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#AWE a top summer reading pick

11 Jun

If you’re looking for some summer reading, #AWE got a couple nice shout-outs recently:

wow: an awesome press photo #that never happens

17 May
Delighted to win the Food Politics and Environment category at James Beard Journalism Awards 2013. Photo by JuanCarlos-H.

Delighted to win the Food Politics and Environment category at James Beard Journalism Awards 2013. Photo by JuanCarlos-H.

If you follow my Twitter feed @TMMcMillan, you’ll already know that on May 3, I was honored to receive the James Beard Journalism Award for Food Politics and the Environment. The irony of swanning around in a party dress with a champagne flute for writing about farm workers sleeping in the field is not lost on me — and neither is the fact that I should enjoy such things when they come my way. Here’s hoping this means that America, in general, is a little more interested in talking about things like farm labor than before!


Nice nod from the New Yorker

23 Mar

A lovely nod this weekend from the New Yorker’s Daniel Fromson, via his recommended readings:

Theft is also a major theme in “As Common As Dirt,” from last September’s American Prospect, a narrative that is worth revisiting in light of its nomination for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award on Monday. Tracie McMillan, author of the well-received “The American Way of Eating”—a “Nickel and Dimed”-esque account of toiling in a Walmart produce department, an Applebee’s, and the fields of California—returns to the last of these places and introduces readers to the seventy-five-year-old Ignacio Villalobos, who is lovingly sketched down to the plastic bags with which he lines his leaky boots. But it’s McMillan’s willingness to dig into a little-discussed corner of agribusiness, and the straight-talking tone with which she lays out the facts, that makes the piece stand out. The article is about farm-labor contractors, who “give American produce growers what companies like China’s Foxconn offer to Apple: a way to outsource a costly and complicated part of the business”—often at the expense of workers like Mr. Villalobos, who are routinely paid less than what they’ve been promised.

Read more:

Some great news: #AWE is up for a James Beard

21 Mar

I’m traveling for my fellowship (Istanbul! Pics to come) but wanted to make sure I let everyone know that The American Way of Eating is up for a James Beard Award–as is a feature I wrote on farm labor, “As Common As Dirt,” in The American Prospect In the event that you do not follow the food world, this is a big honor in those parts.

I’ve got enough of a punk in me to still feel conflicted about this; there’s a lot of money and pomp poured into a celebration of the monied and well-connected, and that’s not really my thing.

But here’s what IS cool:
It’s a recognition by somewhat powerful people that there is real value in writing, and thinking, about food as it works in the lives of our poor and working classes. It suggests that maybe, just maybe, there is the inkling of a change in the way we grape with food afoot, And I am all about that.

Many thanks to the endless list of people who’ve supported me in my work. I very literally popular not have done it without you.

Here’s why I’m thrilled #AWE became a Book for a Better Life via @MSSociety. Many thx to @RebeccaLitAgent @ScribnerBooks & more

12 Mar

A very quick note of thanks and appreciation goes out this morning to the National MS Society, Publisher’s Weekly and all the other folks who make the Books for a Better Life Awards Happen. I would have been happy to walk out of last night’s event with my free wine, snacks and talking to good people — and it’s a surprise and honor to have actually won the “Green” category.

When I first heard about the Books for a Better Life Award, I confess that — as an investigative journalist — I was a little leery; they sounded a bit fluffy. But when I really thought about it, I realized that I’m pretty fully on-board.

Most of my work is about looking at how power and class and politics determine people’s lives. In the best scenario, my work helps to improve their lives—make them better. And that’s what Books for a Better Life recognizes: a book’s potential to improve people’s lives. That they picked an investigative book aimed at policy as much as at individual self-improvement is a vote of confidence that I never would have expected, but am certainly happy to have.

There’s also a very personal reason that I was honored to receive the award. In The American Way of Eating, I describe quickly and with little detail that my mother was ill for most of my childhood. I don’t mention it, but her primary affliction was Multiple Sclerosis. I know very well how debilitating that disease can be, and how vital treatment and a cure are for the millions of patients and their families can be. And I also know how important hope and empathy are until that cure arrives.

At the same time, that was such a formative experience for me that I can’t fathom being who I am today without it. And much of what people have appreciated about The American Way of Eating—particularly whatever empathy I show to the people about whom I write, any capacity I have to connect with people, even my semi-self-defeating compulsion to try and fix the world however I can—can all be traced back to having grown up with, and sometimes caring for, a sick parent. As Meredith Vieira said last night at the awards, this isn’t a club I would have volunteered to join.  But it is one that has given me a strangely useful skill set in my chosen trade.

So to have an institution that was founded to cure the disease my mother fought for so long publicly recognize that my book might, in some way, make lives better— well, that’s an interesting bit of life coming full-circle.


Also, I do have to thank Susan Molodow and Nan Graham at Scribner, as well as my graceful editor Alexis Gargagliano and tireless publicist Lauren Lavelle, for their support and faith in my work; Rebecca Friedman, my agent, at Hill-Nadel Agency; and a few key supporters, particularly Annia Ciezadlo and Mohamad Bazzi; Oscar Owens and Elissa Berger; Mike Rabinowitz and Elana Karopkin; Camille and Larry Owens; Jessie Doan, and the USDA Food Stamp/SNAP program, all of whom made my work possible in very concrete ways.


Detroit & Food Deserts: Check me @TheTakeaway this a.m. w/ @WDET ‘s Laura Weber Davis re: #DetroitFoodEconomy

22 Feb

Thanks for the shout-out! @BostonGlobe On the family menu: What’s familiar

30 Jan

on air now with AM950 in Minnesota, Food

24 Nov

on air now with AM950 in Minnesota, Food Freedom Radio. Tune in if you can!

This is a delightful surprise: #AWE is nominated for @Goodreads Readers’ Choice Awards! (VOTE by Nov 10!)

2 Nov

Forgive the delay in my informing you of this, but:

The American Way of Eating, along with some impressive works like Will Allen and Charles Wilson’s Good Food Revolution, has been nominated for a Goodreads Reader’s Choice Award. So: GO VOTE!

This is a real honor: Nominees are selected based on reader metrics, so that means a lot of people actually liked and/or read the book.

As a lesser-known, first-time author, winning this award would do a lot for me professionally — a good nudge to publishers, for instance, that I”m worth contracting with for a second book — so please: CAST YOUR VOTE ASAP (you get three!).  Voting ends next week, so do it now before you forget!

Miss me talking w/ @TessVigeland on @MarketplaceAPM? You can listen to the audio here!

29 Oct

I loved getting to talk with one of my favorite NPR shows — Marketplace Money — earlier this year, and the audio finally made it onto broadcast. Check it out here.