All posts by rahul

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Why Big Food Is Feasting on ‘Natural’ Startups

Longreads

Fortune writer Beth Kowitt reports on the packaged-food industry’s response to an existential crisis: Shoppers are seeking alternatives they deem healthier and more authentic than legacy brands.

In addition to selling fruit and veggie drinks, Bolthouse grows and packages fresh carrots—an old-fashioned, weather-sensitive farming business that Morrison suspected would be a turnoff for any packaged-goods company, including her own. True enough, Morrison’s board was skeptical at first. “Carrots, Denise? Really?” asked one director. But in the end, the numbers sold themselves. The so-called packaged-fresh sector, where Bolthouse was a standout, was already an $18.6 billion business—and one with promising growth.

Campbell paid $1.56 billion for the company in 2012. Today it has roughly half that amount (more than $800 million) in sales. The following year Morrison bought baby-food maker Plum Organics for $249 million. (It has over $90 million in sales.) Both of these new businesses are small in…

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Science, Chance, and Emotion with Real Cosima

Longreads

Maud Newton | Longreads | June 2015 | 24 minutes (5,889 words)

BBC America’s Orphan Black seems so immediate, so plausible, so unfuturistic, that Cosima Herter, the show’s science consultant, is used to being asked whether human reproductive cloning could be happening in a lab somewhere right now. If so, we wouldn’t know, she says. It’s illegal in so many countries, no one would want to talk about it. But one thing is clear, she told me, when we met to talk about her work on the show: in our era of synthetic biology — of Craig Venter’s biological printer and George Church’s standardized biological parts, of three-parent babies and of treatment for cancer that involves reengineered viruses— genetics as we have conceived of it is already dead. We don’t have the language for what is emerging.

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What Makes a Job a Calling?

Longreads

In a 2009 paper for Administrative Science Quarterly, J. Stuart Bunderson and Jeffery A. Thompson studied zookeepers and found that the profession was about the closest anyone in the modern, secular world comes to having a calling—the sort of intensely meaningful career that Martin Luther said could turn work into a divine offering. Zookeeping is dirty, repetitive, and poorly paid. And yet people volunteer for years, move across the country, and accept major sacrifices in their personal lives to be able to do it.

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In interviews with zookeepers, Bunderson and Thompson found that their feelings about their work ran much deeper than a standard survey metric like job satisfaction could capture. Again and again, they used phrases like “I knew this is what I was meant to do” and described a pull toward work with animals starting in early childhood. The sense of calling also came with a…

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Literary Fiction’s Open Secret

Longreads

With the publication of my second book, ‘Little Known Facts,’ lightning seemed to strike. This novel was reviewed on the cover of the New York Times Book Review and went on to receive other good reviews. Not long after ‘Little Known Fact’s’ publication date, Bloomsbury acquired a second novel and a story collection. The advance for these two manuscripts was $10,000 more than what they paid for ‘Little Known Facts.’

The open secret is that literary fiction does not pay big dividends. At least not to most of its writers and publishers. Even with excellent reviews, there’s no guarantee that your book will sell. ‘Little Known Facts’ had a mid-five-figure advance and it has earned about three-fifths of it back so far. It was reviewed in several major-market newspapers and won a couple of awards. I did readings in cities all over the country to promote it, wrote many guest…

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