Pathos is the most effective appeal used in Food, Inc. because many strong visual images evoke the viewer’s emotions. The food industry’s maltreatment of farm animals provides several examples of pathos. A particularly disturbing scene of a close up of a dying chicken lying on his back, bleeding and gasping for air appears early in the film when a farmer allows cameras into her chicken houses. A farmer, Carole Morrison, explains quite candidly that the chickens are grown too quickly and that their bodies cannot support the rapidly growing internal organs and oversized breasts. The crowded filthy conditions in which the chickens live are deplorable. Later sick cows, unable to walk and mistreated by workers, further illustrates the deplorable treatment of farm animals. The filmmaker reinforces his point that the industry is inhumane to the animals prior to slaughtering them for food, while visually appealing to the viewer’s emotions.
The most recognizable use of pathos in the documentary involves real people who have been negatively affected by the food industry. A mother whose young old child died after eating hamburger infected with E. coli is especially moving. Another family depicted supports the point that the fast food is cheaper than more nutritious fruits and vegetables. The family consists of a husband and wife and two young daughters. The girls visit a grocery store and weigh fruits in order to determine if they can to buy any as the mother looks on sadly. The mother chooses to buy fast food burgers because they are more filling and affordable. The father in this family has Type II Diabetes caused by poor diet. The family’s limited income creates a dilemma whether to buy cheap food and afford his medicines or buy more nutritious foods and not have money for medicine. The plight of this family emphasizes Pollan’s argument that the food industry has created an imbalance with affordable fast food.
Another rhetorical device, logos occurs frequently throughout the movie in the form of statistics that flash across the screen. The names of the top four meat-producing companies appear on the silhouettes of hogs in cows in colorful block letters. Chickens presented side by side indicate the numbers of days it takes for them to mature, which is half the time it took 50 years ago. The statistics of children who will develop Type II Diabetes show the prevalence or the disease. These facts and statistics along with many others appear in bold lettering above the scenes that they relate to (Food, Inc.).
The last device, ethos, appears with the introduction of Eric Schlosser, the first commentator in the film. Schlosser is the author of Fast Food Nation and an investigative reporter. Michael Pollan, the second commentator and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a well-known author, activist, journalist and professor. The movie is based upon Pollan’s book. The commentators combined past experience provide...