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The Way We Eat Now

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  64 reviews

‘At no point in history have edible items been so easy to obtain. Humans have always gone out and gathered food, but never before has it been so simple for us to gather anything we want, whenever and wherever we want it, from sachets of squid ink to strawberries in winter.’

‘It’s now becoming clear that the way that most people currently eat is not sustainable – either f

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published March 21st 2019 by Fourth Estate
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4.08  · 
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 ·  337 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Way We Eat Now by Bee Wilson is an insightful and astonishing book about our present-day eating habits.

“The story of modern cooking is not a simple tale of decline but a more complex and hopeful one. When we say that ‘no one cooks any more’ we often have in mind a particular version of home cooking that depended on women being confined to a life of unpaid labour. By contrast, the new cooking of our times is done by a wider range of people in a wider range of ways.”(284)

When I was about tw
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books about food and eating I've read. The Way We Eat Now describes our relationship with food in detail, but not in a preachy kind of way. This book is very informative, I've learned a lot of new things about food. The writing style is accessible for a lot of people, and it's easy to read even though you're not very knowledgeable of the topics discussed. I think this is an important book and I hope many people pick it up.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC to rea
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice survey of the State of Food in the world. Most of the news is bad, of course, and always will be with Big Food (read: corporations) in charge. Monoculture has crept in, erasing many of the lines separating various food cultures, and monoculture is laced with sugar and processed oils and flashy marketing and cheap, genetically-modified wheat and soy and so forth.

Bottom line: In some ways we have way, way more choices than our grandparents did, food-wise, but in other ways they ate healthie
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bee Wilson has a way with words and manages here to get across an important concept that is not earth shattering to anyone involved in public health but is diametrically opposed to what one hears all the time about obesity: namely that weight is simply a question of individual willpower to eat less and move more. Wilson illustrates how absurd that is in the context of massive global forces affecting what we eat.
In terms of what to do, she points to some international stories of success or promi
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
My response to this analysis of contemporary diet and food culture was...underwhelming, but to some extent that’s due to my familiarity with many of the studies and trends that Bee Wilson covers. If you’re at all interested in these issues it’s likely you’ve heard it all before.
May 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-and-foodoir
More like 2.5. This feels scoldy, even when I agree with many of her points (but not all...what's with this war on snacks?!) There's a lot of repetition and a bit too much opinion - in a long polemic against bananas in their typical form today (the Cavendish), the author mentions six or seven times how flavorless or bland or bad tasting they are. It's weird. If you don't like bananas, don't buy or eat them. But she does. She just also complains that they're not delicious.

I get where it's all com
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book! Anyone who is concerned about wellness, weight gain, or the environment needs to read this book. Bee Wilson has done a marvelous and comprehensive study of the vast changes in how we eat during the last thirty or so years. She covers it all - grocery stores, vegetable vs. meat consumption, advertising and marketing of food, the new boxed meal kits, and why all these changes took place in the years after WWII.

An excellent book, strongly and highly recommended. The author is a t
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a recipes book or a diet one, is an interesting survey on what we eat now, and why and mostly it explains why in less than 100 years our eating habits changed so much. I really appreciate the way the author handles the researches and the results without saying what should be better and why, I mean she does it also, but she doesn't do that hiding between the results that she chose to put forward her theory, which is something that usually happens whenever we read about food and all th ...more
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
If you love food writing and are interested in global food issues much of this information will be familiar. I am sure Bee Wilson could teach a great food history class, she is knowledgeable and invested in her subject, but unfortunately on occasion had to pinch myself to stay awake.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
An insightful and engrossing read for anyone interested in food, food culture and the sustainability of how it is produced and consumed. Bee Wilson has thoroughly researched this subject and some of the points she makes are quite jaw-dropping. We are now a very time-poor (or lazy) society that prioritises ease instant gratification and choice over sustainability and long-term health and prosperity and this has made us, despite living in an era of great abundance (which is not, as the book also g ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has been enlightening. I've audibly exclaimed a few times and forced Richard to stop what he's reading/doing and listen while I read bits to him. There is a great final chapter with tips for change in it as well.

As a result of reading this I've had my first try at making my own granola - then I have one meal that I can know exactly what has gone into it.

