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Jan 23, 2009 09:50 AM

Marc Bittman Toronto (moved from Ontario board)

Did anyone go hear Marc Bittman form the NY Times speak at Hart House (U of T) last night (Jan 22nd)

How was he?

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  1. wish i had....although it would be like preaching to the convereted....

    1. It was full more than 30 minutes before he started speaking. The staff was nice enough to turn one speaker towards the hall for those of us stuck outside, but the crowd was so noisy that we couldn't hear a thing...

      1. I won a copy of the book and reserved seating at the event through the Globe and Mail. Bittman was pretty engaging - he was there to talk about Food Matters, which is his new book. The style of eating he outlines in it has been called "Pollan in practice", insofar as it's in line with Michael Pollan's 'Eat food - not much - mostly vegetables'.

        He was pretty engaging - but it was also pretty clear that he hasn't done too much of the live Q and A schtick. There were lots of pregnant pauses and a bit of stammering, which I kina found endearing...he was very real, and also quite friendly. He spent quite a bit of time signing books and chatting after the session.

        I do think that he was preaching to the converted - but by the same token, 'the converted' are the folks who are going to lead by example and actually give this sort of eating style a shot. The gist is that you should cut down substantively on your consumption of meat and meat products (including dairy), eat whole grains, and as many whole fruits and veggies as you can stuff into yourself. Nothing new there - but what i did find very interesting was his insistence during the Q and A that he was not promoting an elitist kind of diet. He made it very clear that, while best quality ingredients are obviously going to result in a better eating experience, he's not promoting the idea that you need to track down obscure ingredients (his example was 'pink salt from hawaii'), or shop exclusively at the local organic market, to eat well. it's very much about getting people to make small changes in terms of what they eat - and while he's very critical of 'big food', he knew that a call for everyone to go back to the land was not going to fly as a mainstream philosophy.

        Bittman came off very much as what he claims to be - a home cook who has spent a good chunk of his career trying to convince other people that cooking doesn't need to be that hard for food to taste good, and for one to eat well. He delivered a message of change, but in a very low-key way, without being too holier-than-thou.

        As for the book - the recipes in the back are interesting...many of them are the sorts of thing you would see in any standard vegetarian cookbook, but some of the variations and combinations he suggests are very intriguing (eg. using blood orange and avocado in a layered, caprese-style salad).

        3 Replies
        1. re: wickalicious

          Curious: how much dairy is he advising? I'm vegetarian, and dairy -- yogurt and cottage cheese -- makes up about 50-75% of my daily protein consumption. I know Bittman isn't a diet guru, and he doesn't propose a strict formula, but what was his general recommendation regarding dairy?

          1. re: piccola

            He didn't have one. He's not interested specifically in dairy, but in animal products of all kinds (this is because of the stress that animal-rearing puts on the environment). He gave as an ideal that no more than 10% of our diet come from animal products, but it didn't seem to make any difference, in his opinion, whether this came from meat, dairy, or eggs.

            1. re: chloe103

              Oh, OK. I'm pretty sure I do that already.

        2. There is a video that is likely similar to his TO visit for those of us that missed it.