Let’s Make Food Issues Real

There is some talk about the food movement’s winning. I’m not even sure such a thing as a food movement exists.

Yes, we have seen some encouraging developments: a promised reduction in the use of antibiotics by Tyson Foods and McDonald’s, a marginal wage increase by McDonald’s for a small portion of its worst-paid workers, a reduction of the use of artificial colors by Nestlé, Kraft and others; the elimination of aspartame in some diet drinks by Pepsi (to be replaced by different artificial sweeteners, of course); a more sweeping (and credible) announcement on additives by Panera; and Chipotle’s claim to have all-but-eliminated foods produced using genetic engineering.

Wage increases and reduced antibiotics are welcome developments; the rest of this barely registers in its significance. Replacing aspartame with sucralose or high fructose corn syrup with sugar is rearranging the deck chairs. (The Panera move seems exceptional, but Panera is a new-wave company and has shown some principles from the start. They’re not reacting to pressure from the food movement but from their enlightened chief executive, Ron Shaich.)

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Food Politics

A Bone to Pick, On Sale Today

Bone to Pick cover

My latest book, A Bone to Pick, goes on sale today. I’m particularly excited to share this book with you because it brings us one step closer to addressing the shortcomings in our flawed food system.

Until pretty recently, most of us didn’t know what a “food system” was, let alone that ours wasn’t working. But as issues of how our food is produced and consumed—and the impact of both on our health and environment—creep further into mainstream culture, media, and politics, more of us are realizing what’s at stake and speaking up about it.

So read the book, then share it with someone. Keep the conversation going on social media with #ABoneToPick, and see how it ties in for you with this month’s #BittmanTopics. There’s a whole lot to say.

Posted in Food Politics, Mark Bittman Books

This Month on #BittmanTopics: Grilling

Whether you’re cooking it, eating it, growing it, or reading about it, food brings people together. Welcome to #BittmanTopics: a place where we can all share ideas about a different food-related topic each month. In case you missed the first installment, here’s how it works, and here’s what we talked about in April.

Photo by Francesco Tonelli for the New York Times

Photo by Francesco Tonelli for the New York Times

For many of us, May is a transitional month: it starts as spring and ends around Memorial Day, often with heat and humidity. Grills are coming out of hibernation; I’d like to hear what you’re doing about that.

There is nothing more iconic than the burger, and there’s no denying that the grilled burger is pretty tasty. But there are lots of ways to venture beyond the basic, whether you’re doing it for taste or because the true cost of a cheeseburger is so high. You don’t even need meat: I’ve been doing the less-meatarian thing for a while now (and even wrote a book on it), and most of these 101 fast recipes for grilling are vegetarian. Have a look.

Photo by Sam Kaplan for the New York Times

Photo by Sam Kaplan for the New York Times

Meanwhile, what’s your favorite—or most unexpected—thing to throw on the grill? How do you cook vegetables outside? Do you cut back on meat when you’re grilling, or go (forgive me) whole hog? Whether you’re a grillmaster or a first-timer, join us this month on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below with #BittmanTopics. And keep an eye out for details about a tweetchat, which I’ll be hosting later this month thanks to Natalie Shrock’s suggestion on Facebook.

Looking Back: Spring Produce on #BittmanTopics

I introduced #BittmanTopics a few weeks ago as a way to share ideas. We started—unsurprisingly, maybe—with spring produce, and were happy to see all your thoughts here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Regardless of the stage spring is at in your nabe, by the looks of it we’ve all been eating well.

Below are some comments and photos that you might find interesting. (Don’t worry; I had to look up murcotts, too.) Check back here on Monday for May’s theme.

Photos by @globalgirlcanada at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market

Photos by @globalgirlcanada on Instagram

“Spring ‘Succotash’…peas, favas, asparagus, spring onions, young carrots. We’ll be sick of this dish just as soon as some others take their place at the table!!!”
-Arden, markbittman.com

“Spring here means harvesting the fava beans, turning the stalks & leaves into the soil to prepare the beds for tomatoes and sharing the shucking & pealing of the favas with a few neighbors. Then enjoying green caviar for dinner. #suburbounty”
-Armelle Vanazzi Futterman, Facebook

“One neighbor is harvesting morels from his yard and another neighbor has an impressive spread of water cress growing in our valley’s spring. I am eyeing the morels, gathering wild onions for stock, putting dandelion greens in everything and eating as much rice, watercress and pecan salad as I can. I use a walnut oil vinaigrette and add some corn and edamame for heft. If there isn’t time for a salad, the watercress is delicious all by itself. The bright, peppery leaves scream Spring.”
-Anna Lingo, markbittman.com

