On being a Mark Bittman Fan

I've liked Mr. Bittman for a while now.  I'm sure I was late to the game, but his columns in the NYT, especially the articles on things like "101 meals to make in under 10 minutes" are solidly good.  He has a nice take on making meals do-able, and doesn't get too hung up on how authentic they are as long as they taste good.  I also have his "How to Cook Everything" App for our ipod, and find it invaluable.  (It's also one of the best digital cooking gadgets I've ever used, very well designed, though I suspect that's the result of the programmer/publisher not the author).  I mostly just like how pragmatic he is--encouraging people to improvise with ingredients or equipment, and generally making food seem easier, rather than harder. 

So it's no real surprise his transition in the last several years toward the political end of the food world is also very like-able.  His book Food Matters takes on a lot of the same food-industry issues as Micheal Pollan and others, but also follows up with some real-life solutions that anyone can do:  examples of healthy cooking and adjustments to diet that are reasonable, affordable, and have the potential to guide folks into lifelong changes instead of fad diets.  I'm looking forward to reading his new column: 

Mark Bittman's new column

One of things I really like about his approach is that, while he promotes local and organic foods, he's realistic enough to know you have to go about things in multiple directions at once.  Yes, you have to work on policy, and try to make better food accessible to more people.  But on the consumer side, you have to get people to start eating carrots before you can get them to eat organic and local carrots.  I love his idea of "Civilian Cooking Corps" as it doesn't really matter if people know which foods are healthier if they don't have the skills to prepare it.   His manifesto has some Big Ideas, but also small ones. 

He's a big city guy, and not really that into the grow-your-own stuff, and I'm okay with that.  If we're going to solve some of these big, complex, problems, it's going to have to have big, complex, solutions that work for both rural and urban and suburban folks.  Not everyone can have a garden, unfortunately (but maybe we need some Civilian Gardening corps too)!

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  1. I'm also a Bittman fan, and for the same reasons. I'll have to check out that app.

    I love the idea of a Civilian Gardening Corps. I would be all over that. Urban farms did not used to be such a rarity, and given some time and attention, could become viable again. It certainly couldn't provide all the vegetables a city needs, but it would make a dent. That would make a great AmeriCorps project, modeled on the many conservation corps in the country.

    I ran a community gardening team 15 ish years ago and it worked pretty well, several of the gardens begun are still in operation.

  2. Very cool. We have a really active community garden community here. I've been lucky to have yard space of my own (even eeked out when apartment living), so I haven't been as active in that.

    Even just growing a few containers of herbs or salad on a back patio can make a difference to people. I think it's one of the better ways to learn how to eat better.


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