Issue

Hacking Our Diet

No 03

Hacking Our Diet

The American way of eating is bad for our health—and the planet's. Let's reboot.

Around the middle of the last century, everything changed about the way Americans eat. Drugs, chemicals, and machinery transformed thousands of years of agriculture in just a few short decades, with world-shaping results. We can produce way more, yes—but we’re using more land, more fuel, more pesticides, and more drugs to do it, with a deleterious impact on our water, wildlife, public health, and climate. Across the planet, the food we’re growing is, for the most part, less healthy, less tasty, and often wasted. Consider: If discarded food were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter.

The good news is that significant change is on the menu, driven by social, cultural, and, particularly, technological innovations in how we produce, package, ship, and store our food. Even Silicon Valley is getting in the game. Diet disruption has arrived—this time, for the better.

Table of Contents

Fake Meat, Real Money

High-tech capitalists are betting on sustainable, animal-friendly sources of protein. In the dog-eat-dog culture of Silicon Valley, it’s good to be a cow.

Weeknight Dinner 2.0

A slew of new dinner kits promise gourmet meals with a fraction of the effort. But will all that ease be good for the planet (and our waistlines)?

Food Fetish

On our farms, in our stores, and at our dining tables, aesthetics and efficiency are at war. Everybody loses.

Beauty and the Best

Don't be fooled by superficial good looks: If you truly love food, you’ll accept it as-is, blemishes and all.

Hey, Your Fridge is Calling

Today’s technology will make tomorrow’s refrigerator the command center of the kitchen, helping you waste less food, energy, and money. Cool.

Matt Furman/Redux

A Master of His Craft

"Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio has issued his verdict: We need safer, healthier food right now—and everyone deserves a place at the table.

Video Series: Feeding the Future

Can New York City invent a more sustainable, less wasteful food system?

NRDC Voices: The China Factor

What if the world’s most populous country starts eating the way Americans do?

NRDC Voices: Frozen Food Gets a Bad Name

But the freezer may actually be the secret to keeping ingredients fresh, saving money, and reducing waste.

NRDC Voices: Bad Medicine

Used responsibly, antibiotics are lifesavers that keep horrific infections at bay. But pumping our livestock full of these wonder drugs could lead to devastating results.