Mark Bittman has been cooking and writing about food for four decades, including creating simple recipes for his weekly column at the New York Times, The Minimalist. Simple, because they don’t require difficult-to-find ingredients (and if they do, he gives alternatives) or an elaborate process to get a delicious and often impressive meal on the table. He has challenged his readers to travel across cultures, try things they thought were really difficult to prepare, and to rethink the tools in their kitchen repertoire (last week’s Minimalist, for example, breathed new life into the food processor).

Bittman has also emerged as a sane voice in the discussion around food policy, penning excellent reporting on industrial meat production, sustainable fish, and organics, to name a few stories. In addition, he digests news on the food system, writes about his cooking exploits and publishes the work of other food writers (full disclosure: I’m one of them) on his site, In his recent book, Food Matters, he discussed why we should cut out the junk food and cut down on the amount of meat we eat for our own health and for the well-being of the planet. Building on the success of that work comes the Food Matters Cookbook, with 500 recipes for inspired “less-meatarians.” I spoke with him this week about his new cookbook and the state of the discussion around food politics. Read more

The valet made me do it. We bared our souls and talked with each other about food. We did it in the middle of the tastefully decorated lobby of a reputable Cannery Row hotel in Monterey, CA. It began as a very unexpected moment, and has become one of my all-time favorite experiences talking about access to good food. Because it was a conversation not with a chef, foodie or expert. It was with a regular person who longs to connect to food and is somehow stuck, marooned on an island alone, full of latent desire.

The valet—let’s call him Paul—asked me the very question I yearn to hear, and with him I had the discussion that I never tire of. Paul had parked my car when I checked into the hotel, had smiled professionally at me and held the door three mornings in a row when I sashayed excitedly out into the sunlight. The cause of my excitement was a food issue conference hosted by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Cooking for Solutions Sustainable Media Institute is an annual gathering of journalists and experts who cover food system issues ranging from sustainable seafood to GMOs. It is the highlight of my year, second only to the Ecological Farming Association annual meeting. Read more

TED is a non-profit devoted to broadcasting innovative ideas spoken by persuasive thinkers. Its website spreads information through “TED talks,” a video component that spans a wide range of topics. Here is a selection of TED videos focusing on issues from the political food world—child obesity, industrial meat production, school nutrition programs, ecologically safe fish farming, food access within an urban landscape, re-envisioned permaculture—presented by some of the top enthusiasts and specialists. Read more

Veteran cookbook author and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman knows his food — and what he dishes out is smart, contemporary and consistently delicious. For years, his books – including “How to Cook Everything” and “The Best Recipes in the World” (his “Chile Shrimp” is one of my husband’s all-time favorite dishes) have been permanent fixtures on my book shelves, and his kitchen savvy has informed my own style of cooking. Read more

In this time of watching our wallets, our good intentions about eating sustainable food could easily descend into bad habits, cutting corners and disenchantment about the food system.  Instead, I’d like to offer a few ways I’ve been eating good, clean and fair on a reasonable budget: Read more