Written by Kyle McKee
In the New York Times Magazine article of Everyone Eats There by Mark Bittman uses an all-inclusive descriptive writing style in order to paint the picture of mass production of produce in the Central Valley of California to an audience of eaters, which is everybody. Even his title says so, “Everyone Eats There.” This comprehensive technique forces his readers to initially relate to what the article has to say about the food system initially in California, but ultimately the food system of the entire country.
You know that huge pile of cello-wrapped carrots in your supermarket? Now imagine that the pile filled the entire supermarket. That’s how many carrots I saw upon my arrival at Bolthouse Farms.
This opening line instantly paints the picture for his audience of the surroundings Bittman was in. Bittman uses an extremely colloquial method to initially describe the visuals of this carrot production facility. Many Americans shop at supermarkets, and Americans eat carrots, therefore America knows what this scene will look like.
Something like 50 industrial trucks were filled to the top with carrots, all ready for processing. Bolthouse, along with another large producer, supplies an estimated 85 percent of the carrots eaten by Americans….If you took its yield from one week and stacked each carrot from end to end, you could circle the earth.
Bittman uses an excellent mix of numbers and visuals in order for his readers to quantify how many carrots there are in this single location while still maintaining the image of bright orange carrots. Often times, large quantitative facts in an article can cause readers to lose perspective of how many items a high digit actually means. In this specific article, “six million pounds of carrots a day” is further described with a visual detail so the reader can fully comprehend. Such high numbers of such ordinary objects can cause the focus of what that number actually means to slip away for many people. Bittman keeps this focus sharp by painting a visual picture for his audience while still listing interesting statistics.
Again, Bittman uses the technique of combining visual elements with statistics when describing the geography of the Central Valley. For many people, and especially people not from California, the general size of the state is unfathomable. Instead of using the actual milage to describe the area, Bittman compares the size of the central valley to a description everybody can understand.
It’s larger than nine different states, but size is only one of its defining characteristics: the valley is the world’s largest patch of Class 1 soil, the best there is.