Fallows on Fat People

No, not really Jim Fallows, but a judicious and ordered sampling of the many--"unprecedented," he calls it--letters he received in response to a fairly offhand observation he made, one of an omnibus roundup, on what he sees here now that he's back after living in China for three years.

No need to repeat his grouping by topic, but I will ask the farm-minded among you to consider in particular the letter from the Vermont city-dweller-turned-farmer, puzzled that the rigors of rural life, even for the non-farmer, don't prevent a high number of obese people, even though access to fast food is relatively difficult.

Ruralites (as opposed to urbanites), please weigh in: do you, like the writer, notice an increase in sheer physical labor in the country, vs the city or the suburbs? Or is all travel done in the car, and does all travel bring one beside various fast-food outlets and stores selling the processed foods that other writers posit are the main culprit?

Obesity as perhaps today's most obvious marker of class bifurcation is by now a given. Have a look at the absorbing theories Fallows's correspondents offer as to why. Then more of your own, please.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.

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