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Fascinating Adventure--A Woman's Journey Into What & Who Is Behind Our Food, How This Affects Us, Why We Should Care
on February 27, 2012
The book reads like a novel, this first person account of the author's undercover journey into the world of the working poor in the food industry. The author is a remarkable storyteller, recounting all aspects of her adventure in a way that makes you feel like you are entering into her world and joining her and the other workers at each place she is employed. She covers what it felt like, how it was to live and work under harsh conditions, where she lived, the friends she made, the choices she was faced with by living on such a small amount of money. It is fascinating to be able to feel immersed in a world that perhaps few of us would voluntarily enter into, but that many of us find ourselves.
The author spends time harvesting grapes with Hispanic farm workers, harvesting peaches, cutting and gleaning garlic, working at Walmart (including in the produce department), and working at Applebee's. During this time the work is grueling--she gets injured and suffers heatstroke, experiences identity theft, and even is sexually assaulted. She is also taken advantage of repeatedly by her employers in so many creative ways that it's mind-boggling. The reader comes to understand and empathize with workers trapped in low-level jobs and see how hard it becomes to fight back and/or to move beyond a daily existence.
But this is not really just a memoir of an undercover adventure. It is another book as well, an important social commentary. It is not just about one woman's journey, but it is about our food supply. How it works, what drives it. How, "It is far easier to eat well in American than in most of the world but we've done little to ensure that fresh and healthy food is available to everyone." (pg 153) This book explores answers to the questions: "What would it take for us all to eat well?" and "What are the realities of food and eating in America, especially for the working poor?" It answers these important questions literally BY telling the author's story, and helps the reader to see why we all need to care about access to fresh and healthy food--to work for equality in so many areas besides food as well. It shows the reader how many of these social issues are inexorably linked.
For those who enjoy details (as I do) the book is painstakingly footnoted--the notes take up almost 40 pages of very small print. This was a good way to organize the book, as those who are interested can read every footnote of supporting information (as I did), whereas those who just want a good story can easily avoid all of the detailed information.
If you are interested in this topic at all, you will not regret reading this book. To find out more before buying, you can google the book's title and find the author's book web site; the book also has a Facebook page that you can find by searching for the title on Facebook.