Mark Bittman in Madison.

When I saw that Mark Bittman was coming to Madison to speak at this years Isthmus Green Day I was pretty stoked. His recipes are consistently delicious and I am an avid reader of his column “On Food” that he writes for the NY Times. I find his writing to have a directness that the whole food movement is lacking in most of it’s other luminaries, and this lecture in Madison certainly didn’t disappoint.

In a packed Monona Terrace I was fortunate enough to find a single seat in the front row. Like virtually every performer/speaker I have seen in Madison in the last year, Mr. Bittman started with shameless pandering, committing the first 5 minutes of his talk to dissing Scott Walker and at one point calling Madison the “last bastion of liberalism”.  Yeah, could have done without that. However, once he got the point at hand, I was pretty into it. His subtle snark won me over while he discussed veganism, “What really matters is that we move from the cheeseburger end of the spectrum to the salad end”. He went on to say that you don’t necessarily have to only eat raw vegetables, but to be conscious of what you’re eating. That certainly isn’t a revolutionary concept to you and I, but a re-framing of the conversation never hurts.

After about 45 minutes of preaching to the choir, in my opinion, he wrapped things with a few bold, yet pretty obivous, statements. He said that food that is bad for you should not be subsidized nor should food stamps pay for them. A soda should be $4.00 while water should be free to everyone. Taxing soda in the same way that cigarettes are taxed. Revolutionary? Hardly. Reality? In a dream world, Mark.

All in all, I enjoyed his lecture all though I didn’t really feel like I heard anything new. That certainly didn’t stop me from getting my copy of “How to Cook Everything”.


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