Mark Bittman to Cover the Politics of Food

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Food is infused with politics these days, so foodie columnist Mark Bittman is getting out of the kitchen and into the fray. Bittman announced this week in his popular Minimalist column and blog for the New York Times‘ Dining section that he’s shifting gears because of a shift in consciousness:

My growing conviction that the meat-heavy American diet and our increasing dependence on prepared and processed foods is detrimental not only to our personal health but to that of the planet has had an impact on my life and on that of the column. You can see this in dishes like stir-fried lettuce with shrimp, chickpea tagine with chicken, a number of bean dishes and the dozens of other meatless or less-meat recipes that have become dominant in the last five years.

In part, what I see as the continuing attack on good, sound eating and traditional farming in the United States is a political issue. I’ll be writing regularly about this in the opinion pages of The Times, and in a blog that begins next week. That’s one place to look for me from now on. The other is in The Times Magazine, where I’ll be writing a recipe column most Sundays beginning in March.

Here at Utne Reader, we’re quite familiar with the politics of food, having watched the organic, local, and sustainable food movements grow from infancy into cultural phenomena that are making us rethink the American diet. Last year, our “Food Fight” package of stories was one of our most-read cover sections. So we’ll be following Bittman’s coverage in his new role, and likely following his lead on important stories and analysis.

In the meantime, Bittman’s regular readers are distressed that their guru is changing forums. Bittman is more socially and politically aware than most foodies, and vegetarians, vegans, and conscientious carnivores can count on him for recipes that don’t always rely on butterfat, foie gras, and veal for their kicks. In my own household, with two vegetarians and three flexitarians, his cookbooks (especially How to Cook Everything Vegetarian) and recipes have been the foundation of many a meal.

Readers who have followed Bittman’s every sauté, braise, and glaze reduction are sending in their kudos to his final column, making it feel something like a eulogy. But he’ll still be cranking out recipes, and anyway, as one reader points out, “But we’ll always have the cookbooks. And you’ll have the royalties.”

Source: The Minimalist

Image by WordRidden, licensed under Creative Commons.

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