J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted October 3, 2011

Published in Celebrities, Food

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Bittman's "Junk Food" Article: Confusion or Clarity?

Read More: confusion over clarity, junk food mark bittman

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Did you see the Mark Bittman article about junk food in the SundayReview section of the New York Times? (link below) His motives were good and his piece may convince a few people to prepare more of their food at home, but (like most items in the news) the overall message lacked clarity. Entitled "Is Junk Food Really Cheaper," he began with:

The “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli ...” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.” This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food.

Mark Bittman's Three Meals, including two cheaper alternatives to the "junk food" on top

He then goes on to explain how a typical meal for a family of four at the NYC-based McDonald's near his home will cost $28 -- much more than two meals that he prepared at his home. This is where the lack of clarity comes in.

Roasted Chicken - $14: "You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people."

Rice & Beans - $9:  "Canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people."

Bacon, Chicken, Milk? Didn't Bill Clinton quit eating that stuff to enable his body to heal itself?

Hey Mark. Here's what I've got to say to you, "Just because you prepare the meal at home doesn't necessarily mean that it is healthy. Are you really telling people that you think chicken, bacon and dairy products are what they should be eating? I am sure that your readers are confused.

Notice that both of the alternative meals contain meat and/or oil -- and both have cow's milk as the beverage of choice. So, is he saying that these two meals are just cheaper? Or are they also healthier? As a reader, I am thinking that he must mean both.

But as a Mark Bittman fan of sorts, I read just about everything he writes these days, and it disturbs me when he fails to be real clear with the public about what they should be eating. Mark Bittman probably has a better understanding of what we should be eating than over 95% of all media professionals. The problem is that even though he has the knowledge, he oftentimes comes up way short when it comes to embracing CLARITY over confusion in his articles. Continue reading this article that includes a Mark Bittman video...

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at



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