The Food Disruptors Podcast: Where Capitalism Meets America's Food System


This was my podcast from 2017-2020. I took it down from the host site to concentrate on writing my next novel. The origin of The Food Disruptors was a book I called Refined: The Capitalists Who Cooked Up What America Eats. That book is waiting in the wings, so stay tuned.


Here's how I described The Food Disruptors when it was live:


Together with my co-host, Ruddick Lawrence, we tell stories about the innovators and entrepreneurs, the geniuses, the charlatans, and here and there the earnest fools, who have cooked up — and are still cooking — what America eats.


I'm a writer, a capitalist, an eater, a limited but dedicated cook, and a student of social history.

Ruddick is an engineer, a cocktail connoisseur, a savoir-faire in the world of honest, delicious food, and also a curious capitalist.


The Food Disruptors emerged from research I was doing on the history of processed food in America. We have come from subsistence agriculture 200 years ago to an industrial complex of monoculture crops, extreme product refinement, an obesity crisis, environmental degradation caused by food production and distribution, food waste, and, still, hunger among the poor. How the heck did we get here? The answer is capitalism. How the heck are we going to fix our foodways? We believe the answer is capitalism.


The Food Disruptors tells the stories of big actors in our capitalist economy. These people, for the most part, did not set out to change America's foodways. They saw ways to make some money by disrupting the status quo in a specific food sector, and they ended up fundamentally changing our foodways, for better or worse.


Foodways aren't just what we eat; they encompass everything about this basic human need — social justice, the environment, public health, infrastructure, geopolitics, and of course, capital. We wrap it all up in a big burrito of history, science, culture, egos, profits, food products, and unintended consequences. The Food Disruptors tries to be non-judgmental. We and our guests tell the stories. You digest it. Join The Food Disruptors. These stories are tasty, and they might help us all figure out where our next meal is coming from.


Podcasting production takes a lot of man-hours and The Food Disruptors, while enormous fun, was eating up too much time. I'm happier working on the page, although the world of sound is a wondrous universe too.

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