Eating is indispensable for every human being. While most people who live in the city go to the restaurant or shop at supermarkets, they don’t know much about farming or the essence of food they have every day. They just eat as a part of the agriculture act and lose the pleasure of eating. When people buy food, they barely consider the correlation between food and the land and themselves. The ignorance of the public is observed by Wendell Berry and brings him food for thought.
In Berry’s article “the Pleasures of Eating”, the author, who wrote books relating to lands and farms, mainly argues that people get dumbed and unconscious of everyday eating action. They eat much and think little. During this process people lose much pleasure of eating nowadays under the structure of mature food industry mechanism.
Berry establishes his authority by utilizing logos. He first starts with his personal experience as a professor. While showing that he held a lecture concerning American farming and rural life, he demonstrates his academic ability in the field relating to eating. Then, he claims, “They buy what they want — or what they have been persuaded to want — within the limits of what they can get. They pay, mostly without protest, what they are charged.” (Berry, 1989) The author points out the undisputable fact that people think they have much more freedom in eating than they truly have. This part behooves readers to think back on themselves:
Do we think the same way as what Berry tells? Is this the truth? Aren’t we missing something during daily eating? This stereotype view is similar with many readers and attracts them to keep listening to Berry’s analyses. After that, Berry keeps pulling out evidence by depicting the situation of food industry. He claims that patrons urge consumers to become uncritical and dependent so that consumers can eat what they’re told to buy. Berry even exaggerates that producers did not dump prechewed food directly into people’s stomach simply because this is not profitable. This claim is humorous but also sarcastic. Only in this way can the audience find that they don’t have much freedom on choosing what to eat than they thought they should have.
Berry makes the best of Pathos. Sympathy is easily felt through the author’s words. After claiming the hard and cruel fact of the people facing food, Berry mentions the “dream home” mode when people do “effortless” shopping. Without seeing the real items, shoppers save lots of time but instead lose even larger amount of useful information. They begin to abandon thinking about food, where they come from, whether they’re healthy, who grows them, etc. Then he considers this uncritical way of eating as industrial eating.
He makes this an analogy to industrial sex to show that people having fast food hurry for nothing. All the things they do are by routine and of no value. By doing this analogy, Berry can make readers feel the sympathy he expresses and even start to feel sorry for themselves. In order to appeal to the readers, Berry declares that “a hamburger came from a steer who spent much of his life standing deep in his own excrement in a feedlot, helping to pollute the local streams, or that the calf that yielded the veal cutlet on her plate spent its life in a box in which it did not have room to turn around.” This scenery is rather disgusting. By depicting this scene, many people can’t feel free to have what they previously had many times- a hamburger.
The author simply describes the probable origin of the hamburger and the terrible scene urges readers to think on what they eat and how they are produced, even if they don’t want to at first. This strong evidence successfully conveys the idea that readers lack thinking when they are eating, and the author has no choice but help them to think before they eat. Comment by ms.3557: One place where you can add in more summary—why does Berry make this analogy? What impact does it have on the readers? Comment by ms.3557: Joshi—this is good because you are telling us what Berry did (describing the hamburger origin) and why he did so (to urge readers to think on what they eat). This is analysis—describing what the author did, what strategy or appeal he employed, and why he used that strategy or appeal. Look for other places in the paper where you are only summarizing what he’s doing and add in that second piece—why is Berry doing what he’s doing?
Logos is also great tool for Berry to support his idea that we should think about what we eat. He explains the reason why our health declines because of the growth of the food industry. In a word, in order to increase the volume of food, producers have to decline the diversity because only by producing certain categories of food can producers increase their efficiency. When diversity decreases, people rely on medicines to complement the food. That’s why health declines subsequently. (Berry, 1989) But producers are not down to solve this problem. What they seek is profit. They would rather advertise that the food they produce is tasty, healthy, etc. Once consumers believe what they say, they can’t find where the health problem is from. He tells the mechanism step by step, which is persuasive and easier for readers to consent to his idea. Readers who originally unconscious will find out where the problem is from and start to think on the food they have. Berry also uses simile. He claims that the ignorance of eating is like a trap.
People voluntarily step into the trap. The only way out is to eat responsibly, understand and enact the relationship between eating and farming. Readers at this moment have been convinced by Berry’s evidence and analysis because they want to step out of the trap but don’t know what to do. That’s why he lists several suggestions. These advice is very practical and easy to follow. These methods will arouse people’s awareness of food. Berry also shares his feeling and methods. He chooses seafood instead of meat when travelling. He hopes the livestock he eats lived happily and freely but not raised merely for people’s consumption. This thought has a connection between the scene of what a hamburger might come from in previous paragraph.
The author will throw up if he finds that the cow is raised simply for eating. He claims that the industrial farm in the central valley of California is more like a concentration camp. Here he appeals to emotion again. He feels sorry not only for the animals raised by industrial, but also for the people eat them without any consciousness. Berry tries to make resonance to the readers. Readers, who see the comparison between the valley and concentration camp, feel ashamed of what they’ve done unconsciously. They will find out eating as a process distressing and that they lose the spirit of eating when having what they want. Comment by ms.3557: Why is this approach persuasive? Comment by ms.3557: Another place where you could add more analysis—why does he make this comparison? How does he want his audience to respond?
Berry conveys the idea that the pleasure of eating meat should not just be obtained from gourmet, but most importantly, knowing how a livestock grow and eating with gratitude and understanding. Berry makes analogy of eating with growing flowers. People appreciate the good appearance and aroma of flowers, but for gardeners, the experiences of growing them is to be cherished the most. At the end, he draws the conclusion that we should abandon our ignorance of food. By understanding the correlation between food and lands and people, we can gain the full pleasure of eating.
This essay is published on the center for Ecoliteracy website. The organization mainly focuses on the ecological education, food and sustainability, healthy lifestyle, etc. This essay’s main point, which turns against the process of food economy, is same as the center’s opinion. But as we know, industrialized food economy does pursue profit but also solves the problem of starving in different parts of the world attributed to higher efficiency of producing. If a person always starves, he has no time to become realized of what he’s eating but what he can eat. It’s somewhat disappointing that the author doesn’t mention this part. But overall, the author makes good use of evidence, analysis, and rhetorical appeals including ethos, pathos and logos. The article is pretty effective in bringing up ideas and values and using them to support author’s standpoint.
“Wendell Berry: The Pleasures of Eating.” Ecoliteracy.org, www.ecoliteracy.org/article/wendell-berry-pleasures-eating.