New York Magazine


A pair of obsessive eaters track down the source of every single morsel they put in their mouths, without losing their appetite.
STEP ONE Hatchery

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM? Do you want to know? Truth be told, we all could stand to be more inquisitive about the provenance of the stuff that ends up on our plate. The best most of us do on a typical trip to Gristedes or Trader Joe’s is to check the expiration date on a tub of yogurt; or, while perusing the menu at our neighborhood bistro, sheepishly ask the waiter where the shrimp is from or if the salmon is wild, at which point he or she will feign great interest and say, “You know, that is a very good question. Let me check with the kitchen,” and then, of course, never get back to us. Taking as our premise that there might be a fascinating food-chain story behind each and every ingredient that goes into all the stuff we eat, we set out to track our daily grub as far back as we could, from the Peruvian coffee producers who make our local eye-opener possible to Sullivan County’s last egg farmer, who happens to be responsible for the egg on a roll at one of the East Village’s most legendary diners. And that’s just breakfast. The goal of this exercise wasn’t to tally food miles or weigh the pros and cons of agribusiness (though obviously those subjects demand constant and exhaustive scrutiny) but simply to trace the origins of things we modern eaters have largely learned to take for granted—and to acknowledge the breeders, processors, canners, importers, and truck drivers who make it happen.



The Daily Blend at Joe Coffee Company

Joe Coffee Company’s house drip doesn’t stick to a formula. The current incarnation is brewed from four varieties from Peru.

A Small Black Drip Begins on a Tree in the Andes

1 The roughly 3,000 small-producer members of the Cenfrocafe cooperative in Peru’s mountainous northern region of Cajamarca pluck the ripened coffee fruit off their trees, de-pulp the coffee cherries, and ferment them.

2 The seeds are dried, bagged, and conveyed via truck or motorcycle or on foot to a regional purchasing station, then to the main Cenfrocafe warehouse in Jaén, where the coffee is evaluated and sorted into lots

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