The Best of Anthony Bourdain


What to read, what to watch and what to listen to by and about the chef, TV host and author who died on Friday.

Anthony Bourdain in Hanoi, Vietnam, in May 2016.CreditWilliam Mebane

The chef, television host and author Anthony Bourdain died on Friday at 61. CNN, the network on which his TV show “Parts Unknown” aired, said that he killed himself in a hotel in France, where he was working on an episode. He has left his mark in restaurant kitchens and libraries — both fiction and nonfiction. And as The Times obituary said, “as an author and then a host,” he had redefined “the staid genres of food writing and food-tourism shows with an inquisitive but rebellious image that endeared him to fellow chefs, restaurant-goers and travelers.”

Here is what to read, what to watch and what to listen to by and about Anthony Bourdain.

In His Own Words

The New Yorker

In his famous 1999 New Yorker piece about what really goes on in restaurant kitchens, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” Bourdain warned readers, “If you are one of those people who cringe at the thought of strangers fondling your food, you shouldn’t go out to eat … By the time a three-star crew has finished carving and arranging your saddle of monkfish with dried cherries and wild-herb-infused nage into a Parthenon or a Space Needle, it’s had dozens of sweaty fingers all over it.”

Read “Don’t Eat Before Reading This”


The New York Times

Shortly after the publication of his 2000 memoir, “Kitchen Confidential,” The Times spent an evening in the kitchen with Bourdain at his restaurant, Les Halles. “People ask us to do some pretty ugly things to the food,” he admitted. “But I don’t throw plates any more. I don’t try to make people cry any more.”

Image
Anthony Bourdain during his time on the Travel Channel and the last season of “No Reservations.”CreditTravel Channel

‘Parts Unknown’

Bourdain’s travel and food show, currently in its 11th season on CNN, has been a cultural force since its inception, winning five Emmys and a Peabody Award so far. (Eight seasons are available right now on Netflix.) The series uses food as an entryway to nuanced conversations with people across the world about their politics, their daily lives, their hopes and fears, and there is seemingly nowhere “Parts” hasn’t explored — including Myanmar in the early 2010s, as well as countries and regions like Gaza and the West Bank and Iran, offering local perspectives rarely seen on Western TV. The show’s punk stylings, the obvious delight Bourdain takes in eating with Michelin star chefs and roadside food vendors alike, and the show’s diverse array of special guests (President Barack Obama, Iggy Pop and the director Darren Aronofsky are just a few) combine to make “Parts” a thoughtful and exciting world tour.


‘No Reservations’

“No Reservations” is where Bourdain’s TV career really took off. The show debuted on the Travel Channel in 2005, showcasing Bourdain’s signature curiosity, swagger and lyricism. As food- and travel-blogging exploded, “No Reservations” became the gold standard for thoughtful adventure — and because the Travel Channel felt awfully obscure, the show sometimes felt like a hip secret. That secret got out in 2006, when Bourdain and his crew got stuck in Beirut during an armed conflict; that episode is among the show’s most interesting because it’s the exact opposite of other lifestyle shows. “No Reservations” went on to 12 Emmy nominations (and two wins). The show is available for purchase on Amazon.


‘The Mind of a Chef’

Bourdain produced and narrated this brainier, more personal approach to the shameless pleasures of food porn. Still, he kept himself mostly out of the spotlight, training it instead on a rotating cast of Michelin-approved chefs and restaurateurs as they explained their relationships to specific foods or regions. In one installment, the Momofuku mastermind David Chang effuses about his lifelong passion for ramen; in another, the British virtuoso April Bloomfield gives a survey of bangers and mash. It’s a light and positive celebration of food and culture — a departure from the quick-cut chaos of such crowd-pleasers as “Iron Chef” or “Chopped” — with fresh insights from authoritative and camera-friendly personalities. The show ran for five seasons on BBC and PBS, which are all available on Netflix. (A sixth aired last year on Facebook Watch.)

Memorable Clips

Sharing a Beer With President Barack Obama

Bourdain was someone everyone wanted to eat with — knowing his enthusiasm could get them into restaurants, and to experience food, they otherwise never would. This was best shown in 2016, when the White House asked if President Barack Obama could eat with him during an official visit to Vietnam.


Cooking Hashish Sweets in Morocco

Bourdain was candid about past drug use, which included cocaine and heroin. He was also unafraid to discuss drugs in his TV show. In this clip from an episode of “Parts Unknown” in Morocco he learned Moroccans make hashish-containing sweets.

“Of course network standards and practices prohibit me from even tasting this delicious and reportedly mind-altering treat,” he said.


Evangelizing for the Waffle House

“An irony free zone where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts,” is how Mr. Bourdain describes Charleston, S.C. “Where everybody regardless of race, creed, color or degree of inebriation is welcome.”

