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”

Here’s why I’m thrilled #AWE became a Book for a Better Life via @MSSociety. Many thx to @RebeccaLitAgent @ScribnerBooks & more

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. Continue reading “Here’s why I’m thrilled #AWE became a Book for a Better Life via @MSSociety. Many thx to @RebeccaLitAgent @ScribnerBooks & more”

As Common As Dirt

The American Prospect Sept. 11, 2012

As Common as Dirt” is the 2013 James Beard Award winner in the Politics/Policy/Environment category.

One morning earlier this year, in the borderland town of Brawley, California, 75-year-old Ignacio Villalobos perched on a chair in his trailer, removed a plastic bag from the well of a rubber boot, and finished dressing for work. Dawn was still an hour away, and in the wan light of the kitchen, Villalobos took off his house sandals and pulled the bag over his right foot. He bunched it at the ankle, then slipped his foot into his boot. Continue reading “As Common As Dirt”

Why Your Hamburger Hates America

The Washington Post • June 29, 2012

I dare you to celebrate the Fourth of July without a hamburger. What food better conveys the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than an all-American beef patty, grilled in the sunny confines of a grassy back yard?

A burger on the grill says: I have the day off to celebrate this great country, and I am going to relish it. Continue reading “Why Your Hamburger Hates America”

Damning piece on Walmart bribery scandal in Mexico from @NYTimes http://ow.ly/arkym

It is rare to obtain this much evidence, of corruption this deep. Best snippets here, but read the full — utterly damning — piece from David Barstow:

he former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.


Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million.


Primary responsibility for the investigation was then given to the general counsel of Wal-Mart de Mexico — a remarkable choice since the same general counsel was alleged to have authorized bribes.

The general counsel promptly exonerated his fellow Wal-Mart de Mexico executives.

Press roundup, Mid-April 2012 Edition

I’m pleased to say the press is still rolling in. Most notably of late:

  • Profile of me in the alumni magazine for my alma mater, NYU (April 2012)
    • Alumni Profile: Tracie McMillan, author of the New York Times acclaimed book, The American Way of Eating, makes the case that good, fresh food isn’t just for foodies

how did I miss this? 1/4 of party stores w/SNAP in Detroit sell expired meat?

In the hubbub of book publication and tour, I nearly missed this survey of Detroit corner stores holding both liquor licenses and SNAP certification. Done by the Restaurant Opportinities Center Detroit (full disclosure: They are sponsoring a book event with me on Thursday) in conjunction with Doing Development Differently in Detroit (D4) and Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES), the report analyzes a survey of 207 corner stores visited in Detroit and finds — somewhat surprisingly, at least to me — that expired food is quite common in these stores: 22 percent sold expired meat, and 38 percent sold expired food.

One of the most frequent responses to complaints about the lack of grocery stores in low-income areas, and the corresponding abundance of what we here in Michigan call “party stores,” is that people in these communities don’t “demand” better food. The corollary of that is that the market perfectly reflects what IS in demad — and I have a hard time believing that 22 percent of Detroiters “demand” expired meat, and that 38 percent are asking for expired food.