The Book

New York Times bestseller

Winner, Sidney Hillman Prize
Winner, Books for a Better Life
Finalist, James Beard Journalism Award*
Finalist, Investigative Reporters and Editors
Finalist, International Association of Culinary Professionals

“Every time I find evidence of a massive forthcoming event to take away our freedom, I am going to warn you, And so now we have a book by Tracie McMillan. What is it with all of these young single white women, overeducated — doesn’t mean intelligent.”

—Rush Limbaugh
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Check out the second attack

“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
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“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
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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.

 “A compelling and cogent argument that eating healthily ought to be easier.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
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“A vivid, compassionate portrait of the working class.”
Portland Oregonian
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“Valiant…McMillan’s undercover work for The American Way of Eating takes readers on an educational journey.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
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* While the book was only a finalist for the award, my article, “As Common as Dirt” for The American Prospect won the Food/Politics/Environment category.

15 Responses to “The Book”

  1. Loren March 23, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Reading the book now and really enjoying it–but I was trying to look up the source materials referenced in the notes (receipts and pay stubs and whatnot) and I can’t find them on either website–what am I doing wrong?

    • tmmcmillan March 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Hi Loren,
      Good question. The problem is straight logistics: I have some documents available on DocumentCLoud (http://www.documentcloud.org/public/search/group:%20americanwayofeating ) but do not have enough staff capacity to organize them and put everything online. If you’re doing research and need a specific report that you can’t find online, let me know and I can try and get it to you — keeping in mind, of course, that I”m a one-woman shop, so it might take me a bit to get back to you.

      FWIW The Paystub documents are titled something like McMillan WeekC

      Thanks for paying such close attention!

      Best,
      Tracie

      • Julie Bernstein March 24, 2012 at 2:12 am #

        I was wondering about where to find the references myself; glad the question was asked and answered :-)

  2. Loren March 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Thanks! I don’t need anything specific–it just seemed like a smart way of organizing and citing primary sources, and I wanted to see how it worked in practice. I’m a production editor and always looking for ways to make references easier to deal with for my authors and freelancers.

  3. Kelly Laney March 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    I was looking for the photos of the distributing center where journalists were never allowed to enter. Did they get uploaded somewhere?
    Great book, BTW I really enjoyed the tale as well as the research.

    • tmmcmillan April 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

      Hi Kelly,
      I just haven’t had time (and don’t have the staff time) do upload this stuff, but there are some images on the website from my fellowship, http://www.brandeis.edu/investigate. Sorry I don’t have more for you!
      BEst
      Tracie

      • Amy February 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

        Hi,

        Compelling book and I too would like to see the photos, I followed the provided link but could not find the photos. I would appreciate guidanc. Thank you for the book Tracie, it is an eye- opener.

      • tmmcmillan March 12, 2013 at 9:27 am #

        Hey, sorry for the delay — I do’nt check these comments that often! I ended up not having enough time/money to really post things in a substantive way, although I might be able to add that functionality when I redesign my website/blog (coming very soon). Thanks for your interest, and sorry to have faked you out — it was way more work to add that stuff online than I had hoped.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 14 Down, 36 to Go: The American Way of Eating | Apples and Arteries - June 4, 2012

    [...] book The American Way of Eating:Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Tabl… by Tracie McMillan is a book that will make you think about your food.  It makes you think about [...]

  2. Meet Board Member Monique Marez « Wagner Food Policy Alliance - September 17, 2012

    [...] sustainability in the food system. My favorite talk this summer was by Tracie McMillan author of The American Way of Eating. Tracie’s book covers how different groups of American’s feed themselves on a minimum budget. [...]

  3. Fighting the Other NRA – Resources to Support Workers | Appetite for Profit - February 18, 2013

    [...] American Way Eating: This book by Tracie McMillan opened my eyes to the plight of workers in the three settings where she went undercover for a first-hand experience: the farm fields of California, a Walmart in Michigan, and an Applebee’s in New York City. [...]

  4. Fighting the other NRA (National Restaurant Association) – Resources to support workers > Corporations and Health Watch - February 20, 2013

    [...] American Way Eating: This book by Tracie McMillan opened my eyes to the plight of workers in the three settings where she went undercover for a first-hand experience: the farm fields of California, a Walmart in Michigan, and an Applebee’s in New York City. [...]

  5. Fighting the Other NRA – Resources to Support Food Workers | Eat Drink Politics - May 15, 2013

    […] American Way Eating: This book by Tracie McMillan opened my eyes to the plight of workers in the three settings where she went undercover for a first-hand experience: the farm fields of California, a Walmart in Michigan, and an Applebee’s in New York City. […]

  6. Delicious Reads, Food Books for the Holidays | Brooklyn Based - July 13, 2013

    […] The American Way of Eating, Tracie McMillan ($25 hardocover, $16 paperback) We interviewed Tracie McMillan last spring to talk about The American Way of Eating, which is one of the smartest books about food, poverty and work in American to have come out in the past decade. McMillan spent months working in garlic fields in California, in a WalMart outside of Detroit and in an Applebees kitchen in Brooklyn to figure out what actually goes on with our food, and the people who grow, sell and prepare it, in this country. A must-read for anyone who cares about the food system (or who wants to know the history of grocery stores). […]

  7. Fighting the Other NRA – Resources to Support Food Workers | Tracie McMillan - September 16, 2013

    […] American Way Eating: This book by Tracie McMillan opened my eyes to the plight of workers in the three settings where she went undercover for a first-hand experience: the farm fields of California, a Walmart in Michigan, and an Applebee’s in New York City. […]

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