Mark Bittman Promotes Food Consciousness, Thinks Soda Should be Taxed

Bittman, the Batman of Food Policy (photo by Carol Shih)

If you’ve read Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters, and his column on The New York Times, you’re probably familiar with his effortless ability to weave in food policy, politics, and the way we eat within a single sentence. Last night, Bittman (aka the Batman of Food Policy) spoke to a large crowd at the Temple Emanu-El about the importance of eating right and being food conscious.

“The only aspect of food that you can discuss now without bringing in everything else is how much fun it is to eat. And even that is become tainted. You can barely talk about the garden or the supermarket or the food on your table without talking about the failure of government, the dominance of corporations, and the breakdown of food security. Food engages everything.”

Bittman used soda, his idea of the 21st century’s tobacco, as an example of how the government isn’t doing the best job to protect its people.

(Jump for the six minute video that took me the whole day to upload because I am an idiot…)

“Soda is food’s opposite. It’s empty nourishment…Some say taxing soda – or prohibiting its use with food stamps – is a slippery slope, one that will lead to defining which foods are nutritious and which aren’t, and which government funds should we subsidize and which shouldn’t. The basic point is this: we should subsidize foods that we should encourage people to eat, we think are right for people to eat, and we should be disincentivizing those that we don’t.”

Most importantly, food matters on a personal level. “If we can’t get soda taxed, eliminate government subsidies, fix school lunches, help poor people eat well, we can still set an example – you and I – by eating a plant-heavy diet.” Bittman encouraged his Dallas audience to shift its diet to more fruits and vegetables, and to contribute – a little at a time – to the growing need for changes to our food policies.