Mark Bittman on Changing the Food Industry and Living Dangerously (#205)

Mark Bittman

“You’re not going to succeed at stuff you don’t want to do.”

– Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman (@bittman) is the author of 20 acclaimed books, including the How to Cook Everything series, Food Matters, and his latest, How to Bake Everything — which is on a coveted shelf in my own kitchen.

For more than two decades, Mark’s popular and compelling stories appeared in The New York Times, where he was ultimately the Lead Food Writer for the Sunday Magazine. He became the country’s first food-focused op-ed columnist for a major news publication.

He starred in four TV series, including the Emmy Award-winning Years of Living Dangerously. He’s been a distinguished fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, a fellow at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and was recently appointed to the faculty of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Throughout his career, Mark has strived for the same goal: to make food and all of its aspects understandable — and he also extends that to a brand-new podcast called Get Bitt.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • My fasting regimen
  • Mark’s favorite failures and what he’s learned from them
  • Mark’s first piece that broke him into the world of journalism
  • And much, much more

Please enjoy this episode with Mark Bittman!

#205: Mark Bittman on Changing the Food Industry and Living Dangerously

Want to hear another podcast with another entrepreneur that has built a career on a love of food? — Listen to my conversation with Andrew Zimmern. In this episode, we discuss his meditation practice, morning routines, and creative process (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 40: Andrew Zimmern on Simple Cooking Tricks, Developing TV, and Addiction

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Mark Bittman:

Twitter | Website | Get Bitt Podcast

Show Notes

  • If Mark could give a TED Talk about something he’s passionate about but doesn’t rely on for his livelihood, what would he cover? [07:17]
  • Why does Mark run? [08:18]
  • What books (besides his own) has Mark gifted most? [10:23]
  • What purchase of $100 or less has significantly influenced Mark’s life? [11:32]
  • Why did Mark recently give up Amazon Prime? [12:20]
  • Some people talk tuna. We talk sardines. [14:21]
  • I ask Mark if he’s ever experimented with fasting, and I lay out some of its potential benefits. [16:51]
  • I explain to Mark how I fast without losing muscle tissue. [19:09]
  • What does Mark’s routine look like before a book deadline? [25:15]
  • Mark’s typical writing day. [27:16]
  • How has failure set Mark up for later success? [31:52]
  • Before he started writing professionally, Mark sold photo equipment. Did any of those sales skills translate to selling his own work? [37:04]
  • Mark explains his mantra. [38:27]
  • What advice does Mark wish he’d received when he was younger? [40:27]
  • Where would Mark be today if he’d followed the advice of others instead of following his own path? [42:48]
  • What advice does Mark think his 80-year-old self would give to him now? [45:39]
  • What does Mark mean when he says, “don’t write things off too quickly?” [46:51]
  • Mark tells us why he’s starting a podcast. [48:32]
  • Mark explains his interview style. [52:48]
  • What makes baking fun? [56:39]
  • Using the 704 pages of How to Bake Everything as a reference, where would Mark recommend a beginner start baking? [59:30]
  • Farewells and parting thoughts. [1:03:53]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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10 Replies to “Mark Bittman on Changing the Food Industry and Living Dangerously (#205)”

  1. Didn’t consume the material–just thought you might be interested in my unusual diet. For about eight years I’ve been living more than 90% on fluid milk products, cow milk and cow cream. So every day more than 90% of my diet is some kind of milk–skim, 1%, 2%, and/or whole–plus I buy pints of half-and-half (half milk and half cream) and drink them straight. I find it’s good for my physical and mental health and I tend to think it would be good for others. I should caution that no medical authority has validated this diet as safe or healthy for human beings. But I’ve seen tremendous benefits from it, and would think my body works similarly to many other people’s.

