours can be really rough too. I’ve worked until 1 or 2 a.m. in the morning on some weekdays and weekends closing the store. I never knew that scrubbing and preparing the store for the next day could take so long. They will also try to cut hours for other workers and they put the whole shift on our shoulders and that makes even more work for us. Schlosser gives some great stats about how many people they employ and exploit just to run hundreds of thousands of fast food joints: “The three big corporations (known as: McDonald’s, Burger King, and Tricon Global Restaurants also known as taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC) now employ 3.7 million people worldwide” (71). [This is a good way to incorporate statistics to demonstrate your point.] They have employed about 90 percent of people for the new jobs in the United States. Soon they will end up employing a whole country if everything pans out: “An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has at some point been employed by McDonalds” (4). The company hires about a million people each year. In a couple of years though, I think these figures should double.

There are thousands of fast food joints on every corner today; from every fast food restaurant it seems as though 5 more pop out. Imagine how many workers they go through in a year. While they are trying to force feed us fast food they are making money at the expense of teenagers and unskilled workers just to make a wad of dough. They attract us by the bright colors and manipulate our senses just to make them a buck, while Carlos is in the back, in the kitchen working his butt off for $7.25 an hour, trying to make it through another day of making pizza. The three big corporations open a new fast food restaurant every two hours, not counting Chucky Cheese. I could only hope that the working conditions change and we get paid more but I really know that that’s never going to happen. These companies are too smart and well run that only the consumer can stop it.

There are lots of factors that contributed to the rise of the fast food industry. From the way they market to kids as their target customer, to the way they sell their food. However, in my eyes the workforce is and will be what keeps these corporations making billions of dollars. I can now say that I’ve seen some of the factors myself over the last couple of months. Will this evil empire eventually fall and what will drive it to the ground? Will it be the workers trying to do something about the work conditions and the low pay? These are some of the things that we can’t tell until the future becomes the present. All I could do is hope that eventually it does get better. [Conclusion wraps up paper effectively].

Instructor end comment:

[This essay is very well organized, with a clear central thesis, focused paragraphs that develop the thesis, an effective introduction and conclusion, and good transitions between topics. As you move through the essay, you make it clear when you are summarizing something from the author and when you are offering your own commentary or examples. Areas for improvement: your opening summary of the book could have been a bit more specific, you could have used more statistics to demonstrate the dominance of the fast food industry, and you could have pushed your ideas further, such as exploring why this factor is more important than other factors. In terms of language, you also often use more words than you need, which makes your writing less powerful. In your editing process, try to focus on tightening up your sentences by being more direct and concise. You also need a “works cited” page (bibliography) at the end of the paper listing the sources used.]

** Minor mechanical errors/typos have been corrected by the creators of CHARLIE

Coming up with topics for argumentative essays can be quite challenging for students, especially if you’ve decided to work on it a few days (or a few hours) before the deadline. If your next assignment is to write an argumentative essay on Eric Schlosser’s book, “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal”, you can easily take on this challenge if you have the right topic in mind. To get your creativity going here are 20 topics you can use.

  1. Should Hospitals Ban Fast Food Outlets?
  2. Healthier Fast Food Choices and Awareness Will Improve Health
  3. Low Work Wages in the US Fast Food Industry Are Costing Taxpayers
  4. Is Fast Food Cheaper Than Home-Cooked Meals?
  5. The Hidden Costs of Obesity and Excessive Junk Food Consumption
  6. Is Fast Food as Addictive as Drugs?
  7. Should Governments Impose More Taxes on Junk Food?
  8. Junk Food Packaging Should Come with Health Warnings
  9. Famous Public Figures Should be Banned from Promoting Soda and Junk Foods
  10. As Bad as Smoking: Should There Be an Age Restriction On Eating Fast Food?
  11. The Link Between Fast Food and Child Obesity
  12. The Fast Food Industry Needs a Paradigm Shift
  13. Fast Food’s Effects on the Brain’s Pleasure Centers
  14. The Psychology of Fast Food Marketing
  15. How McDonald’s Utilized Disney’s Marketing Approach
  16. Eating Fast Food Can Make You Depressed
  17. Overcoming Fast Food Addiction: Time for Extreme Measures
  18. Do Healthy Options on Fast Food Menus Help?
  19. Causes of The Rapid Rise of Fast Food Restaurants
  20. Eliminating The Junk Out of Junk Food: Can We Turn the Fast Food Industry Around?

