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.

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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.'

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