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I can often be a whiner. But right now I’m feeling silent on that front, because the fall has been pretty amazing. I have had the incredible luck to be overwhelmingly busy with work, including reporting for two features that I’m actually excited about — big news for any freelancer. (Keep your eyes out for my byline, fingers crossed, in the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic.)
But I’ve also been privileged enough to be traveling to talk about The American Way of Eating and why having a frank conversation about food and class is important in today’s America. Here’s a quick recap below, mostly to give a shout out to the wonderful, generous people who’ve been hosting my writerly self all across the country (and generously helping me cover living expenses in the process)!
I got a nice surprise this morning when a friend forwarded me The American Prospect’s Labor Day email highlighting their most important labor pieces from the last year. More to the point (for my purposes here, anyway) was the way they sold it: …more…
This sharp piece from Slate’s LV Anderson brings class angst to the fore, and while I don’t envy her target — Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef who entertained us by descending on America’s fattest town with dancing flash mobs brandishing woks and utensils—I am flattered to be held in esteemed company: …more…
If you’re looking for some summer reading, #AWE got a couple nice shout-outs recently:
Molly at Word, the best little neighborhood bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, says “it’s a great investigative tale even if you’re not a sucker for The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Salt Sugar Fat.” Feel free to grab a copy of the book and see if you agree!
And Will Budiaman over at The Daily Meal put #AWE in the first slot for “10 Must Read Books for Home Cooks This Summer.” And called it “gritty undercover investigative reporting at its best and most riveting.”
If you follow my Twitter feed @TMMcMillan, you’ll already know that on May 3, I was honored to receive the James Beard Journalism Award for Food Politics and the Environment. The irony of swanning around in a party dress with a champagne flute for writing about farm workers sleeping in the field is not lost on me — and neither is the fact that I should enjoy such things when they come my way. Here’s hoping this means that America, in general, is a little more interested in talking about things like farm labor than before!
Here’s what I”m thinking on my way to the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards tonight, where The American Way of Eating—as well as a feature I wrote on farm labor contracting for The American Prospect—is up for an award:: …more…
A lovely nod this weekend from the New Yorker’s Daniel Fromson, via his recommended readings:
Theft is also a major theme in “As Common As Dirt,” from last September’s American Prospect, a narrative that is worth revisiting in light of its nomination for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award on Monday. Tracie McMillan, author of the well-received “The American Way of Eating”—a “Nickel and Dimed”-esque account of toiling in a Walmart produce department, an Applebee’s, and the fields of California—returns to the last of these places and introduces readers to the seventy-five-year-old Ignacio Villalobos, who is lovingly sketched down to the plastic bags with which he lines his leaky boots. But it’s McMillan’s willingness to dig into a little-discussed corner of agribusiness, and the straight-talking tone with which she lays out the facts, that makes the piece stand out. The article is about farm-labor contractors, who “give American produce growers what companies like China’s Foxconn offer to Apple: a way to outsource a costly and complicated part of the business”—often at the expense of workers like Mr. Villalobos, who are routinely paid less than what they’ve been promised.
I’m traveling for my fellowship (Istanbul! Pics to come) but wanted to make sure I let everyone know that The American Way of Eating is up for a James Beard Award–as is a feature I wrote on farm labor, “As Common As Dirt,” in The American Prospect In the event that you do not follow the food world, this is a big honor in those parts.
I’ve got enough of a punk in me to still feel conflicted about this; there’s a lot of money and pomp poured into a celebration of the monied and well-connected, and that’s not really my thing.
But here’s what IS cool:
It’s a recognition by somewhat powerful people that there is real value in writing, and thinking, about food as it works in the lives of our poor and working classes. It suggests that maybe, just maybe, there is the inkling of a change in the way we grape with food afoot, And I am all about that.
Many thanks to the endless list of people who’ve supported me in my work. I very literally popular not have done it without you
A very quick note of thanks and appreciation goes out this morning to theNational MS Society, Publisher’s Weekly and all the other folks who make the Books for a Better Life Awards Happen. I would have been happy to walk out of last night’s event with my free wine, snacks and talking to good people — and it’s a surprise and honor to have actually won the “Green” category.
When I first heard about the Books for a Better Life Award, I confess that — as an investigative journalist — I was a little leery; they sounded a bit fluffy. But when I really thought about it, I realized that I’m pretty fully on-board. …more…