Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Morning Reading...Mark Bittman

This isn't a real post, more like a drive-by posting...
While looking over the NYT website's top articles, I saw Mark Bittman's latest opinion piece.  As some of the comments say, the list, while not particularly original, gives you something to think about.  While I find the overall tone nicely optimistic, it takes on that paternalistic flavor, which always seems to rankle my nerves, when it calls for educating the public on how to eat.  To be fair, I don't have any ideas about how to change food culture, so I suppose I shouldn't be too critical.  His comment on "food deserts" did remind me of the piece I just read by another blogger about the myth of the food desert in Detroit.  Perhaps America's urban inhabitants aren't as addicted to cheesy poofs and Red Bull as the press would like us to think.  Also worth reading if you feel like perusing the internet.
While the American media continues to give us all warnings about the obesity epidemic in the U.S. that will probably kill us all in some way or another, issues surrounding processed food and overweight youth get very little press here in The Netherlands.  Good thing?  Bad thing? At the very least something I'm going to need to think about more.


  1. I'm back :). Here are my thoughts on the whole food craze thing in the US: Way too much time and energy is spent in the US worrying about what foods are and aren't healthy. It is laughable. Much more attention should be paid to exercise and how people can build it into their daily lives. Then the food discussion would calm down. The exact food one eats really doesn't make that much difference in overall health - but exercise sure does! In my mind, what food one eats is more of a political and economical discussion than one of health (though it of course does impact health a little).

  2. Mark Bittman also has a blog about running, but I'm waiting for one by Mario Battali or Paul Prudhomme! I think the common factor in American society is filling one's day with so much stuff that one feels one doesn't have time to exercise or to cook, so one grabs a meal at a drive-thru while commuting and feels that it's multitasking.

  3. SLG: I agree that in the U.S. the emphasis is often placed on finding "healthy" foods. If you look at t.v. shows like The Biggest Loser (a personal favorite of mine that I love to hate) there is a drive to market processed goods as somehow being a superior choice.
    I don't agree that there should be more attention given to exercise in place of a discussion about food. I disagree that the type of food an individual eats doesn't play a role in overall health. One can consume enough calories in one day and still be malnourished. As always, shouldn't diet and exercise work in tandem?
    What I think people like Bittman and Pollan have tried to emphasize is a diet based on whole foods and a return to home cooking. The diet isn't just about an individual's health; it is also tied to larger social, economic, and environmental concerns, concerns that ultimately affect everyone living in society. I think that the sustainable/local/whole food movement can be overly idealized. Let's face it, not everyone likes to cook or spend a lot of time in the kitchen, nor should they be expected to do so. Even so, finding a balance between convenience foods and foods prepared at home is an attainable goal.
    I suppose SLG's comment ties quite nicely to what you had to say, Steve. You do have to make time to eat and/or cook differently and to exercise. Although, your example of a long commute also speaks to social and economic issues, such as affordable and safe housing nearby workplaces.