Mark Bittman, author of How To Cook Everything, discusses the central message of his latest book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating. Bittman touts the benefits of home cooking, and offers a optimistic note to those who may view the culinary arts as beyond their native abilities. In Bittman’s view, most of us have the ability to become good cooks, and it’s not necessary, nor within his philosophy, to cook fancy meals. He attributes the American diet to a host of serous concerns that impact public health, the environment, and other societal problems. As Bittman points out, although we are one of the richest nations in the world, we rank only 45th in the world for life expectancy. 20 years ago, Bittman reminds us, we spent about 17% of our income on food, and 10% on healthcare. Today those figures have reversed, and the cheap food that we eat, is undermining our health, and fraying our healthcare system.
Like the simplicity of his recipes, there’s a powerful simplicity to his argument that food matters. The notion that sustainability, and organics are only for those who are relatively well off, misses the crucial point: through the restructuring of existing farm subsidies, government could encourage the production of healthier food, and offset (at least) some of the costs of whole foods to consumers, creating the potential for huge dividends on the public health side, not to mention, the reduction of healthcare costs associated with poor diet.
How important to you is good food? Do you believe that there is a bigger role for government to play in reversing the tide of diet-related illnesses: heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.?
Related video: Food Matters with Mark Bittman 2