Reason #7: Ted Conover says I’m gutsy, scrappy and hard-working (and he liked my book.)

REASON #7 to buy The American Way of Eating comes from Ted Conover:

“Tracie McMillan is gutsy, scrappy, and hard-working—you’d have to be to write this book. The American Way of Eating takes us local in a new way, exploring who works to get food from the field to the plates in front of us, what they are paid, and how it feels. It’s sometimes grim but McMillan doesn’t flinch; I especially appreciated her openness in telling us what she spent in order to get by (or not). A welcome addition to the urgent, growing body of journalism on food.”

Ted Conover, author, New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing and The Routes of Main: Travels in the Paved World

The book goes on sale Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Please buy it.

And if you are in New York, come celebrate with me at Housing Works to talk about “The Anti-Foodie Foodies” with Amanda Hesser, James Oseland, Annia Ciezadlo and Rev. Devanie Jackson, moderated by the lovely Erica Wides.

Reason #8: Warren Belasco says my book is eye-opening, heart-rending and wonderful. (He liked it.)

REASON #8 to buy The American Way of Eating comes from Warren Belasco, president of the Association for the Study of Food and Society:

This is a wonderful introduction to the triumph and tragedy of the American food industry. Mixing compassionate participant observation with in depth, up-to-the-minute background research, Tracie McMillan takes us for an eye-opening, heart-rending tour of the corporate food chain. Along the way we meet unforgettable people who, at great personal cost, labor hard so that we can eat cheaply and easily. Having seen what it takes to move our meals from farm to table, the reader will emerge shaken, enlightened, and forever thankful.”

Warren Belasco, president, Association for the Study of Food and Society;
editor, Food, Culture & Society

The book goes on sale Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Please buy it.

And if you are in New York, come celebrate with me at Housing Works to talk about “The Anti-Foodie Foodies” with Amanda Hesser, James Oseland, Annia Ciezadlo and Rev. Devanie Jackson, moderated by the lovely Erica Wides.

Food access: It’s complicated.

As prep for a forthcoming review I have of Mary Mazzio’s lovely documentary on New York City’s Green Carts, The Apple Pushers,  I’m finding I need a one-stop link to studies that complicate our understanding of food access.

Herewith:

  • The Institute of Medicine held a symposium on the topic in 2009. Most notably, they found that the only direct nutritional link to obesity was overconsumption of sweetened beverages, aka soda; limited access to fresh food was not direclty correlated with obesity.
  • A 2006 report from Mari Gallagher consulting group, analyzing food access and health outcomes in Chicago, suggested that food balance—i..e not overwhelming healhty food options with unhealthy ones—is as, or more, important than food access.
  • A 2009 USDA report found that easy access to all kinds of food, rather than limited access to healthy foods, was more closely related to rises in obesity.

There’s also the recent survey of 1,500 low-income families by advocacy and service group Cooking Matters, which found that:

most low-income families are satisfied with the availability of good food…The greater obstacles to healthy meals are planning skills, time and, yes, price.

Reason #9: @JoshViertel of @SlowFoodUSA said my book is extraordinary; written with grace, intelligence and soul. (He liked it.)

REASON #9 to buy The American Way of Eating comes from Josh Viertel, president of Slow Food USA:

“Tracie McMillan has written an extraordinary book.
We are of course, all a part of the industrial food system because we all eat
from it. But McMillan became a deeper part. Undercover, as a farm laborer, Walmart stocker and fast food worker, with grace, intelligence and soul, she uncovers
the stories behind cheap food—stories about health and the environment, and stories about poverty and privilege. They are stories we need to change.”

Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA

The book goes on sale Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Please buy it.

And if you are in New York, come celebrate with me at Housing Works to talk about “The Anti-Foodie Foodies” with Amanda Hesser, James Oseland, Annia Ciezadlo and Rev. Devanie Jackson, moderated by the lovely Erica Wides.

Ten Reasons You’ll Like My Book (And should buy it.)

I am nine days out from the publication date of The American Way of Eating. Let the countdown begin until you reach the day where you can buy it.

I’ll be dribbling out reasons over the next nine days, counting back from ten.

