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Rhetorical Analysis of Marcel Dicke’s Why Not Eat Insects?

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Leyla Navarro Salazar

Professor Garcia

English 110C

22 September 2016

Rhetorical Analysis of Marcel Dicke’s

“Why Not Eat Insects?”

        The idea that eating insects is for the those less fortunate countries who do not have access to livestock is the perception western civilization has attained. There is not necessarily a specific reason for when the idea of consuming insects became wrong and something to squeam about, but this perception needs to change. In 2010 Marcel Dicke delivered the TED talk, “Why Not Eat Insects”, which touched on the idea of introducing insects into our diet. As a professor of Entomology and many years investigating the ecology of insect-plant interactions, the points Dicke makes throughout his speech are strong and valid. To get his point across Dicke uses various types of rhetorical appeals such ethos, logos and pathos. Overall, Dicke does a great job of having a correct amount of humor for pathos, but at the same time using his background knowledge to present an appetizing case to the audience.

        The entirety of Dicke’s speech appeals more to logos, or logic, in the message he is attempting to send. One of his first points is the fact that, “…about 80% of animals walk on six legs…” and that about, “…80% of the world’s population already eat insects” (Dicke). These statements seem to set a platform for the remainder of his argument and sparks interest in the audience. Dicke focuses of four main points throughout his speech. The foundation of these points begins with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations projecting by the year 2050, our world population would sky rocket to about 9 billion from 7.4 billion today. Their predictions made an estimate of 70% percent more food that would need to be produced by 2050 to feed these new 1.6 billion mouths. “How are we going to feed this world” (Dicke)? He begins to focus on his four main points after his point of the exponentially growing population is made clear to the audience. First, Human Health is an obvious concern for us and since we are so closely related to pigs, Dicke explains that our diseases can combine with theirs and create a new virus. To back this fact up he states, “This has happened in the Netherlands in the early 1990’s during the classical swine fever outbreak” (Dicke). Second, the conversion factors are statically amazing because basically by switching to insects, we will have a greater amount of food. Another point has to do with waste, insects on average produce a lower amount of waste than those other animals such as cows. The waste insects produce also emits, per kilogram, fewer greenhouse gasses and less ammonia. Finally, the food value of insects is comparable, even better than that of other livestock. Insect’s meat has “…proteins, fats, iron, calcium, and vitamins...” in greater values than those of regularly consumed livestock. Dicke gives the audience these and various other facts of the good attributes about insects for logos which is a useful tool used by many speakers and writers.

        During his speech Dicke uses a good amount of pathos to lighten the mood and get a couple laughs out of his audience. Dicke informs his audience that most processed foods have insect parts in them. To add a sense of light-heartedness he states that, “As long as they meet the requirements of the food agency, there can be all kinds of things in there, no problem” (Dicke). Although this fact may gross out the audience this really does add to the fact that insects are just meat and consuming them is really no different than eating a hotdog or burger. In order to change the mindset of the audience Dicke gives four impactful arguments and to add humor he gives the insects “points” after each argument (Dicke). Each time he gives the insects a winning point the audience laughs which proves Dicke is reaching out to the audience. When speaking on how much insects contribute to the economy and just how important they are to us he states, “And in fact, without insects, we would not be here in this room, because if the insects die out, we will soon die out as well. If we die out, the insects will continue very happily” (Dicke).  

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