Rhetorical Analysis of “The Pleasures of Eating” by Wendell Berry

RhetoricalAnalysis of “ThePleasures of Eating”by Wendell Berry

WendellBerry uses his articleThe Pleasures of Eatingto discuss how people fail to pay attention to the things they eat.The use of outstanding terminologies and precise comparisons ofdifferent eating habits successfully influences the audience to thinkand reevaluate their knowledge on various foods.

Wendelluses remarkable vocabulary to develop a persuasive argument. In thefifth paragraph of his document, Wendell uses words such asdependent, uncritical, and passive to describe the patrons of thefood industry. In his document, Wendell targets urban shoppers. Suchis depicted by the fact that most of the developed opinions aredirected towards the urban population. For example, in the fourthparagraph, he states, “Most urban shoppers would tell you that foodcomes from the farms. But a majority of them fail to know what farms,or what kind of farms, or where the farms are…” (Wendell,paragraph. 4).

Theauthor also uses long descriptions of food in the right manner. Inthe ninth paragraph, for example, the author uses words such dyed,gravied, blended, prettified, pulped, and breaded to describe thetype of foods sold in urban places. Such words are sarcasticallyapplied to show the audience how foods in the urban markets arepresented.

Throughhis writing, Wendell advises and tries to convince the urban foodshoppers to shop in local markets and farms, eat in a responsiblemanner, and think of the extra expenses incurred by buying theforeign foods. He also tries to show them the benefits of growingtheir own vegetables, and raising their own animals for meat insteadof relying on imported products. He achieves his arguments by usingthree rhetorical appeals namely: ethos, pathos, and logos (Brooks,n. p).The use of ethos in his document is clear when he states, “Theywill grow, deliver, and cook your food for you and (just like yourmother) beg you to eat it.” The author uses these words to make theaudience believe in his argument as he states what really happens.

Wendelladdresses pathos by pointing out various descriptive incidences whereinnocent animals have been mistreated for the benefit of an Americanto enjoy a piece of hamburger, or crispy chicken sandwich. He assertsthat the urban population does not understand the fact that the juicyhamburger they consume, came from a steer who spent a large part ofhis life standing on his waste in a small box, and who contributed tothe pollution of local streams. The author displays deep emotions onhow upset he was with large food industries, which aimed at makingmore money rather than providing quality food. He says, &quotThereis a great displeasure in knowing about the food economy thatdegrades and abuses the arts, and those plants and animals, and thesoil in which they come.&quot (Wendell, paragraph. 21). Through acombination of the three rhetorical appeals, Wendell wants theaudience to know the benefits of buying locally produced, and theprocessed foods.

Theauthor also uses negative comparative phrases to enhance hispersuasive argument. He suggests that foods being advertised “wearsas much makeup as actors” (Wendell, paragraph. 9) to suggest to theaudience that what they see is not real. He also uses phrases such“industrial sex,” to show the negativity of purchasing, orconsuming foods from the foreign markets. He compares the degradednature of industrial eating to a minor and worthless thing likeprostitution. He uses such comparisons to emphasize (Brooks,n. p)that most individuals do not have a precise knowledge of the thingthey eat, and that they know nothing about farming, or the origin ofthe food. The people that the author addresses are only attracted bythe advertised nature of the foods. In such statements, he employslogos to bring out logical appeal. The negative comparisons are meantto support his argument, and make his audience reconsider purchasing,or consuming foods from the foreign markets. He also uses a sharptone to make other people appreciate his ultimate findings of thefoods that we eat.

Afterdeveloping arguments against eating foods from foreign markets ininitial paragraphs, Wendell tactfully ends his writing by revealingto the audience the positivity of eating locally produced food. Inthe second last paragraph, for example, he suggests that the pleasureof eating should be an all-embracing pleasure, and not that of anordinary sensualist. He states,

“Thepleasure of eating should be a great pleasure, not that of the meregourmet. People who know the garden in which their vegetables havegrown, and know that the garden is healthy, and remember the beautyof the growing plants, perhaps in the dewy first light of the morningwhen the gardens are at their best. Such a memory involves itselfwith the food and is one of the pleasures of eating. The knowledge ofthe good health of the garden relieves and frees, and comforts theeater.” (Wendell, par. 15)

Hedescribes the beauty a garden in a manner that would convince hisaudience to consider eating foods that they have grown by themselves.He suggests that seeing the beauty of the garden where the cropsgrow, gives the eater the pleasure of eating. Such descriptionsdemonstrate pathos where the author creates an appeal to the emotionsof his audience (Brooks,n. p).The appeal has successfully been applied as it apparently makes theaudience have a feeling of the pleasure that is derived from eatingfoods from gardens, which are well maintained and taken care of.

Hehas also placed many comparisons in the same paragraph. In the eighthparagraph, for example, the author uses multiple comparisons where hecompares kitchens to petrol stations (Wendell, paragraph. 8).Moreover, the use of multiple comparisons in the same section wassignificantly applied to draw the concentration of the audience, andmake them believe in what the author suggests.

Wendell’sarguments were therefore, useful in his work due to the location andchoice of comparisons and terminologies. The usage of rhetoricalappeals such as ethos, pathos, and logos has been used in persuadingthe audience to consider the proposals of the author. He apparentlymanages to bring out the negativities of consuming foods whose originor processing is not well known.


Berry,Wendell. &quotThe pleasures of eating.&quot&nbspCooking,Eating, Thinking: Transformative Philosophies of Food&nbsp(1992):374-379.

Brooks,David. “It’s Not about You.” Everything’s an Argument.Ed.Andrea A. Lunsford and John J. Ruszkiewicz. 6th ed.Boston: Bedford,2013, 108–10. Print.