Michael Pollan Argument Analysis

Topics: Food, Corn syrup, High-fructose corn syrup Pages: 5 (1792 words) Published: April 6, 2013
William Jensen

Professor Cavender

RWS 280 section 19

February 11, 2013

Word count: 1775

Politics, Food, and corn: A recipe for change?

Americans today are no strangers to stretching every dollar earned in an attempt to live the American dream. Most people work long hours and eat on the fly with very little thought to what, or where, the food they have purchased came from. The reason food is so inexpensive has not been a concern to the average American, but the article written by Michael Pollan “The Food Movement Rising” attempts to convince the people that it is time to remove the blinders and take an accounting of the situation that America finds itself in. With obesity at epic proportions, and preventable diseases like diabetes on a rampage, the author argues that Americans cannot afford to ignore the food movement any longer. In company with Pollan’s article, the Film “King Corn” produced by Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, amplifies the food movements argument with a look into the industrialization of corn farming, and its products such as high fructose corn syrup, which have become an unavoidable ingredient in the making, and sustaining, of the cheap food that Americans have come to depend on. Several rhetorical strategies are used in the execution and delivery of Pollan’s article with the use of tone, organization, emotional appeal, logical reference, as well as the use of credible sources to further his argument. In the following paragraphs I will provide an analysis of Pollan’s strategies found in his article.

The structure of Pollan’s article is a strategy he employs very well, because the organization of each part flows nicely into the next. Pollan’s main claim suggests that changes in the policies that govern our food system, which have corrupted American health and social well being, are far overdue. Pollan’s solution requires removing the industrial giants out of the farms and giving power back to smaller farms and local government. Pollan immediately establishes that “ Food in America has been more or less invisible, politically speaking, until very recently” (par.1) which sets the tone for the essay as well as provides intrigue to the article, it also clarifies his target audience which is the average American. Pollan quickly approaches with a historical background of how food became so cheap and shortly thereafter the quality of food took to a sharp decline. The momentum continues in part two, which highlights some of the modern policy movements, and the struggle to constitute change. The third part is based on the affect of the food industry in American social settings, and it’s change of family dynamics as well as the effect on American health. Pollan uses repetition to highlight the need of policy change in each of the sections, but with a different twist in each one, which keeps the main topic at the forefront of the readers mind showing a continuous momentum throughout. The structure is paramount to his argument because it creates a cause and effect scenario that most of his target audience can relate to.

Pollan first identifies past administrative policy beginning in the 1970’s stating that, “ in the early 1970’s, Agriculture secretary Earl Butz shifted the historical focus of federal farm policy from supporting prices for farmers to boosting yields of a small handful of commodity crops (corn and soy especially) at any cost” (par. 3). Pollan explains that even though the policies worked to drive down the price of food, which had “spiked in the early 1970’s” (par. 3), it had come at a greater cost than could have been expected. He makes the point that food safety had to be sacrificed for low cost industrialization of food, citing statistics from 1993 of the “deaths of four children […] who had eaten hamburgers […] contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7, […] first identified in feed cattle in 1982.” (par. 6). The author uses this statistic to spark an emotional response in the reader,...
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