Book Report: Devoured

Reviews of books relevant to the food movement.

One sentence summary: Everyone eats and we’ve got some funny eating habits here in America due to both cultural and corporate influence.

Book title: Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

Author: Sophie Egan
Year of publication: 2016
Length: 321 pages
Keywords: fast-food, trends, cultural anthropology, melting pot, stunt foods, millennials, consumer behavior

Memorable quote: “For me, it’s never been enough to ask, What do we think about when we think about food? The bigger question is: Why do we think about what we think about when we think about food? How do our shared values as Americans shape our eating habits, for better and for worse?”


With a big title and big introduction, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this read...What’s next for food trends? How eating certain foods affects our health? How to eat better for the planet?

After reading it, I’ve decided, yes this book was about food, but actually it was more about people and culture than food.

Did you ever read the book The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg?  That’s the one about why we listen to certain things on the radio, why we have to get a cookie in the afternoon at work, and how Target knows everything about us. This book really reminded me of that one. It elucidated behaviors I’d never thought much about before, but once mentioned, – oh yeah, that IS how people behave.


What does this book cover?

Egan tackles the following topics: food culture, work culture, customizing food, food evangelism, dieting, the popularity of wine, stunt foods, and spaghetti.

And America’s favorite meal: brunch. A whole chapter about waiting in line for weekend brunch. Why do we do that? What a crazy habit! Yet we’re still doing it everywhere, every weekend. This book answers the question about why we do things for brunch we'd never do otherwise. [Side note: I personally have a max 20-minute breakfast wait limit because I get too hungry, but I’m an anomaly here in LA].

Egan includes many well-organized and well-researched facts in her book. She throws in a few humorous quips and a couple of personal references indicating she has direct experience with most of the food items she’s discussing. It makes her seem just like the rest of us in a quest of trying to eat healthy and navigate our complex lives.

In her conclusion, she offers thoughts on what Americans should do differently when it comes to food. All great common sense suggestions that I happen to agree with.

One thing to mention, this is not a book about sustainability. It doesn’t include information about where our food comes from or how it’s grown. It really is much more about food culture in America.


To sum it up: This book is a fun, light read and whether you’re a typical or atypical eater in America, it will have you thinking about your eating behaviors in a new light.


What are YOU reading currently?