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  • Writer's pictureMax Sinsheimer

SOLD! What to Eat, second edition (by Marion Nestle)

What to Eat, first published in 2006, is Marion Nestle's masterful overview of the economic and political structures that subtly influence our food choices. She uses a clever organizing device: supermarkets. Each chapter walks readers down a different supermarket aisle -- from produce, to meat, to snacks -- to literally show how today's society discourages healthful food choices. Along the way she explores issues like the effects of food production on our environment, the way pricing works, the dangers of unchecked marketing to kids, and the effects of certain additives on nutrition.

Copyright Spencer Platt/Getty Images

But much has changed in the food industry over the past fifteen years — both in how foods are marketed and in what the public cares about. The pandemic has accelerated these changes and made the public more aware of them. To state only the most obvious developments, compared to fifteen years ago:

  • The grocery industry has become much more consolidated; the top 4 retailers now control 50% of sales.

  • Store brands fill increasing proportions of shelf space.

  • Aisles are now devoted to ethnic/international products, especially Asian and South Asian.

  • Mainstream grocery stores routinely cater to popular diets, stocking vegetarian, vegan, keto, Paleo, and gluten-free products.

  • Plant-based meat and dairy substitutes are proliferating and attracting massive venture capital.

  • Larger segments of the public care about where food comes from, and about environmental, climate-change, sustainability, animal welfare, and social justice implications of food production and supply chains.

  • Food waste has become a major focus for advocacy.

The second edition of What to Eat will cover these seismic shifts in our food landscape, while helping consumers navigate the dizzying array of new products on supermarket shelves. It will be a major update (more than 40% of the book will be new or revised content) that gives readers all the tools they need to make the right food decisions for themselves and their families.

Here is the Publishers Marketplace deal memo:

This is my fifth book with Marion (one as her editor, four as her agent), and she continues to amaze me with her drive, intelligence, and ability to make complex topics easily digestible to lay readers. Congratulations to Marion and to Hank Cochrane, the acquiring editor at Macmillan!


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