My new dream job is to get healthier food onto the plates of more Americans. See below for an excerpt from my recent story in Time.
Could there be a better week to form a company specializing in vegan meals? As everyone knows, the World Health Organization last week labeled processed meat a carcinogen and said red meat was probably dangerous as well. Not news, exactly, but a further confirmation that plant-based diets are where it’s at.
It was the determination to get healthier food onto the dinner plates of more Americans that led me to leave the New York Times, where I had what most people would think was a dream job: as weekly Opinion columnist and the lead food writer for the Sunday Magazine. But really: Not only was I ready for something new, it felt like it was time to put my boots on the ground.
So when David Mayer contacted me, I was primed. Mayer is the lead investor in The Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal kit company founded in Boston by Andy Levitt last year. Dave, who never uses 100 words when he can use 1,000, wrote me a long e-mail that said, among other salient things, that he wanted to build a company so people would “cook meals with real food, talk about it, show their kids what cooking is and connect on that and what it means. Imagine the implications … if we could help …. hundreds of millions of Americans to eat vegan at least two nights a week. Make it easy, really good and affordable.”
Get the full story here.
Mark Bittman Put His Money Where His Mouth Is
Why the activist-columnist left journalism to run a vegan startup
In fairness, the offal was sent compliments of the kitchen.
Mark Bittman grabs the ramekin of chicken liver brûlée with a hand the size of an NBA power forward’s before breaking through the caramelized crust with a dagger of crusty bread. I’ve met the author of the best-selling VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 for lunch at the Breslin, April Bloomfield’s New York City restaurant famous for lamb burgers and boards stacked with liverwurst and head cheese. “Today is a bad day,” says Bittman when asked about breaking his famous meat-and-dairy-free-during-daylight edict during our flowing conversation, which skips between millennial slackerdom, Bill Clinton and Bittman’s next chapter after leaving The New York Times in September: He is serving as chief innovation officer at vegan meal-kit delivery service Purple Carrot, which was officially announced this morning. “But, really, we are celebrating, so it’s not so bad,” he says with a laugh.
The lunch was part of a two-day media blitz promoting the author’s latest book, which was being released that day, a compilation of his popular New York Times Magazinecolumn Kitchen Matrix. Earlier in the morning, the tall and trim 65-year-old had been hawking the book on television and NPR, and later he will tape with the “really intense” Dr. Oz. So it’s clear the dude deserves a basket of beer-battered Long Island fluke and Bloomfield’s supreme pomme frites. “You should eat some of these,” he insists in a long-simmered Manhattan drawl. Bittman was raised in New York City’s Stuyvesant Town, and until earlier this year lived mostly in the Northeast — between Boston, Connecticut and New York City — before relocating to Northern California in January. “Living in Berkeley is fucking awesome,” he says with a smile. And with a new job building a plant-based cooking brand, his first full-time gig outside of media in over 30 years, the roaring startup economy might be pretty fucking awesome for Mark Bittman, too.
Read the full story here.
Want to cook with me? Get $20 off with promo code NEWCARROT at The Purple Carrot.
When you transform an apple by cooking, you may make it soft, fluffy, chewy, savory, sweet, or creamy—the potential is enormous. Yes, an apple loses some juiciness and freshness when you cook it, but as an ingredient, it’s just as versatile as potato.
This matrix explores cooked apples in various forms, at least some of which (I hope) you’ll find unexpected. All of the sweet versions are wonderful for either dessert or breakfast, while the savory ones make terrific side dishes for just about anything roasted or pan-cooked.
This is the last official week of the Matrix Challenge, but now that the book is available, I hope you’ll keep the spirit of the challenge alive. Get creative with your cooking. Improvise. Then show off your dishes. If you make something from the cookbook, or one of my recipes inspires you to share something new, share it. Be proud of your matrices.
For even more inspiration, check out one of my Pork and Apples +3 ways recipes from the cookbook on Skinnytaste.com.
What is a healthy and affordable way to eat? How should we think about the Food Pyramid? How do we cut through all the competing ideas about what’s right, to understand how we should eat? And what policies could be changed to get Americans eating more healthily and sustainably? Watch my talk below at the New York Times Food for Tomorrow conference to hear my thoughts on how we should tackle some of these pressing questions.
Romaine is fine, but dandelion, tender lettuces, chard, and arugula (real arugula, not the “baby” kind they sell in most supermarkets) can be as flavorful as the juiciest tomato. You can make a different salad with these greens every day for weeks without repeating yourself.
This week’s Matrix highlights twelve of the most available (and wonderful) greens, divided into four categories—tender, crunchy, sturdy, and bold—though the distinctions are often blurred. In any case, don’t be constrained by my recommendations; many other greens will fill in here just fine.
