1 Absurd Figure About Apples that Captures the Global Food Crisis
Legendary food critic, author, and restaurant owner Ruth Reichl paints a fascinating portrait of our food crisis and explodes food myths that many of us take for granted.
Ruth Reichl is the author of My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life which came out in September 2015. She was Editor in Chief of Gourmet Magazine from 1999 to 2009. Before that she was the restaurant critic of both The New York Times (1993-1999) and the Los Angeles Times (1984-1993), where she was also named food editor. As co-owner of The Swallow Restaurant from 1974 to 1977, she played a part in the culinary revolution that took place in Berkeley, California. In the years that followed, she served as restaurant critic for New West and California magazines.
Ms. Reichl began writing about food in 1972, when she published Mmmmm: A Feastiary. Since then, she has authored the critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Garlic and Sapphires, and For You Mom, Finally, which have been translated into 18 languages. In 2014 she published her first novel: Delicious!
Ms. Reichl hosted Eating Out Loud, three specials on Food Network, covering New York (2002), San Francisco (2003), and Miami (2003). She is the executive producer of Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, public television’s 30-episode series, which debuted in October 2006 and Executive Producer and host of Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, a 10-episode public television (2009). She was also a judge on Top Chef Masters.
Ms. Reichl has been honored with 6 James Beard Awards (one for magazine feature writing and one for multimedia food journalism in 2009; two for restaurant criticism, in 1996 and 1998; one for journalism, in 1994; and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, 1984). In 2007, she was named Adweek’s Editor of the Year. She received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, presented by the Missouri School of Journalism, in October 2007. Ms. Reichl received the 2008 Matrix Award for Magazines from New York Women in Communications, Inc., in April 2008. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in the History of Art from the University of Michigan and lives in Upstate New York with her husband, Michael Singer, a television news producer.
Ruth Reichl: Cooking in America was on its way to becoming a lost art. And one of the things that’s happening is it’s being recaptured, which I think is really healthy. I mean if we don’t learn to cook again, we are, I think, doomed. We’re doomed to giving over our entire food culture to industrial food, which will be a terrible thing. We’re in a very strange place right now in America, I think. You know on the one hand you have a huge movement of people who care about sustainability and want food that is pesticide-free and has not been — not transgenic, has not been interfered with in any way. You know food that has been picked by angels. And on the other hand, you have an industrial food system that is increasingly powerful and is manipulating foods in ways that they’ve never been manipulated before. And I think one of the things that we really have to do is bring these two food systems together, just move them into one place so you don’t have rich people eating gorgeous, pristine vegetables and, you know, animals who have had happy lives. Whereas the people who were picking that food are people who are relegated to eating stuff that is barely food and is cheaper than food.
I just got back from Mexico and I was in the wholesale food market there, which is the largest wholesale food market in the world. It’s enormous. And one of the chefs I was talking to stopped by the apples and he said last year 70 percent of all the apples grown in Mexico went to waste. That and if you think about the magnitude of that problem and you think about everything that went into those apples and went into getting those apples to the market. And then the idea that they ultimately all got thrown out. We’re beginning to see what an enormous problem this is. You know we have had this stick held over our heads, you know. The world population is getting bigger and bigger and we need transgenic food. It’s the only way we’re going to feed the world. And, in fact, we know that the most efficient farms are, in fact, family farms, not monocropping. And that our big problems are distribution waste. We don’t need to be producing more and more food. We need to be figuring out how to distribute it more fairly.
Ruth Reichl, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine and restaurant critic at both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, says we have a food crisis. But it's not the crisis that most people are aware of. The specter of overpopulation has convinced many that the only way to feed large, undernourished populations is by growing more food — a lot more food. But that view ignores the fact that, for example, 70 percent of all apples grown in Mexico last year were thrown out, completely wasted. She explores other myths such as the belief that factory farms are more efficient that small, family-run farms. Finally she presents a new approach to solving our global food crisis. Reichl is the author of My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, which came out in September 2015.
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