Bourdain was so associated with globe-trotting it is easy to forget his love of the United States’ own cuisine, and it comes across fully in this ode to a waffle house. It is “a beacon of hope and salvation inviting the hungry, the lost, the seriously hammered, all across the South to come inside,” he added.


Giving Insights Into Iran

“Parts Unknown” often felt like a commentary on foreign policy. In this episode in Iran, for instance, Bourdain experiences the country’s hospitality in full force by eating in a family home.

Anthony Bourdain’s death prompted an outpouring of grief and tributes

A Never-Ending Hunger Season Is Plaguing South Sudan


Even during harvest time in January, when food was most abundant, more than five million people — almost half the population — did not have enough to eat. Now, as food runs out over the next few months, international officials expect that number to grow considerably, with millions potentially facing acute malnutrition.

Photo

Nyantioop Mach outside her home in a camp for displaced people in Juba, South Sudan. “This year is the worst we have seen,” she said of the country’s food crisis.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

This year’s harvest was the smallest on record since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, with the country producing only a fraction of its needs, according to the World Food Program.

On top of that, peace talks have stalled and cease-fires have largely been ignored, which means the fighting has cut off some areas from emergency help. Aid workers have been targeted by government and rebel fighters alike, making food distribution increasingly difficult.

Even here in the capital, which had been largely immune to the food crisis, many families are finding it impossible to pay the steep prices demanded in the city’s markets, their options vanishing as the currency crashes.

Families from across the country pile into a clinic for malnourished children, setting aside the political and ethnic divides that have torn this new nation to shreds. Some mothers come from areas backing the government. Others have husbands, brothers and sons who fight for the rebels.

Dozens of the women lie outside on the floor, their children wrapped in blankets. The signs of malnutrition are clear: Swollen bellies and emaciated limbs. Skin hanging in folds from tiny bones. Bodies covered in open sores, the painful result of edema breaking the skin.

Photo

Cecilia Kidem feeding her 9-month-old daughter, Sarah Keji, at a Unicef clinic in Juba.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

Cecilia Kideen struggled to feed her 9-month-old daughter, Sarah. Her breast milk is not enough, as she barely eats one meal a day.

“The mothers,” she said, “are really suffering.”

South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, was born from an enormous international push to end decades of conflict between the north and south of what was then Sudan.

But just two years later, the new country was at war.

In December 2013, a feud between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar quickly descended into a conflict that has fractured the country, killed tens of thousands of people and decimated what was already one of the world’s least developed nations.

“There are very few populations that are escaping the impacts of hunger,” said Elizabeth White, Oxfam’s South Sudan policy adviser. “But all roads lead back to conflict and insecurity.”

Talks between the government and opposition leaders have been postponed. But even if peace can be reached, the hunger crisis still looms.

Farming on the Front Lines

The civil war in South Sudan has set off the largest refugee crisis in Africa since the Rwandan genocide, the United Nations says. More than two million people have fled the country, crippling food production. Nearly two million others have abandoned their homes and remain scattered around the country, leaving behind ghost towns and untended fields.

At the nation’s southern border, dozens of refugees cross a narrow bridge into Uganda each day, bringing stories of hunger with them.

Mary Yar, 20, arrived with her 1-year-old son at a small reception center on the Ugandan side. At the site, the first assessment that refugees go through is a malnutrition screening

“There is no food there,” Mrs. Yar said of her home village, pointing back toward the bridge to South Sudan.

Photo

Mary Yar, right, crossed the border from Nimule, South Sudan, into neighboring Uganda. She arrived in a United Nations reception center with her 1-year-old son, Abram.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

During the height of the hunger season last year, South Sudanese arrived by the thousands, said Geoffrey Chandiga, a child assessment officer.

He keeps a tally of new arrivals on a whiteboard, noting that officials are bracing for an uptick in the months ahead.

Two years ago, South Sudan’s war expanded into southern parts of the country that had long been seen as the country’s breadbasket. People flooded across the Ugandan border. Most have yet to return.

When United Nations peacekeepers visited the areas in early 2017, they saw entire villages burned to the ground.

$321.70 for a Plate of Beans

Under a sharp midmorning sun in the capital, Elizabeth Kenyi and her husband, Johnson Ali, plucked vegetables from their garden along the White Nile, a tributary of the Nile.

For two decades, they have sold their okra, peppers and tomatoes in a nearby market. But even with a plentiful harvest this year, they are finding it harder than ever to feed their family of seven.

“The money that I got from the garden is useless,” Mr. Ali said.

