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Publisher's Summary

A “deeply empathetic” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and “eye-opening” (Kirkus Review ) look at dietary differences along class lines, revealing that lack of access to healthy food is far from the primary driver of nutritional inequality in America. 

Inequality in America manifests in many ways, but perhaps nowhere more than in how we eat. From her years of field research, sociologist and ethnographer Priya Fielding-Singh brings us into the kitchens of dozens of families from varied educational, economic, and ethnoracial backgrounds to explore how - and why - we eat the way we do. We get to know four families intimately: the Bakers, a Black family living below the federal poverty line; the Williamses, a working-class white family just above it; the Ortegas, a middle-class Latinx family; and the Cains, an affluent white family.

Whether it's worrying about how far pantry provisions can stretch or whether there's enough time to get dinner on the table before soccer practice, all families have unique experiences that reveal their particular dietary constraints and challenges. By diving into the nuances of these families’ lives, Fielding-Singh lays bare the limits of efforts narrowly focused on improving families’ food access. Instead, she reveals how being rich or poor in America impacts something even more fundamental than the food families can afford: these experiences impact the very meaning of food itself.     

Packed with lyrical storytelling and groundbreaking research, as well as Fielding-Singh’s personal experiences with food as a biracial, South Asian American woman, How the Other Half Eats illuminates exactly how inequality starts on the dinner plate. Once you’ve taken a seat at tables across America, you’ll never think about class, food, and public health the same way again.

©2021 Priya Fielding-Singh, PhD (P)2021 Little, Brown & Company

Critic Reviews

"How the Other Half Eats is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered why Americans don’t eat more healthfully. Fielding-Singh achieved something remarkable in gaining the trust of families who then let her observe their daily food choices. Her book is a thoughtful, riveting, compassionate, and utterly compelling account of why eating healthfully is so difficult, especially for the poor. What's more, she offers a superb example of why on-the-ground field research is invaluable for gaining a deep and nuanced understanding of the ways that our industry-driven and highly inequitable food environment affects real people on a daily basis."—Marion Nestle, author of Let’s Ask Marion

"Deeply empathetic… [a] devastating portrait of ‘the scarcity, uncertainty, and anxiety that permeates so much of the American dietary experience.’”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Bold, eye-opening, and deeply moving, How the Other Half Eats is a must-read for anyone concerned about the well-being of American families. Fielding-Singh powerfully shows how sweeping, systemic inequities find their way onto our dinner plates and impact our health and wellness. This compassionate and captivating book resonated with me as a physician caring for my patients and as a mother striving to do right by my children."—Dr. Leana Wen, author of Lifelines

What listeners say about How the Other Half Eats

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Narration is distracting

I find the subject matter interesting as both a public health professional and also as someone interested in children and nutrition. However, the narration is incredibly distracting. I didn't notice it in the sample but it sounds like the narrator has a lisp or new braces, her voice sounds very wet when making 'ch' or 'th' sounds. Once I noticed it I couldn't focus on much else. It definitely detracts from the subject matter. I recommend you buy the book instead.

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Narrative vs content

An unnecessary narrative of a great research with excelent conclusions making you wonder the great pressure imposed to mothers to feed their children in a healthy way

1 person found this helpful