Why class, and poverty, are the biggest problems with food

At the James Beard Foundation Food Conference this week, I argued that addressing poverty was not a marginal concern for anyone interested in changing our food system, but a central one. But upon reflection, I realized I’d left something important out: Lower-income Americans matter for the food movement in an integral way, because it’s their concerns—not those of elites—that can give food advocates political weight. To push food into a political issue instead of a lifestyle change takes numbers—and there are way more low-income people than there are wealthy.

Continue reading “Why class, and poverty, are the biggest problems with food”

Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium: Introducing Joseph Piko Ewoodzie

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I had the complete pleasure of attending this year’s Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium Oct. 23-26 this fall.It was a particularly compelling program, centered on “Who Is Welcome at the Welcome Table?” and examining issues of race, class and equity in food.

I also had the delight of introducing the work of Mr. Joseph Piko Ewoodzie, who discussed his sociological work studying the foodways of black Jacksonians from three different socioeconomic classes.

You can read about Piko’s work here, where he speaks with SFA staff, but you’ll be glad you watched his brief lecture here, too.

Total honor: I’m one of Eater’s 72 Ways Food Can Change the World


Sept. 21, 2014

I not only enjoyed writing a quick piece for the delightful Eater website about what inspires my work, and why I think food can change the world, but am honored to be among 71 (!) other food world names, most of whom are way plenty more accomplished than me.

You can read the whole package here, or skip to my little bit.

I was a hungry college kid, too

The Washington Post has a sobering piece up this morning: Hunger among college kids is now so common that more than a hundred schools have established food banks on-campus for students.

First, I was appalled. And then I remembered: I could have used one in school, too.

I’ve long had a running joke for use in polite circles: That if I hadn’t been nannying for a kind and wealthy family in Soho, where I ate dinner with them four nights a week, I would have developed scurvy. I relied on those meals. As Tara Bahrampour reports:

“Between paying rent, paying utilities and then trying to buy food, that’s where we see the most insecurity because that’s the most flexible,” said Monica Gray, director of programs at the College Success Foundation-District of Columbia, which helps low-income high school students go to college.

Food’s the flexible thing in the budget, and so it falls by the wayside. Tuition can’t be changed; rent can’t be changed; utilities can’t be changed. But you can always eat less.

And so I did. Even with my four meals a week, I simply didn’t go grocery shopping because doing so meant spending all the money I had on-hand. Instead I ate piece-meal; I made do with bagels and canned shakes from the bodega. I got so thin that sitting on hard surfaces became uncomfortable. So did sleeping on my side, even on a mattress. Friends started telling me I needed to eat more.

Twenty years ago, I was an unusual case. I was a working-class transplant in a rich kid school, stumbling my way through college. I thought it was normal to drop 20 pounds in a year.

It is a damn shame that today, my college-years hunger wouldn’t be unusual at all.

T. McMillan Feb 2014 Update: NYC, Philly and More


 Check out my upcoming talks in Philly and NYC; hear about my new professorship at Wesleyan, and hear about my favorite new journalistic projects!

Feb 2014: Talks in NYC and Philly; teaching at Wesleyan and more!



February 2014

new title: Professor

I’m thrilled to announce that I just started the semester as a Koeppel Journalism Fellow at Wesleyan University. I’ll be teaching in their wonderful Writing Certificate Program, working with students in my course, Writing (And Arguing) About Inequality: How to Make Your Case. Send me any advice you may have — and let me know if you’re in Middletown or New Haven on a Tuesday this winter/spring!

public talks: February

Feb. 10 [Mon]: New York City

Midtown Manhattan Library • 455 Fifth Avenue
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

The lovely Midtown Manhattan Branch of the New York Public Library will be hosting a talk with me about The American Way of Eating — and some updates on food in NYC. Come out and say hi if you’re in town!

