14 Down, 36 to Go: The American Way of Eating

The book The American Way of Eating:Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan is a book that will make you think about your food.  It makes you think about how lucky most of us are to have access to healthy, fresh food, and the people who are behind the food–as in, the people who pick the peaches in scorching weather, the people who prune bunches of grapes to make sure they are presentable for sale, and the people who aren’t as fortunate to have access to fresh food or to even be able to afford it.

An excerpt from the book:

Today America talks about its food as a choice made from equal footing–a vote, if you will, with our fork.  Under this logic, it’s as easy for me to choose to eat healthy food as for Vanessa, or for a rural migrant farmworker, or for a lawyer on the Upper East Side.  If the decade that has passed since the declaration of an obesity epidemic is any indication, the primary strategy in use – repeatedly telling people, regardless of their income, to change their habits – has failed . Instead, we need to examine how to make it easier to eat well. (p 8-9)

The author goes undercover working in farm fields (grapes, garlic, peaches) and then as an overnight stocker at Wal-Mart and then gets a job at Applebees.  McMillan lives on the wages of the jobs she works and struggles alongside the working poor; struggles to pay bills and struggles to eat.  She makes the case that everyone wants good/real food.  After she finished the investigation/research and was working on writing the book, she spent a year on SNAP (govt food assistance) out of necessity–she wrote an interesting essay about that.

This book is an interesting and informative look into the everyday life of real people and real food.  It certainly gave me a renewed appreciation for access to grocery stores, farmers markets, fresh produce, and the means to put healthy food on the table.  You can follow the author on Twitter @TMMcMillan.

Have you read the book?  Thoughts?

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3 responses

  1. Sounds like a really interesting book! I hadn’t heard about it, but will look for it in the store. I agree though– we are really lucky to have access to so many fresh foods. I spent a summer in Honduras and fresh fruit was such a luxury- made me think twice about taking the simple things for granted!

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