Al Roker is a Total Ray of Sunshine
Plus: Blame the food industry, don't guilt-trip eaters; why we can't give up; and entertainment I enjoyed
This Week’s Marksisms
Food with Mark Bittman: Al Roker
It’s starting to really feel like summer, and, for me at least, it happened very quickly. Do you ever think about people as seasons? I’m asking this because today’s guest is absolutely an embodiment of summer. Warm and delightful, universally lovable — or at least as much as a human or a season can be. It’s Al Roker, and this is an episode from more than a year ago, but, for aforementioned reasons, it feels seasonally appropriate. I’ve known Al for a long time through my appearances on TODAY, where he’s worked now for almost 30 years, and we talked about that, and cooking, and his family, and his undying positivity. And fun fact: Al became a grandpa this week. Congratulations to him and his family!
The recipe featured on today’s episode, Al’s Rub, can be found here.
We Can’t Just Give Up
In response to my saying that I didn’t know precisely when we’d make a transition to regenerative agriculture, a reader wrote and said, simply, “Never. The chemical input companies will never let it happen.”
This kind of thinking leads to despair and inaction. You might simply say “Fossil fuel companies will never allow renewables to supply the majority of our energy,” and on the face of it that may well appear to be true. Globally, we see the visible and tangible effects of climate change every day – most recently the smoke in many of our homes – and our “leaders” do next to nothing about it. Similarly, our health is being destroyed as a direct result of monoculture and ultra-processed foods, but one might think that there is barely a person in power for whom this is a concern.
It's obvious that most corporations whose reigning principle is to simply become ever-bigger and more profitable will continue to try to make money however they can. Failing to stop them will likely lead to global catastrophe in the form of millions or hundreds of millions of deaths, widespread suffering, forced migration, war, and any other horrors you can imagine.
Certainly that scenario is possible; but maintaining that it’s unavoidable may produce a self-fulfilling prophecy. Better, I believe, to point out the egregious problems with the current “system” (which is in fact quite anarchic, but a good system for making money at the cost of health and justice and the environment) and to suggest solutions (like renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, and so on) and to make every attempt to organize like-minded people to struggle (and support the struggles of others) to produce food (and energy) in ways that provide land for people who want to farm it well and good, healthy food that is universally available.