Reason # 10 to Buy a Copy of the American Way of Eating:

You’re my friend, family member, or a colleague, and it’s worth the $25 to not have to see the disappointment on my face when you say no, you didn’t buy it.

Bonus: Reason #9.5:

You need a copy for me to sign when you come to one of my book tour events in New York, California, Michigan, New Mexico and beyond.

big ups: @PublishersWkly highlights AWE as a top social science text for spring 2012!

I’m delighted to say that book industry bible Publisher’s Weekly highlights The American Way of Eating in this week’s “Spring Offerings” issue, where editors culled from more than 11,000 titles to select the most interesting ones on offer — and AWE is one of them!

It’s filed under PW’s Top Ten Picks in the social science category:

As the 2012 presidential campaign shifts into high gear and talk of American values hits a fever pitch, this spring’s social science books offer a deeper dive for those not satisfied with the one-liners and sound bites offered on the campaign trail.

I can’t post the pages from the mention—and you have to be a subscriber to see them—but I”m tickled that the gorgeous cover from Scribner’s Rex Bonomelli is at the top of the page design, too. The lovely Andrew Richard Albanese writes:

This season offers a number of books on how we live as Americans, including a host of books on food culture, a subject that is clearly booming. Among the most interesting of these titles is Tracie MacMillan’s The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table, which questions how America’s working class can afford, let alone find the time, to eat as they should.

Aside from my misspelled last name, I could not be more thrilled. So exciting!

Stay tuned for more as the pre-publication month unfolds!

 

@WholeFoods? Cost-conscious? Say wha? http://ow.ly/8qn0O

The Whole Foods press release copy was pretty trite (“Frugal is the new black!”*) for this post about America’s cost-conscious consumption. But the actual content—findings from a WF-commissione survey of American’s shopping habits—was pretty striking. The poll of 2,100 Americans in August found:

  • 74 percent wouldn’t compromise on the quality of the food they buy
  • 82 percent said current food prices have affected their grocery shopping
  • 75+ percent said they have changed their cooking and eating habits due to the economy
  • 57 percent reported that they eat dinner at home and eat out less often

Even more fascinatingly, in a four-city snapshot comparison between Whole Foods and local competitors, Whole Foods—on a market basket of 14 staples—beat out regular grocery stores on price.

Careful shoppers know this, of course. As I explore in The American Way of Eating, all grocery stores play with their pricing, taking a loss on some items and making a killing on others; its basic marketing. If one knew Whole Foods’ prices well, it would be very easy to design a market basket that was cheaper than at their competitors, which might explain why frozen strawberries (not fresh) and romaine hearts (not heads) sit on the list.

The other thing that struck me is another trend I noticed while working at Walmart to report the book: The dominance of private-label brands, which have mushroomed in recent years.

The biggest news from Whole Foods’ little survey, though, is that it sounds like Americans already care an awful lot about their food,. and say that price matters. That’s a far more realistic picture of our meals, I think, than we’ve seen in the past, and I, for one, am glad to see it.

*Can someone please do a video about two “New Blacks” (which sounds awful, like an obscure legacy of apartheid) having a smackdown about who is the REAL new black. Discuss.

my thoughts EXACTLY re: why “foodie” sucks, from @sustnblekitchen via @gadling, with a nod to @eater & @cborrelli

The newsperson in me hates that these writers are deconstructing the term “foodie,” and all that is wrong with it. (Me first! My story!) But the rest of me is so happy to see a broad cohort of food blogging folks take it on. Most notably, this morning on Gadling, Seattle-based Lauren Miller takes on “the F-Bomb” and succinctly notes:

Um, please get over yourself….at the end of the day, it’s just effing food. Not the cure for cancer or achieving world peace.

Even better, she helped me catch up on my lack-of-media-consumption during the last three  years of book-imposed news blackout by flagging this great little piece from Eater.com.  Noting the irony of a food blogger hating foodies—Chicago Tribune food blogger Christopher Borrelli, to be specific—they pulled a trenchant observation from a piece he wrote on the subject last December, referencing Michael Pollan’s New  York Times Magazine feature on cooking a communal meal over the course of two days:

Pollan is a terrific writer and thinker, but, as with the food scene itself, a lack of self-awareness and privilege creeps in that veers toward self-parody.

I am so looking forward to seeing this discussion continue.