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I talk food politics, food and how to lay out your Thanksgiving meal with New York Times food writer and cookbook-author extraordinaire Mark Bittman.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  Food  
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Comments

The #1 fix I'd make for a healthier diet for the US is to tie Agriculture subsidies to the FDA nutrition pyramid. #2 is to raise wages for the poor, therefore giving them time to make better long term decisions vs. convenience decisions. #3 would be to design less sedentary work environments. You burned 20 fewer calories sitting for the 40 minutes of this vlogging heads than you would have if you had a standing desk. Changing work enviroments and designing out sedentary work spaces is easy. People aren't comfortable sitting at a work station all day. That came from the demands of early technology which could not be moved. The more information work and mobile computing can do, the less sedentary you need to be at your workplace yet people still sit at a desk all day.

Re: the class aspects of the food discussion. Go buy 20,000 calories of food at your local discount grocery. The easiest way is to buy a package of processed meat, a loaf of bread, and some mayonaisse. Filling sandwiches for your family for days that you can carry that home in one bag on the bus. Now try carrying 20,000 calories of grains and fruits and vegetables from your local discount grocery. It will be 3 bags of food and cost at least double what the less than healthy food costs and have quite a bit more preparation time. McDonald's doesn't call their giant meals 'Supersize' anymore. They call them Extra Value meals as in a lot of food for not a lot of money. And McDonalds is correct.

Thanks for this blog and discussing so many important issues. Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by: jamusco | November 24, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

That was good quality vamping on your part when Bittman had to get up, you're on your way kiddo to being on MSNBC.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | November 24, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

that was a good talk, even if Ezra comes off a little pompous. a couple of thoughts: someone could eat a big salad, a bowl of fruit, or even some oatmeal before joining guests for Thanksgiving; this would automatically help with portion control to some degree. also, policy-wise, the marketing of industrialized food, ie food products that come in jars and boxes, should have an identifying mark like e.g. crap food instead of the nebulous policy that currently exists with a questionable check on fruit loops. Such a policy shift would force industry to retool and think of healthier options. also, a crap food tax placed on such items could be disbursed to subsidize healthier foods like raisins and apples.

Posted by: goadri | November 24, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Another good book on food policy, which offers a compelling critique of the local and organic movements, is Just Food, by James McWilliams. It's not a perfect book, and people who know more about this than I do could probably offer some strong counters to the things he writes about genetic modification and the limits of organic production, but he raises some excellent points and it's definitely worth reading.

Posted by: lizrichardson03 | November 25, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

You made a good point that we could do a lot for health policy simply by making it more difficult, certainly less easy, for people to obtain bad food. However, I think that we could do much more by going further by making it easier to get good food in reasonable portions.

We really do have the tools available to make eating healthy much easier for anyone and everyone. What we don't have is the lack of political obstruction that would be necessary. This issue is like health care, transportation, and urban planning. There is no absence of great ideas, but there is a powerful status quo desperate to shut down options that would in any way expand government or increase competition.

Posted by: bcbulger | November 25, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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