LAKE PLACID - North Country School and Green Goddess Natural Market Monday, April 20 hosted a discussion about the economic barriers to accessing nutritious whole foods in America.
They invited Brooklyn-based author Tracie McMillan to talk about her book, "The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table."
The school tries to bring authors its Lake Placid campus each year to discuss their work, but most of the books have been fiction.
Tracie McMillan signs a copy of her book, “The American Way of Eating,” for Trish Friedlander, of Lake Placid Monday, April 20 at the Green Goddess Natural Market.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)
"This year, we brought a journalist onto our campus, and that's something that kind of combined two different things, our love of concern for food and our interest in writing and communication that we share with our children," said North Country School Head of School David Hochschartner. "So Mark Richards, our librarian, is the guy that brought those two things together."
After a brief and enthusiastic introduction by Richards, McMillan spoke about her book and answered questions from the audience in a packed room at Green Goddess.
"When I went to work on the 'American Way of Eating,' I really was hoping to be able to generate more of a discussion around not just local and sustainable food - which is something that I appreciate and enjoy and think is important - but also really taking a critical and thoughtful look at the reasons why some folks might not be able to eat that way," McMillan said.
"For me, that's certainly a political and professional interest of mine, wanting to be engaged with how do things work in the world, how you can change them and how can you being honest about what that might take. It's also very personal for me. I come from a working class background. I've spent most of my career reporting on low-income and working class communities in New York and across the country."
McMillan said she wanted to start to have a conversation about what it takes for those kinds of families to be able to eat well, not just the folks who can easily afford to pay for sustainable food.
For her book's research, McMillan went undercover in three jobs in the American food system.
"I worked as a farm worker in California, a Walmart worker in Michigan for the supermarket and in the kitchen in a New York City Applebee's," McMillan said. "I worked for about two months in each job, and I used that story, that narrative, to tether a broader discussion about food and class and what it takes to eat well on a budget."
McMillan is a winner of the James Beard Award for Food Politics, Policy and the Environment. In 2013, "The American Way of Eating" was awarded the prestigious Sidney Hillman Prize for Book Journalism; Books for a Better Life Award; named a finalist for a Goodreads Reader's Choice Award; an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Matters Award; an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award; and a James Beard Journalism Award.
Sarah Galvin of The Bookstore Plus was also on hand to sell copies of "The American Way of Eating," and the book is available at the Main Street shop.