Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: The American Way of Eating

I rather enjoyed The American Way of Eating though it's one of those books that you find yourself partly wishing you hadn't read. Ignorance is bliss, etc.

The author, Tracie McMillan, spent a year "undercover" (I place it in quotes because she was sometimes honest about what she was up to, other times not) working in America's food chain. The book chronicles her time spent working in crop fields in California, in a Walmart produce department in Detroit, and at an Applebee's in Brooklyn.

Through all of these, she covers three elements: the role each plays in our food distribution system and how it has evolved over time, the people she meets and how they live and work, and her own attempt to survive on minimum wage (or less).

There are also some 'side trip' portions where she examines food stamp programs to encourage produce consumption, urban community gardens, etc.

Through these, the book is sort of a mash-up of Nickel and Dimed, and Fast Food Nation. Like both of those, it's both an engaging read and strong social commentary. I learned a lot and the book will affect how I look at food and how I choose to consume it.

Consider reading it, it's an important book.

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table