I'm fortunate enough to live in a city full of good food options and variety so making some changes is possible quite easily. I recognise
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I think Wilson does a fantastic job of being conversational and understandable but still being knowledgeable and citing her sources. It’s a hard balance to strike sometimes. I think she does a particularly good job of showing that obesity isn’t the willpower problem that society often tries to pass it off as. It’s so many other things in your environment that influence your food options and choices.
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting information, a little preachy at times
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bee Wilson is an author of several other why/how we eat books. Here, she systematically documents the global trends that have shaped how we eat, from the not so good (too much ultra processed food with resulting obesity and related ill-health) and some good (reclaiming a love of cooking, expansion of availability of local foods). I was surprised about the lists of countries with the healthiest diet patterns. I enjoyed the discussion how the timing of eating in different groups affects their over ...more
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health-wellbeing
There's an excerpt at the back cover that reads "this book should be required reading for everyone." I couldn't agree more. Such a thought-provoking book that deals with a universal act played out every single minute somewhere in the world, and yet not many of us realise the forces behind it. The Way We Eat Now highlights some key moments in the food transition with plenty of examples and research and backed by scientific evidence without ever sounding formal or academic of even preach-y. If you ...more
Brian Hagerty

I picked this up after reading an Atlantic article discussing it and a few related titles. I was disappointed, mostly because Wilson's comments about how we should eat are uninformed. This book is really just an extended opinion piece rather than an evidence-based assessment of what is wrong with our food system and our diets. To be fair, Wilson isn't a nutritionist and doesn't pretend to be, and her goal is to make sweeping statements about the global food system. And she does helpfully point o

Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book that should be used to teach everyone the problem food manufacturing has on health and environment. To the reviewers who think the author is too judgmental - suck it up. Her facts are supported by the evidence she provides. She thoroughly outlines the paradox of a world with people eating so much more yet are so much less healthy for it. The quantity of salt, sugar, and fat in nonfoods marketed as food is killing people. She ends the book on a hopeful note with examples ...more

Where her first book was adorably nerdy, this one was just preachy. She fixates way too much on Cavendish bananas (which she hates) and Barry Popkin (whom she loves). Book is written somewhere between American English and British English, which was more bothersome than if she'd just picked one or the other (she chose "biscuits and chips" instead of "biscuits and crisps" or "cookies and chips," for example).

Also, I'm reading this book soon after it's published, which is good, because I don't
Jenny Chase
May 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
I gave up on this about halfway through, because it was more polemic than informative for someone who is basically interested in food. There are a few nuggets - like the idea that the original sort of banana tasted much better than the modern Cavendish - but it is horribly padded. A low point was taking 5 pages to explain repeatedly that our satiety response doesn't seem to react to liquids.

There are also a few lines that might actually have gone in interesting directions - eg the throwaway ide
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Our food system is currently full of mismatches. Some of these mismatches are cultural, as we fail to adapt to the new realities of eating in a age of abundance. Our food culture remains too mysty-eyed about sugary food, for example. We haven’t adjust to the fact that sugar is no longer a rare and and special celebration food, worthy of devotion. Nor have we yet modified our attitudes towards those who are overweight and obese, to reflect the fact that these people are now in the majority.” (pp ...more
Cara M
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well written and interesting book, like all of her books. A indictment of transnational capitalism for sure. (It is really clear that there is no such thing as a capitalist country, there are only countries where capitalism thrives. Like any invasive weed, eventually it will destroy the nation-state it purportedly belongs to.)
There was a lot of overlap with First Bite, as really is expected, since both are about the food culture of today, but they also had different information. I was interest
Math Yoda
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The book contains a lot of general knowledge that you already know about but that you put it at the back of your head. It’s like there’s a kid in some chasm in your mind hiding that when you read the book it’s like a gate has been opened and you’re like “oh there’s a kid! I knew there was one somewhere here” d’yall get it? It’s like you know it all along and this book just reminds you of it. It’s such a very comparative study of the then and now. I mean we get it from the title that basically th ...more
Jane Comer
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The title says it all--this is a book about how people eat both in the U.S. and Britain, but also in other places around the globe. I learned interesting tidbits about food, i.e. Dan Barber's new company Row 7 is encouraging the development of new seeds that focus on flavor rather than how large the fruit/vegetable is; Honeynut squash is a result of his efforts. There's lots of data, and since the author is British, the picture she paints is global. Chile has black danger labels printed on sugar ...more
Patrick Pilz
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to nutritional science, we experience reports in news papers where the truth of the day is the lie of tomorrow. Almost none of the research survives medial scrutiny and a lot of diets promoted today will be declared unhealthy tomorrow.

