July 22, 2012

Review - An Economist Gets Lunch (Tyler Cowen)

One of the most influential economists of the decade-and the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Stagnation-boldly argues that just about everything you've heard about food is wrong.
Food snobbery is killing entrepreneurship and innovation, says economist, preeminent social commentator, and maverick dining guide blogger Tyler Cowen. Americans are becoming angry that our agricultural practices have led to global warming-but while food snobs are right that local food tastes better, they're wrong that it is better for the environment, and they are wrong that cheap food is bad food. The food world needs to know that you don't have to spend more to eat healthy, green, exciting meals. At last, some good news from an economist!

What the cover of the book already implies is certainly not all that economist and food blogger Tyler Cowen broaches in An Economist Gets Lunch. Of course grabbing himself lunch is part of it, but he also discusses his adventures in shopping at supermarkets and how to perfect your barbecue skills, as well as more serious topics such as hunger and effects of genetically modified ingredients.
As extensive as the varied themes in the book are, I must admit that it turned out to be a mix that made me wonder what this book was trying to be? As much as food is the common thread here, chapters lack a connection to each other. Turn the page and you will find yourself in a whole different book. In between his personal observations and insights, a fair share of foodie advice, Cowen also raises some more profound questions, eg about food production. Obviously this mixing of light entertainment and seriousness only adds to this scattershot impression.
Looking at the chapters individually, some of which I found to be quite worthwhile, I must admit that the author's ability to ramble on and on made reading rather tedious at times. Add the sometimes simplistic and biased views, this certainly didn't improve my overall impression of this book.
On the whole, if the topic generally interests you I'm sure that you will find chapters that cater to your tastes (pun intended).
In short: Long-winded, cliched view on food stuff!

2/5 Trees

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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