Photos courtesy of Purple Carrot
When food writer Mark Bittman bid farewell to the New York Times back in September, he divulged that his future would be outside the realm of traditional food media, at a startup company whose mission is to “make it easier for people to eat more plants.” On Monday, all was revealed: Bittman is serving as chief innovation officer for Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal-kit enterprise based in Boston.
Recently, Yahoo Food chatted with Bittman about the venture and why (he hopes) it’ll change the way you eat. Here’s everything you need to know:
Vegetable-based noodle soup.
Bittman himself isn’t a vegan, although he’s long advocated a mostly-vegan lifestyle; back in 2013, he wrote a book about cutting out meat and dairy before 6 P.M., called VB6. “[Purple Carrot] fits well in with the part-time veganism I’ve been doing for the last 10 years,” Bittman told Yahoo Food. “I think that a lot of people say, ‘I know I ought to be eating more fruits and vegetables, I know I ought to be eating dinner in a different and better way, but I don’t know how to.’ That’s our audience.”
“No one is putting Blue Apron out of business or even threatening them at this point,” Bittman said. “They do amazing work, but the issue for us is finding customers who appreciate what we’re doing.” And that, of course, is vegan fare. Although Blue Apron offers some dishes that happen to be vegan, it’s not one of the company’s selling points, nor can users choose to receive only vegan meals. (They can, however, elect to receive only vegetarian meals.)
“There is this sense that veganism is hard and withholding and punitive, but my food isn’t,” Bittman said. “We’re doing burgers and fries. Polenta with fresh corn and ratatouille. Tacos with cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and pine nuts. … Once you start exploring the universe, [you realize] it’s a very big universe.”
“[It’ll be] at least four recipes a week,” Bittman said, though he admits it’s a tall order. “Two hundred recipes a year is a lot of recipes, [and] they have to be different and spot on. That’s really interesting to me… I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for a long time.”
“When I started writing the column, I thought, ‘Five years is probably enough for this,’” Bittman said. “And when it started to come on four years, I thought, ‘I’ve lost some of the freshness that I had, and I don’t want to make up issues to talk about.’” Bittman came to believe he’d have more impact elsewhere. “How many times are you going write that you need to get antibiotics out of the food system?” he said. “I wrote it. People didn’t pay attention. The Obama administration didn’t do anything about it. It felt like it was time to do something really different.”