Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review: A Bone to Pick by Mark Bittman

ISBN: 0804186545
Published: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Pam Krauss Books
Read from May 22nd to 24th, 2015
Synopsis from publisher:
Since his New York Times op-ed column debuted in 2011, Mark Bittman has emerged as one of our most impassioned and opinionated observers of the food landscape. The Times’ only dedicated opinion columnist covering the food beat, Bittman routinely makes readers think twice about how the food we eat is produced, distributed, and cooked, and shines a bright light on the profound impact that diet—both good and bad—can have on our health and that of the planet.
In A Bone to Pick, Mark’s most memorable and thought-provoking columns are compiled into a single volume for the first time. As abundant and safe as the American food supply appears to be, the state of our health reveals the presence of staggering deficiencies in both the system that produces food and the forces that regulate it. Bittman leaves no issue unexamined; agricultural practices, government legislation, fad diets, and corporate greed all come under scrutiny and show that the issues governing what ends up in our market basket and on our tables are both complex and often deliberately confusing. Unabashedly opinionated and invariably thought provoking, Bittman’s columns have helped readers decipher arcane policy, unpack scientific studies, and deflate affronts to common sense when it comes to determining what “eating well” truly means. As urgent as the situation is, Mark contends that we can be optimistic about the future of our food and its impact on our health, as slow-food movements, better school-lunch programs, and even “healthy fast food” become part of the norm.
At once inspiring, enraging, and enlightening, A Bone to Pick is an essential resource for every reader eager to understand not only the complexities inherent in the American food system, but also the many opportunities that exist to improve it.

Review:

A Bone to Pick is a collection of articles that Bittman has written for the New York Times over the years about all of the different things wrong with the food system in America. It covers a wide range of issues within the food system from the idea of the level of "foodness" of processed foods to the amount of meat Americans consume on average. It talks both about the diets of the average American and the current state of agriculture. It feels like very little is left out over the course of the book.

I greatly enjoyed A Bone to Pick. The various issues addressed in the book are issues that I've increasingly paid attention to over the years, and I consider them very important things to discuss. The role big business plays in influencing the government produced nutrition guidelines is one such issue that I see as extremely important for people to think about, and I often feel like those nutrition guidelines are wrongly viewed as unbiased even by Americans who stop to consider lobbying's influence when it comes to other issues.

The one nit-picky thing I have to say about the book is that it feels repetitive at times. This books is, after all, a collection of articles that were published over a number of years. Because of that, each article stands on its own and wasn't originally written to be read in book form with many of the other articles. This was particularly obvious because I read the book in a span of just a few days. Certain information began to feel very repetitive as I had to read more or less the same thing over and over. On one hand, it served to drill certain points into my head, and the ones that were repeatedly mentioned were typically what I would label the most important ones. On the other hand, it could get a bit tiring at times.

I don't think that one thing is necessarily a bad side. It makes the book a great option for reading slowly and piece by piece. While I didn't read it that way, that is probably how I would recommend others handle it. That is also a good idea because it gives you time to digest what is in each article, and considering the amount of information in the book, that time could be very valuable.

This is one of those books that I would like to recommend to everyone, although I know that, in reality, only certain people are likely to pick it up and actually read it. It has some really great information that is good for everyone to know considering, as the book points out several times, everyone in the world has a relationship with food.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

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