“Writing Essays YOU Want to Read”— Could this be possible?
This bold statement can be found on the cover of Slant, Professor Leither’s guide to a strong, persuasive, and interesting essay.
“What a novelty!” I thought, at first glance of the book written by my professor that would be guiding six essays throughout the first two quarters of my first college course.
“Here we go…I finally get to college and I have to read another book about how grammar works all over again.” How wrong I was.
In past schooling, all of my papers managed to be the same old. Five paragraph structure, with an introduction, three bodies, and a conclusion. I’d have a thesis sentence and three points I would prove in my body paragraphs. After summarizing my points in the conclusion, I’d usually struggle to find some cool and tricky way to finish it off. When it was all over, I hardly had the energy or the patience to even proofread. If I didn’t want to read my essay, who would? It was a good thing for me that my teachers had no choice but to grade it.
On the first day of CTW 1 class I was informed of the course topic: food. I was filled with absolute certainty that there was no way I could write a single paper about food that I wanted to read, much less two quarters worth of critical thinking and writing! Wrong again.
The first week of classes and homework opened my eyes to world and an issue that I had been blind to my entire life. We discussed in depth topics about the culture of food and how it is produced. From the abuses of animals in factory farming, to the harm meat eating causes the environment, to the unassuming yet drastic impacts corn has on food culture, I soon became aware that one of my favorite daily activities—eating—was a matter largely in the dark for me.
My attention became fixated on the whole process of eating in general. I realized how taken for granted food was in our culture. With no sense of community, consumers’ attentions were turned toward the cheap, the easy, and the tasty. Three of the six papers I wrote for CTW 1 & 2 concentrated on how and why consumers ignorantly decide that expedience should be their number one priority in eating. When starting my plunge into food culture, I had no idea how to take on a topic so large and foreign.
I began with me. With a critical viewpoint of myself, I first investigated my own diet, and how I made the convenient food choices instead of the ones that were best for me. Following the guidelines of Slant, I was able to write a persuasive essay about the dichotomy in my own food choices, while at the same time bringing about the larger implications that my meal choices had in the world.
In each of my writing assignments, I still hear the voice in my head of Professor Leither telling me, “write the essay you are QUALIFIED to write!” In taking this statement to heart, I discovered how describing personal situations and struggles in persuasive writing could effectively imply conclusions on a larger scale.
In the paper I wrote about my own diet, for example, discussing the contradictions in my own food choices brought up questions about the American diet in general. As a student-athlete at SCU, I live a very structured life that requires discipline in every choice I make throughout the day. Why, then, do my food choices not reflect this discipline that I so stringently adhere to? Similarly, Americans face busy and structured lives. We attempt to balance many different responsibilities. Between careers, families, schooling, and relationships, the fast-paced American lifestyle tends to take for granted small but essential aspects of life, such as food. We do not stop to realize just how important food is, such as: how it’s made, who made it, where it came from, etc. These are all things that bring our different communities and backgrounds together, yet we disregard them in every day life.
Michael Pollan is an author, activist and food expert who I’ve used as a source throughout my two quarters of CTW. I’ve truly enjoyed and valued his different writings and research into the importance of the “how” and “why” of food. He strongly supports eating as a social necessity in life. In one of my favorite quotes by him, he says, “We have had a large forgetting of what food really is and the fact that food is not just a thing. It’s not just some material good. It’s a set of relationships” (Pollan 29). This quote touches on the overarching themes of my research in these two quarters of CTW. Essentially, at the expense of our own social and health benefits, as well as those of the animals whose meat we eat, our food choices reflect a general ignorance and disregard for the process of it all.
Taking on a behemoth topic like food was admittedly overwhelming at first. However, with a focus on qualified writing and narrow research, my essays became more convincing to myself and to others. Self-reflection and critiques of my own decisions and viewpoints of food helped me to better understand the greater worldwide issues. Rather than the broad and general bringing me to the specific, I came to realize that narrow and particular by itself communicated the greater concept. Finally I am writing the essays that I want to read!
Pollan, Michael. “Something to Chew on.” Interview. Expert Witness 12 Dec. 2013: 1-5. Print.