Moving from Recipes To Opinion, Mark Bittman Matters

food matters cover image
For thirteen years, Mark Bittman wrote the Minimalist food column for the Dining section of the New York Times; last week he wrote that he was leaving, because he saw that "the continuing attack on good, sound eating and traditional farming in the United States is a political issue." It's not new territory for him; his book of two years ago, Food Matters, covered it. (see Jeff's review here)

This week he started with a shot across the bows in the Opinion Section with a Food Manifesto for the Future.

As manifestos go, there is little in it that will not be familiar to TreeHuggers or Michael Pollan Fans. But is well written and more importantly, it is in the opinion section of the New York Times, more proof that these issues are really beginning to gain traction. Some of the main ideas, some with followup reading on TreeHugger:

End government subsidies to processed food. We grow more corn for livestock and cars than for humans, and it's subsidized by more than $3 billion annually; most of it is processed beyond recognition.

TreeHugger take:
Michael Pollan: The Government Makes You Fat
Top of the Food Chain

Begin subsidies to those who produce and sell actual food for direct consumption. Small farmers and their employees need to make living wages.

Outlaw concentrated animal feeding operations and encourage the development of sustainable animal husbandry. The concentrated system degrades the environment, directly and indirectly, while torturing animals and producing tainted meat, poultry, eggs, and, more recently, fish.

TreeHugger Take:
Industrial Animal Factories in Shocking Photos
CAFO Farms Boost Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria, Study Says
John Ikerd: The Future of Sustainability Is Relocalization

Tax the marketing and sale of unhealthful foods.
Another budget booster. This isn't nanny-state paternalism but an accepted role of government: public health.

TreeHugger Take:
The Debate Over Subsidizing Snacks
National Soda Tax Would Make Americans 4% Less Fat
Soda Tax Could Raise $10 Billion Per Year for Cash-Strapped States
Americans Against Food Taxes?: Who's Really Fighting Preventative Medicine?

And TreeHugger food writer Kelly's favourite:

Encourage and subsidize home cooking. (Someday soon, I'll write about my idea for a new Civilian Cooking Corps.) When people cook their own food, they make better choices. When families eat together, they're more stable.

Kelly's take:
Why Cook ?
Teach Your Children to Cook
Teach Your Children to Cook (Or Will Your School Do It?)
Teach Your Teenagers To Cook

More food for thought in the manifesto at the New York Times
More Mark Bittman:
Mark Bittman on the Future of Fish
Mark Bittman TED Video: Link Between Food and the Environment
Bittman, Pogue And More On Living A Sustainable Life