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Devoured: How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

Devoured: How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

by Sophie Egan


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A provocative look at how and what Americans eat and why—a flavorful blend of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Salt Sugar Fat, and Freakonomics that reveals how the way we live shapes the way we eat.

Food writer and Culinary Institute of America program director Sophie Egan takes readers on an eye-opening journey through the American food psyche, examining the connections between the values that define our national character—work, freedom, and progress—and our eating habits, the good and the bad. Egan explores why these values make for such an unstable, and often unhealthy, food culture and, paradoxically, why they also make America’s cuisine so great.

Egan raises a host of intriguing questions: Why does McDonald’s have 107 items on its menu? Why are breakfast sandwiches, protein bars, and gluten-free anything so popular? Will bland, soulless meal replacements like Soylent revolutionize our definition of a meal? The search for answers takes her across the culinary landscape, from the prioritization of convenience over health to the unintended consequences of “perks” like free meals for employees; from the American obsession with “having it our way” to the surge of Starbucks, Chipotle, and other chains individualizing the eating experience; from high culture—artisan and organic and what exactly “natural” means—to low culture—the sale of 100 million Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos in ten weeks. She also looks at how America’s cuisine—like the nation itself—has been shaped by diverse influences from across the globe.

Devoured weaves together insights from the fields of psychology, anthropology, food science, and behavioral economics as well as myriad examples from daily life to create a powerful and unique look at food in America.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062390998
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/25/2017
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Sophie Egan is the Director of Health and Sustainability Leadership and Editorial Director at The Culinary Institute of America. Based in San Francisco, Sophie is a contributor to The New York Times' Well blog, and has written about food and health for Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Bon Appétit, WIRED, and Sunset magazine, where she worked on The Sunset Cookbook and The One-Block Feast book. She holds a master of public health from the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on health and social behavior, and a bachelor of arts with honors in history from Stanford University. In 2016, she was named one of the UC Global Food Initiative’s 30 Under 30.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The American Food Psyche 1

Chapter 1 The Muddle of the Modern Meal 21

Chapter 2 Food at Work 48

Chapter 3 Having It Our Way 78

Chapter 4 Selling Absence 106

Chapter 5 Secular Church 135

Chapter 6 Diet Evangelism 163

Chapter 7 The Democratization of Wine 190

Chapter 8 The Age of Stunt Foods 220

Chapter 9 Cheesepocalypse 249

Chapter 10 The Story of Spaghetti 280

Chapter 11 What to Make of All This 310

Acknowledgments 323

Glossary 327

Source Notes 335

Bibliography 359

Index 389

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