My First New York Times Opinion Column

I couldn’t be more thrilled with the opportunity to write an opinion column about food. Here’s my very first, a food manifesto of sorts, which hits on a number of topics that I will return to in weeks and months (and hopefully years) to come.

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25 thoughts on “My First New York Times Opinion Column

  1. Thank you for your thought-provoking opinion in the NYT. I especially enjoyed your thought about a civilian cooking corp. With the age of the baby boomers (of which I am one), there could be many experienced cooks who are willing and even anxious to cook healthy meals for families or individuals that lack the time or knowledge to do so for themselves.

  2. Mu husband and I have been eating the "Bittman Way" based on the Food Matters cook book and philosophy, and we have lost a combined 34 pounds in 7 weeks, AND we are saving money on food. All I can say is that Mark is right on with his thinking, and I can only hope that more people will wake up. Also highly recommended is the movie Food Inc. It will open your eyes to food production in this country. Keep going, Mark!PS: I also agree wholeheartedly with the poster above (Ann).

  3. I was very excited to read your "Food Manifesto for the Future", and particularly delighted with your mention of a Civilian Culinary Corps! I am the founder of CulinaryCorps, a non-profit organization started in 2006 and the nation’s first service organization designed specifically for culinary professionals. This year we are planning a week-long trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (including New Orleans) in early December. Each day we work with a different non-profit organization to help them achieve their food-based mission: be it healthy eating workshops, basic culinary education, or fundraising goals. I would love to invite you to join us for some or all of the trip!Very much looking forward to your weekly dose of culinary inspiration in your new column!

  4. Sweet Mark Bittman,I do believe you’ve been reading my mind or at least my blog.This comment is just a THANK YOU for writing SANITY and REASON.It will be the huge cost of Medicare which strangles our economy; the care of oubese, fattened on corn and soy!

  5. The new 2010 guidelines released Monday identify dessert and bread products as the greatest source of calories in our diet- all subsidized foods. People need ideas and inspiration for eating better please check out For the Love of Food project, http://www.fortheloveoffood.org uses the family table and mealtime to teach good nutrition similar to your idea of the Civilian Cooking Corps

  6. I’m pretty surprised that fish only got one mention in the article, and that was only in relation to farmed fish. There was nothing about driving many species of marine life to the brink of extinction. I fully support your other points, and I make sure to vote with my fork by only buying local, pasture raised meats, eggs and dairy, as well as local organic produce. But at this time, the state of our oceans deserves a ton of attention and that’s something I know is important to you so I’m just a little surprised it didn’t get more of a mention. Thanks for all you do though, maybe your next opinion piece can focus on seafood?

  7. Love the article! In some future piece maybe you could add one more small suggestion. We need to have men and women in relationships taking equal responsibility for food purchasing and preparation, particularly when both spouses are working. Purchasing and preparing food takes a tremendous amount of energy and time. In the best case scenario one or both spouses will love to cook, but in most relationships there is an assumption that the woman will take on all of the household duties, including cooking, whether or not she likes it. Given an task she considers unpleasant and having far too much to do, why wouldn’t she use processed food?Bringing back home-ec class in schools, manditory for boys and girls, might make a difference. But this is a pervasive cultural norm that wouldn’t budge easily.

  8. Your column yesterday reminded me of a piece I heard on NPR years ago.Have you ever thought about what happens when cafeterias eliminate trays? Both NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94394570) and The Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/nyregion/29tray.html) have. Now that you have the OpEd page pulpit, perhaps you should consider publicizing the very real impact it can have … not only at colleges and universities, but schools and corporate cafeterias, as well!

  9. Your column yesterday reminded me of a piece I heard on NPR years ago.Have you ever thought about what happens when cafeterias eliminate trays? Both NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94394570) and The Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/nyregion/29tray.html) have. Now that you have the OpEd page pulpit, perhaps you should consider publicizing the very real impact it can have … not only at colleges and universities, but schools and corporate cafeterias, as well!

  10. Your column yesterday reminded me of a piece I heard on NPR years ago.Have you ever thought about what happens when cafeterias eliminate trays? Both NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94394570) and The Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/nyregion/29tray.html) have. Now that you have the OpEd page pulpit, perhaps you should consider publicizing the very real impact it can have … not only at colleges and universities, but schools and corporate cafeterias, as well!

