Whether frequently or just once in a while, most of us eat food prepared in restaurants, dining halls, or fast food places rather than our own kitchens. How much do you know about the work involved in getting your meal into your hands? How are the workers treated and compensated? In this August 2018 Civil Eats essay, graduate student and environmentalist Spencer Robins argues that informed and engaged consumers can help bring about change not only for food workers, but for society at large.
Follow the link to read the article. Before you read, quickly review the web site using the criteria outlined in the “Evaluating Expertise” article. Is this a credible source?
Robins, “Are eaters the key to better restaurant wages and working conditions?”
Respond to the following questions. Questions #1 and #2 are short-answer questions.
Question #3 should be approximately a 150-word paragraph.
Robins mentions several reasons for eliminating voluntary tipping of servers in order to provide better pay and conditions to restaurant workers. What are those reasons? List them. Which one is most persuasive to you? Why? If none are persuasive, explain why not.
We might consider the practice of tipping to be the core topic of Robins’s essay, but he explores many other closely related issues, as well, including racial disparities in restaurant wages, health care surcharges, immigration policy, deceptive corporate practices, and more. Would the essay be more effective without the related issues, or are those issues important to understanding the whole picture? Why do you think so? Explain your answer and point to specific example or passage of the essay to illustrate the reasoning behind your answer.
How “educated and engaged” do you consider yourself “about the true cost of food in restaurants”? That is the challenge posed by Saru Jayaraman, one of Robins’s interviewees. Whether you already know a lot from personal experience or whether it never occurred to you before to think about it, reflect on your own restaurant habits and knowledge. How do you decide how much to tip? Do you prefer places where you order at the counter and not have to tip? Do you ever choose restaurants because they are known to be good places to work? Do you ever avoid restaurants that are reputed to be bad workplaces? Regardless of how much you already know, how important would it be to learn more? Write an essay that addresses these questions, using Robins as your They Say.
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