Week Five

Argument Paper, MLA Style (Zhang)

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Marginal annotations indicate MLA-style formatting and effective writing.

Source: Hacker Handbooks (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010, 2007).
This paper follows the style guidelines in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (2009).

Zhang 1

Amy Zhang

Professor Swain

English 101

23 October XXXX

Slow Down and Eat Better

If you drive on any highway in the United States, you’ll

find fast-food restaurants at every exit and service area. If you

walk through any supermarket, you’ll see prepared foods that

say “make it in minutes” and “ready to serve.” According to an

article by James Bone on the TimesOnline Web site, only one-

third of Americans cook meals from scratch, meaning with fresh

ingredients. Bone also writes that Americans spend only thirty

minutes cooking dinner, compared with 2½ hours in the 1960s.

And in his book Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser claims that

one-quarter of Americans eat in a fast-food restaurant each day

(3). Why are Americans eating so much fast food? The answer is

simple: speed is more important than quality. While Americans

may be attracted to food that is fast and easy, they are missing

the benefits of slowing down. In fact, Americans’ obsession with

fast food is hurting not only their health but also the quality of

their lives.

The main reason that Americans are getting takeout food

and heating prepared meals is obvious: they don’t have enough

time. In more than two-thirds of families in the United States,

two people are working (Bone). People with demanding work

schedules have little time for food shopping and cooking.


Zhang opens with
general observa­
tions to attract
readers’ interest.

Zhang states a
clear thesis at the
end of the opening

Source: Hacker Handbooks (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010, 2007).

Zhang 2

A clear topic
sentence helps
guide readers.

An effective
transition links
the ideas in this
paragraph to those
in the previous

Zhang uses a
signal phrase and a
citation for facts
that support her

Another reason that mealtime has become so short is that

many younger adults grew up in a fast-food culture. In the past

fifteen years, cell phones, the Internet, and e-mail have increased

the speed of everyday communication. At the same time,

microwave ovens, drive-through restaurants, and frozen dinners

have changed the way Americans eat. Many people now like to eat

quickly, even in their cars or in front of the television, instead of

taking time to cook a meal and sit at the table. In this culture of

instant gratification, people don’t think food is important enough

to spend much time on.

Even though Americans think that they are saving time and

improving their lives by eating precooked and prepackaged food,

their obsession with fast food is causing the quality of their lives

to go down. First, their health is suffering. As most people know,

fast foods and frozen meals are generally less healthy than foods

made at home. They have lots of preservatives, fat, sugar, and

salt to hide the fact that they are not fresh. If people do not eat

fresh foods that provide vitamins and minerals, they may become

tired and sick, and they may miss out on opportunities to enjoy

their lives.

Another serious health problem is obesity. There is an

obesity epidemic in the United States today, especially with

young people, and it is related to the way people are eating.

According to Schlosser, “The rate of obesity among American

children is twice as high as it was in the late 1970s” (240).

Obesity can lead to many health problems, including diabetes,

heart disease, and cancer. The United States Department of

Source: Hacker Handbooks (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010, 2007).

Zhang 3

Health and Human Services notes that “deaths due to poor diet

and physical inactivity increased 33 percent” in the 1990s, and it

cites a study that concluded that “poor diet and physical inactivity

may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death” in the

United States. If fast food causes people to become obese, and

then obesity causes them to get sick or die, fast food cannot be

considered an “improvement” in Americans’ lives.

In addition to causing health problems, fast food hurts

people’s relationships with their friends and families. In an online

interview, John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and The

Food Revolution, comments on the importance of mealtime:

Throughout history, eating has been a way of bringing

people together. It’s how parents stay in touch with

what’s going on in their kids’ lives. When people break

bread together, it’s an act of peacemaking, an act of

good will. . . . Dining together can be a deep biological

and sacred experience. When we eat, we are connected

to all of life. It’s a phenomenon found in every culture

in the world, except ours. I see the McDonaldization

of our food supply as the annihilation of our true

relationship to life. (qtd. in Lee)

While most Americans will not be able to cook full, fresh

meals every day, they can begin to improve the quality of their

lives by buying fresh foods when they can and by cooking fresh

food at least sometimes. For example, people can shop at the

farmers’ market for fresh local produce instead of buying canned

or frozen vegetables. They will have a chance to buy foods with

No page number is
available for this
online source.

A long quotation
(more than four
lines) is indented;
quotation marks
are omitted. An
ellipsis mark
indicates that some
words from the
source have been
left out.

Zhang notes
the limitations
of her argument
but maintains
her position.

Zhang offers
readers some
suggestions for
better eating.

Source: Hacker Handbooks (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010, 2007).

Zhang 4

more nutrients at the same time that they get to know people in

their community.

Also, if people slow down to make food with their friends or

family, they can enjoy the benefits of good nutrition while they

are building stronger relationships. An organization called Slow

Food, which describes itself as “an international organization

whose aim is to protect the pleasures of the table from the

homogenization of modern fast food and life,” encourages readers

of its Web site to make pasta from scratch once in a while. Friends

and family can cook meals together so one person isn’t doing all

the work. And people can try to cook family recipes from their

parents or grandparents.

Even though Americans may think they are saving time and

improving their lives by eating fast food, they will actually have

healthier and more enjoyable lives if they change the way they

cook and eat. Making dinner from scratch is much healthier than

getting burgers and fries from a fast-food restaurant. And people

get more than just a full stomach—they get more time with

family and friends and a good feeling from creating something


The conclusion
reminds readers of
the essay’s main

Source: Hacker Handbooks (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010, 2007).

Zhang 5

Works Cited

Bone, James. “Good Home Cooking—Right off the Assembly

Line.” TimesOnline. Times Newspapers, 27 Mar. 2006. Web.

9 Oct. 2008.

Lee, Virginia. “The Common Ground Interview with John Robbins.”

The Food Revolution. John Robbins, 2002. Web. 18 Oct. 2008.

Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American

Meal. Boston: Houghton, 2001. Print.

Slow Food. Slow Food, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2008.

United States. Dept. of Health and Human Services. “Citing

‘Dangerous Increase’ in Deaths, HHS Launches New Strategies

against Overweight Epidemic.” US Dept. of Health

and Human Services, 10 Mar. 2004. Web. 9 Oct. 2008.

The works cited list
provides references
for all the sources
Zhang uses in her

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