Posts Tagged ‘Mark Bittman’

Books to Watch: Food Matters

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman, writer for the New York Times and a Today show regular.

There is no magic bullet

The easiest, surest way to improve the overall health of Americans is for us to adjust our eating habits. We’re not talking about a diet. It’s a change in focus, away from the twentieth-century style of eating and back to something saner, more traditional, and less manufactured.

It’s indisputable that our excessive food intake is bad for our health. The full effect of obesity on overall health has not been determined, but at the very least it’s responsible for reduced mobility and circulation, and for stress on several organs. And there’s no question we’re getting fatter, so much so that there are people who use the term “obesity epidemic.” There are twice as many overweight adults as there were 25 years ago, and about three times as many children and teenagers.

We have not been moving in the direction of “improved nutrition,” and consequently we’ve seen the situation get worse. Since 1990, those diagnosed with diabetes have increased 61 percent; since 1991, the prevalence of obesity has increased 75 percent; and heart disease is not only the number one killer of adults: frighteningly, it’s also the second leading cause of death for children under 15.

But if we know what to do, and we know how to do it, why aren’t we doing it? For one thing, we’re not agreed on what to do. For another, there is a disincentive on the part of the food industry for us to change the way we eat. And for a third, the government agencies that might encourage the “right” diet are beset by confusion and by their ties to the food industry.

It would be unprofitable, for Big Food at least, if we moved our eating habits in the right direction. But not only would profits fall if we ate a moderate diet of wholesome foods; so, too, would the rates of lifestyle diseases, global warming, our collective weight, antibiotic use, environmental damage, and cruelty to livestock. What’s stopping this move, largely, is inertia, habit, a lack of good information, and a drive to maintain the status quo by the people who profit from it. But maintaining the status quo is insane.

Excerpt from Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating *With more than 75 recipes, by Mark Bittman, Simon & Schuster. $16.95.