Haran 1 Mark Haran Professor Emily Riley-Smith ENGL 250, Section VD 11 February 2020 Rhetorical Analysis of a Written Text Joel Salatin’s argumentative essay entitled “Declare Your Independence” addresses a variety of food-related dilemmas rooted in the industrial food system, including sustainability, ethics, morals, perception, and lifestyle. In today’s society, the typical consumer is uninformed, bewildered, and often constrained by the complexity of the food industry. As a full-time farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Salatin’s humble beginnings have forged his resilient outlook on numerous food-related topics. By targeting the average consumer in this essay, Salatin seeks to establish a basis by which ordinary people can make full-fledged, conscious, and beneficial decisions that transform their outlook on the food system and, subsequently, their relationship with food. Salatin’s authoritative tone, stable point of view, and effective organization methods exhibit his ability to intertwine ethos and pathos, making the essay easier for the reader to interpret. These methods, although interpreted subjectively, display Salatin’s successful attempt at posing an applicable reality for the reader. In the exposition of the essay, Salatin exercises a pathos-oriented approach to attract the reader’s interest and evoke feelings of urgency and empowerment. He foregrounds his troubled outlook on the food system by encouraging the reader to ‘opt-out’ of the existing system: “The time has come to challenge the paradigm of factory-produced food and to return to a more natural, wholesome, and sustainable way of eating (and living). It’s time to opt out and simply start eating better—right here, right now” (Salatin 175). Following the quote, Salatin senses the reader’s uncertainty and offers insight into why his perspective is a realistic and effective Haran 2 strategy in transforming the declining food system. As the essay progresses, Salatin’s use of syntax displays his disgust in the food system: “The food additives, preservatives, colorings, emulsifiers, corn syrups, and unpronounceable ingredients listed on the colorful packages bespeak a centralized control mindset [that resemble] meager offerings of a tyrannical food system” (Salatin 176). In this quote, as well as the paragraphs that follow, Salatin encourages the reader to assess the problematic nature of the food industry. Furthermore, he invites the reader to interpret the greedy motives of corporate officials and the perpetuation of subjective human health. Salatin’s ability to utilize the rhetorical appeal of pathos helps him pose the conceptual argument of the paper: “Is this the future of the food industry?” Salatin’s unwavering attitude towards the food industry, as well as his many controversial discourses, advances the reader’s understanding of potential drawbacks towards perpetuating a limited outlook on the food industry. According to Salatin, “a society that views its plants and animals from [a] manipulative, egocentric, [and] mechanistic mindset will soon come to view its citizens in the same way” (Salatin 179). This debatable quote reinforces Salatin’s extremist stance and persistence in persuading the reader to shift their outlook on the food industry. Furthermore, the unsettling and abnormal way he presents this quote evokes feelings of uncertainty, concern, and fear in the reader. Salatin wants the reader to assume that those who lead the food industry are the type of people who would justify the immoral outcome of the Dred Scott case (Salatin177). Salatin’s reasoning behind this approach is to get the reader to think that our future is doomed; that our inability to change our behavior and recognize our wrongdoings in the food industry will lead to the downfall of human existence. Although this may not be the case, his interesting outlook is not meant to divide or hurt his relationship with the reader, but to provide a sense of hope. Haran 3 In the second half of the essay, Salatin’s effective use of ethos through his utilization of headers and rhythm guides the reader in understanding the core principles of his argument. Salatin uses headers to remind the reader of the things they must do in order to achieve a more fulfilling way of looking at the food industry: “OPTING OUT [OF EXISTING SYSTEM], LEARN TO COOK AGAIN, BUY LOCAL, BUY WHAT’S IN SEASON, PLANT A GARDEN” (Salatin 180-186). Salatin’s employment of headers gives the reader an argument or piece of advice to look forward to; an unexplored item on the checklist of points he has yet to make. Furthermore, Salatin’s use of rhythm subconsciously forces the reader to look forward to his accompanying points. Each section starts with the context of the topic, followed by statistics or agricultural science to back up his claims. Subsequently, Salatin introduces a personal experience to reinforce the reader’s understanding of the topic at hand and ends the section with a conclusion stating why or why not a change must be made. These literary strategies give the reader a better understanding of Salatin’s motives and the untapped sense of hope he invites the reader to act upon. Throughout the essay, Salatin’s ability to culminate his ideas into a unified and cohesive body of work displays his thoughtfulness and appreciation for such an important topic in today’s society. In the denouement of the essay, Salatin encourages the reader to adopt a proactive stance on transforming the industrial food system. As consumers, we must be conscious of our ability to promote and enact change, both on a local and national level. In the concluding paragraph, Salatin reinforces a sense of urgency by elaborating on our collective participation: “The power of many individual right actions will then compound to create a different culture” (Salatin 187). Therefore, as consumers, we must remain grounded in rational and selfless food-related Haran 4 practices. By doing so, only then will we realize that our concurrent actions involving the food industry have an everlasting impact on the future of human existence. Haran 5 Works Cited Salatin, Joel. “Declare Your Independence” Food, by Brooke Rollins and Lee Bauknight, First ed., V Series, Fountainhead Press, 2010, pp. 175-187.