Synopses & Reviews
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!
Tyler Cowen discusses everything from slow food to fast food, from agriculture to gourmet culture, from modernist cuisine to how to pick the best street vendor. He shows why airplane food is bad but airport food is good; why restaurants full of happy, attractive people serve mediocre meals; and why American food has improved as Americans drink more wine. And most important of all, he shows how to get good, cheap eats just about anywhere.
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.
"Enlightened consumerism, not ideology, is the surest path to tasty and responsible dining, argues this yummy gastronomic treatise. Economist and restaurant critic Cowen (The Great Stagnation) takes readers along as he eats, shops, and cooks in a diversity of spicy settings, including a Nicaraguan tamale stand, the greens aisle at the Great Wall supermarket chain, backwoods barbeque pits, and his own kitchen, where he wrestles with Mexican cuisine. He focuses on how the interplay between creative suppliers and demanding customers produces good, cheap food, an approach that yields offbeat insights into, for example, why the menu item that sounds the least appetizing usually tastes great and why you should never eat in a place filled with beautiful people having a great time (that restaurant's specialty, he reasons, is the scene, not the food). Cowen also offers a telling contrarian critique of high-minded food orthodoxies that extols agribusiness, debunks the environmental benefits of locavorism, and toasts genetically modified organisms. Cowen writes like your favorite wised-up food maven, folding encyclopedic knowledge and piquant food porn 'the pork was a little chewy but flavorful, and the achiote sauce gave it a tanginess' into a breezy, conversational style; the result is mouth-watering food for thought." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for Tyler Cowen and The Great Stagnation
"Tyler Cowen may very well turn out to be this decade's Thomas Friedman."
-Kelley Evans, WSJ.com
"Cowen's book...will have a profound impact on the way people think about the last thirty years."
-Ryan Avent, Economist.com
"A perfect marriage of economics and food. Tyler Cowen is my newest guilty pleasure."
-Rocco DiSpirito, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Now Eat This!
"Tyler Cowen's latest book is a real treat, probably my favorite thing he's ever written. It does a fantastic job exploring the economics, culture, esthetics, and realities of food, and delivers a mountain of compelling facts. Most of all it's encouraging--not a screed, despite its occasionally serious arguments--and brings the fun back to eating. Delicious!"
-Stephen J. Dubner, author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics
"A gastronomic , economic and philosophical feast from one of the world's most creative economists. Tyler Cowen offers the thinking person's guide to American food culture, and your relationship with food will be hugely enriched by the result."
-Tim Hartford, author of The Undercover Economist and Adapt.
“A fun and informative book that environmentalists, economists, and (most of all) foodies will enjoy."
"Cowen writes like your favorite wised-up food maven...a breezy, conversational style; the result is mouth-watering food for thought."
-Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Economist reveals how to find great food."
"Tips on eating food that's better for you, your wallet, and the environment."
“Tyler Cowen explains with great authority why good food doesn't have to be expensive and why expensive food isn't inevitably good. Cowen makes an argument for affordable food that results in both economic and sensory benefits. He espouses a fascinating new discipline I couldn’t help but think of as ‘Foodienomics.’”
—Barb Stuckey, author of Taste What You’re Missing
"An Economist Gets Lunch
is a mind-bending book for non-economists."
"Part economic history . . . part guide to getting a better meal at home or a restaurant. Reconowned economist . . . Professor Cowen is an expert on the economics of culture and the arts." -The New York Times Dining Section
A leading economist, “who may very well turn out to be this decade’s Thomas Friedman” (Wall Street Journal), illuminates the state of American food today
Tyler Cowen, one of the most influential economists of the last decade, wants you to know that just about everything you’ve heard about how to get good food is wrong. Drawing on a provocative range of examples from around the globe, Cowen reveals why airplane food is bad, but airport food is improving, why restaurants full of happy, attractive people usually serve mediocre meals, and why American food has improved as Americans drink more wine. At a time when obesity is on the rise and forty-four million Americans receive food stamps, An Economist Gets Lunch will revolutionize the way we eat today—and show us how we’re going to feed the world tomorrow.
About the Author
Tyler Cowen is professor of economics at George Mason University and the author, most recently, of the New York Times bestselling e-book The Great Stagnation. He writes the world's leading economics blog, Marginal Revolution, as well as the foodie blog Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide. He also writes a bimonthly column for The New York Times. Cowen lives in Fairfax, Virginia.