Critical Argument On They Say, I Say Short Essay: Assessment Answer

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English 1100: They Say, I Say Short Essay 20%    750-1000 wds

Use your They Say, I Say textbook for this assignment! This essay is intended to give you practice articulating a critical argument in response to work you have read and are using in your research. You are not just summarizing now, but adding YOUR critical argument. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY


David Zinczenko and Radley Balko have written short articles in which they take opposing views on food and personal responsibility for health in the United States. Critically read “What you Eat is Your Business” by Radley Balko and decide if you agree and why. Next, read “Don’t Blame the Eater” by David Zinczenko (TSIS) and see if good counterpoints are raised. Which argument is more persuasive/fair/responsible? For both authors, ask yourself if key points are not being considered, if assumptions are made about readers or those who take opposing viewpoints, or if bias is prominent. Do they seem to have a sense of the whole picture? PRO TIP: evaluate your own potential biases and assumptions about this topic as you read! It may help to ask yourself who is likely to disagree, and why? Doing so may require you to consider the perspective of people quite different from the authors, or from yourself. 

Begin using the same rules as for summary: you must understand and be able to fairly represent an argument from someone else before you can agree/disagree/analyze. 

Read proactively: think about tone, look up words or concepts you don’t understand. If you misunderstand, you might misrepresent, which weakens your own argument.

Annotate both readings to highlight what you think are key points or quotes, and to make notes to help you synthesize the ideas in your own words; a way that makes it easier for you to understand. 

Write a formal essay in which you agree or disagree with Balko’s central thesis, and explain why. Zinczenko can serve as a naysayer or a key counterargument, depending on what you decide.  

  • In your introduction, remember to introduce Balko and the title of his article, and his basic argument. (Overall, what is he arguing about eating habits/ and or government regulation of healthy eating?)
  • Be sure to include your thesis statement (for instance, you agree or disagree because…3-4 discussion pts that correspond to 3-4 body paragraphs)
  • Body: Establish what (Balko) says and respond to it using David Zinczenko and your own thoughts. 
  • Think critically! Are all his claims informed and reliable? Are there logical flaws? Where does he make good points? Does he fairly acknowledge naysayers like Zinczenko in his own argument?

NOTE: Doing this well means synthesizing all the skills/ideas we’ve covered so far: effective critical reading, note-taking, reporting and citing (either paraphrase or direct quotes) and using templates to contribute to an argument. 

As always: 

  • MLA formatting procedures MUST be followed
  • A Work Cited page must be included
  • Your essay should have a number of well-used and relevant quotes and paraphrases (use page #s)!
  • Essays over the 1000 word limit will lose 5%

Please upload your essay to Moodle as a PDF only

**Important context note: the article you are reading was first published in 2004, and you should keep in mind that Balko is writing in a context (and country; the USA) where unlike Canada, healthcare is not subsidized/covered automatically by individual states or the country. In Canada, we have provincial healthcare coverage in which a small premium is paid to insure citizens. In some provinces, like Newfoundland and Labrador, healthcare is completely free. Universal healthcare is available in 67 countries to date. 

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They Say, I Say Short Essay


Radley Balko, in his essay, “What You Eat Is Your Business”, has discussed the issue of obesity in America. Balko argues that obesity control in Americal would largely depend on how effectively legal frameworks could be applied in regulating food companies. He also proposes that the junk food must be eliminated from the school vending machines. One of the major points that he identifies is that the government needs to be focused on humanizing personal responsibility among people about their individual health. Although Balko provides a number of good points, including “We’re becoming less responsible for our own health, and more responsible for everyone else’s”, I do not support them entirely, as I believe fast food companies do not mention the harmful impacts of their foods on the human body (Balko 467). Fast food companies must ensure that consumers are given enough information about foods and their impact on the human body to help them chose a healthy diet. 


Balko starts his discussion by pointing out the responsibility of the government to educate people about the about the way of living a healthy life by having a good food habit. One of the significant points made by Balko is that people should be aware of what they are eating. The author says, “We’re becoming less responsible for our own health, and more responsible for everyone else’s” (Balko 467). He believes that the privatization of the healthcare system would be a good solution to curb the obesity issue in America, as the people would start having good foods and taking better dietary decisions if they were charged for their own health care. Zinczenko, in his essay, “Don’t Blame the Eater”, opposes to the findings of Balko and identifies food companies as a prime guilty to the increasing obesity rate in the country. Zinczenko believes that the companies do not give information about the food nutritional values of products to the people, due to which consumers are getting addicted to the cheap and easily accessible processed foods. As Zinczenko explains, “Complicating the lack of alternatives is the lack of information about what, exactly, we’re consuming” (Zinczenko 463). It can be assessed that Zinczenko claims that the obesity issue is expected to grow further in America until the food companies start using proper labelling on their food products to inform people what they are consuming. 

After reading both essays, I get Zinczenko’s findings of the reason for growing obesity issue in America more relevant than that of Balko’s points. I personally believe that food companies should take their responsibility to inform people about the nutritional values of food to help them understand what they are consuming and what consequences could that food cause to the human body. As Zinczenko’s mentions in his article, food companies are often found to use improper labelling on their products, providing incomplete information to the consumers. I strongly agree with Zinczenko’s discussion of how people can choose a good diet if they are not exposed to healthy food options in the market. However, I am not rejecting Balko’s argument, saying why people are allowing such unhealthy foods to be placed in the market and why we are permitting our children to consume foods that are artificially produced, genetically modified, and shot up with hormones. I completely agree to what Balko claims in his essay that a menu with nutrition facts mentioned next to each food dish is more helpful for people to make good dietary choices than the menu with the only name of the dishes mentioned on it. 

I feel that both essays have made some valid and significant points about the possible reasons why obesity is becoming a common phenomenon among people in America. By analyzing both essays and their findings, I can assess that Balko’s argument about the obesity issue in America is explained more deeply, whereas the points made by Zinczenko are found to be more realistic and practical. The government should not ban food companies for selling foods with high calories, as it is not the solution to curb the obesity issue in America. As an alternative, the government should focus on educating people in society to understand the importance of a good diet for living a healthy life. 


In conclusion, I can assess that both Zinczenko and Balko have made two different opinions and recommendations to fight against the increasing rate of obesity in America. Zinczenko wants restaurants and food companies to take responsibilities of our health by informing consumers about the nutrition facts of products, whereas Balko firmly believes that people must be responsible towards what they are eating in order to stay away from obesity. I believe that if consumers are given enough information about foods and their impact on the human body, then they can effectively select healthy foods and design their diet plan appropriately, contributing to their healthy living.