Mark Bittman: What’s wrong with what we eat

In this fiery and funny talk, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman weighs in on what’s wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it’s putting the entire planet at risk.

Slow Food Story

Slow Food Story is a documentary about how Carlo Petrini and his friends created the Slow Food movement. A revolutionary quest made of strong beliefs regarding economy, politics, science, philosophy… A story regarding people’s wellbeing bringing the spotlight on Food and it’s key role in contemporary world problems. You can find more information about it on Slow Food Story’s website (italian). The movie premieres in Italy on May 30.



Since I did not find any english descriptions or subtitles for the movie trailer, I am posting the translation I made from the italian release. It is not good english, but I guess the message is clear.

Here it is:

The story of the man and the movement that revolutionized gastronomy

This is the story of a revolution.

A cultural revolution, one of those that do not leave dead on the field, but still, when set in motion, marks a point of no return.

This is the story of a slow revolution. Slow. As a snail.

A revolution has been going on for 25 years and still shows no signs of stopping.

It has a Commander in Chief, which is called Carlo Petrini, called Carlìn.

The inventor of Slow Food.

In Italy, 1986, he founded the gastronomic association Arcigola, and three years later in Paris launches Slow Food. An international movement that began as a resistance to Fast Food, that came threatening the local cuisine all over the planet.

People like the idea, the movement of the nut made followers grow worldwide. Starting from Bra, a town of 27 thousand inhabitants, and speaking almost exclusively Piedmontese dialect, Carlìn creates out of nothing an international association that now has 85,000 members in 130 countries, and has a tremendous impact in the world of gastronomy and culture of our time.

His bet is powerful. It is to free food from the cultural marginality that it is relegated and get the focus on the centrality of food – regarding economy, politics, science, philosophy.

The ambition is revealed in all its greatness in the 2000s, when Petrini gives life to his most visionary projects: Terra Madre, a forum of 5000 farmers from around the world gathered in Turin to give voice to agriculture that fights against damaging mass crops, also giving life to the University of Gastronomic Sciences, which brings dignity to the academic study of food.

Meanwhile, gastronomy – also thanks to him – flies: the chefs are the stars,  TV from all over the world are full of cooking shows, publishing industry produces it’s best-sellers. Now, food typical products are cool- defended by the Slow Food Presidia project –  they are a status symbol.

A winning idea – Slow Food – as sometimes happens, is not the result of the predictable.

Slow Food Story is the story of a group of friends from a province growing  together between jokes, colossal eating and political passion. Between them, there is Petrini, of course. But there are also his best friends: Azio Citi and Giovanni Ravinale.

This is the story of their friendship. A story made of joy, but also of sorrows.

A story of restaurants, story of revived farmers rituals (like the “sing the eggs” ritual at night, during Lent in the farms of Langhe, waking up the farmers with improvised musicians and red wine, till dawn). A story of unmissable events like the club Tenco and the beast of San Fermin in Pamplona. A story of drunken travels, of bets, won or lost, but lived always with the same unsinkable gruff and contagious humor and character.

A life rich and unique. That is the life of Carlìn. Today he is an “European hero”, says Time Magazine, and a columnist in the most important Italian newspaper. Petrini is firmly anchored in the small town from which he took off, in spite of the global dimension of the international movement that he founded.

Here is a story that shows us how even the most important cultural adventures can arise from an amused and ironic approach to life.

And that, perhaps, deserves to be told.

Gotham Greens + Whole Foods: Commercial-Scale City Greenhousing

57904_10151356204230843_895285916_nGotham Greens is the first commercial-scale rooftop hydroponic greenhouse in the world. They got together with Whole Foods for this groundbreaking entrepreneurship, using less water, eliminating pesticides, putting an end to fertilizer runoff and leading the way to a sustainable agriculture.




You can read more on this Whole Foods article.

Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

Based on Michael Pollan’s talk “Food Rules” given at the RSA, this animation was created in the context of the RSA/Nominet Trust film competition. Using a mixture of stop-motion and compositing, our aim and challenge was to convey the topic in a visually interesting way using a variety of different food products. We made a little table top set up at home and worked on this a little over three weeks.

More information available at

Here are also some photos of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules in the making


WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD


Also read a post from WebMD, March 23, 2009


— We Americans suffer a national eating disorder: our unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.

That’s the diagnosis delivered by food author Michael Pollan in a lecture given last week to an overflow crowd of CDC scientists.

As part of an effort to bring new ideas to the national debate on food issues, the CDC invited Pollan — a harsh critic of U.S. food policies — to address CDC researchers and to meet with leaders of the federal agency.

“The French paradox is that they have better heart health than we do despite being a cheese-eating, wine-swilling, fois-gras-gobbling people,” Pollan said. “The American paradox is we are a people who worry unreasonably about dietary health yet have the worst diet in the world.”

In various parts of the world, Pollan noted, necessity has forced human beings to adapt to all kinds of diets.

“The Masai subsist on cattle blood and meat and milk and little else. Native Americans subsist on beans and maize. And the Inuit in Greenland subsist on whale blubber and a little bit of lichen,” he said. “The irony is, the one diet we have invented for ourselves — the Western diet — is the one that makes us sick.”

Snowballing rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the U.S. can be traced to our unhealthy diet. So how do we change?

7 Words & 7 Rules for Eating

Pollan says everything he’s learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Probably the first two words are most important. “Eat food” means to eat real food — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and, yes, fish and meat — and to avoid what Pollan calls “edible food-like substances.”

