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.

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Review: The Trouble With Food Politics

The American Prospect • May 17, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, with Camille Kingsolver and Steven L. Hopp (HarperCollins, 384 pages)

On a spring morning several years ago, I made a final visit to a politicized cooking class for New York City public high school students. During earlier visits, I had watched teachers promulgate a body of then-eccentric ideas about food: the benefits of local and organic produce; the dangers of a diet based on McDonald’s; the environmental destruction wrought by conventional agriculture. During those initial visits, the teens handily dismissed their lessons. One young man, after declaring his love for daily visits to McDonald’s, declared simply, “I’m not going to change what I eat.”

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Working, Stiffed

The American Prospect • Aug. 25, 2006

It’s difficult to imagine a more sympathetic figure than Barbara Brooks. A full-time child care supervisor and part-time college student, Brooks is raising five kids on her own in a downmarket Long Island town. In the entire 90 minutes of Roger Weisberg’s Waging a Living, a documentary about the working poor set to air on PBS on August 29, few moments resonate more than when Brooks wipes away tears to explain, “The harder I work, the harder it gets.”

Premiering a week after the tenth anniversary of welfare reform, Brooks’ on-screen debut also happens to fall precisely one year after Hurricane Katrina thrust poverty back into the national consciousness.

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