Mark Bittman on What's Wrong with Our Food System

Mark Bittman sees food as a crucial matter of public health, and even national and global security.

Mark Bittman's must-read New York Times op-ed column today is a more commonsense, clearly stated manifesto for our country's future than anything coming out of the White House before or after the State of the Union address. He states that the pursuit of a healthy diet in our country has as many economic implications as dietary ones and his logic is basic and easy to follow

We grow more corn for livestock and cars than for humans, and it’s subsidized by more than $3 billion annually; most of it is processed beyond recognition. The story is similar for other crops, including soy: 98 percent of soybean meal becomes livestock feed, while most soybean oil is used in processed foods. Meanwhile, the marketers of the junk food made from these crops receive tax write-offs for the costs of promoting their wares. Total agricultural subsidies in 2009 were around $16 billion, which would pay for a great many of the ideas that follow.


Bittman lays out ideas—frequently discussed, but sadly not yet implemented—that would make the growing, preparation, and consumption of food healthier, saner, more productive, less damaging and more enduring.