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Junk Food Really Cheaper? Mark Bittman ArguesEssay

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¶ … Junk Food Really Cheaper?" Mark Bittman argues no, junk food is costlier than freshly prepared food at home. To make the argument, Bittman relies on several different rhetorical strategies. One strategy is to rely on a diverse array of credible sources to substantiate his central claims. Bittman draws from former Surgeon Generals, political activists, and culinary groups to make the case that real food needs to replace junk food. Referring to a diverse array of sources helps Bittman's case become stronger and reach a wider audience. Another rhetorical strategy that Bittman uses is the use of analogy, particularly analogies comparing junk food with smoking. Third, Bittman encourages readers to link their personal food choices with broader social and political issues. By showing that food choices have an impact that goes beyond mere personal health and into the realm of the political, Bittman engenders a sense of personal responsibility. Finally, the author calls on readers to take action by changing their lifestyle. By linking personal choice with politics and well-being, Bittman calls upon readers to let go of junk food and instead embrace the joy of fresh food. Ultimately, Bittman's argument is successful because the author empowers readers to take action.

One of the ways Bittman's article is successful is that it is logical and to the point, avoiding rambling or tangential arguments. Bittman's argument is actually complex, considering the brief length of the piece. First, Bittman states that junk food is not cheaper than homemade food, as is frequently assumed. Second, Bittman argues that it is also a myth that people do not have enough time to cook and have simply learned to make cooking a low priority. Third, Bittman claims that by making cooking a low priority, Americans have become grossly obese and unhealthy, as well as perpetuating a conglomerate of bad habits and lifestyle choices. Finally, Bittman's thesis is that to improve Americans' quality of life, it is essential to embrace cooking as a joyful act, rather than to perceive it as a chore. The process of Bittman's thinking seems curvilinear, but the argument is actually a logical and linear one. Fast food and processed food have become inseparable from the American way of life. Yet this way of life is unsustainable for health and environmental reasons. Change is necessary, that that change must come from fundamentally altering values and norms. The change can only come from individuals making personal choices, not from legislation, claims Bittman.

Thus, Bittman's audience is regular Americans and not policy makers or politicians. By focusing on what the average American can do to stop eating fast food, the author empowers the reader to make ethical choices. Bittman does not want readers to continue blaming politicians or big business for their problems. Instead, Bittman wants Americans to take personal responsibility for their food choices. "The smart campaign is not to get McDonald's to serve better food but to get people to see cooking as a joy rather than a burden, or at least as part of a normal life." Likewise, Bittman uses numbers, facts, and figures to show first that fast food is more expensive than home cooked food and second, that all people can make the time to cook. The fast food industry wants people to continue believing that fast food is cheaper and more convenient, but in fact, fast food is not cheaper and is no less convenient than cooking. When cooking is reframed as an enjoyable activity, it can improve overall well-being. "Taking the long route to putting food on the table may not be easy, but for almost all Americans it remains a choice, and if you can drive to McDonald's you can drive to Safeway." Framed in this way, readers can see that what Bittman is saying cannot be easily refuted. Bittman shows that it is far more productive and proactive to take responsibility than it is to blame outside forces, including the excuse that poor people live closer to McDonalds than to Safeway.

Bittman does not go out of his way to criticize the fast food industry, because he lets the facts do the talking. This rhetorical strategy liberates Bittman to focus on the facts rather… [END OF PREVIEW]

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