Environment

Mark Bittman’s career has evolved over the years, from cookbook author to outspoken advocate for sustainable and ethical food.

Bittman, a New York Times columnist and frequent guest on NPR, is in Louisville to speak Wednesday at an event at Locust Grove. He’ll discuss Louisville’s role in the farm-to-table movement and the city’s reputation as a haven for “foodies.”

In an interview with WFPL News, Bittman said he feels fundamentally different about the relationship people have with food than when he started work on his best-selling book “How to Cook Everything” in the mid-1990s.

Since then, he’s begun to think more about how food interacts with issues such as the environment, nutrition, climate change and labor, he said.

“It now feels like those first 20 years of seeing food as something to cook and something to buy as cheaply as you could was naïve. That was a different era,” Bittman said.

“If you think that food is simple now, your head’s just in the sand.”

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Bittman said school lunches are one of the few areas in which dealings with the food supply have improved.

“They’ve been moving in the right direction — it’s one thing that actually has been going better. Not well, but better,” he said.

He said the improvements are due to financial incentive for the system, which he thinks needs to happen across the board in order for serious change to occur.

“There are forces arrayed against sensible action, and those forces believe that we can continue to mine the Earth’s resources as if they were infinite. And I think we’ve learned that they’re not,” he said.

“But as long as it’s really profitable to just mine the Earth, to exploit resources and use them up without thinking that much about what comes next — as long as that’s an OK way to do business — that is going to dominate. There’s got to be some controls that are not yet in place, that change the way business works.”