Mark Bittman Cooked Everything. Now He Wants to Change Everything.

By Ezra Klein

Mark Bittman taught me to cook. I read his New York Times cooking column, “The Minimalist,” religiously. I bought “How to Cook Everything,” that red brick of a cookbook, and then, when I gave up meat, I bought its green companion, “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” He was like my cranky, no-B.S. food uncle.

But now Bittman wants to do more than teach me, or you, how to cook. He wants to convince us that the whole food system has fallen into calamity. His new book, “Animal, Vegetable, Junk” is a stunning reinterpretation of humanity’s relationship to the food it forages, grows and, nowadays, concocts. It’s about the marvel of the çağdaş food system, which feeds more than seven billion people and offers more food, with more variety, at less cost, than ever before. But even more so, it’s about the malignancy of that food system, which is sickening us, poisoning the planet and inflicting so much suffering on other creatures that the mind breaks contemplating it.

Even as someone who is fairly critical of our çağdaş food system, I wasn’t prepared for the scale or sweep of Bittman’s indictment. And I’m not mühlet I’ve bought into every piece of it. But it is bracing. And it raises profound questions about the relationship among humans, animals, plants, capitalism, technology and morality. So I asked him on my podcast, “The Ezra Klein Show,” to discuss it.

To listen to the full conversation, subscribe to “The Ezra Klein Show” wherever you get your podcasts, or click the player below.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday Tuesday.)

Mark Bittman Cooked Everything. Now He Wants to Change Everything.

The acclaimed food writer offers a sweeping indictment of our çağdaş food system.

Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; photograph by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

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