Fast Food and American Culture

This worksheet combines the steps for finding sources and the Library Research Assignment.
Here are the main requirements of the essay:
1,250 words
• An argument that An Argument that makes a claim on a specific aspect of the food conversation (i.e. calories as a guide to nutritional eating, childhood obesity, a body image issue, a particular food myth, snacking vs. meals) and develops it.
• A Thesis that explains your definition of the food conversation and your criteria and why they are important (a claim and three “because” clauses).
• Selection of an “anchor” article to which your argument responds (agree, disagree, or partially agree).
• Definitions of any terms in the argument, i.e., “organic,” “natural,” “sustainable,” or even “local.”
• At least four sources (in addition to the “anchor” article). Two can be internet sources. Two must be either scholarly database or government publications.
• Proper citation in MLA format for both in-text and works cited documentation.
• Your sources must be critically analyzed. In other words, you must tell the reader how credible the source is and why you would or would not trust it.
• A conclusion that shows why your definition of an essential element of the food conversation matters and why it is a meaningful contribution to the topic.
1. Decide how you want to examine the food conversation and define the most important aspect of it. Perhaps you think that fast food culture and the change it has brought to our eating habits is most important.
2. Decide on a thesis: a claim and three because clauses. For instance, you might say that fast food culture is central to our current attitude toward food BECAUSE it has changed our concepts of eating outside the home, of time and food preparation, and of food cost.
3. Decide on an anchor article. Since Zinzcenko takes up fast food directly, this might be a good article to pick as an anchor. However, I might disagree with Zinczenko’s thesis because my argument is that it is not the fast food itself that matters in our shift in eating habits, but the cultural change ordering food at the drive thru has created.
4. Now I should look for internet sources. Since I want to argue that the fast food industry has revolutionized our dietary culture, it would be a good idea to find out how much business they do.
a. My first site was called Statista, a worldwide marketing and consumer data service which reported that QSR (quick service restaurants) were worth 256 billion dollars in 2018.
b. My second site was called Fast Food Menu Prices and it allowed me to compare menu prices of several fast food chains. I also found several sites that compared the cost of fast food to home cooking prices. The most reliable was Forbes, a well-known business publication that cited their industry and academic sources for their claim that it can cost up to five times more to buy fast food than cook at home.
c. My claim about time lead me to USA Today’s article concerning average wait times between making an order at a drive-thru speaker and picking up the food at the window. In 2019 the average time was 255 seconds and the information is from QSR, a trade journal for the fast food industry.
NOTE: I made a special point of asking the following questions about the sites I used:
 How reliable is the site—what kind of publication is it? What is the intended audience? What is the history and reputation of the site? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you can simply look for a description of the publication on the internet.
5. Now I need to use the ARC Library to find scholarly sources for this step you can use EITHER OneSearch or the Databases tab. The following instructions show you how to use the database tab.
a. My first step is to go to the Student Services Tab on the ARC homepage.
b. Once at the library homepage, I select research databases on the left side.
c. I choose Ebsco Academic Search Complete among the General Databases.
d. My search term was “Fast Food and American Culture”; Remember that when you search “And” will narrow your search and “Or” will give you more results. You can also use the advanced search feature, which will automatically supply the “and” term and give you categories that the database uses to categorize results.
e. Limit your search to materials you can access (it’s one of the options on the left side of the database page). You can also choose time frame and type of publication on the left side of the page.
f. Read the abstract for the article because this will tell you how specialized the article is. If the terms are unfamiliar, pick a more accessible article.
g. As a result of my search, I found two articles. The first one, “Mobile Eating: A Cultural Perspective” by Jacqueline Botterill in International Review of Social Research was very useful since she claims that we now see our cars as extensions of our work space and our drive-thru meals as a kind of “eating at the desk.” She says that eating alone in our cars increases our longing for home-cooked food and family dinners even though we don’t have them. My second article was by Rachael Bryant and more factual and comparative and was titled “Fast Food Perception: A Pilot Study of College Students in Spain and the United States.” The interesting thing about this study is that American Male college students ate at fast food restaurants because they cared most about cost (61%) and convenience (69%) and little about nutrition (29%).
6. Now my task is to assess my sources and decide how they will fit into my essay.
Answer the following questions about each source you use
1. Authorship (who)—Assess the author’s credentials or Google the name in order to decide whether he or she is knowledgeable and credible. Also investigate the publisher. Who sponsors the site or publishes the journal or periodical in which it appears? You may need to look at the “about” page on the site. You can also look at the URL abbreviation: commercial (.com); educational (.edu); nonprofit (.org); governmental (.gov); military (.mil).
2. Purpose (what)—What is the aim of the article or the website? To argue a position? Sell a product? Advocate for a particular viewpoint? Who is the intended audience?
3. Currency (when)–When was the date of publication or the latest update? Test the site’s links to discover if they still work. How current do you need the information to be in terms of your research question.
4. Verify Information (where)—where can you look to check the validity of the information you find. In other words, does the article give you links or sources? You will also need to determine the credibility of the sources.
5. How will you use the source (why)—What will the source add to your paper? Will it be part of an overview or provide background for your research question? Will it provide facts and figures to support your contention? Will it offer a perspective on your research question that might refine it? Assess the source’s general value and relevancy to your topic.
6. Finally, which source did you find the most valuable for your research and why?

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