Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Bone to Pick

Title:  A Bone to Pick: The Good and Bad News About Food, Along with Wisdom and Advice on Diets, Food Safety, GMOs, Farming, and More from the Bestselling New York Times Opinion Write
Author:  Mark Bittman
Publication Information:  Pam Krauss Books. 2015. 272 pages.
ISBN:  0804186545 / 978-0804186544

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "America's food system is broken."

Favorite Quote:  "'How do we change the food system?' is a question that cannot be directly answered. ... But 'How do I change my relationship to food' is a question you can answer yourself, now, in a continuing manner."

Mark Bittman is a food expert - an expert on preparing and cooking food and an expert on the "business" of food. He is a long time food columnist for the New York Times. He is, in fact, the only opinion column writer who focuses on food for the New York Times. A quick search on the New York Times website shows almost 2,700 articles written by Mr. Bittman!

I am a huge fan of Mr. Bittman's work - both his cookbooks and his articles. I own several of his books and have read his columns as they appear in the  New York Times. This book is a compilation of some of his writings. The articles come from work previously published in The New York Times, either in his weekly opinion column or in the Sunday Magazine.

What this book does do:
  • For a reader wanting to learn about the food industry, its problems, and possible solutions, this book provides a well organized and well researched introduction.
  • For a reader who is being introduced to or is a fan of Mr. Bittman's work, this book provides a great compilation.
  • This book organizes the articles by topic, providing an overall look at the entire food system in a way that individual articles or a chronological compilation cannot. The topic sections in the book are:
    • Big Ag, Sustainability, and What's in Between
    • What's Wrong with Meat?
    • What is Food? And What is Not?
    • The Truth About Diet(s)
    • The Broken Food Chain
    • Legislating and Labeling
    • A Few Final Thoughts
  • The compilation format means that it can be read cover to cover or a reader can choose to focus topics on interest.
  • Mr. Bittman's work is very clear on the need for change. He has strong, well researched, and well supported opinions that will educate you on our food system, and he is not afraid to express them, taking on food producing giants, pharmaceuticals, and the government.
What this book does not do:
  • This book does not introduce any new writing. The articles included can all be found on the New York Times website. The articles date from 2011 to the present. Unfortunately, the older ones included in this book do not include an update as to where we are today. Admittedly, that may be because we are no further in resolving the issue, but even that would be valuable information to share and would in fact make the message stronger.
  • The review copy I received does not have an index or a further reading list. I hope the final version of the book does. That would be invaluable to a reader looking to delve further into any topic.
Change does need to happen. Mr. Bittman's message is a powerful one and a critical one. It will make you think - really think - about what you choose to buy and what you choose to put in your mouth. Read this book for an introduction if you need one to his work or to the issues plaguing our food supply. Then, follow his new writings and become a part of the change.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.


  1. I love Mark Bittman and will have to pick this one up!

    1. My reason exactly for reading the book. It's a great compilation of his writings. Let me know what you think when you read it.