Tracie McMillan

Tracie McMillan's exposé of our food system has been repeatedly compared to Barbara Ehrenreich's 2001 Nickel and Dimed, another book reported from inside the low-wage workforce. But The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table (Scribner, $16) belongs on the same shelf with Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and the scant few other books that consider both the food on our plates and the people who put it there. McMillan's thickly-footnoted chronicle of cooking at Applebee's and selling vegetables at Walmart deftly contextualizes how supermarkets fail inner-city residents; how few Americans manage to eat the recommended daily amount of fresh produce; and how industrial farms cheat their workers. McMillan famously irritated Rush Limbaugh by focusing on the connection between food and class; he called her an elitist ("What is it with all of these young single white women? Overeducated doesn't mean intelligent..."), but she was the one picking peaches in 105 degree heat. HANNA RASKIN

Wed., Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2012

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