The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table
(Scribner, February 2012)
When award-winning (and working-class) journalist Tracie McMillan saw foodies swooning over $9 organic tomatoes, she couldn’t help but wonder: What about the rest of us? Why do working Americans eat the way we do? And what can we do to change it? To find out, McMillan went undercover in three jobs that feed America, living and eating off her wages in each. Reporting from California fields, a Walmart produce aisle outside of Detroit, and the kitchen of a New York City Applebee’s, McMillan examines the reality of our country’s food industry in this “clear and essential” (The Boston Globe) work of reportage. Chronicling her own experience and that of the Mexican garlic crews, Midwestern produce managers, and Caribbean line cooks with whom she works, McMillan goes beyond the food on her plate to explore the national priorities that put it there.
Fearlessly reported and beautifully written, The American Way of Eating goes beyond statistics and culture wars to deliver a book that is fiercely honest, strikingly intelligent, and compulsively readable. In making the simple case that—city or country, rich or poor—everyone wants good food, McMillan guarantees that talking about dinner will never be the same again.
“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
“This book is vital. McMillan has the writing skills to bear witness, the research background to provide context, and the courage to take on the challenging task.”
— Los Angeles Times
—San Francisco Chronicle