Mark Bittman

Like many of us, Mark Bittman fell in love with food and somehow found himself ensnared in politics. The author of The New York Times’ “The Minimalist” column and How to Cook Everything, Bittman is the thinking cook’s Rachel Ray: Droll yet down to earth, he creates sensible recipes for busy people. Over the past two years, though, Bittman’s byline has been appearing on stories about the impact of the U.S. meat industry on the environment. Now comes Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating With More Than 75 Recipes (Simon & Schuster, $25): part polemic, part self-help book, part cooking lesson. Bittman hews obediently to a narrative about the American food system advanced by nutritionist Marion Nestle (Food Politics, What to Eat) and journalist/saint Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food). While not nearly as groundbreaking as their work, Bittman’s book offers two compelling twists. The first is his own story, that of a food writer on the brink of diabetes who altered the way he ate and dropped a few dozen pounds. The second is the book’s recipes and menu plans, which give readers a concrete strategy for living out Pollan’s and Nestle’s advice. And while Bittman’s rhetoric may be forceful—Eat less meat! Save the animals! Combat global warming!—his eating plan is anything but doctrinaire. “There’s no sacrifice here, only adjustment and benefit,” he writes. Bittman here joins UW professors Ann Anagnost and Lucy Jarosz as part of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Wednesday University. JONATHAN KAUFFMAN

Wed., Jan. 14, 7 p.m., 2009

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