mhall's review against another edition

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4.0

This book clearly stated a couple facts that I "knew" to be true but hadn't ever articulated in my own head. The most striking was a response to the argument that the French spend a greater proportion of their income on food because they just appreciate it so much more than (bovine, tasteless) mainstream Americans. McMillan addresses this squarely by explaining how French people also have to spend much less than Americans for their health care, child care, and other government benefits, and when you look at the whole package, Americans cut their food budget by a percentage equal to their additional spending on health insurance and child care. Anyway, it's not really because of a lack of education or appreciation for the taste of expensive heirloom
vegetables, etc., but because of the struggle to get by, the need to work long hours to keep treading water, the lack of options. This book's main argument is that class matters, and that food is a precious shared resource which in America has been left to the vagaries of capitalism, leaving gaps in distribution of fresh foods,
and migrant farm workers who earn in the low five figures for a year's work of punishing physical labor.

Striking thing #2: McMcillan straight up acknowledges that it takes skill to be a farmworker, to stock shelves at Wal-Mart, and to work in the kitchen at Applebee's. You have to be able to prioritize, use logic, multitask, and implement an efficient system to do a good job. In many towns and cities, the vast majority of fresh produce is bought at a Walmart, duh. And the person in charge of the fresh produce at Walmart - the produce manager - might be someone who doesn't have experience or affordable health care or much of a paycheck. This person, with little support, might be in charge of overseeing the quality of produce for an entire town, and "produce managers aren't necessarily given any better training to manage a town's fresh food supply than they are to stock sneakers." (p. 234)

This is great because the author isn't just a blogger with a book deal, but rather someone who's done serious research into food justice, backed up with a ton of end notes and citations. This is great because the author keeps reminding us that class matters, in America, right now.

lizlogan's review against another edition

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4.0

Fascinating. I enjoyed her research and the personal touch that her experience gave the work, but at times it ran long on her experience and short on information. Her assault while unfortunate had no place in the book and merely seemed like a tactic to shame her attacker - which he deserved, but not in a book about American food habits.

deejsylvis's review against another edition

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2.0

The stories of her actual experiences are interesting, as are some of her conclusions about them. But in the end it's still a person who is white telling us how non-white people feel, a fairly well-off person (comparatively) telling us how poor people feel, after barely dipping her toes into the world they live in. It's a type of journalism that is unsatisfying.

ndavis8880's review against another edition

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4.0

Good Food Shouldn’t be a Privilege

It never occurred to me that being within walking distance to a grocery store that sells fresh produce, and within driving distance to countless others, was a privilege, but now I can clearly see that it is. I’m going to be a lot more mindful of all the work that went into getting that produce close to me, especially the farm workers at the beginning of the process. It’s disgusting that a system exists to pay working people so little for work that I’m not sure “skilled” workers could do.
This book reenforces my belief that the poor are often the most generous. And the fact that a person can work and still be poor and unable to meet all their basic needs is something every US citizen should be ashamed of. There’s got to be a better was to make society more equitable.

thisislizwa's review against another edition

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4.0

I read a lot about food politics and yet this book still has a fresh take on the American food system. The section on farm work was particularly enlightening.

smithakp's review against another edition

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4.0

I absolutely applaud Tracie for immersing herself into these industries as she did, understanding the lives of the people involved so closely with them, and utilizing her proximity to delve into the ecosystem and detailed processes of each step along the way. (And my heart goes out to her for some of the traumatic experiences she went through...)

My only complaint is that I wonder if Applebees and Walmart were the ideal locations to examine. Her experience would have been very different--and, I daresay, no less valid--if she'd examined other stores and restaurants. Granted, she wasn't trying to presume that what she saw is The Way Things Are For Everybody. But I am curious as to what her takeaways would have been if she'd immersed herself in other companies instead.

lindzee's review against another edition

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3.0

Three novela-length books would have worked better. By the time I got to the end, I just wanted to know what she learned and she never got there.

ejdecoster's review against another edition

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3.0

Really in the 3.5 range. I had some of the same concerns about this book as I did about [b:Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America|1869|Nickel and Dimed On (Not) Getting By in America|Barbara Ehrenreich|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1312044755s/1869.jpg|1840613], in terms of ethics, but it was overall a very interesting look into the current American food system.

samirakatherine's review against another edition

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3.0

Enjoyable, but not necessarily surprising.

devoeas's review against another edition

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4.0

The reporting and message, all fantastic. She goes in and leaves with a little bias as someone could.

The writing was a little uneven - unfortunately, a lot of, sometimes, qualifiers, as if, she was, intimately, unsure of presenting, in a way, solid conclusions. These also created some run-on sentences. She was also a little repetitive - sometimes evidence or points were repeated across chapters, even sometimes in sentences that came after each other (the same point, just reworded). The overuse of asterisks is also a little distracting, as a lot of the "footnotes" could just be included in the text.

But I can get through that for the great reporting, the human stories, the history mixed with present. Shows us where our food comes from at every level, without telling us what to eat or what not to eat - just presenting it, and letting us decide how much we want to be involved in the system.