This week, Mark Bittman, who had written his column The Minimalist for the last 13 years for the New York Times’s Dining section, announced the end of an era.
He is no longer going to be writing his Dining column, which focused on simple dishes with complex flavors. Instead, he’s moving to the Op-Ed* section of the Times. And although he’ll still be writing about food, he’s shifting gears a little from just sharing recipes to, as he says, “advocat[ing], essentially, for eaters’ rights” because of his “growing conviction that the meat-heavy American diet and our increasing dependence on prepared and processed foods is detrimental not only to our personal health but to that of the planet.” So, he is going to taking up this political issue, helping cooks and food writers “continue to look for ways to bring real food to all of our tables.”
Bravo, Mark Bittman.
I was so heartened to read this announcement, to see this very prominent and well-known food writer devote attention to the very real politics that underlies those beautiful dishes that he writes about so well. We must not make his 45-minute roast turkey without thinking about whether that turkey had been genetically manipulated to have such an enlarged breast that it couldn’t naturally reproduce; we must not make his Watermelon and Tomato Salad without considering whether the farmworkers who picked those tomatoes were paid barely a cent per pound. We must take these things into account, and more. Not because we want to take the pure sensory pleasure out of eating, but because that purity must come from a full acknowledgment of what lies behind the savory flavors, rich textures, and beautiful hues of the food on our plates.
So, for Mark Bittman a new column. For me, a new blog, a new beginning, a new dedication to the sensory pleasures—and the moral underpinnings—of eating!
Let’s dine and opine together!
*Did you know that “Op-Ed” is short not for “Opinion Editorial,” but for “Opposite Editorial”? That’s right—even though it’s typically writers expressing opinions (rather than offering “objective news”), it’s named after the fact that it traditionally appeared on the page opposite the editorial section, which displayed the unsigned opinions of the editors of the paper. A bit of trivia there for you…