Mark Bittman’s warning: the true costs of our cheap food and the American diet

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From Mesopotamian irrigation to McDonalds, the bestselling food writer tells Oliver Milman that his new history of food is his most important work

The global, industrialized food system faces increasing scrutiny for its environmental impact, given its voracious appetite for land is linked to mass deforestation, water pollution and a sizable chunk of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The implied trade-off has been that advances in agriculture have greatly reduced hunger and driven societies out of poverty due to improved productivity and efficiencies. But Mark Bittman, the American food author and journalist, argues in his new book Animal, Vegetable, Junk that these supposed benefits are largely illusionary.

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