From globe to plate, New Yorker issue covers the world of food

Articles
November 18, 2008

From globe to plate, New Yorker issue covers the world of food

Food is more important in our lives today. So many threats to our way of life make reliable supplies of the right foods a high priority to sustain the nation. Yet commodity price volatility unnerved the world this year and showed the fragility of supplies. And more food safety scares from China prompted new FDA restrictions against imports until the foods are tested in the U.S. While many magazines revel in the enjoyment and entertainment aspects of food, the New Yorker food issue takes on the more profound issue of supply, some of food’s deeper ties to international cultures, and several examples of business innovation. The issue underscores how food transcends the light, pop coverage that’s served up so often and deserves a more serious tone sometimes—at the very least to remind us to stop taking our nation’s food fortunes for granted. In The Perils of Efficiency, a New Yorker article by James Surowiecki that spun from commodity price surges this spring, he posed, “So did the global financial crisis solve the global food crisis?

Food is more important in our lives today. So many threats to our way of life make reliable supplies of the right foods a high priority to sustain the nation. Yet commodity price volatility unnerved the world this year and showed the fragility of supplies. And more food safety scares from China prompted new FDA restrictions against imports until the foods are tested in the U.S.

While many magazines revel in the enjoyment and entertainment aspects of food, the New Yorker food issue takes on the more profound issue of supply, some of food’s deeper ties to international cultures, and several examples of business innovation. The issue underscores how food transcends the light, pop coverage that’s served up so often and deserves a more serious tone sometimes—at the very least to remind us to stop taking our nation’s food fortunes for granted.

In The Perils of Efficiency, a New Yorker article by James Surowiecki that spun from commodity price surges this spring, he posed, “So did the global financial crisis solve the global food crisis?

“Temporarily, perhaps. But the recent price drop doesn’t provide any long-term respite from the threat of food shortages or future price spikes. Nor has it reassured anyone about the health of the global agricultural system, which the crisis revealed as dangerously unstable. Four decades after the Green Revolution, and after waves of market reforms intended to transform agricultural production, we’re still having a hard time insuring that people simply get enough to eat, and we seem to be more vulnerable to supply shocks than ever.

“…There are sensible market reforms, like doing away with import tariffs, that would make developing-country consumers better off. But a few weeks ago Bill Clinton, no enemy of market reform, got it right when he said that we should help countries achieve ‘maximum agricultural self-sufficiency.’ Instead of a more efficient system, we should be trying to build a more reliable one. “

A separate article, A Better Brew, by Burkhard Bilger, chronicled the rise of craft brewing and noted nearly 1,500 craft breweries exist in the U.S. “In liquor stores and upscale supermarkets, pumpkin ales and chocolate stouts compete for cooler space with wit beers, weiss beers and imperial Pilsners,” he wrote.

From a barbecue restaurant in Texas to a natural restaurant in Hangzhou, China, and on the road with cookbook authors whose writings are likened to cultural encounters, this New Yorker issue brings vivid imagery of a diverse food industry that is filled with richness and imagination—and challenges to improve and sustain people around the world.