Book Corner 2021.18

by Mark Bittman

What a contrast with my previous food read, Resetting the Table. I had a feeling I was being swayed too much towards buying this book based on the title. It is not my style at all; it’s just one bad thing listed after another. Everything that has ever happened to our food system since the dawn of history has been bad – did you know that? I don’t care how many facts may be in it; I never find unbalanced works like this to be educational.

I thought that midway through we would finally shift gears towards directing the barbs merely at the junk food industry, but the general negativity towards all modern agriculture never ceased.

I would love to get Bittman and Paarlberg together for a debate. Here are just a few ways they would explicitly part company:

– Normal Borlaug, leader of the “Green Revolution.” To Bittman, he “virtually ignor(ed) what was traditionally grown” in his blind zest for bringing in chemical fertilizers and pesticdes.

– Whether organic farming yields would fall far short of levels that could effectively feed the world’s current population – Bittman calls it “a moronic argument”.

– Whether Alice $100-a-plate, I-never-step-foot-in-a-supermarket Waters has anything of value to teach us about food systems

I had to rub my eyes in disbelief when I read this on page 243: “Although it’s immoral and cruel, and overseen by mostly immoral and cruel people – only a few of whom were sadistic masterminds – the [food] system is largely the result of incremental decisions…” What?! People who work in modern food businesses are “mostly immoral and cruel”? “Mostly”! You might think the majority of them misguided. But “immoral” and “cruel” are some really nasty words to depict “most” people overseeing an industry. (  )

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