Photo

Elizabeth Kenyi and her husband grow okra, peppers and tomatoes in their garden. But they say the high inflation rate has made the money they earn useless.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

While their produce commands a higher price than it did last year, prices for the staple grains they buy, like maize and sorghum, are climbing fast.

South Sudan’s currency is in freefall and hyperinflation has squeezed virtually everyone. Before the war, one American dollar was worth about five South Sudanese pounds. By March, a dollar was worth about 220 pounds.

The impact has been devastating. A 2017 World Food Program report determined that the relative price of a meal in South Sudan was among the highest in the world.

It found that people here typically needed to spend 155 percent of their daily income for a single plate of bean stew. To put it another way, a meal that would cost a New Yorker just $1.20 would cost someone in Juba the equivalent of $321.70.

Awaiting Aid That Can’t Be Delivered

With agriculture in tatters, emergency aid is keeping a growing share of the country alive.

By early 2018, half of South Sudan’s population relied on food aid, according to the United Nations, and the percentage will grow as the hunger season reaches its peak in the coming weeks.

Photo

Women waited during a monthly distribution of food at a United Nations camp on the outskirts of Juba.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

But delivering that aid is another matter entirely. The rainy season hits during these lean months, too, turning many roads into rivers of impassable mud.

Beyond that, at least 100 humanitarian workers have been killed here since the start of the conflict, 30 in the last year alone, targeted by warring parties that think the efforts are helping their enemies.

Even within the protected camps set up around the country by the United Nations, there is not enough food to go around.

Mrs. Chok, the woman who boiled leaves for her children, had been at a protected area in Juba for a month. The camps sprang up in 2013 as ethnic minorities who feared violence from government forces and their supporters fled to the base of the United Nations peacekeeping mission. Many stayed, and the camps have sprawled into makeshift cities ringed by barbed-wire fences.

The United Nations provides food to registered camp residents, but thousands inside have no official status, so they rely on their neighbors for food. The rations are simply not enough.

Aid workers say that so much of the country is on the move — with vast numbers of people fleeing places where violence erupts — that most new arrivals to Mrs. Chok’s camp have not been registered in more than a year. That means she and countless others receive nothing.

Staying in the camps is dangerous enough. Attacks and sexual abuse by camp officers have been widely reported. Other accounts have emerged of women trading sex for food. But leaving the camp brings an entirely new set of risks.

Photo

Each day, Tafisa Nyattie collects firewood outside the camp, where she lives. Ms. Nyattie says she has survived a beating and attempted rape by soldiers while collecting wood.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

Tafisa Nyattie, 30, who has lived in a camp here since 2013, has six children. Her food rations regularly run out, so she leaves the camp daily to gather firewood, hoping to earn enough money for milk and soap to wash her children’s clothes.

She walks up to three hours in each direction, braving threats from government forces before returning with a large bundle of wood on her head.

“They will rape you or beat you, and sometimes they kill you,” Mrs. Nyattie said, recounting the well-documented dangers women have faced in the conflict. “Some government soldiers tried to rape me.”

On another day, she said, she was beaten and her leg was badly injured. But when she saw how hungry her children were, she decided she had no choice but to head back out again.

“You just go, and you don’t know if you will come back to your children,” Mrs. Nyattie said.

Hunger’s Youngest Victims

The malnutrition clinic offers a chilling glimpse of what this hunger season may hold.

The hospital ward, frequently dark because of intermittent electricity, is treating nearly a dozen more children each day than it did this time last year. They come from around the country to be weighed, measured and given antibiotics and a milk formula before moving on to Plumpy’Nut, a peanut-based nutritional paste — if their bodies can handle it.

Photo

Sylvia George fanning her 2-year-old son at the Unicef-run nutrition clinic at Al Sabbah Hospital in Juba.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

Many of the families here are not even victims of the horrors that have chased millions from their homes. Some have jobs, career plans and families to lean on — yet their children are still going hungry.

Selwa Anania, a restaurant worker from Juba, brought her 2-year-old son, Taban Zacharia, to the clinic. Her small salary does not go far in the market. Most days, it is only enough for a single meal of porridge.

Sylvia George, 27, fanned her son, Mandela Bisa, 2, who lay half-conscious on a bed, hooked up to an intravenous drip. The child’s father is a student at Juba University, and the three live with Ms. George’s mother, whom they rely on for food. There is never enough.

For now, with the peak of the hunger season still weeks away, the clinic manages the steady flow of patients, said Josephin Ruben, the head nutritionist.

Photo

Selwa Anania, right, and her son, Taban Zacharia, 20 months, sitting outside the hospital. After two weeks, Taban’s condition has improved.

Credit
Kassie Bracken/The New York Times

But, she noted anxiously, there “will not be enough when we get to June and July.”

