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Discussion Questions


After reading The American Way of Eating, use these questions to start a discussion.  Also consider using any of these questions as a writing prompt.


  1. Before reading the book, did you think about the correlation between zip codes and supermarkets?
  2. Tracie McMillan acknowledges that she does not always make use of the food options available. What prevents her from eating well? Do you find it difficult to make healthy choices in your own life circumstance?
  3. What was it about McMillan that inspired the generosity of so many strangers during her months of investigation?
  4. After following McMillan’s study of the American way of eating, can you identify the traits required for an undercover reporter?
  5. Do you think being a female played a role in McMillan gaining access to the workplaces she desired? Would a male reporter have been as easily received?
  6. During McMillan’s stint in the California Central Valley, she found the work and conditions to be grueling. What are some of the advantages she has over her co-workers? What insights did you gain about the American farm worker?
  7. Looking for a job at Walmart was sometimes frustrating and time-consuming. Do you think online applications and application kiosks make job hunting easier for job seekers?
  8. Some deception is necessary for an undercover reporter; McMillan was deceptive in applications and job interviews.  Did you find this at all disturbing? When she reveals her true identity, how do her fellow workers respond?  How would you respond to such a revelation?
  9. “It is easier to eat well In America than in most of the world, but we’ve done little to ensure that fresh and healthy food is available to everyone” (p. 153). What is your response to this “paradox of plenty”?
  10. How do we best educate our young people about the benefits of healthy eating? Why do we watch celebrity chefs for entertainment but do not imitate them?
  11. In several of her work locations, McMillan raises concern about food safety?  Which of these revelations is most surprising?
  12. Part II “Selling” delves into the economic realities of shift workers who are paid minimum wage. What day- to- day difficulties do these workers experience?
  13. Which section of the book did you most enjoy? What section provided insights that you might apply to your own life?
  14. Each section of the book begins with wage and spending statistics. Why do you think McMillan provides this information for the reader?
  15. What would you ask Tracie McMillan in an interview?


Additional discussion questions can be found on pages 332-334 of The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan.