One of the first things to like about Tracie McMillan, the author of “The American Way of Eating,” is her forthrightness. She’s a blue-collar girl who grew up eating a lot of Tuna Helper and Ortega Taco Dinners because her mother was gravely ill for a decade, and her father, who sold lawn equipment, had little time to cook. About these box meals, she says, “I liked them.”
In 2009, Tracie McMillan, an accomplished young writer, spent nearly a year working undercover as an agricultural field laborer in California, as a produce handler at a Michigan Wal-Mart and as a kitchen worker at a Brooklyn branch of Applebee’s, the country’s largest “family style” restaurant chain. The result of her efforts is “The American Way of Eating.” The best thing about this engagingly written tract is its excellent and sometimes moving first-person narrative of the author’s experiences sharing, albeit briefly and under false colors, the daily grind of workers at the bottom of the Great American Food Chain. Continue reading “A Food-Chain Reaction”
With the rise of farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture, and books like Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma’’ and Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,’’ the drumbeat that people should be eating healthily, locally, and sustainably has gotten louder and more insistent. “The American Way of Eating’’ is Tracie McMillan’s riposte to the argument that Americans need to eat better. Of course we should – and most want to, she writes. But how can we? What are the hurdles facing us? Continue reading “‘The American Way of Eating’ by Tracie McMillan”
“Marketplace,” American Public Media • Feb. 21, 2012
Kai Ryssdal: Not to pry, but what’d you have breakfast? Toast? Yogurt? Fresh fruit, maybe?
By the end of the day, it’s hard to remember, and sometimes hard to worry too much about it. But for a lot of people in this economy, what we eat is way more than a quick bite. It’s a livelihood and a way of life.
Why do we do it, America? Why do we eat a cheeseburger and fries for lunch instead of bringing carrot sticks and hummus from home? Why, in the supermarket, do we walk past the produce bins to reach the frozen pizza?
I’ll be talking about The American Way of Eating on NewsTalk 106-108FM, Ireland’s Independent National Public Radio today at 11 am EST (4 pm in Dublin). Really enjoyed the pre-interview chat with the producer Brian O’Neill last week; should be fun. And they’ve got 16,000 followers on Facebook, so I assume someone will be listening!
The American way of eating is terrible. So says Tracie McMillan, who spent a year pretending to be a poor person eking out a living at menial levels of the nation’s food system, including farm fields, Walmart groceries and an Applebee’s kitchen. A New York writer and senior fellow at Brandeis University accustomed to top-tier provisions, she descends the class ladder a few rungs (her expression) to venture undercover and figure out why the hoi polloi eat so badly. Continue reading “‘The American Way of Eating,’ by Tracie McMillan”