Final In-Class Essay: Fast Food Nation
Choose one of the topics below, and brainstorm, plan and write an argumentative, thesis-driven essay of at least 600 words. You may use your copy of FFN; you will have two hours. Your essay, as always, should: Provide a short, separate introduction that presents the issue and then segues into an explicit thesis with several concrete reasons to back it up. Develop each reason in a body paragraph that offers textual evidence (quotes and/or paraphrases) and your own analysis of the issue. Provide a conclusion summarizing your main points and leaving a closing thought. Don’t forget to proofread for grammar errors, as they can bring your grade down. Good luck!
Topic A: Fast Food and Worker Safety
In the Fast Food Nation chapter “The Most Dangerous Job,” Eric Schlosser describes the gruelling, exploitive, injury-laden, low-paying jobs of meat-packing workers who handle the cattle that eventually become hamburgers. Schlosser explains how—for different reasons—the OSHA has been unable to enforce effective safety regulations needed to protect workers. Based on this chapter, discuss why the OSHA must have stricter regulations for the meatpacking industry. How has the OSHA been disempowered? To what extent has this federal agency’s enforcement abilities been reduced, and with what consequences? How will giving OSHA more power benefit the employees and the general public? What particular industries and jobs especially need OSHA to be given more enforcement powers? Why? Provide several (at least two or three) specific reasons to support this claim, and, of course, quote and paraphrase from FFN to develop your argument.
Topic B: There’s S**t in the Meat!
As we have read about and discussed this semester, one major problem with the largely unregulated fast food industry is that—in the words of a character in the film Fast Food Nation—“There’s s**t in the meat!” As Schlosser explains in FFN, this is because a potentially deadly bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7 can and does get into the beef supply that makes the millions of hamburgers which people eat at fast food restaurants. Based on Schlosser’s discussion of this problem (and, if you’d like, the scenes we saw from the film version of FFN), explain why the government must implement stricter regulations and enforcement for beef producers in order to protect people’s health. Describe why the current, unregulated system is dangerous, and how greater government regulation will increase people’s safety. Provide several specific reasons to support this claim.
Topic C: Fast Food and Communities
In the Fast Food Nation chapter “Cogs in the Great Machine,” Eric Schlosser presents us with some ways in which the fast food industry changes communities for the worse. He provides examples like the town of Greeley, Colorado, as well as other places, whose communities have been irrevocably changed by the fast food industry when slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants set up shop there. For this topic, discuss several specific ways in which the fast food industry harms communities. According to Schlosser, what specific problems does a community often face when its economy is partly or largely based on fast-food related jobs, as is the case in Greeley? How do these problems form because of the fast food industry? What kinds of people (what specific groups—immigrants, young people, etc.) in communities like Greeley suffer, and how? In what ways does a town or city’s quality of life decrease with the arrival of a slaughterhouse, meatpacking plant, or perhaps even fast-food restaurants? Why should communities fight to keep these kind of facilities out?
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