Walmart to Applebee’s: The Untold Secret of American Food

The Fiscal Times • March 1, 2012

With the number of overweight Americans skyrocketing, and the health care costs associated with obesity at nearly $150 billion a year, it’s hard to believe that only 5 percent of the $18 billion in farm subsidies the government spent in 2010 went to fruit and vegetables. Corn and soy – key ingredients for processed foods and fatty proteins – got the lion’s share with 42 percent. Continue reading “Walmart to Applebee’s: The Untold Secret of American Food”

The American Way of Eating

BOOK-popup New York Times bestseller

WinnerSidney Hillman Prize
WinnerBooks for a Better Life
FinalistJames Beard Journalism Award*
FinalistInvestigative Reporters and Editors
FinalistInternational Association of Culinary Professionals

“The book Ms. McMillan’s most resembles is Barbara Ehrenreich’s bestseller Nickel and Dimed. Like Ms. Ehrenreich, Ms. McMillan goes undercover amid this country’s working poor…This is a voice the food world needs.”

– Dwight Garner, The New York Times
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“Every time I find evidence of a massive forthcoming event to take away our freedom, I am going to warn you, And so now we have a book by Tracie McMillan. What is it with all of these young single white women, overeducated — doesn’t mean intelligent.”

—Rush Limbaugh
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Continue reading “The American Way of Eating”

Before the Food Arrives on Your Plate, So Much Goes on Behind the Scenes

The New York Times • Feb. 20, 2012

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.”

Continue reading “Before the Food Arrives on Your Plate, So Much Goes on Behind the Scenes”

Should White “Elites” Write About the Poor?

Slate • Feb. 20, 2012

It’s hard to avoid the occasional personal attack when you’re a journalist—especially when you write about an issue as fraught as poverty. And I’ve been called plenty of names before. But in the last week I’ve gained some new ones: “Elitist.” “Poverty pimp.” “Precious little snowflake.” Most of these came in the comments below three excerpts from my new book, The American Way of Eating, describing my experience going “undercover” to work in the kitchen at an Applebee’s, published here at Slate. Continue reading “Should White “Elites” Write About the Poor?”

A Food-Chain Reaction

The Wall Street Journal • Feb. 28, 2012

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”

The American Way of Eating: I got hired to do the hardest job at Applebee’s

Slate • Feb. 15, 2012

Nearly three years ago, Tracie McMillan left New York to go undercover within the American food system. McMillan had grown weary of lectures about local food that dismissed the importance of price to working-class people. At the same time, she knew from her work as a poverty reporter that poor families cared about the quality of their food, too. McMillan hoped to get a ground-level view of how Americans actually make decisions about their meals, especially when money and time are scarce. Continue reading “The American Way of Eating: I got hired to do the hardest job at Applebee’s”