Mark Bittman Leaves Vegan Meal-Kit Company Purple Carrot

Mark Bittman, center.

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Last fall, a few months after exiting his longtime perch at the New York Times, the celebrated recipe writer and food-politics pundit Mark Bittman joined vegan meal-kit startup Purple Carrot as its chief innovation officer. News that the veteran scribbler had ditched journalism for internet commerce rocked the food world.

“I’m ready for something new,” Bittman said on Tuesday.

The Purple Carrot is one of a growing number of companies that deliver recipes and pre-measured ingredients to customers’ doors. Bittman told Eater in November that he was excited about how the entrepreneurial venture would give him a chance to “deal directly with farmers, to deal directly with doing sourcing, to have a direct impact on the way people eat.”

But now, less than a year in, Bittman has left Purple Carrot, though he retains an ownership stake in the company. In a phone conversation, he wouldn’t say much about his reasons for leaving. “I wish the company nothing but the best,” he said. “I did everything I could do to help [with its recent West Coast expansion], and now I’m ready for something new.” Bittman told me he’s still mulling what his next project will be.

In an emailed statement, Purple Carrot founder and CEO Andy Levitt wrote that “Having helped the company launch successfully, and reflecting Mark’s desire to pursue a broad range of activities, Mark and the company have agreed to an ending of his employment relationship with the company.” Levitt added that Bittman “remains a friend of and significant equity holder” in Purple Carrot, and a “strong proponent of plant-based meals.”

Meanwhile, just as Bittman is exiting the meal-kit space, his former employer, the Times, is diving in. The company recently announced a deal with Chef’d to make the newspaper’s recipes available in the form of boxed meal kits.

For a dive into the red-hot meal-kit space—and why I’m skeptical of its long-term prospects—read this story.

This article has been updated.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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