    1. Cool Greg! Great to hear someone is doing their own thing too 🙂 I’m on my own version of liquid/ketogenic diet. I consume lots of coconut milk/cream/oil mixed with whole food based raw powders protein/greens/vitamins and minerals, some fish oil. Sometimes I eat solid food once in a week – 10 days. I function the best like that now. Although it might change. You never know. Plus I love my chocolate sometimes, 100% cacao 🙂

  2. My favorite lessons/quotes:

    “There’s no success without failure.” – In life no one has a perfect recipe. And it’s almost impossible to get it right at the first attempt. In Russia we have a saying, “First pancake is always screwed up (or lumpy in Google translation)”, meaning when you attempt to do ANYTHING you haven’t done before, you’ll almost always screw up, so don’t be afraid of it, learn from it, keep going till your pancake is perfect. Or close to it.

    Lesson absorbed from parents:

    “Follow your passion thing.

    You have to do what it is you think you wanna do. You are not gonna succeed at something you don’t want to do.” Obvious right? But so many of us do it anyway – trying to succeed at something we couldn’t care less about for one reason or the other.

    “When you say yes to something, you say no to something else.” – That’s how you choose your life path. That’s free will in action. Choices.

    “Don’t write things off too quickly.” – Real progress, the interesting stuff happens after “the hill”, when it sucks and you realize you have a lot to learn and lots of things to work on. But you love it, so you stick with it no matter how tough it gets, and the success “happens” – I never did that before, the stick with it thing. Learning the lesson of committed hard work now. Everyone who wants to make something cool in life got to learn it.

    Loved it Tim! Thanks a lot! – It was an unexpected episode. I expected lots of talking about food, not about writing, and life, and fasting. Pleasant surprise!

  3. Another great episode Tim, and don’t worry, we do understand you’re in the trenches with your book right now haha! My favorite part of this episode was when Mark explained how his old job of selling photo equipment gave him the courage to sell himself more aggressively, such great insight!

  4. You’re awesome, Tim, BUT I’ve noticed the ads are taking up more space in your emails than the actual content — starting to look kinda lame.

  5. Tim

    Me llamo Alejandro, tengo 19 años, soy de Rosario, Argentina.

    Escribo en español porque se que tenes cierto dominio del idioma y la vez quiero buscar una forma de resaltar mi mensaje, si no es así , para emergencias siempre existe google translate…

    Te sigo desde hace años. Tengo que agradecerte por el trabajo que haces. Desde mi humilde opinión no se si tendrás noción de la cantidad de vidas que tocaste y cambiaste.

    Tools of Titans es sin duda una obra maestra que me permitió ahora comprender mensaje que transmitís.

    Testing de “impossible” questions me dio el valor para poder escribir este mensaje. El pensar que haría si tuviera 10 millones ( Aca en Argentina son $160 millones de pesos) replanteo la visión de mi vida entera.

    Pertenezco a la clase media baja ( vivo con menos de $350 USD mensuales), desde hace mucho tiempo mi única motivación y todos los porque de mis pensamientos y acciones giraban en torno a solamente hacer la mayor cantidad de dinero posible, lo más rápido posible, ya que de esa manera me sentiría realizado. Ahora entiendo que solo quería hacer eso por considerarlo “imposible ” y que la verdadera razón de todo es eso era comprobar hasta que punto el status quo se podía cambiar.

    Que leas este mensaje es el comienzo de uno de aquellos ” imposibles ” que quiero realizar.

    Abrazo grande desde Argentina.

    PD: Espero que sigas con tu trabajo porque es excelente.

  6. tim

    My name is Alejandro, I’m 19 years old and I’m writing from Rosario, Argentina.

    I’ve been following you for years and I want to thank you for Tool of titans, an incredible book.

    From my humble opinion I think you do not know how many lives you have changed and from as far away as here.

    I believe that for the first time I begin to understand the message you convey.

    Testing the “impossible” made me reflect on my entire life, because I study and do what I do.

    For some time my only goal in life was to make as much money as possible, as fast as possible, I saw nothing else.

    Now I know I wanted to do it to challenge my own beliefs and break the status quo about the “impossible.”

    Really that you read this message is for one of those “impossible” for which I want to start.

    A big hug from Argentina.

    PS: Sorry for my bad english

    PS2: Please let this message arrive, it is very important for me.