The Sickness in Our Food Supply

“Only when the tide goes out,” Warren Buffett observed, “do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” For our society, the Covid-19 pandemic represents an ebb tide of historic proportions, one that is laying bare vulnerabilities and inequities that in normal times have gone undiscovered. Nowhere is this more evident than in the American food system.

Review: Capitalism’s Favorite Drug

Four hundred years ago, Coffea arabica, a tropical shrub bearing glossy green leaves and bright-red berries, was virtually unknown outside of the Arab world and the corner of Ethiopia where it had been discovered in the ninth century—by a goatherd who, legend has it, noticed that his animals would get frisky and stay up all night after nibbling its berries. In the years since people figured out that coffee could affect us in similar ways, the plant has done a great deal for our species, and our species in turn has done a great deal for the plant. We have given it more than 27 million acres of new habitat all around the world, assigned 25 million farming families to its care and feeding, and bid up its price until it became one of the most valuable globally traded crops. Not bad for a shrub that is neither edible nor particularly beautiful or easy to grow.

Where I Stand on Magic Mushrooms

My position on the recent initiatives to change the legal status of psilocybin in various jurisdictions is somewhat nuanced and perhaps for that reason has been misrepresented in several press accounts. To be clear: I support decriminalization. “No one should ever be arrested or go to jail for the possession or cultivation of any kind of mushroom,” as I said in my New York Times op-ed piece. As I told interviewers in the days after the Denver initiative passed, I would have voted in favor of it had I been eligible.

Not So Fast on Magic Mushrooms

Only a few days ago, millions of Americans probably had never heard of psilocybin, the active agent in psychedelic mushrooms, but thanks to Denver, it is about to get its moment in the political sun. On Tuesday, the city’s voters surprised everyone by narrowly approving a ballot initiative that effectively decriminalizes psilocybin, making its possession, use or

My Adventures With the Trip Doctors

My first psilocybin journey began around an altar in the middle of a second-story loft in a suburb of a small city on the Eastern Seaboard. On this adventure I would have a guide, a therapist who, like an unknown number of other therapists administering psychedelics in America today, must work underground because these drugs are illegal. Seated across the altar from me, Mary (who asked that I use a nickname because of the work she does) began by reciting, with her eyes closed, a long and elaborate prayer derived from various Native American traditions. My eyes were closed, too, but now and again I couldn’t resist peeking out for a glance at my guide: a woman in her 60s with long blond hair parted in the middle and high cheekbones that I mention only because they would, in a few hours, figure in her miraculous transformation into a Mexican Indian.

The New Science of Psychedelics

Recent studies are finding that drugs such as LSD and psilocybin can help to alleviate depression, anxiety and addiction—and may have profound things to teach us about how the mind works

Food and More: Expanding the Movement for the Trump Era

If the recent election had an upside, it’s this: It demonstrated that the good food movement is real. Four jurisdictions—Boulder, Oakland, San Francisco, and Albany (California)—approved taxes on soda, which will benefit both public health and public finances. (Two days later, lawmakers in Cook County, Illinois, also approved a soda tax, becoming the largest jurisdiction

Big Food Strikes Back: Why did the Obamas fail to take on corporate agriculture?

Whenever the Obamas seriously poked at Big Food, they were quickly outlobbied and outgunned. Why? Because the food movement still barely exists as a political force in Washington. It doesn’t yet have the organization or the troops to light up a White House or congressional switchboard when one of its issues is at stake.

A secret weapon to fight climate change: dirt

When Will Allen is asked to name the most beautiful part of his Vermont farm, he doesn’t talk about the verdant, rolling hills or easy access to the Connecticut River. Though the space is a picturesque postcard of the agrarian idyll, Allen points down, to the dirt. “This precious resource not only grows food,” he says, “but is one of the best methods we have for sequestering carbon.”

The Trip Treatment

On an April Monday in 2010, Patrick Mettes, a fifty-four-year-old television news director being treated for a cancer of the bile ducts, read an article on the front page of the Times that would change his death. His diagnosis had come three years earlier, shortly after his wife, Lisa, noticed that the whites of his eyes had