**The Giving Table Book Club is currently reading The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan. It's easy to join, simply visit our discussion group over on Goodreads!
Every page of this book gives you something to think about. In her introduction, McMillan gives a broad overview of food in this country, tackling some big issues like access, food deserts, obesity, and "the paradox of plenty."
Her interviews and experience have led her to the conclusion that everyone wants good food. The challenge is making good food available and affordable to all. "Fruits and vegetables receive less than 5 percent of the $18.3 billion we allocated in 2009 for federal agriculture subsidies." This means that the unhealthy, processed food we should be avoiding is actually the most affordable and accessible. It might not be what the people want, but the big ag companies have lobbyists and lawyers and work every day to avoid the tables from turning, so we're in for a long fight.
So, why is it so difficult to eat well? This is the question posed on page 9 of the book, and one that has complicated answers we'll explore as we read. Besides, even if you can afford a $9 tomato, why should we have to pay that much to ensure our vegetables are safe, pesticide free, and the workers who picked and packaged them were paid a fair wage?
I look forward to the day when we don't need handwritten, organic signs everywhere, because that will be the standard. Wouldn't it be wonderful to walk into a grocery store and instead of seeing the small organic section tucked away at the end of the produce aisle, it would be replaced with overpriced, pesticide-soaked apples and zucchini? Everything organic! Conventional growers feeling pressure to confirm to organic farming methods! No longer would we have to wonder what's lurking on our potato skins. Let's keep working to make that a reality.