Continue reading the main story

Loose Ends: Reasons I May Be Eating Right Now


I was craving this snack. Also, Mercury is in retrograde.

CreditIllustrations by Aisha Franz

I’m hungry.

I’m bored.

I’m stressed.

This food is delicious.

This food is fine.

I was craving this food.

I’ve never tried this food before.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever tried this food before.

This food is not very good, but it’s here.

Image

Someone took the time to make this food, and it would be rude not to have some.

Someone spent money to buy this food, and it would be rude not to have some.

Everyone around me is eating.

Everyone around me is done eating, but there is still food left.

My blood sugar feels a little low.

I drank too much coffee.

I’m happy.

I’m depressed.

My friend is happy, and I don’t want to make her eat alone.

My friend is depressed, and I don’t want to make him eat alone.

I just ate something salty and now I want something sweet.

I just ate something sweet and now I want something salty.

I’m a little drunk.

I’m a little stoned.

I’m very drunk.

I’m very stoned.

I don’t know what else to do at this party.

I don’t know what else to do at this meeting.

I don’t know what else to do at this wedding.

I don’t know what else to do at this bris.

This food smells good.

This food smells kind of weird, but maybe I’m being too judgmental.

I don’t know when I’ll have time to eat later.

I don’t have any groceries at home.

I don’t want to eat any of my groceries at home.

I’m watching a cooking show.

I’m watching a food video on Instagram.

I once watched a documentary about food waste and don’t want to contribute to the problem.

It’s breakfast time.

It’s lunchtime.

It’s afternoon snack time.

It’s second afternoon snack time.

It’s dinnertime.

It’s dessert time.

It’s nighttime snack time, not to be confused with dessert time.

An unknown number is calling me.

My birthday is coming up.

I think I just rolled my ankle.

Mercury is in retrograde.

The printer isn’t working.

Donald Trump.

Julia Shiplett is a comedian and writer in New York.

Entrepreneurship: Making Her Own Way, Nearly 100 Years Later


Ms. Reggie’s enterprises have caught the attention of the magazine Southern Living, which recently named her one of 30 Southern food women to watch. She also was mentioned in Garden & Gun magazine’s look at how to do New Orleans like a local.

Before the market, Ms. Reggie helped create Cleaver and Company, a butcher shop, and the New Orleans branch of Good Eggs, the San Francisco organic food delivery company. She sold her interest in the butcher shop, which is now closed, and Good Eggs subsequently shut its operations in New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans to focus on its home base.

The market came to life while Mr. Brooks was renovating a pair of old buildings in the Central Business District to form the 35-room Catahoula Hotel, which opened in 2016. Ms. Reggie had planned to open her market around the corner, but that location fell through at the last minute.

Within a week, Ms. Reggie found a spot on emerging Oak Street, in the Uptown neighborhood, which required the installation of a commercial kitchen, custom-built shelving and a front counter. Including inventory, Ms. Reggie said, the venture cost around $600,000.

Her goal is to earn net margins of 3 to 5 percent a year, though some customers complain that her local products cost too much. (A small jar of Poirier’s cane syrup goes for $16.99; a pint of Quintin’s ice cream costs $4.99.) But that reflects doing business with small vendors, Mr. Brooks said.

Photo

Simone’s Market is the third small business venture in New Orleans that Ms. Reggie, 40, has been a part of since she obtained a master’s degree at Tulane University in 2012.

Credit
William Widmer for The New York Times

“Everything is curated,” he said. “You’re dealing with a person at the other end, and usually an owner, not a sales rep for a big corporation.”

Ms. Reggie’s parents divorced when she was 2, and her childhood was split between New Orleans, her mother’s home base, and Lafayette, where her father owned a restaurant. He subsequently became the head of St. Jude’s Dream Home Giveaway, a fund-raising program for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

The family connection to St. Jude’s traces to her grandfather Emile, who knew St. Jude’s founder, the actor Danny Thomas. (The two were of Lebanese descent.) He wasn’t the family’s only notable association.

One of Ms. Reggie’s cousins is Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Another is Mikie Mahtook, an outfielder in the Detroit Tigers organization.

Ms. Reggie has an impressive network in New Orleans, where her annual Mardi Gras open house draws chefs, food writers, photographers and other assorted friends. They came to her aid when her mother, Mary, known as Missy, died last fall.

As soon as word spread, food began to arrive from the city’s top restaurants. On the funeral day, Ms. Reggie arrived at the luncheon afterward to find that it was catered by her mentor, the restaurateur John Besh.

Photo

Oak Street, where Simone’s Market opened at the end of 2016.

Credit
William Widmer for The New York Times

Mr. Besh has since been enveloped in a sexual harassment scandal, causing him to leave the Besh Restaurant Group and lose his association with PBS, whose stations carried his television programs.

