The food frenzy that’s driving our planet to crisis, with Mark Bittman | Frank Buckley Interviews

Frank Buckley Interviews

In the new book “Animal, Vegetable, Junk,” trusted food authority Mark Bittman offers a panoramic view of how the frenzy for food has driven human history to some of its most catastrophic moments, from slavery and colonialism to famine and genocide—and to our current moment, wherein Big Food exacerbates climate change, plunders our planet, and sickens its people.

Bittman joins Frank Buckley Interviews to discuss the arguments in his books. He also explains why “Impossible meat” and meatless burgers do not really have the benefits consumers might think. He also explains why activists, workers, and governments should be choosing well-being over corporate greed and gluttony.

Mark Bittman’s Gingered Rice with Bok Choy and Chicken recipe
Combine fried rice ingredients with a pilaf technique and you get an easy one-dish meal with a lot of flexibility (see the variations that follow). Using just four bone-in chicken thighs ensures the rice absorbs a lot of flavor and everyone gets a little meat with a lot of vegetables. To keep the meal plant-based you could easily use chunks of firm tofu or a cup or two of frozen, cooked, or canned beans instead. Once you put the lid on the pan, you’re virtually home free, with plenty of time to make a salad or a dessert—or relax—while the rice steams. 

1 1/2 pounds bok choy
2 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice, preferably basmati
1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1. Cut the bok choy leaves from the stalks and chop everything, keeping the leaves and stems separated. Put 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken, sprinkle with half the salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until the pieces brown and release easily from the pan, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

2. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the onion and ginger. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice all at once, turn the heat down to medium, and stir until the rice is glossy, completely coated with oil, and starting to color lightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then add 2 1/2 cups water all at once and bring to a boil, stirring once or twice.

3. Stir in the white parts of the bok choy, adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, then nestle the chicken pieces on top and cover the pot. Cover and cook without stirring until the rice is almost tender and the water is absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes.

4. When the rice is ready, push the chicken thighs to one side and stir in the bok choy leaves and the peas with a fork; cover again. Turn the heat to the absolute minimum (if you have an electric stove, turn the heat off and let the pan sit on the burner) and let the pilaf rest for at least 5 or up

to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, fluff again, and serve the chicken on a bed of the rice.


Red or Green Rice Pilaf with Chicken. Translated in Spanish to Arroz Rojo o Verde con Pollo. Instead of ginger, use garlic; reduce the stock to 1 3/4 cups. Just before you add the stock, for arroz rojo, add about 1 cup chopped tomato; for arroz verde, add 1 cup chopped tomatillos. (In either case, canned is fine; don’t bother to drain.) Substitute carrots for the bok choy and keep the peas. Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Chicken Pilaf with Olives and Pine Nuts. Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and garlic instead of ginger. When you season the rice, add 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg. Substitute escarole for the bok choy, and 1/2 cup each chopped black olives and pine nuts for the peas.

Kimchi Chicken Rice. Substitute sesame oil for 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and use it instead of the second tablespoon oil at the end of Step 1. Skip the peas. Don’t salt the rice; in Step 2. When you add the bok choy leaves in Step 4, stir in 1 cup chopped kimchi. Pass soy sauce at the table.

More Ideas

Change the greens: Chinese broccoli, chard, collards, or kale are all good here. • Add some heat: Toss in a couple (or more) of dried red chiles to the rice along with the salt and pepper. Or add chopped fresh chiles along with the bok choy leaves.

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