Here’s how:

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?” Pollan says.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food,” Pollan says.
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. “Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?” Pollan asks.
  7. Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.

Food Revolution Day

I have been following Food Day and Food Revolution Day activities for a while now. I even posted about Food Day here on the blog before. It is nice to see good initiatives like those brought to light with hard work. Some days ago, I got this kind newsletter email.

Dear Ravi,

Food Day–the nationwide celebration and grassroots campaign for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food is October 24.

But there’s no reason to wait six months to get involved in the food movement!  We on the Food Day team have teamed up with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on another important day of action, Food Revolution Day. Jamie has been an important ally helping improve school foods in the U.S., and we’re thrilled to work together this year to keep cooking skills alive.

The second annual Food Revolution Day, a global day of action for people to make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills, is coming up on May 17 and there are loads of ways to get involved!

Food Revolution Day aims to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone. It’s a chance for people to come together within their homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skillsfood knowledge and resources.

Activities are taking place all around the world, from healthy pizza demos and interactive workshops to real food picnics and even a disco salad!

Getting involved can be as simple as making a home-cooked dinner for family and friends, teaching someone how to cook or sharing a favorite recipe. Check out this activity pack, filled with ideas for Food Revolution Day, plus some great ideas to make your event that extra bit special!

Whatever you decide to do, no matter how big or small, be sure to add your activity to the global map and join the conversation online with @foodrev using the hash tag #FRD2013.

Join us, the Food Revolution Day team and thousands of others across the world in standing up for better food education and help keep cooking skills alive on May 17.


Lilia Smelkova, Food Day Campaign Manager”


Captura de Tela 2013-05-02 às 11.42.21

Get to know more on Food Day and Food Revolution Day.



Grown Up Talk

11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production.

An Expert’s Theory of Food Television’s Appeal


bruni_foodtv_post.jpgBrad Barket/Getty Images

At drinks with a friend the other night, the subject of “Top Chef” and other food television came up, and he remarked that his early twentysomething sons watch more than a few cooking programs, as do many of their friends. He’d overheard the discussions that attested to that. But none of these young men, he said, were home cooks. Nor did they seem to aspire to be. They just like the programs, and not solely the ones, like “Top Chef” and its imitators, that have elimination-competition suspense built into them. They like more straightforward cooking demonstrations, too.

That shouldn’t really be surprising. The proliferation of food television suggests that its audience is not only huge but also varied; otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a vigorous push to conceive and distribute so many food-related programs on the Food Network and on its relatively new spawn, the Cooking Channel, and on Fox (Gordon Ramsay screams some more!) and on Bravo and, well, I could keep going like this for several paragraphs. It now seems that at any hour on any day, you can choose among a half dozen shows that will let you admire (or gasp at) someone’s culinary efforts and ogle the food he or she produces.

It’s a banquet of colorful, seductive, and familiar images, presented rhythmically, with a soundtrack of oohs and aahs.

But how many of the people doing the admiring, gasping, and ogling like to cook, dream of cooking, or want to know more about the mechanics of cooking? Even if it’s a majority, that still leaves a lot of non-cooks in the audience. What prompts THEM to tune into food television?

My friend has a theory I find interesting. He wonders if there’s a sort of broad cultural nostalgia at work. By that he means: as fewer and fewer young people know the much-talked-about ideal of home-cooked meals and of families gathering at the table at night to eat them, do the glossy, dreamy culinary demonstrations on TV tap into, and satisfy, a kind of curiosity and longing? For these young people, does the televised cooking have the appeal of a missive from a lost utopia? Is it like an artifact from a bygone era?

The lifestyle porn of food television is more often discussed in terms of aspiration: would-be home cooks with limited budgets and time watch Martha and Ina and Giada go through their fluid, calm, dexterous paces and fantasize that they can or someday will do the same. But for younger viewers, is this same lifestyle porn more of a “Little House on the Prarie” or “Leave it to Beaver” experience?

As my friend was laying out this theory for me, I remembered a conversation a year ago with a recent college grad working for a glossy men’s magazine. He wasn’t a big home cook. He wasn’t a big restaurantgoer. He didn’t have the money to make those things happen, and beyond that, his culinary curiosity wasn’t all that keen.

But he was a committed fan of “The Barefoot Contessa” on TV. Why? He just loved Ina’s kitchen. He just loved the idea that he was in there, with her, watching her cook, presumably for him. It pleased him. Lulled him.

This leads me to one of my own theories about the popularity of food television among those who don’t cook. When many people turn on the television set, as opposed to picking up a book or doing something more interactive, they’re looking for a passive, mind-resting experience. They want something that doesn’t require close attention, the way a twisty plot might. Something akin to visual music. Something ambient, in a way.

Much food television gives them that. It’s a banquet of colorful, seductive, and familiar images, presented rhythmically, with a soundtrack of oohs and aahs.

I don’t watch a lot of it, but when I do happen to turn to a cooking program and then get distracted. I sometimes lose any active awareness of it and don’t even remember, for hours, that it or the cooking programs that follow it are on. I don’t change the channel. I sit at the nearby computer while, just 12 feet away, chops are being grilled and vegetables sautéed and potatoes mashed. Is this footage not so much exhorting me to the stove or priming my appetite but, in some corner of my brain, simply putting me at peace?

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