Ms. Reggie declined to comment on the allegations against Mr. Besh, but said she remained grateful for what she had learned from him over the years.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him pushing me to follow my dream and open a business,” said Ms. Reggie, who also ran a microloan program for local growers. “It’s because of him that I learned about the struggles of local farmers to produce their product.”

Ms. Reggie envisions more Simone’s Markets across New Orleans, whose food shopping scene is dominated by major grocers such as Whole Foods and a local chain, Rouses.

But, as with every small business, the odds for her market are uncertain. One in three small businesses closes within two years, and half fail within five years, according to data from the Small Business Administration.

Getting people in the door is a constant worry. “You wake up every morning thinking, ‘Will they come?’” Ms. Reggie said.

Yet she believes anxiety is motivating. “There’s got to be a level of fear,” she said. “If you’re not scared, you’re not thinking it all the way through.”

Continue reading the main story

Calorie Counts on the Kids’ Menu


Photo

Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

One kid-favorite Panera cinnamon crunch bagel: 430 calories. Add a medium low-fat strawberry banana smoothie (260 calories) or even just a lemonade (240 calories), and your 7-year-old is well into his 1,600-calorie budget for the day.

Of course, kids rarely finish what’s on their plates, and it’s unlikely that all of those calories made their way into your child (and more than likely that a few went into your own mouth). But those numbers shouldn’t surprise you if you’re a Panera customer, and if you’re not already familiar with similar calorie counts from other chains, you soon will be. By December of this year, the Food and Drug Administration will require all retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on their menus and menu boards.

Many larger chains already meet that requirement, and researchers have been looking at whether the posted calorie counts are changing our behavior. The results have been mixed, but new research published as a working paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that for some subsets of people, the calorie information may be having an impact where it counts: on body mass. Researchers evaluated changes in body mass index (commonly referred to as B.M.I.) from 2003 to 2012 in counties and areas that had mandatory calorie-labeling laws in place, and found “substantial effects in terms of decreased B.M.I. following implementation of such laws” in men and overweight women.

I’ve found that posted calorie counts do change my behavior. I “downsize” when it’s an option, or intentionally consume only part of what I’ve purchased. I’ve also made changes in what I purchase for my children, and I never encourage them to finish it, although it can be galling to throw away half of a $7 Starbucks snack.

But when it comes to evaluating what my children eat (at chain restaurants and everywhere else), I should look beyond calories, says Jessica Shepard, a certified holistic health consultant who has studied nutrition. “Calories are a guideline,” she says, “but we need to think about things like nutritional density and the value our body gets as a whole.” If the low-fat strawberry-banana smoothie at 260 calories is made with yogurt and gets its sugar largely from whole fruits, it has a much different nutritional profile than the 240-calorie lemonade.

If the calorie counts encourage us to be more aware of our choices, that’s a good thing, says Ms. Shepard, as long as we look beyond the number. She suggests encouraging children to make a choice that includes some protein, some fat and some fiber, especially if they need a meal or snack that will fuel them through a busy day.

If children ask about the calories, tell them it’s a way to measure the things we eat, but it’s a measurement with limits. Not only are all calories not created equal, but calorie measurements can be inaccurate. Many of us, particularly mothers with daughters, are concerned that talking about calories can lead to an unhealthy obsession with those numbers. Just as we want to strike a healthy balance in our eating, we want to strike a healthy balance in how much mental energy we give to those choices. We can tell a curious child that calories are just one thing to think about — after all, notes Ms. Shepard, an apple might have more calories than a few Doritos, but we all know the apple gives us something different from the chips.

Evaluating the impact of one societal change on average body mass is both mathematically and statistically challenging and a long-term prospect. This research is preliminary, and has not yet been peer-reviewed, although a smaller study (also still not reviewed) using similar methods reached a similar result. Other research on the question of whether posted calorie counts change behavior has been mixed, with some behavior observation studies finding that consumers choose to consume fewer calories overall when they notice calorie counts, and others finding no overall change in consumption in restaurants that posted the information compared to those that did not.

If we use calorie counts on menus as a reminder to think more about what we are eating and what we’re feeding our children, they can have a positive impact on those meals, whether they ultimately have a negative affect on our national waistline.

Do calorie counts on menus affect what you eat when they’re posted, and do they affect what you purchase for your children? How do you talk to your children about those numbers?

Read more about talking with children about calories, food choices and weight on Motherlode: The Mom Who Put Her 7-Year-Old on a Diet Speaks Out; Ending the “Friendly” Fat Talk ; Talking to a Child Who Is Overweight, but Unaware and I Have No Idea How Many Calories Are in My Grandmother’s Gefilte Fish.

