“An Economist Gets Lunch” Book Giveaway

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The history of food fascinates me, and Tyler Cowen’s An Economist Gets Lunch has been my companion as I’ve been learning about how we’ve gotten to the state of food that we have today.

I see food differently than I did 5 years ago. I wouldn’t call myself a purist, only-local eater because, frankly, I haven’t figured out how to afford that lifestyle yet. But when John and I are thinking about where to go for dinner, I’m much less likely to suggest Applebee’s compared to what I would have said while I was in college.


  • Because I ache for something different, an adventure in food in which no two meals are exactly alike
  • I want to know where my food came from
  • I want to support the local farmers and chefs that grew, picked, cleaned and prepared my meal

That’s not something I’m going to find at Applebee’s. I mean, I could go to the Applebee’s in Broad Ripple and the Applebee’s in NYC and find the same exact meal. There’s something about that level of succinctness that freaks me out.

So instead, when I have the chance, I choose a local meal.

But how did we get to this point? How did we get to a level of finding really shitty food all over the place, and only really good food in nooks and cranies? What happened to our food?

An Economist Gets Lunch This is where Tyler Cowen comes in. He gets it. He calls America a “Cheez Whiz” culture, which I agree with. Our troubles with food go back to the early-mid twentieth century when we commercialized everything, fast. Restaurants where we went someplace to be given a frozen plate of food to microwave, AT THE TABLE. Seriously. This was caused not only by the way we thought about food, but how we thought about life – expediting everything so there’s less work, less time and less thought involved.

Sounds like America, right?

This lead to the poorest parts of America being the most obese, eating McDonald’s because you can feed a family of 4 much cheaper than if you bought fresh fruits and vegetables and prepared them yourself. Run through a drive-thru in your extra large SUV between taking your kid to his friend’s house to play video games and before you go to the mall to shop for that extra large couch you need to buy. Our thoughts about food fall in line with the mass consumerism that this country has instilled in us. MORE MORE MORE.

Cowen traveled to many parts of the world to discover how to find good food. It wasn’t the most expensive restaurant that had the best food, but the restaurant next to the fish market, next to the shore, or the street vendor who picked the produce himself that morning that really mattered.

Where do we go from here? Cowen has many ideas in book, and you can read all about them if you enter my giveaway to win a copy of his book!

Mandatory Entry – Leave a comment on this blog post telling me commercialized food produce you enjoy even though you know it’s totally not local and maybe not even healthy or (gasp) real food. Then, click the Rafflecopter giveaway stating that you left a comment.

All other entries will then be opened up through Rafflecopter. Some options allow you to enter daily!

Giveaway closes at midnight on Friday, March 8, 2013. Open to US Residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of An Economist Gets Lunch with an opportunity to give away a copy to a reader. All views expressed here are my own. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.killian Katie Killian Ottaviano

    What do I love? I am a huge fan of the spreadable cheddar cheese that comes in a tub. That can’t be real food, can it? I’m completely with you on trying to eat more locally grown/produced foods, but it isn’t exactly in our budget either. That’s why I’m hopefully going to grow a garden this year, but we’ll see how that works out since I don’t get much light in my yard.

    • solidgoldeats

      I’ll have some garden planning posts soon, Katie! Totally feel ya. Thinking about supplementing with a CSA, too.

  • Kalamity Kelli

    Every once in a while I just really want a bowl of cheeseburger Hamburger Helper. Yes, I know – I could make it from my home-canned tomato sauce and macaroni from the store with real cheese instead of the powdered stuff, but it takes me back to a time when the biggest problem I had was if I was going to get to watch The Partridge Family on Friday night.

    • solidgoldeats

      We have Hamburger Helper once every month or so, usually chili mac. I don’t mind the flavor, and honestly, I need a quick easy meal every once in a while!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kslauzis Kathleen Slauzis

    I’m the occasional guilty mother who drives through McDonald’s on occasion. Although, Much MUCH better than I used to be. I’d probably say a commercialized food that I enjoy is always Marachun Ramen or frozen veggies. I bought head of fresh cauliflower and broccoli last night and together it was $4. Frozen it is $1.25, and unfortunately if it was local, I’m sure it’d be near $5 together.

  • Nate

    Doritos, cool(er) ranch. The green and red dots are veggies, amiright?

  • http://www.facebook.com/danny.weinstein.142 Danny Weinstein

    Kraft Mac and Cheese

  • anna

    Occasionally I buy veleeta to make something like queso or polish mistakes. I place an importance on discovering new/local produce to integrate into our diet, however, sometimes you want something that reminds you of an appetizer served at your mom’s longaberger party circa 1995. (If anyone can relate, ha.)

  • heatherdingo

    Velveeta shells and cheese…sigh. It is a guilty pleasure. It doesn’t take a chemist (even though I am one) to know that is not real food. It is just so much quicker/cheaper than making it from real cheese.

  • http://www.FathersOverForty.com/ Wade Wingler

    Although loving our new Vegan lifestyle, we still keep a bag of Oreos in the pantry. (Yes, Oreos are vegan.) I don’t eat them often, but when I have one or two, their processed goodness gives me a thrill! Damn Oreos…

  • Gianna

    Frozen broccoli florets.