Discussion Questions

Discussion questions can help you appreciate books in new and deeper ways. Share these questions with your book group, or if you’re not with a group, spend some time thinking about them yourself.

Farm City

Discussion Questions

  1. How did the author’s farm change the neighborhood and surrounding community? How did it influence the interactions between the author and her neighbors?
  2. Did the author’s urban farm face barriers and challenges that would not have been issues in a conventional rural setting?
  3. “It is better to ask forgiveness than permission” is a well-known piece of advice that Novella seems to follow – how well does this approach serve her interests? The interests of others?
  4. Would Novella’s 100-yard diet be sustainable for an extended period of time?
  5. If you had the chance to take over Ghost Town Farm for a year, would you do it? If so, what would you do differently?
  6. After reading the author’s descriptions of killing animals, do you feel differently about eating meat? Have you ever killed an animal for food? If not, would you be willing to?
  7. Do you think there is value to producing at least some of the food you consume? Is urban farming is a viable movement? Could people successfully take over abandoned lots here?

American Way of Eating

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you agree with McMillan’s assertion that “Everyone wants good food”? Support or challenge using the book and outside examples.
  2. Were McMillan’s undercover journalism methods ethical? Why or why not? How would you have improved her methods with regard to human subjects protections?
  3. In the conclusion, McMillan distinguishes between viewing food as a consumer good and as a social good. What are the policy implications of each view?
  4. After reading this book, could you argue, as the industry does, that there are positive aspects to entry-level work in the food industry?
  5. What did McMillan learn from working undercover that would have eluded her if she limited her methods to observation and interview?
  6. Will having read this book change the way you view or interact with food workers? How so?