What evidence does the author use to get his main point across?

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omconnelly | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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The author's central claim in the text is the fast food industry "has helped to transform not only the American diet, but our landscape, economy, workforce, and popular culture." 

The author provides myriad of evidence or grounds to convey and prove this point throughout the text. The author initially traces the history of the fast food restaurant chain to illustrate how the chains became a staple in the American culture. He points out that fast food chains did not become popular due to good food at an economical price, but he illustrates how the restaurants function as corporations. They take advantage of their relationships with government programs and agencies to help lower their cost of production, increase efficiency of production, appeal to the consumer, and increase in profit margin. The author provides examples about the livestock industry such as the use of antibiotics and other technologies to produce a more "standard" size chicken that allows for a more efficient breakdown of the birds in a slaughterhouse. By using machinery to pluck, debone, and butcher the birds, the fast food industry sees an economic benefit, but the author contends that "Every increase in productivity, however, has driven more American farmers off the land." 

The author provides additional examples to illustrate how the fast food industry does not operate in isolation such as the relationship between the toy industry and the fast food industry. He provides statistical evidence that illustrates how the fast food industry is the number one distributor of toys in the United States. As the reader, you are left to deduce or infer about the overall impact the fast food industry has on American children. If a chain, such as McDonald's, chooses to promote a toy, that toy may see sales in retail chains skyrocket. Therefore, it is beneficial for a toy manufacturer or movie studio to make a deal with the fast food industry. 

In addition to the anecdotal evidence, testimony, and data provided by the author to illustrate the impact that the fast food industry has on the American economy, he also provides anecdotes from people who work in the industry. From counter worker to slaughterhouse butcher, the author provides testimony about the working conditions, pay scale, and benefits the laborers receive while working in the industry. For example, the author claims that McDonald's is anti-union and supports this claim by providing the statistic that none of the McDonald's establishments at the time of publication were unionized. In addition, the author contends that the prevalent attitude between McDonalds and its business associates is that anti-union or collective bargaining is necessary to maintain profits and protect investments.

The author also provides testimony from slaughterhouse workers about the dangerous and often poorly monitored safety conditions they work within. This is exacerbated by the federal governments reduction in health and safety laws and monitoring. The author contends that the fast food industry's influence on the federal government benefits the industry rather than the worker. These workers are also often from lower socioeconomic classes or may be working in the country under visas or illegally. The author claims these conditions all give the industry the advantage over the workers. They do not complain because they do not want to lose their jobs, and the fast food industry does not provide their workers with more than necessary to preserve their profit margins. These grounds help you draw the conclusion or warrant that the fast food industry is more concerned with profit than the safety of its workers or their financial security. 

Ultimately, the author compiles statistical data, authority, and testimony to support his claims about the fast food industry. He provides various details about the development of the industry, and its complex relationships with the federal government, the American farmer, private industry, and the consumer to illustrate how it has greatly impacted and shaped American culture. 

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