  11. Hi Mark, I just sent you a message to your email address I had from a while back. I figured I would just post it here also. We have corresponded some time ago about veganism. I just read your opinion column. Vegans are talking about it. You have an amazing, incredible opportunity to affect people, perhaps even change the world. So many people respect you and look up to you; people listen to you and people like you. You have a chance to finally tell it like it is– that a plant-based diet (aka veganism)– if the way to a better life for all–human and animal. I feel from you column that you want to say it. That it’s on the tip of your tongue. Don’t hold back. Be brave. Advocate for veganism. This is your chance. It will have such an amazing effect on the world. I applaud you for taking this step with your outspoken first column. I feel the urgency in this matter, because as it turns out meat consumption has actually gone up in the last ten years; more animals are slaughtered today than 10 years ago.Something needs to change…and you are in the perfect position to help usher in this change. Let me know if you have any questions or any suggestions from me–a vegan. I would love to help in any way I can. As you can see, I am very passionate about this. Thanks for taking the time to read my email.Warm regards,Julie

  12. Thanks for the timely Opinionator piece in the NYT this week. Bringing attention to these issues and offering inspiring ideas and a call to action is so important to helping more people realize that our current way of living is both unhealthy and unsustainable. You mention an idea in your article about a "Civilian Cooking Corps." In case you aren’t familiar with it, Share Our Strength has a national nonprofit program called Cooking Matters, which offers hands-on, cooking based courses that teach low-income families how to cook and eat healthy on a budget. Courses are taught by volunteer culinary and nutrition experts and are offered free to adults, teens, young parents, kids, families, and child care providers in 22 states across the country. And it’s making a meaningful impact on how families cook, shop and eat — graduates report improvement in cooking, eating or food safety practices as well as increases in fruit and vegetable consumption.We’d love to invite you to a local class to see first-hand how empowering it is for families to learn practical nutrition, cooking and food budgeting skills. You can also visit our website CookingMatters.org to learn more about how we work and the impact of the program. Thanks again for using your new platform to bring attention to ways Americans can eat more healthfully!

  13. Vermont is thrilled about your new gig – congratulations. We would love to see you profile the role of higher education in building a sustainable food economy – the academic discipline of farm-to-table food studies is taking off in our part of New England.

  14. Great Op-Ed piece in the Times yesterday. I love your "Civilized Cooking Corps" idea. Wouldn’t that be a great way to give everyone who is unemployed a job plus a decent meal that they themselves would help cook?

  15. We at the Society for Healthy People Eating Healthful Foods are very puzzled by your recent New York times column "A Food Manisfesto for the Future." The line uses the phrase "healthiest diet," while later you refer to "unhealthful foods" As you know, humankind faces two crises: global warming and global bloat, the latter also known as the "obesity crisis." At least in the English speaking world, the fight against obesity will not succeed if health educators and journalists fail to discern between "healthy" (meaning "in good health") and "healthful" (meaning "conducive to good health") You may remember the 2004 U.S. movie "Supersize Me," a documentary in which the filmmaker, Morgan Spurlock, eats only at McDonalds restaurants for a month. If you are unfamiliar with this film, the web link http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390521/ provides a synopsis. Several times in the film, Mr. Spurlock holds up a Big Mac or other McDonalds’ product just before consuming it. The knowledgeable among us, who differentiate between "healthy" and "healthful," understand that Mr. Spurlock displays the products before imbibing them to emphasize that they are "healthy" looking ( i.e., in good health), although "unhealthful" (not conducive to good health) to eat. No one would eat an unhealthy Big Mac (e.g., one that was undercooked or moldy) or eat unhealthy looking McDonald’s fries ( e.g. ones that were soggy rather than crisp). However, this film’s less enlightened viewers (i.e., those unaware of the distinction between "healthy" and "healthful") would instead observe Mr. Spurlock’s display of "healthy" looking McDonald’s products which are "unhealthy" (rather than "unhealthful") to eat. For these unfortunates and for an equally unfortunate segment of the general population, McDonalds’ products will remain, at least in some sense, both "healthy" and "unhealthy." Such cognitive confusion makes this population segment much more likely to succumb to McDonalds and other similarly odious vendors’ products. This population segment will continue to grow in both number and girth (and health in English-speaking countries will continue to deteriorate) if journalists and educators, the stalwarts of public enlightenment, fail as stalwarts of the distinction between "healthy" and "healthful." Admittedly, "healthy" and "healthier" require fewer printed letters than "healthful" and "more healthful," but this extra typographical effort is critical to the health of the world’s English-speaking population. — Michael FuerstSociety for Healthy People Eating Healthful Foods

