Mr. Bittman

In nearly 30 years as a food writer, Mark Bittman has said quite a bit about food and the way we eat. Between his early career at Cook's (the predecessor to Cook's Illustrated) his writing for the New York Times, including his weekly column The Minimalist and the more recent Bitten blog, and various well known books and TV specials, Bittman has a habit of very simply saying it like it is when it comes to what we eat. And as it turns out, the man has a few good ideas.

{ Photo courtesy of }

Take his short segment from NPR's
'Kitchen Window' today. I should preface by saying that I'm becoming more and more weary of labeling food and the way we eat it (and for the record, so is Bittman). The term organic, for example, is becoming muddied by the minute as giant food producers and processors get in on the "organic" cash-cow. And as far as labeling diet goes; I take my food choices very seriously, but am I technically a vegetarian or a pescetarian? Is there a hybrid term for that plus locavore? And what if I occasionally eat meat when forced to choose between the dietary high-road and my Grandmother's feelings when she dishes up a permafrosted slice of Meat-Lover's Pizza Hut from the depths of her freezer?

{ Yikes! Photo courtesy of }

That said, I do appreciate the "back to basics" approach to eating that Bittman describes in his 'Kitchen Window' piece. Following his own dietary model, Bittman suggests eating what he calls a VB6 diet, vegan before 6. He defines VB6 as something similar to a vegan diet during the day, with plenty of vegetables and whole grains, and indulging with restraint in a more typical diet of foods we love in the evening.

Of course the VB6 label is tongue-in-cheek, and I especially like that this approach to eating doesn't take itself to seriously. For those of us who want something of a blueprint to make our food choices by, the VB6 is an interesting model for improving our health and the environment while still enjoying many of the foods we grew up on. And I love the idea of deadpanning, "I'm actually a VB6. Oh, you're not familiar with the term?"

For now I plan to stick to my quasi-vegetarianism, but perhaps you'll find something interesting to the VB6 idea. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for Bittman. This won't be the last you will hear of him on Fresh, but in the meantime
click here for more information about his writing or check out his most recent book, 'Food Matters.'

Birthday brownies.

There are so many things to talk about. So many, in fact, that I’m not even sure where to start. In mulling this over today, I decided to do what I usually do when I’m over-thinking… I bake something. A brick of bittersweet chocolate in the pantry had been whispering my name all afternoon, and I responded with brownies. A mini-celebration and the best kind of introduction; welcome to Fresh.

{ While I am well-versed in the making and consuming of brownies, a food photographer I am not... Photo courtesy of Sunday Nite Dinner at }

Fresh is a place to seek news and start conversations; in most cases on issues of sustainability in our food systems, as well as our related communities and culture. Sometimes, the discussion will relate to local happenings from where I wake up most mornings, just outside of Philadelphia, PA. There is a lot to talk about in this area as we struggle to reconcile our claim to the highest cheese-wiz consumption in the States, and our abundant resources for sustainably raised local food. Many people here are working hard to connect these resources to a market and to our communities, and we’ll talk more about that.

Other times Fresh will share what people in different cities and communities are doing to create a sustainable local food economy. We’ll explore what’s working and what isn’t in an effort to find common ground and make progress.

We’ll also look at the bigger picture by collecting and linking to Fresh information about the people and policies that shape our food system on a local, national and international level.

And we’ll explore the reasons that we all do what we do. Is eating local organic food really better for our health? For our environment? Is it economically viable, accessible and affordable for everyone? I want to talk about these things. I want to share what I’m learning, and hear what you know.

When we’re all tired of thinking big, we can talk about what we’ve been reading and what tunes we’ve been listening to while making dinner. I’ll bring a few of my friends over to share their favorite recipes. I happen to know quite a few people who can really cook, and sometimes they share with me in exchange for some sort of decadent chocolate dessert, the thing I can always be counted on for. That, and shrimp quesadillas… But we’ll talk more about those later.

So, welcome. I hope you’ll stop by often as Fresh gets off the ground. For the record, I recommend bringing something to munch on or a cup of coffee when you come back, maybe even a brownie… We have a lot to talk about.

{ Photo courtesy of Karina's Kitchen }

Because we are what we eat.

Fresh seeks to be mindful of the world around us. We do this by looking for signs of life in our food systems and sharing information about the places, people and policies that shape what we eat. Think of it as an open kitchen with a big table… A place for conversation while preparing and sharing a meal with friends.

If you are interested in contributing to Fresh, please email me at CBKing711 {at} gmail {dot} com.

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A word about the artwork. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friend Lauren Mummé, who not only reminded me that I should start a blog, but then offered to design the art for it. I accepted her offer and then, not wanting her to be without anything to do in her third trimester of pregnancy, I asked her to do three more variations so that the Fresh look could change with the seasons. Her designs went totally above my expectations as usual, and I'm very excited to share them with you all. 

And on the subject of thanks, I would also like to send a big "gracias" out to the lovely Brooke Forry, who continues to advise me in the world of Blogger. And to Ellie Moore of Rainy Day Templates, for her patience and expertise in building the template you see here.