"An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies" is at times an over-simplification of economics and at other times extremely detailed about his personal likes. Thus i am falling back to what his Publisher posted on the mud flap of the book.
"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!
"Just as "The Great Stagnation" was Cowen's response to all the fashionable thinking about the economic crisis, "An Economist Gets Lunch" is his response to all the fashionable thinking about food. Provocative, incisive, and as enjoyable as a juicy, grass-fed burger, it will influence what you'll choose to eat today and how we're going to feed the world tomorrow."
Now I'm going to go out on a limb and hoepfully will not upset the following Amazon reviewer of the book. I chose this partifular way to share with you much that i agree with, too... You will spot it on Amazon if you go over to buy this book now.
Good discussion piece, By Andy of Vienna, VA, May 16, 2012
This review on Amazon is from: An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies (Hardcover)
This is a nice
light read that splits time between 1) How American food got bad but is
improving 2) How to find good places to eat and 3) Critiquing some of the
modern food trends, in particular the "locovore" trend. It is more of
a one-economist's opinion more than it is a real research report, but his
opinions are for the most part well-thought out and this makes a nice intro or
(in my case) refresher on economic principles. It also provides an alternative
viewpoint to much of the current literature that seems to expect everyone to
become dietary experts.
-Entertaining and easy to read
-Provides a lot of interesting discussion topics, and does so in a way that is very accessible
-Lots of great tips, background information, and interesting factoids. I found myself noticing things like all my favorite places to eat being in the unanchored, off drag, suburban strip malls he recommends. Keep in mind though that these are generalities, so take them as suggestions rather than rules
-Gives a good concise history regarding food in this country, that I think gives some context to the overall food debates
-Makes a good critique of modern food literature for those of us who think most of current food trends are impractical
-If you live in the DC area, it's extra nice because he talks about so many places by name (he talks about a lot of places, but not as extensively)
-As mentioned, this isn't exactly a scholarly work, so there are no citations, etc.
-He does miss some things, and knowledgeable readers will probably know more about some topics than Cowen does. For instance, he has a section on picking authentic Chinese restaurants that was good, but honestly, as someone who has quite a bit of experience with Chinese-family dining I think I actually could have written it as well or better(example: one thing I do when seeking good Chinese is to try to go with a group, since Chinese dining tends to be a social thing where they eat family style and don't split the check, and thus specials as well as the better sides tend to be designed as part of a meal rather than a stand-alone --Cowen misses this and a couple other points). I would assume the same ideas apply to Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.
-Some parts of the book are really only useful if you are wealthy and/or a prolific traveler. Sorry, the parts about $300 French meals in Japan being better than they are in France is of absolutely no use to me
-It does scattershoot a bit and sort of has a blog-to-book feel at times (I do recommend Cowen's food blog, though)
Overall, great for foodies or for anyone who just wants an accessible, enjoyable book about economics. I would recommend it for anyone who wants something that's enjoyable, informative, and not too heavy.