Fast-Food rhetoric effectively, and ineffectively; however, in David Zinczenko’s

Fast-Food Conspiracy

            David Zinczenko in “Don’t Blame the
Eater,” and Radley Balko in “What You Eat Is Your Business,” provide opposing
sides to the argument of whether it is the people’s fault for what they eat, or
if it is not. Zinczenko clearly believes that it is not the consumer’s fault,
but that the companies that produce fast food deserve the blame. On the other
hand, Balko believes in self-responsibility for consumption and encourages
consumers to be aware of what they are eating and that they need to take action
for themselves. They both utilize appeals and rhetoric effectively, and
ineffectively; however, in David Zinczenko’s argumentative article, “Don’t
Blame the Eater,” his ability to persuade is much superior to Balko’s.

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            Zinczenko employs pathos and the use
of logic in his argument effectively to persuade, whereas Balko utilizes ethos
and logos to persuade. Zinczenko opens by mentioning a newly born lawsuit
against McDonald’s; kids suing McDonald’s for making them obese. Zinczenko then
opens a connection to the lawsuit by saying, “I tend to sympathize with these
portly fast-food patrons, though. Maybe that’s because I used to be one of
them”. The author instantly establishes a connection with the reader and the
kids who eat fast food. It lets the reader know right away that he used to be
one of the heavier set kids due to fast food, which is critical
information.  He immediately follows this
statement up with the telling of his childhood experience, “My parents were
split up, my dad off trying to rebuild his life, my mom working long hours to
make the monthly bills. Lunch and dinner, for me, was a daily choice between
McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken or Pizza Hut” (Zinczenko). This
is all being told in the beginning of his article, which allows him to quickly
draw out a sense of sympathy in the reader for kids that are growing up like he
did. With sympathy being established, he is able to attract the audience to his
side of the argument. Now that he has the readers in his grasp, he employs
logic to complete his persuasion. Zinczenko uses facts about type-2 diabetes to
show that America has a steadily increasing problem, “Before 1994, diabetes in
children was generally caused by a genetic disorder — only about five percent
of childhood cases were obesity-related, or type 2, diabetes. Today, according
to the National Institutes of Health, Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least
thirty percent of all new childhood cases of diabetes in this country”. He got
his information from the National Institute of Health, and when his audience
sees this credible source they are more prone to accept them as true facts.
Altogether, using logic and emotional appeal, he is able to work them
effectively together.

Balko, on the other hand, uses ethos
and logos to persuade his audience. It is clear that Balko is well aware of
what is going on in the food industry when he mentions that ABC News will host
a program that is a “pep rally for media, nutrition activists, and policy
makers — all agitating for a panoply of government anti-obesity initiatives,
including prohibiting junk food in school vending machines”. He knows that most
government officials and politician’s intentions are to get the government
involved in the food industry more than it already is. He further develops his
ethos when he states, “President Bush earmarked $200 million in his budget for
anti-obesity measures…. Sen. Joe Lieberman and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, among
others, have called for a “fat tax” on high-calorie foods” (Balko). Balko
involves logic by mentioning specific amounts and specific meaningful terms,
but also includes ethos by not using direct quotations from other sources. He
stresses the main point of his argument by using his knowledgeable tone; “we’re
becoming less responsible for our own health, and more responsible for everyone
else’s” (Balko). He compares our healthcare system to socialism, and often
points out democratic politicians, which allows his argument to be extremely
appealing to conservatives. David Zinczenko uses emotional appeal and logic
effectively, whereas Radley Balko utilizes ethos and logic. Both authors are
very strong in the techniques that they chose to employ.

            However, Zinczenko and Balko are not
perfect. They both have techniques and methods that did not help their
argument, or even injured the strength of their argument. Balko’s tone
throughout his work can easily be taken offensively and aggressively,
especially if the reader is already opposing his side. Balko’s contentious tone
is quickly noted when he states “In other words, bringing government between
you and your waistline”. His choice of words in this quote convey that he is
upset and angered. He is not establishing a confident and calm manner, but is
instead establishing an upset and flustered one. To provide a strong argument,
the author must show that he or she is calm and knowledgeable about the
specific topic. Balko also narrows his audience down to a republican leaning
audience when he says that “America’s health care system has been migrating
toward socialism”. This is not only aggressive but can be taken very
offensively by anyone who is more democratic leaning. He obviously is strongly
opposing the liberal side of politics, and that injures him because at this
point it doesn’t become an argument anymore, it becomes just a piece of writing
to explain his dissatisfaction with the government. Zinczenko’s major fallacy
is that his entire argument is based off of the presumption that teenagers must
provide food for themselves. “Then as now, these were the only available options
for an American kid to get an affordable meal” (Zinczenko). The Majority of
teens and children are provided with food by their parents. The parents of
these children have the ability to cook them food or buy them healthier
alternatives, but not all children and teens are completely on their own. He
also uses rhetorical questions in his argument which counter his purpose. He
compares the suing of McDonald’s with questioning, “Isn’t that like middle aged
men suing Porsche for making them get speeding tickets?” (391). This injures
his purpose because it provides a very believable counter argument. Balko’s
tone and Zinczenko’s presumptions are detrimental to their ability to persuade.

            Both Zinczenko and Balko have their
strengths and weaknesses. Through the comparison of their articles, Zinczenko certainly
provided the stronger argument. His elaborate uses of emotional appeal and
logical statements are critical in captivating the audience. Unlike Zinczenko,
Balko injured himself by approaching the reader with an aggressive tone, and
even offensive at times. Through Balko’s mistakes and Zinczenko’s successes, it
is clear that Zinczenko was more persuasive.