The 2014-15 Common Book is "The American Way of Eating"

The American Way of Eating

Winona State's Common Book Project announces its selection for 2014-15: Tracie McMillan’s The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table.  The Common Book Project brings together a large community of readers in the discussion of a single work. 

About the Book

The American Way of Eating explores the dilemma faced by many Americans who want to eat good, healthy food but aren’t sure they can afford it. McMillan’s book asks why Americans, and particularly working Americans, eat the way they do, as well as what they can do change it. To start to answer these questions, McMillan spent a year working undercover in three jobs in different parts of the American food system, trying to support herself and to eat on the wages she earned in each position. During her year of undercover reporting, McMillan picked fruit and cut garlic in California, stocked produce at a Walmart near Detroit, and worked in the kitchen at a New York Applebee’s. In addition to her work experiences, McMillan chronicles her experience cooking at home, documenting the kind of food she and her coworkers can afford to buy and prepare for themselves. McMillan foregrounds issues of labor, class, and affordability that are often absent from recent conversations about food and sustainability in the US.

With its focus on food, work, and class, The American Way of Eating offers many opportunities for interdisciplinary inquiry and conversation. McMillan’s exploration of the labor, socioeconomic, political, and environmental issues surrounding food production and consumption will offer a valuable contribution to Winona State’s 2014-15 university-wide “Sustainable Futures” theme.  As such, the book will be adopted in a wide range of classes as well as in many sections of first-year composition.

Your Assignment...

If you choose to accept it is to read The American Way of Eating. Incorporate what you take away from the book into your life while at the university. The book will be adopted in numerous sections of English 111, College Reading and Writing, and may be adopted in other courses as well. Use this opportunity to learn more about the greater community and turn your knowledge into action.

Where to Buy

The American Way of Eating is published by Scribner and will be available from the WSU Bookstore, The Book Shelf, and other booksellers.  Additionally, a packet of teaching and contextual materials for prospective adopters will be available by midsummer.  Faculty adopters should simply list the book (ISBN 978-1439171967) on their book request form through the WSU Bookstore.  

Special Thanks

Funding for the Common Book Project has generously been made available by the Office of the Provost for Academic Affairs and the WSU Bookstore.  For more information about the project, please contact Prof. Ann-Marie Dunbar at