To learn how to prepare salad greens 12 ways, read this excerpt from my new book Kitchen Matrix here.
By now, you know the drill. Share one of these 12 salad recipes, or a favorite of your own using #MatrixChallenge. Celebrate these fresh leafy greens before the frost rolls in.
A few weeks ago I published my farewell opinion column in the New York Times. After five years, I felt ready to make the leap from writing about a broken food system to trying to do something about it. I had decided it was time to shift my focus toward activism and action.
In doing this, I wanted the help of the best and brightest people working to transform the way we grow and eat food in this country. These people had to develop positions – on the food system, among other things – that were based in reason, and whose policy and advocacy strategies are rooted not in politicking but in science. That was important to me and increasingly rare in a world where so many opinions are based on … well, previous opinions.
Wanted: healthy, green, affordable and fair solutions
I learned a lot about fact-based opinion while doing journalism and later writing opinion columns at the Times, and one of the people who helped me through this process was Ricardo Salvador, who is currently senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. (He’s also not only an intellectual crush of mine but like abrother to me.) At UCS, Ricardo works with citizens, scientists, economists and politicians to work towards transforming our current food system into one that endeavours to grow food that’s healthy, green, affordable, and fair.
In general, UCS – which follows the example set by the scientific community – shares information, seeks the truth, and lets their findings guide their conclusions. As a result, they’re heralded as a trusted resource for both their fairness and accuracy. That’s why UCS is regarded as one of the most reputable sources for rigorous and independent science, and has been for decades.
For this reason and so many more, I am excited to announce my new partnership with the Union of Concerned Scientists, where I will spend the next year as a Fellow working alongside Ricardo and his team. As good friends and now colleagues, we will embark on some of the innovative thinking, careful planning, and prioritized research needed to drive big changes in the national conversation around food systems, including (we hope!) the development of a book project. We’ll work to mobilize a broad range of voices and elevate important ideas.
An urgent need for leadership
Ricardo’s vision for a sustainable and just food system is one that I deeply respect and share – and one that we’ve written about together. This vision is especially important as we enter a critical political window to push both current and future leaders to talk about the crisis of our food system and outline an agenda for working toward a better one.
Ricardo and I also share an understanding of the urgency of these conversations. Our current food system works well for a handful of corporations at the expense of farmers, rural communities, taxpayers and food workers, to name just a few. The impact on the health of both our people and our planet is grave. The cost of this system is too high, the consequences too dire, and the practices and policies too outdated to allow them to continue without challenge. We need reform and we need leadership committed to ensuring access to healthy, affordable, and safe food for all Americans.
I can’t help but feel like I will be learning from the best as I work to tackle these challenging topics alongside some of the smartest scientists and advocates out there. And of course, I look forward to sharing what we learn with all of you.
Whether it’s farmed or wild, salmon is an absolute treat. Farmed salmon comes with two distinct advantages: it’s not expensive, and its high fat content makes for not only good eating but also for extremely forgiving cooking. Wild salmon (like King, Sockeye, and Coho) is leaner, much more flavorful, and generally better; and you can typically find wild Alaska salmon in the fresh or frozen section of your grocery store.
As with any seafood, mislabeling is something to look out for. It’s not unheard of for purveyors to label any kind of wild salmon—or even farmed salmon—as King. Buy from people you trust.
A good piece of salmon only really needs a hot skillet and a sprinkle of salt, but to make it even more enticing, I’ve included recipes spanning a wide range of flavors and cooking methods, all of which will work for whatever kind of salmon you can get your hands on.
To learn how to cook salmon 12 ways, read this excerpt from my new book Kitchen Matrix here
For this week’s Matrix Challenge, I will be offering one of those above mentioned rare treats. Cook one of these recipes this week, or share a salmon recipe of your own, using #MatrixChallenge, and one person will win a $50 gift card to purchase Alaska salmon.
I used to be one of those people who ragged on boneless, skinless chicken breasts for being flavorless and dry. That was until I learned how not to overcook them.
In preparing chicken breasts, remember that they should be cooked only until the last traces of pink have vanished—and no longer. A thinnish breast subjected to high heat can be done in as little as 6 minutes, or it might take as long as 10 minutes or even a bit more—but never 20 minutes unless you are cooking the thing on a radiator.
Whatever you cook a chicken breast with is going to gain prominence, and whatever cooking method you use will have plenty of impact. This provides a good reason to keep things as simple as possible: a skillfully sautéed chicken breast with lemon juice is a beautiful thing. But gaining that skill takes some practice, and even for veterans, attention must be paid.
Here are nine of my favorite chicken recipes, all featured in The Matrix.
Cook one of these recipes this week, or share one of your own, using #MatrixChallenge. Just like last week, I’ll be sharing some of your dishes, and one person will win a 12-inch cast iron skillet from Lodge.