Devoured (Hardcover)

From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies--How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

By Sophie Egan

William Morrow, 9780062390981, 416pp.

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

List Price: 28.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A provocative look at how and what Americans eat and why—a flavorful blend of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Salt Sugar Fat, and Freakonomics that reveals how the way we live shapes the way we eat.

Food writer and Culinary Institute of America program director Sophie Egan takes readers on an eye-opening journey through the American food psyche, examining the connections between the values that define our national character—work, freedom, and progress—and our eating habits, the good and the bad. Egan explores why these values make for such an unstable, and often unhealthy, food culture and, paradoxically, why they also make America’s cuisine so great.

Egan raises a host of intriguing questions: Why does McDonald’s have 107 items on its menu? Why are breakfast sandwiches, protein bars, and gluten-free anything so popular? Will bland, soulless meal replacements like Soylent revolutionize our definition of a meal? The search for answers takes her across the culinary landscape, from the prioritization of convenience over health to the unintended consequences of “perks” like free meals for employees; from the American obsession with “having it our way” to the surge of Starbucks, Chipotle, and other chains individualizing the eating experience; from high culture—artisan and organic and what exactly “natural” means—to low culture—the sale of 100 million Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos in ten weeks. She also looks at how America’s cuisine—like the nation itself—has been shaped by diverse influences from across the globe.

Devoured weaves together insights from the fields of psychology, anthropology, food science, and behavioral economics as well as myriad examples from daily life to create a powerful and unique look at food in America.

Praise For Devoured: From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies--How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

“Filled with fascinating facts, many of which will come as a surprise to the reader. ... Breezy, irreverent, often quite funny, Devoured nonetheless has a serious message.”

“An engaging anthropological guide to our country’s obsession with Pumpkin Spice Lattes and affection for Two Buck Chuck. ... Reads more like a bonbon-studded TED talk than an eat-your-spinach slog.”

Devoured is a well-researched and fascinating exploration of what we eat, how we eat and why. It is only with this understanding of our food culture that we stand a chance of improving our food system. Devoured is a great contribution to this endeavor.”

“Reading [Devoured] could change the way you eat.”

“A wild and witty romp through the zaniness that infuses today’s American culture of food.”

“This book is for anyone who eats food (even if it’s Soylent). It’s a fun and thought-provoking tour of the bizarre stuff we now consume. You won’t look at your dinner -- or lunch, breakfast, snack, or whatever Doritos Locos Taco is -- the same way again.”

“Engrossing. ... Well-written. ... Combines insights from behavioral economics, food science, psychology, and Egan’s personal observations.”

“Entertaining… Humorous… An informative look at what Americans eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all those snack times in between and how our eating habits are changing who we are.”

“Well-researched, fascinating and witty.”

“Using relatable examples, anecdotes, and convincing research, [Egan] highlights what characterizes our country’s approach to food and makes it unique.”

“A must read about how our behaviors influence our diets and vice versa.”