A standing-room-only audience of students, faculty and staff had the chance to hear the insights of Mark Bittman, one of the country’s best-known, most widely respected food writers. Bittman, who was in Syracuse as the featured speaker at the Rosamond Gifford Lecture on November 5, made a special trip to campus to meet with students in Falk College’s food studies and nutrition programs.

The question-and-answer format led by Bittman explored many topics, including how students can work with their faculty to help expand the percentage of locally produced food served on campus, why people who are ‘foodies’ are becoming increasingly active in the labor movement, and the need for reduced marketing of soda, sugary cereals and junk food to children. In discussing the merits of urban agriculture and school gardens, Bittman noted “it is significant to show kids food comes from the ground.”

Bittman told the audience that while people don’t cook as much as they used to, “interest in food and cooking is making a recovery.” His newest book, How to Cook Everything Fast, tackles one of the greatest barriers to cooking—time. He explained to students that even if they aren’t able to cook as much as they’d like, they still need to eat healthy foods that interest them. “It isn’t critical for everyone to cook. But everyone absolutely needs to eat good food,” he added.

Bittman writes for the Opinion section of the New York Times on food policy and cooking, and is a columnist for the New York Times Magazine. A regularly featured guest on the Today Show, he wrote “The Minimalist” column for 13 years, and now a “Minimalist” cooking show is featured on the Cooking Channel. The How to Cook Everything series is highly respected: the first edition of the flagship book How to Cook Everything won both the IACP and James Beard Awards, and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian won the 2008 IACP award. He is also the author of Food Matters, Food Matters Cookbook, Fish, and Leafy Greens.