A New Generation of Food Magazines Thinks Small, and in Ink


LinYee Yuan’s new twice-yearly print publication, Mold, came about as an expansion of her website, and a way to explore its story ideas more deeply, around themes such as the microbiome or food waste.

“By 2050, we won’t be able to feed nine billion people on the planet, if we continue to eat and drink the way we do now,” Ms. Yuan said. “It’s kind of a downer. I understand that it’s not something everybody wants to be confronted with in their daily lives, but I think it’s so urgent.”

Mold is driven by this sense of urgency — telling stories at the intersection of food and design that look to the future. Though Ms. Yuan, 37, was quick to note that she was the magazine’s only employee, she didn’t see this as an obstacle.

Ms. Yuan raised more than $35,000 on Kickstarter last year and pulled together the first two issues of Mold in her apartment in New York City; she now prints about 5,000 copies of each issue and sells them locally, as well as in Britain, France, Germany, Singapore and Taiwan.

“A magazine that has a full-time staff of one can still find a global audience,” Ms. Yuan said, “It can make some sort of impact in the world.”

Photo

Copies of Compound Butter for sale at the Food Book Fair. Jaya and Jessie Nicely started the magazine as a class project in 2014, and quickly turned it into an experimental quarterly of essays, poetry and art.

Credit
Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Stephen Satterfield, a former sommelier who used to run the food site Nopalize, was frustrated with the food coverage in traditional food magazines, which he said often suffers from a lack of diverse viewpoints, and a lack of context.

“I knew we were going to ask where things came from, and that was going to be the point of view we brought into conversations about food,” he said of his new quarterly magazine, Whetstone. Mr. Satterfield, 33, lives in San Francisco, but produces the magazine on the road, where he spends most of his time.

Since his first issue last year, collaborating with freelancers all over the world, Mr. Satterfield has covered the origins of corn, coffee and winemaking in depth, with reporting from the Republic of Georgia, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia.

“The new democracy in media is that if you have a flagship product and grow a following around that, you’re able to leverage it into more ambitious, larger projects,” said Mr. Satterfield, who aims to expand Whetstone into video production.

His own readership is steadily growing, and he will print about 2,000 copies of his summer issue. Mr. Satterfield said it wasn’t unusual for him to text back and forth, candidly, with new subscribers.

“People are showing up for the real version of you,” he said. “That’s the beautiful thing about this fractured marketplace.”

Follow NYT Food on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Get regular updates from NYT Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.

Continue reading the main story

Grocery Wars Turn Small Chains Into Battlefield Casualties


Amazon’s $13 billion purchase of Whole Foods in June added a sense of urgency, raising the prospect that the e-commerce giant would find a way to upend groceries just as it has every other aspect of retail. This month, Walmart responded with its own plan to start offering an online grocery delivery service in 100 cities.

Photo

Abel Porter, the chief executive of Fairway, addressing employees this month in New York. “It’s not a level playing field,” he said in an interview. “Competing against Amazon is like competing against the government or a military commissary.”

Credit
Andrew Seng for The New York Times

These digital initiatives — and aggressive price cuts and expansion by other deep-pocketed retailers like the German entry Lidl — are weeding out the weakest links.

“There is a tremendous shakeout in food retail right now,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, a managing director of the retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group, whose family founded a grocery business more than a century ago.

At stake is not only the price of toothpaste and bananas, but the fate of thousands of cashiers, cake decorators and meat cutters, many of whom belong to labor unions and are owed pensions when they retire. Tops employs more than 12,000 unionized employees at about 160 stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Maribeth Druse made a lifelong career in groceries, but given the industry’s struggles, her experience will increasingly be harder to replicate.

Ms. Druse, 61, was still in high school when she started working in the meat department of a grocery chain that Tops eventually acquired. She now collects a $20,000-a year-pension and is still able to work part time at the Tops in Cooperstown, N.Y.

“Who works in the same job for 44 years and gets a pension anymore?” Ms. Druse asked. “Nobody.”

Photo

Employees of Fairway, which went bankrupt in 2016, heard Mr. Porter tell them, “I am here to announce that Fairway has bounced back.”

Credit
Andrew Seng for The New York Times

Like businesses in other industries — including Toys “R” Us, which announced liquidation plans this month — many failing supermarkets are owned by private equity firms that have loaded the companies up with debt. That hampers their ability to compete in an environment where prices in some markets have dropped by as much as 25 percent, Mr. Flickinger said.

Tops was long challenged by the debt its former private equity backer, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, heaped on it.

The private equity firm Lone Star has cashed out $980 million in dividends from Winn-Dixie’s parent company since 2011, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Most of the payments were made by taking out debt on the chain, leaving less money to invest in stores.

