Chef José Andrés Illustrates Our Nation’s Broken Food System In Two Seemingly Unrelated Photos

The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating the restaurant scene since states across the country first started locking down in March. Now that strain is beginning to be felt all the way up the supply chain. Farmers have produce, meat, and other goods piling up as commercial demand across the country has sharply declined, yet at the same time, The New York Times reports that millions of Americans across the country are flocking to food banks — sometimes for the first time — due to food insecurity caused directly by the current pandemic.

This irony isn’t lost on celebrity chef José Andrés who used two photos of seemingly unrelated problems to illustrate just how broken our nation’s food system is.

The first photo shows a mountain of potatoes from a farm in Idaho that are going to waste because the stadiums, cafeterias, and restaurants that rely on them are currently shut down, while the second photo shows thousands of cars lined up at a food bank in San Antonio. The two photos were originally shared through unrelated accounts.

“How is it possible these two photos exist at the same time, in the most prosperous and technologically advanced moment in our history? It’s because all along the way, we have a food supply chain that we treat as invisible when it’s working… and only notice it when it’s not.” Tweeted Andrés in an extensive thread highlighting the long chain of workers that our food system relies on — many of whom are struggling as a result of the shutdown. He also called on the President and leaders of Congress to make feeding Americans a bigger priority.

Chef Andrés also waved the flag for an increase of public pressure, tweeting “Call your elected officials & ask what they are doing to make food part of the solution. Ask what specific legislation they are supporting to increase #SNAP, empower food banks & nonprofits, involve restaurants, and ensure the govt is buying from farms. Accept nothing less.”

The subject of food insecurity and farm-to-table solutions is one Chef Andrés is passionate about, not just because he’s a chef dealing with the supply chain first hand, but because he’s the founder of the World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that devotes itself to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. In short: If we should be listening to anyone’s food takes in this social/ political moment, it’s probably Chef Andrés. His commitment to surfacing these issues and seeking solutions is unparalleled.