Coronavirus: Andrew Zimmern says Americans 'need to be using food as a prescription for better health’

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, award-winning chef and host of MSNBC’s What’s Eating America, Andrew Zimmern, speaks out on COVID-19’s impact on the food industry.

“This is the most awful thing that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” Zimmern tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “This is going to have devastating consequences for years and years to come.”

Restaurants, which represent approximately four percent of the U.S. GDP, have been among some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. While many restaurants have shifted their businesses to operate for takeout, Zimmern warns of potential health risks as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the U.S.

“My worry is that a lot of people in restaurants, intending to do the best that they can for their community, end up having people come into too close contact and end up spreading the disease amongst themselves,” Zimmern says.

Unfortunately, restaurants closing would mean many won’t survive the pandemic. “I hate the idea of restaurants not coming back,” Zimmern warns. “But I don’t think they’re all coming back.”

Zimmern also shares his thoughts on how COVID-19 underscores the social and political issues he covers in his new MSNBC series, What’s Eating America.

“More Americans will die in the C-19 pandemic because [of] the lack of access to healthy, nutritious food both currently today and over the last 20 years,” Zimmern says.

One of the biggest issues Americans face, Zimmern believes, is food-related health issues. “It is amazing to me that people in America do not see the food issues in America for the giant-size tsunami of disaster that is just looming over our heads,” he says.

According to Zimmern, the U.S. government spends $1.4 trillion fighting food-related health problems. But these problems could be avoided by allowing people to have access to the right foods. “We need to be using food as a prescription for better health,” Zimmern says.

He also notes that the solution is not to stock up on canned goods, but rather to start conversations amongst each other and elected officials to prompt change.

“What keeps motivating me… is knowing that on the other side of this [pandemic] is a more equitable and just system,” Zimmern remarks. “We can join hands and talk with our elected officials, and we can get their attention and start to solve some of these problems and set them up.”

To learn more about the issues Zimmern covers in What’s Eating America, visit

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.