The Next Big Thing

Cathy Day, champion of literary citizenship, English professor at Ball State, author of Circus in Winter and Comeback Season, and my fellow committee member of the Midwest Writers Workshop, tagged me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

Here’s Cathy’s post answering the questions about her work in progress.

And here’s mine…


What is your working title of your book (or story)?

Where Am I Eating? An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy


Where did the idea come from for the book?

Ever look at your banana and wonder who picked it?

In 2009 the USDA began requiring Country of Origin Labeling on food. I couldn’t believe how global our diet had become. Today, the United State’s imports 86% of its seafood, 50% of its fruit, and 18% of its vegetables. I wanted to meet the people who catch, pick, and grow our food and work along side them. I swung machetes with banana workers in Costa Rica, picked coffee with farmers on steep mountainsides in Colombia, cut open cocoa pods with a slave in Ivory Coast, and picked apples with farmers in Michigan and China.


What genre does your book fall under?

Literary Journalism. If you think the literary means I made stuff up, you’re mistaken. All it means is taking the techniques and tools of creative writing and applying them to a real story.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Matthew MacConaughey. I’m told we sound alike, but I have better abs. All right! All right!


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A global adventure to meet the people who catch, pick, and grow our food.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

This is my second book published by John Wiley & Sons. Both of my books have been represented by agents. Unfortunately, after working with me, each agent decided to embark on new careers. It’s tough out there for agents right now. There’s a high turnover.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

For me, writing is the easy part. It’s the living that is the hard part. The living/travel took about four months and the writing took about four months.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s like a global version of Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was traveling in Nicaragua and came across Lobster divers. They dive deeper and deeper in search of a dwindling population of lobster. They dive on shoddy equipment and have no training. 100% of them have some type of decompression injury (think the bends). As a former dive instructor, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. That experience really got me started thinking about the lives of the people responsible for catching, picking, and growing our food.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

A single bottle of apple juice could contain juice from apples on four different continents and seven different countries. In fact, 75% of all apple juice concentrate is from China.

I tried to free a slave. (Bad idea!)

I’m really bad at using a machete.


And now you know. Now it’s my turn to tag some folks. So, D.E. Johnson, Kelly Stanley, JR Roper, and Chris Humphries, you’re up.

Add comment

So even though food writing has come a long way from Brillat-Savarin’s little epigrams (“dessert without cheese is like a pretty woman without one eye”), his most memorable claim—“tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”—is still true. We might like to think about food only in terms of how much pleasure it gives us, whether it’s the collective experience of a good meal or the personal satisfaction of a well-executed dish. But increasingly, food writing prompts us to look beyond the tips of our tongues, and to realize that food can bring out both the best and the worst in all of us.

Let your voice be heard!