The American Way of Eating

“Food is one of the only base human needs where the American government lets the private market dictate its delivery to our communities,” writes Tracie McMillan in her new book, The American Way of Eating. “So far as I can tell, changing what’s on our plates simply isn’t feasible without changing far more. Wages, health care, work hours and kitchen literacy are just as critical to changing our diets as the agriculture we practice or the places at which we shop.” From the New York Times:

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

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.”

Expensive food that took time to prepare “wasn’t for people like us,” she writes. “It was for the people my grandmother described, with equal parts envy and derision, as fancy; my father’s word was snob. And I wasn’t about to be like that.” This is a voice the food world needs.

Ms. McMillan, like a lot of us, has grown to take an interest in fresh, well-prepared food. She’s written for Saveur magazine, a pretty fancy journal, and she knows her way around a kitchen. But her central concern, in her journalism and in this provocative book, is food and class. She stares at America’s bounty, noting that so few seem able to share in it fully, and she asks: “What would it take for us all to eat well?” Read more…

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