In 2009, journalist Tracie McMillan embarked on a groundbreaking undercover journey to see what it takes to eat well in America. For nearly a year, she worked, ate, and lived alongside the working poor to examine how Americans eat when price matters.
From the fields of California, a Walmart produce aisle outside of Detroit, and the kitchen of a New York City Applebees, McMillan takes us into the heart of America’s meals. With startling intimacy, she portrays the lives and food of Mexican garlic crews, Midwestern produce managers, and Caribbean line cooks, while also chronicling her own attempts to live and eat on meager wages.
Along the way, she asked the questions still facing America a decade after the declaration of an obesity epidemic: Why do we eat the way we do? And how can we change it?
To find out, McMillan goes beyond the food on her plate to examine the national priorities that put it there. With an absorbing blend of riveting narrative and formidable investigative reporting, McMillan takes us from dusty fields to clanging restaurant kitchens, linking her work to the quality of our meals and always placing her observations in the context of America’s approach not just to farms and kitchens but to wages and work.
The surprising answers that McMillan found on her journey have profound implications for our food and agriculture, and also for how we see ourselves as a nation. Fearlessly reported and beautifully written, The American Way of Eating goes beyond statistics and culture wars to deliver a book that is fiercely intelligent and compulsively readable. Tracie McMillan makes the simple case that — city or country, rich or poor — everyone wants good food. Talking about dinner will never be the same again.
Related article: Tracie McMillan
Writing about flavor can challenge even the most practiced wordsmiths.
The exuberant Israeli chef
Velvety, earthy, and confident
How to live like Julia Child
A bread for the upcoming holidays