Scientists may disagree about what’s so good about eating plants—Is it the antioxidants in them?

Quotation Sandwich
Directed Learning Activity—MLA & Research 15
Essential Question
What is a quotation sandwich and how will it help me support my claims better?
Purpose
Upon completion of this activity, students will be able to incorporate sources into essays in a way that
supports claims being made and makes the links between textual evidence and claims clearer
This DLA should take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete.
Sandwiching Sources
• Top Layer
o Your claim or idea. Remember, this is your essay.
• Middle Layer
o Integrated & cited quotation.
• Bottom Layer
o Your commentary or discussion of the quotation. This commentary should make clear
how the quotation relates to your initial claim.
• Trick: Follow each quotation with “This shows that…” and then edit the phrase out later.
• Warning: Don’t merely rephrase the quotation! Discuss its implications, analyze the wording,
argue for or against it, etc.
Example
One cause of increasing obesity in America is the decreasing price of food, especially prepared and fast
foods. Lower prices often signal lower quality, less healthy food. According to Michael Pollan, author of
In Defense of Food, “There’s no escaping the fact that better food…costs more” (184), by which he
means food grown without pesticides and pharmaceuticals, but also whole foods as opposed to
processed foods that use cheap fillers and trick our taste buds with fat, salt, and sugar.
Analysis
a) Topic sentence: One cause of increasing obesity in America is the decreasing price of food,
especially prepared and fast foods.
b) Supporting claim: Lower prices often signal lower quality, less healthy food.
c) Textual evidence: According to Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, “There’s no
escaping the fact that better food…costs more” (184),
d) Commentary: by which he means food grown without pesticides and pharmaceuticals, but also
whole foods as opposed to processed foods that use cheap fillers and trick our taste buds with
fat, salt, and sugar.
Exercise
Analyze the following paragraphs, identifying (a) the topic sentence, (b) the supporting claims, (c) the
textual evidence, and (d), and the commentary. You might label each (a, b, c, d) or use four different
colored highlighters. Note that each paragraph has more than one quotation sandwich and more than
one source. This is sometimes called synthesizing sources.
One cause of increasing obesity in America is the decreasing price of food, especially prepared
and fast foods. Lower prices often signal lower quality, less healthy food. According to Michael
Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, “There’s no escaping the fact that better food…costs
more” (184), by which he means food grown without pesticides and pharmaceuticals, but also
whole foods as opposed to processed foods that use cheap fillers and trick our taste buds with
fat, salt, and sugar. Despite my own desire to purchase high quality, healthy foods, I sometimes
find it harder to purchase organic whole tomatoes instead of the cheap pasta sauce that has—
amazingly!—high fructose corn syrup, xantham gum, lots of salt, and ingredients I can’t
pronounce. Erica Goode reports in “The Gorge-Yourself Environment” that “Price is a powerful
influence,” dramatically affecting which items consumers will purchase (464). What this means
is that, no matter how aware shoppers are of the relative healthiness of various foods, as long as
healthier foods are more expensive than unhealthy foods, shoppers are likelier to purchase and
consume the unhealthy, fattening foods.
However, this is not the only drawback of lower food prices. Stated in the reverse, “Another
important benefit of paying more for better-quality food is that you’re apt to eat less of it”
(Pollan 184). Lower food prices tend to mean that consumers buy and eat more food,
particularly if the fast-food restaurant or grocery store uses promotional gimmicks like two-for the-price-of-one deals. Goode concurs, explaining that researchers have begun to prove that
“large portions encourage people to eat more” and “the availability of food has an effect as
well” (465). If I purchase more food because it is cheaper and it is on my plate, in my pantry, or
in my fridge, I am more likely to eat it. If I purchase higher-quality food in smaller portions, there
is simply less there to tempt me, though still plenty to satiate my hunger, please my palate, and
nurture my body. Nonetheless, despite being aware of this, most consumers have difficulty
passing up the abundant, cheaper foods so widely available, and thus grow wider as a result.
Now try sandwiching a quotation yourself. Be sure to begin with a topic sentence, which represents the
idea you are trying to prove, followed by the supporting claim, the quotation (with signal phrase and
citation included), and finally by the commentary. You may use part or all of the quotation below, or
pick a quotation that you plan to use in an essay you are working on for your class.
“Scientists may disagree about what’s so good about eating plants—Is it the antioxidants in
them? The fiber? The omega-3 fatty acids?—but they do agree that plants are probably really
good for you, and certainly can’t hurt. In all my interviews with nutrition experts, the benefits of
a plant-based diet provided the only point of universal consensus.” From page 162 of In Defense
of Food by Michael Pollan.
Review your answers with an instructor or tutor in the Virtual Writing & Reading Center. Be sure you can
answer the essential question above

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