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RC 1000

Levi Thompson

Prof Blackburn

Feb 1st, 2019

Rhetorical Analysis of “Food Fight: How Corporations Ruined Food”

Sodium percarbonate, readily biodegradable nonionic surfactants, potassium sorbate,

diglycerides. These items seem to be a check list for a crazy lab project, instead, they are

ingredients found in the food we eat every day. It says something about the quality of our food

when we are required to pay more money for natural ingredients. Times are constantly evolving

from the “Ma and Pa farms” and have began to form into monopolies. Many towns and cities are

starting to slowly shift away from large companies, as their inhumane methods and chemicals are

slowly melting into public eyes. Supporting local farms not only helps the farmers themselves, it

also provides healthier, natural meat which is safer for the consumer in the long term.

Food Fight: How Corporations Ruined Food is a 2008 documentary produced by Chris

Taylor and written by Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre and Timothy Fall. The documentary

received the Washington DC Independent Film Festival award for Best Documentary. The

documentary focuses on the changes that the food industry is going through and how these large

corporations are able to churn out “mega-farms” and include so many ingredient fillers and

chemicals into food in our supermarkets. They also speak on the history of farms, using footage

from American events such as World War II, and how we slowly started sacrificing taste for

quantity. The documentary serves as a sort of public service announcement to the average

American and what they can do to watch what they are consuming.
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One use of a fallacy that is present early on in the documentary is the slippery slope

fallacy. When the narrator begins to speak about World War II and the effects it has on the

farmers at home, he speaks that this was the major turning point in government involvement. At

first the over production was needed, as many of our troops overseas were not being fed enough,

which caused large oil companies to sink money and resources into crop production. It was

almost unpatriotic for farmers to turn away these companies. The narrator believes this is how

we have been brought to this situation today, as the grip of large corporations have not let up

since the war. The increase in chemicals have also been a factor in this slippery slope method, as

scientist discovered that adding nitrogen to fertilizer not only increases the amount of crops

grown, it also increases the size of the crops themselves. This advancement has opened the

floodgates on chemical modifications and farming. If you are able to produce more crops in

larger sizes by only adding chemicals, you would be a fool to do differently. This begs the

question “how many chemicals are too many?” Somehow we have went from nitrogen in

fertilizer to barely readable ingredient list and the slope seems to be getting steeper.

The use of pathos, logos and ethos are some of the documentaries strongest points. The

writers have found a way to speak to a large amount of people. Not only do they appeal to the

consumer, they also speak to the farmers in a way to appeal to them as well. The use of pathos is

the first thing the viewers are presented. The documentary opens with the viewer imagining they

are a child and your mother is in the kitchen, working hard making a pie. She breaks the natural

eggs and uses her original vanilla bean with cream and sugar. This use of nostalgia quickly

transitions to modern day and the artificial ingredients in todays food. Ethos is used to create a

separation from these large companies and putting money back into these farmers pockets.

Almost halfway through the documentary a restaurant is interviewed that buy all of their produce
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from a local farm. They speak about wanting to bring this money to the people who really need

it, not these faceless multi-millionaire companies. The way that logos is presented is how you

could expect, it is logical to want natural, safe, and healthy food in your system. If you asked one

hundred people on the street if they wanted these chemicals in their food, many would say no.

When speaking on a topic like this, it is easy to forget about the people effected. This

documentary does a good job of reminding us by using overly sentimental appeals. They take a

big section of the documentary to speak about how many lives are changed with these

monopolized farms and supermarkets. Small time farmers are finding it almost impossible to

provide for their family. There have been positive movements forwards, including things like

crop insurance, that provide a sort of safety net in the case of crop failure. Times have definitely

evolved from the old days of a man and his land.

When the documentary wraps up, a lot of it feels like an advertisement, which makes the

message almost fall flat. The time they spend speaking with the restaurant chef feels like its

forgetting the message of the food industry and more on this restaurant in California. Overall I

think they brought enough statistics to provide a valid argument, and the way they interviewed so

many people of different race, social class, backgrounds and culture really allow the viewer to

relate with someone in the video. I think the overall presentation could have been stronger if they

backed a lot more hard hitting claims with statistics and facts, but the message is still able to

come across as dire without it.


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Works Cited

Stories, Real. “Food Fight: How Corporations Ruined Food (Food Industry Documentary) - Real

Stories.” YouTube, YouTube, 17 Nov. 2017,

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RwIWGkMxrE&t=40s.