I was enormously lucky to lead a discussion with Ruth Reichl, author and editor, and Dan Barber, chef-owner of the Blue Hill restaurants in New York and author, who came to the 92nd Street Y in New York City to talk about our food. The reason for the event was my new book Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food In America. But the discussion ranged from GMOs and organic food, to big A Ha! moments for both Ruth and Dan, Ruth’s in a small plane filled with the smells of strawberries from Chico farm, Dan’s on a Klaas Martens’s field, which grew cover crops, not wheat. I saved my favorite question from the audience to read last: “Is ice cream always bad for you?”

Yes, ice cream has sugar in it, and sugar seems to be considerably worse for us than we ever expected (but not when you get it in ice cream). Ice cream has fat in it, which people still think is bad for you! How can this be?! I can’t say it loud enough

Fat is good! Fat is flavor! Fat is our friend! We Love Fat!

Fresh milk and cream, eggs, the right amount of sugar. As Ruth said, “How can something like that be bad for you?” It’s bad for you in exact same way lettuce is bad for you. If that is the only thing you ever eat, you’ll get sick.

I address these matters in my book, which looks at how grocery stores got the way they are and at many of the food issues contained therein. I visit farms and food shows. I hang out in grocery stores behind the scenes. I shop with my doctor. And I also throw some memoir in there—my father loved grocery stores.

Media has been excellent so far:

I walked the aisles in New Jersey with Stephanie Strom who wrote about it for The New York Times, and I did the same for radio’s Ari Shapiro on All Things Considered.

Ron Holden wrote about it in Forbes.

My favorite review was from, of all places, Supermarket News—by a guy who’s beat is food retail.

It was nicely reviewed in the Wall Street Journal (though kept behind a paywall if you don’t subscribe).

And most recently, I had a conversation with The Atlantic’s Joe Pinsker about it.

Now as ever, I just want people to think. We’re the only ones who can transform the quality of the food available to us—not nutritionists, not lawmakers, certainly not the food manufacturers. Every time you put a dollar down for a specific item, it’s vote for more exactly like it, whether it’s good or bad.

Think about it.

(Photos by Rod Morata/Michael Priest Photography)

 

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