Award-Winning Work

Since 2001, I have produced award winning work, receiving recognition from the Sidney Hillman Foundation, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the James Beard Foundation, the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, the Harry Chapin Media Award, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, and more.

Continue reading “Award-Winning Work”

How China Plans to Feed 1.4 Billion Growing Appetites

National Geographic magazine • February 2018

Watching Jiang Wannian and Ping Cuixiang harvest a sixth of an acre of daikon seed in the north-central province of Gansu feels a little like traveling back in time.

In a dry valley ringed by dusky mountains, on a brick-paved lot, Jiang drives a rusted tractor over a hip-deep mound of dried plants. As they crush down, Ping, Jiang’s wife, plunges a homemade pitchfork into the straw and arranges it for another pass. Eventually Jiang and Ping work side by side, wiry figures with tawny skin. It’s hot, but they are swaddled in clothes to protect themselves from the dust and the sun. They have handsome faces, taut and lined from years of laboring outdoors, and they turn them skyward as they throw fine chaff up and watch ruddy seed rain down. This rhythm continues for hours. In a singsong voice Ping encourages the wind, murmuring, “Blow, blow!” Machines can do this work in minutes, but they are too expensive for Jiang and Ping. Instead they still thresh the daikon by hand, just as farmers did centuries ago. Continue reading “How China Plans to Feed 1.4 Billion Growing Appetites”

When the Kitchen Isn’t Safe for Women

New York Times
October 30, 2017

By Tracie McMillan

In 2010, I took a job at a New York City Applebee’s. I said I was considering culinary school and wanted to get some experience in a real kitchen, but I was actually there to write about the experience for a book. I had grand plans to take a genre steeped in machismo and tell a woman’s story instead.

I got what I was after, though not in the way I had hoped. My kitchen stint included sexual harassment so common that it became background noise, and a sexual assault, which did not. Continue reading “When the Kitchen Isn’t Safe for Women”

Who Do We Think Of as Poor?

New York Times Sunday Review • July 9, 2017

Several years ago, during a harsh Detroit winter, I swallowed my pride and applied for food stamps. I wasn’t sure I’d qualify, but I knew three things. I had little money in the bank, little chance of quickly earning more and I needed to eat. So I tried my luck with the government. Continue reading “Who Do We Think Of as Poor?”

Semi-Rant RE: Race, Gender and the Problem with “Undercover” Reporting

via Twitter • May 2, 2017

  1. Thrilled to have been in conversation w/ @UCBerkeleyIRP @Shane_Bauer @sukisworld @ailsachang @jamesjonestv at #LoganSymposium2017. But…
  2. Also wish we dug deeper about complexities re: race/gender w/ @UCBerkeleyIRP. Tagging some thoughts with #LoganSymposium2017.

White Resentment on the Night Shift at Walmart

New York Times Sunday Review • Dec. 18, 2016

Seven years ago, I joined the night shift at a Walmart in rural Michigan. For $8.10 an hour, I spent four or five nights a week filling shelves with the flour and sugar and marshmallow fluff that residents of the local county, which in 2008 voted for Barack Obama, needed to get through the holidays. Four years ago, the county went with President Obama a second time, though by a thinner margin. But this past November, the county, like the state, turned red.

Continue reading “White Resentment on the Night Shift at Walmart”

Food Workers Scramble to Put Food on Their Tables

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Nov. 14, 2016

One in seven American workers is employed in some segment of the food chain, from apple pickers to packing-house workers, truckdrivers to supermarket clerks to fast food counter staff. And many of them increasingly struggle to put food on their own tables, according to a report released Monday from the Food Chain Workers Alliance, an advocacy group founded in 2009, and the Solidarity Research Center. What’s more, the problem is worse among women and people of color.

To See Food Waste in a New Way, Start With Your Plate

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Nov. 1, 2016

Researchers angling to solve America’s food waste problem are taking cues from Instagram and developing an app to measure food waste from your food pictures.

Continue reading “To See Food Waste in a New Way, Start With Your Plate”

From Jiffy to Maseca : The Industrialization of Corn

Presented at the 2016 Southern Foodways Symposium
University of Mississipi
Oxford, MS
October 14, 2016

Mexico, where corn began, understands itself not only as a nation of corn-eaters, but as corn itself. One of that country’s best known idioms is Sin mais, no hay pais: Without corn, there is no country.

But as I look at what’s eaten in both Mexico and the U.S., I have to be honest:  We eat an awful lot of Jiffy and Maseca.

Continue reading “From Jiffy to Maseca : The Industrialization of Corn”

Eating China: 4 Ways the Locavore Movement Is Taking Root Here

“The Plate,” National Geographic • Oct. 7, 2016

The absolute last interview I did in China convinced me: The country has a burgeoning locavore movement, complete with farm-to-table fast(ish) food and home delivery of small-farm produce.