In "The way we eat now" Bee Wilson takes a more abstract look at the way we change our eating behavior of the past centuries and creates a hypothesis that is more generic in its nature, but one that rhymes and reasons with one.

Also these hypothesis a
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
A lot of valuable insights, but nothing new if you have read books on this topic before.
The epilogue:
1. Eat new food on old plates,
2.Don't drink anything that is "like water" unless it is water,
3.Devote less attention to snacks and more to meals,
4. Change your appetites (learn to appreciate new foods, not just high sugar+fat+salt processed foods),
5. Shift the balance (i.e. don't aim for extreme exculsions, but gentle shifts),
6. Try to eat in ratios, not in absolutes,
7. Eat proteins and vegetable
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Curious, reasoned and compelling

Another beautifully written book from Bee Wilson. This book explores the changing dynamics of our diet and diets around the world. Bee takes a balanced view of everything, refusing to take anything at face value. She lays out the complexities and nuances of a sometimes fraught set of issues with humanity and clear-eyed scrutiny. She has all the affection of a cook for good eating and good food, but understands the dark side of some trends and the silver linings i
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Woo! Bee Wilson is my GIRL. Kickstarted by dating a decade long vegan boi, I have been much more interested in why I eat what I eat, how food impacts us culturally, socioeconomically, and physically.

As someone who pretty much vacuum inhaled a bowl of popcorn while 3 episodes into the new season of Queer Eye last night, I clearly don't have the best eating habits all the time. I enjoyed how Wilson talks about how food changes have rapidly occurred over the last few decades and the implications o
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-politics
An interesting read, but somehow also a bit offputting. I haven't read Bee Wilson's books before, but somehow, though she repeatedly says she's not putting blame on individuals for obesity, the book as a whole comes across as being judgmental. I can't quite put a finger on how; just some of the turns of phrase, I suppose. The bit about eating off of smaller plates at the end is such classic weight loss advice I rolled my eyes a bit.

With that said, it is an interesting exploration of what we eat,
I really hoped this book would be more readable like Consider the Fork. Unfortunately, it is a very dense non-fiction and reads more like a thesis. I skimmed it thru anyway to get some of the more salient points from the book.

Fads like Pomegranate and Coconut create a world shortage and cheating shortcuts. Much of the food we produce today has been genetically altered and often times chemically altered as well. The hurried lunch hour does our bodies no favors. What's up with food shakes/drinks/
Lori Kincaid Rassati
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the natural progression of books which tell us what is so messed up about the typical Western diet and how that dysfunction is spreading across the world. Wilson does a great job, though, of giving hope about our diets and giving us grace to not beat ourselves up if we can't cook and feed our families the way that our grandmothers did. She seems bent on giving us permission, if you will, to keep what worked in the past along with what works today while discarding those things which don't ...more
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: The Way We Eat Now by Bee Wilson 1 1 Jun 11, 2019 04:45PM  
Beatrice Dorothy "Bee" Wilson (born 7 March 1974, Oxford) is a British food writer and historian. Wilson is married to the political scientist David Runciman and lives in Cambridge. The daughter of A.N. Wilson and the Shakespearean scholar Katherine Duncan-Jones, her sister is Emily Wilson, a Classicist at the University of Pennsylvania.
“When we say we are lacking in the time to eat well, what we often mean is that we lack synchronised time to eat. Our days and weeks are broken up with constant interruptions and meals are no longer taken communally and in unison, but are a cacophony of individual collations snatched here and there, with no company but the voices in our headphones. Many of us, to our own annoyance, are trapped in routines in which eating well seems all but impossible. Yet this is partly because we live in a world that places a higher premium on time than it does on food.” 2 likes
“In the US from 1980 to 2011, it became more than twice as expensive for Americans for purchase fresh fruit and vegetables compared to purchasing sugary carbonated beverages. Tomatoes and broccoli are far more expensive on average than they used to be for American shoppers. Energy-dense foods such as cakes and burgers have become far cheaper now in comparison to fruits and vegetables.” 0 likes
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