Feb. 20, 2014 [Thurs]: Philadelphia

Temple University • 1210 Polett Walk
Paley Library Lecture Hall
3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Temple University’s got food on its mind: I’ll be speaking as the guest of both the Temple University Libraries and the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History as part of the latter’s What is Your Food Worth event series.

read this: new book & mag

Read This: The Meat Racket

Ever wonder how we ended up with chickens too big-breasted to stand and hog-poop lagoons threatening whole
towns? Christopher Leonard’s fabulous The Meat Racket:The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business is an
incisive history of how America’s meat went industrial.
Pick it up starting February 18.

Read This: The California Sunday Magazine

Great news for anyone looking for smart, innovative and powerful journalism: Doug McGray of the genre-transforming Pop Up Magazine is launching a Sunday mag for the west coast. I’m so excited to read the first issue; it should hit your tablet, phone and—in California—your local newsstand later this year.

upcoming: future events

March 5
“Reading Together” series
Kalamazoo Public Library; Kalamazoo, Michigan

April 3
Ellen Gstalder Memorial Lecture
Georgetown University; Washington, D.C.

July 1
Lecture with Amy Toensing
Chautauqua Institute; Chautauqua, NY

Copyright © 2014 Tracie McMIllan All rights reserved.Youre getting this email because I thought you’d like to know what’s going on with my work, but it’s totally okay to unsubscribe if I was wrong about that — see the link below. -Tracie 


A crazy year: Tracie McMillan’s 2013 update


Fall and year-end round up for Tracie McMillan, author, The American Way of Eating. Is this email not displaying correctly?

Tracie McMillan

Check it: Fall highlights, and many thanks, for a crazy year.

new website!

I loved iCompendium, who I would recommend ANY DAY,  but I needed to better-manage all my online text. So: courtsey of the talented folks at ALR Design and Team Eight, check out the new, improved traciemcmillan.com. Need info on my professional work? This is your one-stop shop. I’d love to hear your feedback, so please don’t be shy! You can send me email through the form on the right-hand side of every page. 


BLOG: Highlights 
First things first, check out just how awesome, and crazy, this year has been.

BOOK: Best Food Writing 2013 
My Slate essay Cooking Isn’t Fun has been selected for the Best Food Writing 2013 anthology edited by Holly Hughes. It’s a great anthology with some truly amazing stories!
ARTICLE: Interview with Seth Holmes, Civil Eats
Read my interview with Seth Holmes, author of the stunning Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies,where he talks about migrating from southern Mexico to the north, and then crossing the border—as a tall white guy—with a band of indigenous migrants bound for American farm fields. I’m thrilled that this was a part of the wonderful Civil Eats’ successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000! REVIEW: Michael Pollan’s Cooked:
Read my take on Michael Pollan’s
Cookedand what it says about class privilege.
Forthcoming work with New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, and more. Stay tuned!


INTERVIEW: All Things Considered:
What’s the most important thing food labels should tell us? Listen to the All Things Considered for my thoughts on what’s really important.
INTERVIEW: Talk of Iowa on IPR
I had a great time speaking with host of “Talk of Iowa”
 Charity Nebbe about where our food comes from and how we as a country can eat healthier.
RERUN: Splendid Table – One reporter’s lesson from working at Walmart:
“Splendid Table” host Lynne Rossetto Kasper rebroadcast this interview from 2012 about my experience working in the produce department at Walmart. I learned one crucial lesson: Love your produce manager.


Reaching for Higher Ground Keynote, University of Northern Iowa
The American Way of Eating: The Play, Cedar Rapids, IA
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Author Series Keynote, Poudre River Library and University of Colorado, Fort Collins, CO
Brooklyn Brewery Mash: Books and Beer, Washington, DC
Center for Food Studies American University, Washington DC

Farm to Table Reading and Dinner, Maclean and Eakin, Pond Hill Farms – Harbor Springs, MI

Keep up on future talks in Kalamazoo, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.– and more — here.

Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|, Tracie McMillan, All rights reserved.


the calm after the storm: autumn 2013

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)!

Continue reading “the calm after the storm: autumn 2013”

I’m blushing: Nice shout-out from The American Prospect

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: Continue reading “I’m blushing: Nice shout-out from The American Prospect”