Fern Talks & Eats is a party, a performance, and a moveable feast. The centerpiece of the evening is a series of stories told by FERN writers. Like a progressive meal, each story unfolds from a different stage, paired with a thematically related dish specially prepared by an area chef. The dish with McMillan’s talk was garlic soup and garlic grissini, by Chef Mary Cleaver of Cleaver Co.
When journalist Tracie McMillan set out to write about poverty through the lens of hunger, she had no idea that her ideas would spark a national debate on the relationship between food and class in America.
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)!
I’m sure this guy meant well, but: Seriously? You email someone you’ve never met to tell them their work is a waste of time? And what, precisely, qualifies you to issue this verdict? Sheesh, internet.
Dear Tracie: Your [sic] a teriffic [sic] writer,but I’m afraid you wasted a year of your life toiling in minimum wage jobs which are held mostly by undocumented immigrants and people with poor educations. All of us eating better will not change their lives.
Quick note: Um, if we got most of America eating well, it WOULD change their lives. Duh.
One of the curious things about doing a semi-ridiculous reporting project—say, leaving behind your life to go work undercover as a farm worker, Walmart produce clerk, and Applebee’s kitchen wretch—is that near-strangers confront you with grand, existential queries. Like: What’s the most important thing you learned? Continue reading “The American Way of Eating”