By Carrie Stevens
Fitness and Frozen Grapes • Aug. 29, 2012
Have you ever discovered a great book when you weren’t looking? I have my mom to thank for this review—if she hadn’t picked it up from the library, it would’ve taken me much longer to find Tracie McMillan’s The American Way of Eating.
Tell-all books about food fascinate me—I read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation in 10th grade and immediately stopped eating anything that warranted the question, “would you like fries with that?”—so after thumbing through McMillan’s book, I knew I’d read it.
Overall, The American Way of Eating struck a perfect balance of investigative reporting and historical information. While giving the reader insight into the individuals she met, McMillan relays background statistics to set the stage—did you know hydrogenated fats were invented in France?
The book’s organization works to its advantage. McMillan didn’t complete her legwork in the published progression, but presenting her findings in this manner—field to store to plate—moves the narrative along in an appropriate manner. Again, in each section, she provides both narrative and facts; for me, there were several points that started to drag due to an information overload, but it seemed like McMillan knew my attention was wavering because she soon transitioned back to narrative. Hands down, it was McMillan’s interactions with people in the fields, stores, and restaurant that kept me reading. Her coworkers came to life, which kept me engaged and interested in a way that the historical information didn’t. That’s not to say it wasn’t relevant, but I’m definitely out of “college reading mode,” and all the data and statistics shocked my system. If you’re interested in healthy living, cooking, eating, and investigative reporting, you’ll love this book.