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Photo by @nestwife on Twitter

“Favorite 20 minute spring produce dinner – chard sautéed with green garlic, stirred into scrambled eggs, served with murcotts #onepictureisworth140characters”
@nestwife, Twitter

“I grow in the southeast, zone 8b in high tunnel, so my seasons are a bit mixed up. This past winter we grew an English pea called ‘Willet wonder’ that we harvested as immature young pods and discovered they’re even more delicious than green beans when simply steamed and add a bit of butter and salt. Plus, they just kept coming. I didn’t see this suggestion to grill them until after the season was over, but I’m keeping it in mind for next year. http://ourfourforks.com/grilled-sugar-snap-peas/”
-c. hennes, markbittman.com

“I have a pizza crust recipe to use when I have a little of this and that for veggie toppings and a scone recipe when I have just a few berries or fruits. I’ve made some things so many times I don’t use a recipe anymore, and know what kinds of things I can substitute. The main idea behind seasonal eating is flexibility and developing a taste for new things. When I find a recipe that allows creative substitutions I save it. When I have a lot of some ingredients I oven roast and freeze. I currently have a lot of red cabbage and I’m looking for ideas.”
Carolyn Hennes, Facebook

“Mint. Mix ¼ cup of fine shreds with a cup of Greek yogurt and put it in lentils; on beets; fresh fruit; pancakes. Mint Julips are nice too.”
-Jacqueline Chama, markbittman.com

Photo by @thevillagegravy

Photo by @thevillagegravy on Instagram

Posted in Bittman Topics, Produce

HTCE Fast: Korean-Style Chicken and Vegetable Pancakes

Bittman_KoreanPancake_5

Korean pa jun are a delicious take on scallion pancakes: fluffy, crisp, and loaded with all sorts of vegetables. Add ground chicken to the mix and dinner is served.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus  more as needed
8 ounces ground chicken
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 scallions
1 carrot
1 small zucchini
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

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Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Produce, Recipes

Obama and Republicans Agree on the Trans-Pacific Partnership … Unfortunately

There’s an important issue out there you may never have heard of, which is just what its proponents would like. That’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently being pushed by the Obama administration and its corporate (and mostly Republican!) allies. It’s a blatant attack on labor, farmers, food safety, public health and even national sovereignty.

And the details of the deal are largely secret. Other than what’s been leaked, the public has no access to its contents, and even members of Congress don’t know much. (On the other hand, “cleared advisers,” mostly corporate lawyers, have full access.) That’s because the TPP is way too important to its sponsors to allow little details like congressional or public input to get in its way, even though constitutional authority over trade is granted to the legislative, not the executive, branch.

Posted in Food Politics

Breakfast Gets New Life at Jessica Koslow’s Sqirl

Photo by Grant Cornett

Photo by Grant Cornett

It all started with the jam. This being Los Angeles, it wasn’t, of course, just any jam. It was — and is — organic, and local, and often made from varieties of fruit that usually don’t make it out of California, like Blenheim apricots, or combinations that you don’t see elsewhere, like strawberry and rose. The jam is fragrant and not overly sweet, and you want to eat it with a spoon.

Word started to get around that Jessica Koslow, 33, was spreading it with ricotta on burned brioche, and soon there were lines out the door at Sqirl, her cute, shabby, hip little storefront on Virgil Avenue in East Hollywood. “Sqirl was, really, a jam company,” she said to me a couple of weeks ago, munching on a piece of brioche with blood-orange marmalade and almond-hazelnut butter. “I knew it couldn’t stay that way, because I wanted to create a place that worked, long-term, on a street corner that no one wanted to be on.”

Posted in Uncategorized

HTCE Fast: Hard-Boiled Eggs with Dijon-Paprika Mayo

IMG_0181

Hard-boiled eggs with Dijon mayo have the flavors of deviled eggs without the hassle. Not sure why I never thought of this before now, but . . . they’re beauties.

4 eggs
Ice cubes
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika more for garnish
Salt and pepper

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Posted in American, Mark Bittman Books, Recipes

Making Sense of Water

Almost every number used to analyze California’s drought can be debated, but this can be safely said: No level of restrictions on residential use can solve the problem. The solution lies with agriculture, which consumes more than its fair share.

That doesn’t mean homeowners can’t and shouldn’t cut back.

But according to estimates by the Public Policy Institute of California, more water was used to grow almonds in 2013 than was used by all homes and businesses in San Francisco and Los Angeles put together. Even worse, most of those almonds are then exported — which means, effectively, that we are exporting water. Unless you’re the person or company making money off this deal, that’s just nuts.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Food Politics