Over the years, many people have been eating various types of food manufactured by fast food industries. However, no one has bothered to find out where they come from or the conditions in which they are produced. This paper provides a rhetorical analysis of Eric Schlosser’s What We Eat, Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food and Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. They will sensitize readers on the secrets of fast food companies and the dangers associated with these popular products. Besides, it provides a critical evaluation of dangerous effects of the black market industry, which has been wrecking havoc not only to Americans but to the entire world population (Falconer 2009). These articles are so resourceful since they provide a lot of valuable information, which can sensitize the entire world population on issues of concern.
First and foremost, Schlosser’s articles are based on scientific research conducted by collecting data from interviews and personal observations. He is a renowned investigative journalist who has carried out numerous studies in different areas. His works are acceptable because he conducts his investigations in a professional manner. As an investigation journalist, he uses his skills to uncover underground business operations, which have been wrecking havoc to Americans.
He says that many people love this type of food without understanding the implications associated with its consumption. He says that the leading fast food companies like McDonald’s are not committed to ethical codes of conduct guiding such businesses. Their practices are indicating that they are not concerned about the welfare of their clients. Instead, they selfishly aim at making the maximum possible profit without considering the interests of their clientele. For instance, they do not inform them about the ingredients of these increasingly popular burgers and fried chicken. Besides, they only create misleading ads which cannot enable customers to know more about them. For instance, they do not tell them why these foods are much sweeter than any other food. He argues, ‘Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat.’ this means that this type of food can cause a lot of health problems.
He says that people are not aware of what they eat. However, it is the same food that defines their identity. He informs readers that fast food has been in American market since early 1950s. However, none of its users has bothered to know more about its source, implications, and dangers associated with it. ‘The spread of BSE [mad cow disease] in Europe has revealed how secret alliances between agribusiness and government can endanger the public health. It has shown how the desire for profit can overrule every other consideration.’ These companies only desire to make profits. Apart from exorbitantly charging their clients, they underpay their employees. He does not blame them for this ignorant behavior, but instead accuses manufacturing firms such as McDonald’s for concealing fundamental information from them. In fact, they will never let anyone know why they are increasingly becoming ‘deceitful, greedy, and unfair’ both to their employees and clients.
Such sentiments are repeated in the Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food, in which he asserts that fast food industry has now invaded schools and toy industries. In this text, he uses a lot of illustrations, simple, clear, and precise language. He takes on this approach because he is targeting kids as his main readers. The information about toys can only be relevant and appeal to them because they are their main users.
After carrying out his investigations, Schlosser reports that many children have been using toys without understanding anything about them. Since the market has become larger, the most popular toy manufacturing companies, such as McDonald’s (which also happens to be the leading fast food manufacturer), have decided to invade restaurants and learning institutions (Derdak, & Jay 2004). These are places through which they can easily access children and encourage them to buy their products. Despite receiving acceptance, children are not aware of the sources of these foods, where they are manufactured, who manufactures them, the conditions in which they are produced and the reasons why they taste so sweet.
These include how chicken and cattle are brutally slaughtered, cooked, and eventually packed before being supplied to them in the market. For instance, he says, ‘And workers who needed to go to the bathroom weren’t allowed to take a break. They were forced to pee right on the slaughterhouse floor, near meat that people would soon be eating.’ This is a clear indication of how messy such plants are. They are not hygienic at all. However, Schlosser stresses that such information cannot be revealed by any manufacturer since it can damage the reputation of their business. He advises children to be wary of such foods and be so inquisitive about them. Otherwise, they may be the principal source of health problems such as obesity and cancer. In fact, he suggests that ‘Congress should ban advertising that preys upon children, it should stop subsidizing dead-end jobs, it should pass tougher food safety laws, it should protect American workers from serious harm, it should fight against dangerous concentrations of economic power.’
Lastly, in Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, Schlosser explores the development of black market in the USA. As a result of the persistent unethical practices, porn, marijuana, and immigrant labor has been illegally thriving in the USA. This has not only affected the USA, but the whole world in general. He reports on how black market has become bigger and influential not only in the USA, but also in other parts of the globe. Its implications are felt by all people, including those who do not personally handle such products (Feige 2007).
He uncovers how cartels reap huge profits from illegal sales of pornographic literature, illegal immigrants, and dangerous drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. These are all illegitimate and should not be practiced. Although the Government is aware of them, it has not put in place effective measures to eradicate it once and for all. Hence, apart from denying it its revenue, it negatively influences the citizens. Because black market constitutes 10% of the GDP, Schlosser strongly recommends that it will be eradicated through whichever means possible. He is right for saying that ‘A public outcry usually masks a private obsession.’ Otherwise, it will still be the major source of immoralities like promiscuity, theft, robbery, and violence, which are now spreading to other corners of the world.
Apart from using a simple and clear language, he gives an extensive report. As already highlighted, it is a work of his research, which he conducted as part of his journalism career. The use of multiple sources of collecting data including interviews, documentary analysis, and direct observations makes his work valid, authoritative, and sound. His writing style varies depending on his target. For instance, in Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food, where he was mainly targeting young readers, he divides the book into sections, each covering a certain area. At the same time, he uses numerous illustrations, which enable readers to visualize the main message of the text (Carrigan, & De Pelsmacker 2009).
He provides relevant information, which is focused on addressing the plights of people in the society. His investigations are extensive and relevant to the society. As he explains, people are always what they eat. However, it is quite unfortunate that they do not even know what they eat. So, it is necessary to carry out an extensive research to know about what they consider a sweet food. He fully unveils the way fast food manufactures use bacteria and induce food colors and flavors to their products in the laboratory. Unknown to the people, this has detrimental effects on their health.
They provide exhaustive explanations and evidences, which make it valid and authoritative. Eric Schlosser is a distinguished scholar, who uses his writing prowess to address relevant issues affecting the general society. Although he uses different approaches in his writings, his messages are very clear and easy to understand. He uses relevant and appropriate examples, which are helpful in expounding his major themes. Many people have become victimized because of lack of knowledge. However, ignorance is not an excuse. These articles are so resourceful and are recommended to anyone willing to positively transform his life. They can shock, frighten, inform, educate, challenge, and challenge them.