Tracie McMillan is the uncommon person who combines long-term, in-depth reporting, elegant writing, and compelling story in The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table. (See this superb NYTimes review.) At my request, Tracie wrote this guest post. She has explored our food system from the bottom rungs, as a worker from California to Michigan to New York, so I asked her what’s the most important thing she’s taken away from her reporting and writing this book.  —M.R.   By Tracie McMillan One of the curious things about doing a semi-ridiculous reporting project—say, leaving behind your life to go work undercover as a farm worker, Walmart produce clerk, and Applebee’s kitchen wretch—is that near-strangers confront you with grand, existential queries. Like: What’s the most important thing you learned? Read On »

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I tried not to read Kim Severson’s New York Times article on the one-touch buttons on appliances at the International Home and Housewares show in Chicago.  You know the buttons that say “Cookies” on your toaster oven or the “Popcorn” button on your microwave that even ConAgra, maker of microwave popcorn, says you should not use.  My microwave, my toaster oven, they have these stupid, maddening, insulting, ridiculous, harmful buttons.  I hate them, but they’re unavoidable. I didn’t want to read Kim’s story—Electrolux oven has a “perfect turkey button,” put a turkey in, press a button, perfect turkey!—because I knew it would make … my … blood … BOIL! Hey!  Idiot manufacturers!  Cut it out!  The buttons don’t work—even your partners in food crime say so!  Worse, when they don’t work, you are telling your Read On »

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