How American food habits have changed over time.
In this entertaining investigation of the habits of American eaters, Egan, a director in the strategic initiatives group of the Culinary Institute of America, examines how eating habits have changed in the past 50-plus years. “At every step of my research,” she writes, “this is what I have found: We don’t put food first. We put three main values above all: work, freedom, and progress.” Those three factors have pushed us to be a nation that now spends more time eating at our workstations than ever before and have prompted an explosion in the snack food industry, as the fine line between a snack and meal gets increasingly blurry. Because Americans spend so much time at work, there’s little time or inclination to create a meal from scratch, which has aided the rise of pre-made meals that are easily reheated in the microwave. Fast-food restaurants now offer a plethora of dishes, while fast-casual restaurants put the emphasis on letting customers create their own meals from a variety of options. Low-fat, gluten-free, low-sugar, and other “diet” foods are all the rage as increasing numbers of Americans battle obesity and diabetes thanks to excessive food intake. The author analyzes a variety of topics, including the desire to drink more wine, eat more chicken wings, and binge on cheese. Egan studies the creation of “food holidays,” as well, days that revolve as much around food as the actual event (think Super Bowl), and novelty foods that combine sugar, salt, fat, and other ingredients into fantastic creations sure to entice us—e.g., Papa John’s Frito Chili Pizza. The author tells readers how and why these items have become part of America’s food culture and speculates on where American food habits will take us in the future.
An occasionally humorous, definitely informative look at what Americans eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all those snack times in between and how our eating habits are changing who we are.