Marsh Supermarkets, an Indianapolis regional grocer that had been backed by private equity, laid off more than 1,500 workers and required a federal takeover of its pension plan last year.

And Fairway, the iconic New York grocer that Blackstone took ownership of after it went bankrupt in 2016, is still trying to distinguish itself in a crowded field, but reports making some progress on its turnaround.

This month, Fairway executives met with the company’s roughly 3,500 workers, most of whom are unionized, to unveil a set of new initiatives — like investments in a new marketing campaign. It plans to emphasize the company’s role in bringing new foods to market, as it did with Chobani yogurt and Cape Cod potato chips.

Continue reading the main story

11 of Our Best Weekend Reads


___

Photo


Credit
Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

David Reich Unearths Human History Etched in Bone

In less than three years, David Reich’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School has published DNA from the genomes of 938 ancient humans — more than all other research teams working in this field combined. The work in his lab has reshaped our understanding of human prehistory. Science

___

Photo


Credit
Jada Yuan/The New York Times

The Suffering and Spirit of San Juan

A visit by our 52 Places Traveler to the Puerto Rican capital, still recovering from last year’s hurricanes, was one of the most calming and soul-filling experiences of her trip so far. “The beauty I saw was in the rebuilding, in the lives being lived with joy and grace in the most trying of circumstances,” she wrote. Travel

___

Photo


Credit
Interfoto/Alamy

Overlooked No More: Ruth Wakefield, Who Invented the Chocolate Chip Cookie

Legend has it that Ruth Wakefield was trying a variation on a butterscotch dessert when she decided to let the chocolate chips fall where they may. As part of The Times’s continuing Overlooked project, Ms. Wakefield receives a long-overdue obituary tribute.

___

Photo


Credit
Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

‘We’re Losing the Fight’: Tuberculosis Batters a Venezuela in Crisis

The disease, which until recently seemed to be under control in Venezuela, is making an aggressive comeback in the nation, overwhelming its broken health care system. Foreign

___

Photo


Credit
Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times

K.D. Lang Doesn’t Have to Indulge Your Constant Cravings

Twenty-five years ago the idea that an openly gay and very butch woman could become a pop idol was seismic. Now K.D. Lang can just make her music. “I think it’s karmic that I have the body and the physical appearance that I have,” Ms. Lang said. “I think it’s challenging for the audience and for myself, and at this point I just live it.” Styles

___

Photo


Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

In This Corner of Maryland, Holidays Mean a Stuffed Ham

Unless you’ve lived in St. Mary’s County in Maryland or spent a holiday with someone from here, you’ve probably never heard of stuffed ham. It is one of America’s most regionally specific dishes, but has never migrated beyond its home. People here cherish it. Food

___

Photo


Credit
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

J.J. Redick, the N.B.A.’s Most Meticulous Player

In his 12th season, J.J. Redick painstakingly plans everything from his naps to his shots. It’s helped him steady a Philadelphia 76ers team that is poised to reach the playoffs again. Sports

Continue reading the main story

In Nafta Talks, U.S. Tries to Limit Junk Food Warning Labels


But the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which is leading the Nafta talks on the American side, is trying to head off the momentum. It is pushing to limit the ability of any Nafta member to require consumer warnings on the front of sugary drinks and fatty packaged foods, according to a draft of the proposal reviewed by The New York Times.

The American provision seeks to prevent any warning symbol, shape or color that “inappropriately denotes that a hazard exists from consumption of the food or nonalcoholic beverages.”

Some experts have likened the fight over food labeling to that over tobacco — and the fierce if ultimately unsuccessful opposition and lobbying that industry waged to prevent the imposition of health warnings on packaging. The Trump administration’s position on food labeling reflects the desires of a broad coalition of soft-drink and packaged-foods manufacturers in the United States.

Photo

A kiosk in downtown Santiago, Chile’s capital, in January. Some food products with high levels of sugar, salt or fat are required to carry black warning labels in Chile.

Credit
Victor Ruiz Caballero for The New York Times

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a food industry trade group that sits on the advisory board to the trade talks, says it favors voluntary labeling programs. The group says it “supports a modernized Nafta that will ensure standards are based on science, minimize unnecessary trade barriers, and benefit consumers in all three countries.”

The organization is fighting to keep Chile’s model from being adopted more widely. Roger Lowe, a spokesman for the group — whose board members include executives from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Mondelez International, which owns brands like Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Ritz crackers — said it was concerned about the “evidence and impact” of Chile’s laws.

Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for the United States Trade Representative, said she could not comment on what she called “alleged negotiating documents.” In general, she said, “the United States supports science-based labeling that is truthful and not misleading.”

Proponents of more explicit labels said the Trump administration’s proposal and the corporate pressure behind it hold the potential to handcuff public health interests for decades.

