Thursday, February 21

"American Way of Eating" Author Visiting UM

On Monday, February 25, the SFA and the Center for Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi will co-host a lecture by Tracie McMillan, the author of the The American Way of Eating. This event, which will be held at 7 pm at the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts, is free and open to the public. We are all very excited and hope that you can join us if you're in Oxford on Monday.

In anticipation of McMillan's visit, SFA intern Emilie Dayan offers some thoughts on the book:

In an effort to rationalize the ever-trending foodie movement and its obsession with “$9 organic tomatoes,” McMillan 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? Thus began a year-long journey as an undercover, minimum-wage worker on a California farm, at a Detroit Walmart, and in a Brooklyn Applebee’s kitchen. 

Working alongside migrant Latino garlic-picking crews, stocking produce at Walmart, and expediting orders at Applebee’s vicariously through McMillan, the reader is exposed to the bleak reality of our country’s food industry. McMillan is an engaging storyteller, balancing deeply personal details of her own experiences with data that supports her broad conclusions. Over the course of the book, she convincingly argues that farm-workers’ wages do not account for rising food prices, food deserts exist despite a plenteous food supply, and that America’s general lack of wholesome and nutritious diets is not the result of ignorance but rather of inaccessibility.

At the end of her year-long chronicle living off of minimum wage, she writes, “everyone wants to eat good food…either eating well needs to be easier, or the terms of my life need to be more forgiving.” In her conclusion, she offers policy recommendations geared towards addressing one of our country’s greatest negligences: ensuring that its people can “eat well, not just through the agriculture it practices, but through the wages it pays, the work and education it provides, and the rules it keeps.”  Yet, her book should not be mistaken for a utopian reverie. The American Way of Eating is a thoughtful, powerful investigation into an industry that affects everyone.