I used to keep some books on my desk when I was in charge of the grocery department at Whole Foods. Raj Patel’s book “Stuffed and Starved” was a favourite, particularly because it nailed the economy. A copy of “Good Food” by Margaret Wittenberg, who led our Quality Standards team. A second-hand copy of “Welcome To The Monkeyhouse” by Kurt Vonnegut, because the title speaks for itself if you’ve ever worked in retail. And no less than 1 or 2 frequently referenced gems by NYU longtime professor Marion Nestle, leading “food policy” and James Beard “What to Eat” awardee. And while I’m no longer dealing with Whole Foods, I still have a copy of “What To Eat.”
Professor Nestlé has decided to apply her impressive writing and teaching skills to her own life, and her new memoir “Slow Cooked” is delightful. It’s safe to say that contemporary food studies probably wouldn’t exist without Nestlé’s efforts, or if they did, it would resemble the shallow food web pop culture. It’s also safe to say that without Nestle applying laser scalpel analysis to the food industry business, there would be no “Fast Food Nation”, probably no “Secret Kitchen” and certainly no “Omnivore Dilemma”, although this influential book condemns Equally to Julie Guttman.
why not? The modern food industry is built on a cheap glut of calories, backed by public subsidies, external costs, dispensable labor, oligopolistic standardization, and revolving door relationships with regulators. Marion Nestle’s eye for cash and scientific credentials has been telling generations of activists, policy makers and spin-off retailers how to find weaknesses in the food-industrial complex. And from my experience, it has been the basis for building healthy and sustainable alternatives to this status quo.
Born into a working-class Jewish family before World War II, Nestlé’s life history is a huge learning experience for readers of younger generations like myself. The challenges she faced because of her gender and class background were both extroverted and familiar, and she worked hard to learn and advance in the scientific field in an age when women were not supposed to be scientists. But instead of a technological reverence, a reverence for bootlegging, Nestlé analyzed, this success was also possible because of the generous social safety net that previous generations used to navigate higher, particularly free and low-cost university and post-secondary education. imagine that.
Professor Nestlé details the life she led prior to her well-known tenure at New York University, including her marriage, raising her home, and more than two decades as a scholar and doctoral-level scholar. Some of her experiences as a woman in laboratories full of boys may not have been a huge shock, but they are very timely given the “MeToo” movement trying to advance society away from the grotesque behaviors of bloated teens. Her memoir also delves into episodes I wasn’t familiar with, including her culinary skills, her work for the USDA, and hooking up with culinary icon Julia Child.
Professor Nestle experienced a mid-career renaissance when she arrived at New York University, and her memoirs cover her work there in detail, including the research and writing process. Her scientific expertise, familiarity with scientific journals, and peer-reviewed research have enabled her to develop a rigorous approach to the food industry. She has emerged as a public intellectual in the context of Barbara Ehrenreich and Cornell West, her non-bachelor’s degree approach that has made her much more endearing to students, parents, and activists than CPG executives and politicians interested in the industry.
The subtitle “Slow Cooked” is accurate, and her astonishing writing, advocacy, and public speaking on food policy, political economy, and food safety were entirely unexpected given Professor Nestlé’s career path. But now at 20-20 too late, they remain indispensable.