This Bittman cookbook has bite – Times News Online
You will find recipes, many recipes, in which writer Mark Bittman is probably the best known, cookbooks like “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” and “How to Cook Everything Fast”. But a few of Bittman’s food books replace recipes with a hint of something else.
Author, filmmaker and social activist Naomi Klein calls her historical perspective on agriculture and food “Animal, Vegetable, Junk” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021) her “most radical and profound book to date. ” and for good reason.
On page 179, for example, he berates the United States Department of Agriculture for issuing in 1923 a misleading “(BS)” thus “established[ting] the scene for overeating. Two decades later, he argues, the USDA made overeating “a government standard” by creating what are now called Dietary Reference Intakes for nutrients.
To do this, the USDA took “what it believed to be the average nutritional requirements for” normal adult maintenance “” and, for no apparently health-related reason, increased them by 50 percent. . Worse yet, the agency has only set minimums for these nutrients, “ignoring upper limits on intake for fear they will hamper sales.”
Bittman believes executive orders like this have opened the floodgates and led to the creation of thousands of processed foods that “contain[ing] empty or harmful calories ”that our government has decided not to regulate. If laissez-faire rule is one thing, turning a blind eye is another.
Since the USDA’s “(BS)” statement in 1923 – that all foods now available can “contribute” to the “health” of a diet – there has been a widespread increase in diet-related illnesses as well. that a doubling of the incidence of heart disease.
This makes good old Uncle Sam, in Bittman’s eyes, guilty of “criminal negligence.”
Although he leans to the left, don’t dismiss “Animal, Vegetable, Junk” as an arborist rant. Most of the sections read like an educational documentary.
In Chapter 10, for example, Bittman explains the benefit of planting soybeans as part of a crop rotation. Not only does it replace the nitrogen extracted from the soil by many other crops, but it is also an “almost incomparably nutritious” food, containing up to three times the amount of protein in other beans and grains, a good amount of protein. fiber and lots of micronutrients. “Grown sustainably, it could make a powerful contribution to the health of perhaps a quarter of the world’s eaters. “
But soybeans also powerfully help livestock, so guess what America’s mega-farms do with most of their yield? The same thing they do with much of the harvested corn and oats: Create animal feed.
There is much more money to be made by selling meat to already well-nourished people than by selling soy products to the poor.
When Bittman recounts other changes that led to Americans getting 60% of their calories from ultra-processed foods and consuming 33% more total calories than in the 1950s, his style is kept simple and no-frills.
Such as: “Fast food has grown from a six billion dollar industry in 1970 to well over two hundred billion dollars in 2015. The number of restaurants per capita has more than doubled and the consumption of calories from the fast food has quadrupled.
As well as: “‘Available Calories” – all production minus all exports – increased by thirty percent in the second half of the twentieth century … The result being that the average American man weighed 25 pounds more in 2002 than ‘in 1960, when the average weight for women is now what it was for men fifty years ago.
So when Bittman calls all of these purely lucrative improvements “an organized attack on our collective health,” it seems compelling rather than controversial. By the time you finish the book, even its subtitle, “A Food History, From Sustainability to Suicidal,” seems accurate rather than overdone.
That said, I will stay at the top of my rostrum a little longer to urge you to do less and less of what American adults do.
According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the winter of 2016, 27% of American adults had not even read part of a book – whether in print, electronic or audio – in 2015. In 2017, l ‘American Academy of Arts & Sciences reported that the number of American adults who read at least one book for fun in the past year fell to the lowest level on record, just below 53% .
However, it makes sense for you to reverse these trends and read this book.
What “Animal, Vegetable, Junk” does best is show you how “everything is connected”.
Read it critically – no, not the way you hover over things on your smartphone – and you’ll understand the unwanted domino effect of eating in a place like McDonald’s. Or by adding to your shopping cart those ultra-processed foods loaded with fat, sugar and salt, tastes you’ve been “wired to want” but which hurt you if you eat too much.