“It is one of the most invasive forms of industrial interference we have seen,” said Alejandro Calvillo, the founder of El Poder del Consumidor, or Consumer Power, a health advocacy group in Mexico that was illegally targeted with government spyware when it fought for a soda tax in Mexico. “The collusion between the industry and the government is not only at the level of spying — it reaches the level of the renegotiation of Nafta and the nation’s own policy against obesity.”

The American proposal conflicts with the guidance from Mexico’s national health institute and from the World Health Organization. Both have recommended that Mexico pass regulations to help combat diabetes, which claims 80,000 lives a year there. That is one of the highest rates in the world — and more than double the record number of homicides in the nation in 2017.

Mexico’s Ministry of Health, which is directly involved in the trade negotiations, said it was reviewing the American proposal with the nation’s health authorities.

Public health experts have hailed Chile’s rules as a new standard. They include a ban on the use of cartoon characters like Tony the Tiger, but the package warnings are considered the most aggressive of the tactics.

“We have shown that a simple message and a symbol is enough to communicate that you should be consuming less of certain foods,” said Dr. Camila Corvalán, a nutritionist at the University of Chile who helped develop the logos. “There’s nothing misleading about a warning logo, and clearly this is what worries the industry.”

Photo

Dr. Simón Barquera, the director of nutrition policy at the Mexico National Institute of Public Health.

Credit
Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

Food companies have been forced to take note. Over the past two years, more than 1,500 products have been reformulated to make them healthier and to avoid having to carry a warning logo, according to AB Chile, a food industry association.

But passage of the regulation in Chile did not happen without a fight. Eleven countries, led by the United States, raised issues with the proposal before the World Trade Organization.

The Chilean government successfully argued that the measures were a necessary tool to fight the nation’s mounting obesity crisis. Today, Chile’s success has inspired nutrition advocates around the world, including those in Mexico.

“The fact that the industry is freaking out is reassuring, but at the same time it’s worrisome that the U.S. government is trying to defend the position of the food industry,” Dr. Corvalán said.

All told, at least 23 countries use some version of front-of-label consumer education. Some of the warnings already adopted or proposed include black boxes or red octagons that draw attention to foods that regulators deem unhealthy, using less intense imagery but the same approach as cigarette packaging.

Still, public health experts consider most of the labels other than those required by Chile to be relatively weak or ineffective.

“Chile’s warnings are the new frontier,” said Alexandra Jones, a lawyer at the George Institute for Global Health in Australia. “They represent a potentially much more effective public health intervention: Warn people away from the ubiquitous junk foods.”

Heading off pressure for more explicit warnings through the Nafta negotiation is especially appealing to the food and beverage industry because it could help limit domestic regulation in the United States as well as avert a broad global move to adopt mandatory health-labeling standards.

“It kind of kills a law before it can be written,” said Lora Verheecke, a researcher at the Corporate Europe Observatory, a group that tracks lobbying efforts. “And once you put it in one trade agreement, it can become the precedent for all future deals with future countries.”

Photo

A fast-food shop in downtown Santiago in January.

Credit
Victor Ruiz Caballero for The New York Times

In most cases, trade law allows governments to retain the right to make rules in the interest of public health, experts say, but the proposal by the United States appears to be aimed at curbing that.

Ms. Jones of the George Institute said research found that trade policy had also been used to try to block efforts to adopt warnings in Ecuador, Peru, Thailand, Chile and Indonesia. Chile has moved forward as has Ecuador, but with a less aggressive labeling system, Ms. Jones said.

Thailand and Indonesia “appear to have been deterred,” she said, adding, “We call this ‘regulatory chill.’”

One reason that the warning labels are seen as so vital to the efforts to curb obesity is that consumers appear to heed them.

Mexico’s current labeling rules allow for — but do not require — the display of daily intake recommendations of salt, sugar and fat. But they are “indecipherable to consumers” and “totally useless to people,” Ms. Jones said.

Government researchers at Mexico’s National Institute for Public Health recently found that only 17 percent of consumers bothered to look at the front-of-pack labels mandated by law.

In separate research, scientists asked college students to try and crack the current labeling system, which, to use effectively, requires mathematics.

“These college kids couldn’t even do it,” said Dr. Simón Barquera, the director of health research and nutrition policy at the Mexican public health institute. After starting a campaign several years ago to impose a tax on soda, Dr. Barquera and two other backers of the soda tax were targeted by sophisticated spyware sold only to governments on the explicit understanding that it be used strictly against terrorists and criminals.

Mexicans drink on average 167 liters — more than 44 gallons — of soda a year per person, eclipsing what are considered high consumption rates in the United States. In some remote areas of the country, soda is more readily available than clean drinking water.

Continue reading the main story