  16. fabulous — thank you. i’ve shared this on my facebook wall — i’d love some practical things that everyday americans can do as that would make my friends much more likely to jump on board with these concepts. thanks!

  17. I’m all for practical helps, too. For example? Banding homeowners together to get rid of front and back lawns and replace them with vegetable/fruit gardens that could be maintained by hired help with farming expertise. Everybody in our pocket of Evanston, IL pays landscapers to mow/maintain their lawns. Why not pay a landscaper with farming expertise to help us maintain/learn how to do our own fresh-food-producing gardens? Zoning codes and old-fashioned ideas of what a yard needs to look like still get in the way. Also, just as it takes practical planning to learn how to plan/time the elements of a home-cooked meal (when do you start the bread, when to soak the beans, etc.) it takes some forethought to work out how to fit planting/tending/watering/harvesting of even a home vegetable garden into the regular daily schedule. Give us a primer that merges helpful how-tos on all of these things together! Monica from http://www.lostrecipesfound.com

  18. I have just recently discovered you and am so thankful for your recipes and your writings. Your food manifesto offers so many insightful and welcome suggestions. Specifically, I am curious about your Civilian Cooking Corps. I am not a "trained chef" but rather a very active home cook who is concerned about health and wellness and living a clean lifestyle (and I just happen to love to cook and bake :). For the past 6 years I have been looking for a way to apply my passions for food and cooking in a way that affects other people’s lives in a positive way. Thank you for so many suggestions about how to do just that. Bravo!

  19. Mark – I think it is so true that we need to be teaching everyone how to cook. As something that is no longer taught in the home, the importance of keeping a country that knows how to cook alive cannot be overstated. I run a blog with the goal of getting college students cooking, check it out: http://dormroomdinner.blogspot.com/I would love to know your thoughts on getting kids and college aged students involved in the process. Thanks so much!

  20. Belated thanks for the years of great recipes, tips, information and inspiration you have provided. Our family is better for it in all ways, but mostly happiness. So, when I heard "The Minimalist" was over, I just knew you were on to bigger things in the same vein. "A Food Manifesto For the Future" was fabulous. I eagerly await more detail about a Civilian Cooking Corps! I had a thought.Certainly the CCC would benefit by having a distinctive visual identity. I have the privilege of teaching graphic design at York College of Pennsylvania in York, PA. On any given day, I work with 80 young designers, the majority of whom have a passion for design, communication and the greater good.We’d love to design a mark for you, Mark. Would you be interested in discussing this service project? mrodgers@ycp.edubest,Melanie

  21. I opened my New York Times at breakfast last week and was delighted to see your new food column on the op-ed page. I hope that you’ll have an opportunity to explore some of the key food sustainability issues of the day and how they relate to both policy and health issues. A good part of my work revolves around boiling down food sustainability to numbers and metrics that people and businesses can easily digest – and act on. On that note, here is a free food carbon emissions calculator that we just created: http://www.foodemissions.com . Please do let me know if I can be of any help on food sustainability issues.Kumar VenkatCleanMetrics Corp.www.cleanmetrics.com 503-719-8510 ext 4

  22. I was so inspired by your recent Food Manifesto, I blogged about signing up all my advertising and marketing peers to the cause.(I am an advertising copywriter who has written many commercials for the Food Industry).Sign us up to the CCC so we can persuade people to buy food instead of food products!This is that blog:http://thedrum.co.uk/blogs/janinestein/2011/02/09/giving-fish-fingers-the-finger/My foodie blog is:http://thelondonmom1.blogspot.com/Thanks for speaking up.

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