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A Bone to Pick

The Good and Bad News About Food

By Mark Bittman
12-minute read
Audio available
A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food by Mark Bittman

A Bone to Pick (2015), a compilation of articles originally published in the New York Times, outlines the systemic problems in the American food industry. It lays out the governmental and agricultural problems that are holding the industry back – and harming us and our planet in the process.

  • Health and nutrition enthusiasts
  • Those wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle
  • People interested in sociology, economics or agriculture

Mark Bittman is a writer for the New York Times and New York Times Magazine. He's written a number of bestselling books, including How to Cook Everything and VB6.

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A Bone to Pick

The Good and Bad News About Food

By Mark Bittman
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food by Mark Bittman
Synopsis

A Bone to Pick (2015), a compilation of articles originally published in the New York Times, outlines the systemic problems in the American food industry. It lays out the governmental and agricultural problems that are holding the industry back – and harming us and our planet in the process.

Key idea 1 of 7

Changes in the food industry could have a major impact on many pressing global issues.

Did you know there's enough food in the world to feed everyone? And yet, roughly one billion people don't have enough to eat. This problem isn't caused by a lack of food – it's caused by our flawed agricultural system. In fact, a third of all the calories we produce go into feeding animals; another third is wasted in the production process; and five percent goes into fuel processing.

There might be a solution, however. It’s called agroecology, and it’s a combination of ecology and agriculture.

Crop rotation, the planting schedule for a set of crops, is a prime example of a process agroecology could improve. Imagine you have two plots of land. In Plot One, during one year, you plant soybeans; the following year, you plant corn. In Plot Two, you also plant soybeans in the first and corn in the second year, but then you switch to oats in the third year, before going back to soybeans in the fourth.

Plot Two would have a higher yield, because biodiversity enriches the soil. If you added alfalfa into the rotation, the yield would become even greater.

So we need to make it standard practice for farms to include more crops in their crop rotations, so that we can produce more efficiently.

But what if you don’t own a farm? You can still make a difference in the global food industry. How? Stop buying imported fruits and vegetables.

There's no reason to buy asparagus from Peru in December. Because of it must be transported a great distance, that asparagus leaves a much greater carbon footprint than local vegetables.

Buy your products from local farmers' markets instead. Eat foods that are in season. If you can, change your lawn into a garden and start growing your own vegetables and kitchen herbs. By decreasing its dependence on imported fruits and vegetables, the US would greatly further the fight against global warming.

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