Argumentative Essay: Fast Food in America

Essay 1 Instructions

Essay 1 (500 words) will be an argument paper concerning fast food in America.  You can use Fast Food Nation as a source for your information, as well as “Super Size Me,” and the articles and videos in “Fast Food Advertising: Videos and Articles.”  Don’t use other sources in your essay.  For this essay, you do not have to provide MLA documentation.  However, you must not copy from the sources; you must put this information into your own words if you are going to use it, or quote it accurately if you are going to use the exact words.  Let us know who said it, and use proper punctuation.  Otherwise, it would be plagiarism.  If you are a little nervous about plagiarism, make sure you review the assigned plagiarism material.

Follow MLA formatting rules (Read the link below the directions – “How to Format Your Essay in MLA”). 

Reread the helpful description of the argument in the Owl, which you can find in the Owl Readings. 

Choose one prompt and write a 500-word argument essay.  Here are the prompts for Essay 1:

  1. Fast food companies, such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King, have made children the target of their advertisements for years.  There was a movement some years ago to rein in the aggressive practices of fast food ads, but eventually the movement was defeated and the advertising grew even stronger.  Do you think fast food companies should be allowed to advertise their products directly to children, such as through commercials during cartoon programming? 
  1. Some critics of fast food have compared fast food to harmful products, such as cigarettes and alcohol, because more people die from illnesses linked to poor diets than people die from cigarettes and alcohol.  The critics want fast food to be treated the same way with warnings and age limitations.  Do you agree?  (To get the full impact of the fast food diet, I recommend seeing Morgan Spurlock’s “Supersize Me,” a documentary that followed a man on his 30-day McDonald’s diet.)
  1. Some defenders of fast food blame obesity on the lack of self-discipline.  However, critics of fast food point out that the fast food industry employs certain, proven tactics to get people to overconsume fast food.  How do fast food companies strategize to get more people to consume their products?

Some important features of Essay 1:

  1. Structure of essay must follow the structure in the “Argument Structure and Tips” document, found under the Essay 1 directions.
  2. Organization of argument must be clear
  3. Writing must be clear and concise
  4. Argument must be more than unsupported opinion.  Make sure you use a good balance of facts, logic, and examples.  You are trying to persuade the rest of the world with this essay.
  5. When using facts, logic, and examples, make sure you do not copy these facts, etc.  You are not required to use MLA documentation for this first essay, but simply copying another’s ideas is considered plagiarism.  Best advice: put the information into your own words, or if you are confident about the rules of quoting, then you can use some quotes.
  6. Grammatical errors must be at a minimum 

Important Feature This Semester

The Writing Center is taking online submissions (essays) from students and offering feedback within 24 hours.  That is amazing! 

Things to Avoid

  • Avoid overuse of the word “I.”  It is okay to use I if you have something pertinent to say, but mainly avoid it.  Of course, never use second person (you, your, yours, you’re, you’ll etc.).
  • Avoid using phrases such as:
    1. I think
    2. I believe
    3. I feel
    4. In my opinion

Avoiding these phrases will make your essay more authoritative.  It is not your opinion, your belief, or your thought.  It is the truth, and you can back it up with plenty of evidence.

  • Avoid use of slang or regional phrases. 
  • Avoid turning in a paper that has not been thoroughly proofread.  Don’t make me wonder how you got out of English 101.
  • Avoid writing an opinion piece.  Again, you need to include more than just personal opinion.  Your opinion will probably be the basis of your argument, but for crying out loud, please back it up with plenty of support. 
  • Avoid making your essay too large.  You don’t want your first essay to be a thousand words long.  You have the research paper to do that.  To corral your ideas, create a brief informal outline that nails down a thesis and two or three supporting topics.  In other words, don’t make this unnecessarily hard on yourself.
  • Avoid avoiding the English Writing Center (Lab).  Go to the writing center if you are having trouble.  The tutors can set you straight in probably less than ten minutes.  They are professionals.  They are located in Building 1, 216W. 
  • Avoid turning in a late essay.  This is an easy way to lose points.  I am strict about late papers.  Unless your house burned down or somebody died, you’d better get your paper in on time.

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