Mark Bittman writes about food from a common sense point of view. We know we should eat more veggies and less meat, but in his latest book, Food Matters, Bittman tucks in to the reasons why a less carnivorous existence will result in a more harmonious existence between ourselves and our environment.
The first section of Food Matters dishes out sound reasoning and a variety of statistics to put our meat eating habits and industrial food system into perspective. (Although Bittman is not necessarily advocating a vegetarian diet, eating less meat and less junk food are the obvious, but important, points of his book.) Part two takes us into the kitchen to learn to "cook like food matters", including 70 or so recipes. Together the two sections combine to create "a guide to conscious eating". Bittman starts out part one by asking us to rethink our consumption.
Could improved health for people and planet be as simple as eating fewer animals, and less junk food and super-refined carbohydrates?
Yes. Of course health benefits for individuals would vary, and the effect on the planet would not necessarily be dramatic (as everyone knows, large adjustments in energy use are essential), but it would be a real step forward, and perhaps most important one that can be taken by individuals, with no government intervention.
I actually think he plays down the positive effects that will result from taking a good hard look at where our food comes from, how it's produced, and the alternative choices we have sourcing our sustenance. Consider these sidebar stats.
60 billion animals are raised each year for food - 10 animals for every human on earth.
7% of Americans' calories come from soda.
40 calories of fossil fuel are required to produce 1 calorie of beef protein.
2,200 calories are required to produce a 12 oz. can of diet soda.
The people in many developed countries, including the U.S., consume 1/2 pound of meat per day.
Meat consumption would have to fall 3oz. a day to stabilize greenhouse gasses produced by livestock.
You get the point. And those stats are only from the first few pages.
The second section of the book is a great primer on how to "eat and cook like food matters". Again, Bittman's strength is in the simplicity of his recipes and cooking methods. He consistently explains things in a direct, easily digestible manner that would leave the most kitchen phobic person comfortable in front of the stove.
via Simon & Schuster
More on Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman Obsesses About Veganism, Priuses, Carbon Footprints and All That
Mark Bittman on the Future of Fish
Mark Bittman TED Video: Link Between Food and the Environment