The topics are an eclectic mix of direct claims and general themes that are directly related to the issues which Schlosser focuses on in his book. There is also a list of authoritative sources and materials at the end of which you can use to lend credence to your essay. However, if you are still at a loss for ideas, check out our list of 10 facts on Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser for an argumentative essay and further inspiration. Also check out the detailed guide on how to write an argumentative essay on Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser to properly write your own.

These resources aside, refer to our sample essay below to get a better idea about how to properly structure an argumentative essay on Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. This example can be used as a template and as a guide about what kind of content you need to include to draft a clear and balanced piece of writing.

Sample Argumentative Essay on Labor Practices in the Fast Food Industry

The fast food industry has been held responsible for numerous problems affecting the American society. Advertising to children and providing high-carbs and low-nutritional value foods, however, are only some of the main concerns of people in this industry. The matter of labor practices has become one of the prominent issues and a subject for debate in the past ten years.

There are three reasons why this has become a major issue. First off, the fast food industry has the tendency to overwork its employees. Secondly, the industry has been known to pay their workers the minimum wage. Finally, there are almost no benefits for the employees of this industry. All of these lead to poverty-stricken workers who are worked to the bone. In fact, in “Modern Slavery. US Fast-food Industry Thriving on Poverty-stricken Workers”, Finian Cunningham wrote that millions of fast food employees are “so exploited it is estimated that more than half of them can only make ends meet by relying on some form of government handout.”

Cunningham also writes that many fast food employees finish their shifts only to return to homeless shelters since they cannot afford to purchase homes of their own or rent apartments for their families. Even then, they do not get the peace they deserve as they are too tired to carry out their daily routines. To drive this point, he gives the example of former Dunkin Donuts employer Maria Fernandez. The 32-year-old woman has been doing back-to-back shifts at multiple outlets in the greater New York area. Unfortunately, she was too tired after being overworked one day, that she slept in her car between shifts. She died that day from asphyxiation caused by the exhaust fumes of her car.

With an estimate of 2.25 million Americans working in fast food restaurants in the U.S., labor practices need to be tackled head on to ensure the survival and effective growth of the “fast food nation”. Numerous authors, including Eric Schlosser, have revealed the harsh realities of the labor practices in this industry among other controversies. Schlosser also used the example of teenager Elisa, who was hired because members of her age group are considered easier to control due to their inexperience, making them cheaper to hire since they are willing to accept a lower pay. If teenagers were unwilling to work at a place, the fast food industry replaced them with poor immigrants and the elderly.

Now there have been studies showing that employees enjoy working in this industry. A study by Michael Benner, an Iowa State University student, uncovered that high school employees at McDonald’s enjoy their work because of reasons such as easy money and the lack of other job opportunities without a degree in hand. Moreover, the fast food chain seems easier as it operates on an assembly line system, breaking down the tasks of the restaurant. Despite these so-called perks, do not justify the lower wages which prevent workers from leading a meaningful existence.

You can definitely come up with a better essay if you put your mind to it. So, make sure to start working right away or else your deadline will engulf you.

References:
Campbell, D. (2015). Ban Fast-Food Outlets from Hospitals, MPs Demand. the Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/25/ban-fast-food-outlets-nhs-hospitals-mps
Eating Fast Food. (2016). org. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/DiningOut/Eating-Fast-Food_UCM_301473_Article.jsp
McVeigh, K. (2013). Low Fast-Food Wages Come at High Cost to US Taxpayers, says Report. the Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/15/fast-food-low-wages-high-cost-taxpayers
Bittman, M. (2011). Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?. com. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/is-junk-food-really-cheaper.html
Rehel, J. (2016). A Healthy Diet Costs $2,000 a Year More Than an Unhealthy One for Average Family of Jour: Harvard study. National Post. Retrieved 19 March 2016, from http://news.nationalpost.com/health/a-healthy-diet-costs-2000-a-year-more-than-an-unhealthy-one-for-average-family-of-four-harvard-study
Benfield, F. Caid, Matthew D. Raimi, and Donald D. T. Chen. Once There Were Greenfields: How Urban Sprawl Is Undermining America’s Environment, Economy, and Social Fabric. Washington, D.C.: National Resources Defense Council, 1999.
Emerson, Robert L. The New Economics of Fast Food.New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990.
Card, D., & Krueger, A. (2000). Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Reply. American Economic Review, 90(5), 1397-1420. http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/aer.90.5.1397
Garber, A., & H. Lustig, R. (2011). Is Fast Food Addictive?. Current Drug Abuse Reviewse, 4(3), 146-162. http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/1874473711104030146
Zhong, C-B. & DeVoe, S.E. (2010). You Are How You Eat: Fast Food and Impatience. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610366090

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