When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in San Francisco, eat well and try to get hired by an early stage startup.
That's of course what Mark Bittman's done, revealing in a surprise final column for the New York Times that after 5 years with the paper he's "leaving to take a central role in a year-old food company, to do what I’ve been writing about these many years: to make it easier for people to eat more plants."
What company? That's not clear yet, but lets hope it's not that fake-mayo, fake-tech company Hampton Creek.
Anyway, long smitten with California and its cuisine, Bittman has already put down some roots here — teaching at Berkeley, producing a video series about local food, and inviting parody like this A+ satire, titled “California Is Sunny!” by Mark Bittman, from the A+ website the Toast.
Arriving at my charming rented Berkeley bungalow I found I was oddly warm in my long underwear, Smartwool socks and Pendleton shirt and found myself changing into some lighter clothing. I heard some chickens clucking and was struck dumb when I looked out the window and saw them pecking through grass on the other side of a bamboo fence on the neighbor’s lawn. Grass? At this time of year? And those pink things with the petals - was I supposed to understand those were also flowers?
And Bittman isn't above a joke about himself, either. As he writes, “'Oh,' say my friends, 'you move to California and join a start-up.' Yup. Corny as can be." But Bittman thinks that instead, it's "putting philosophy into action."
The time is right to stop. I’ve raised the topics I thought I should; I made the best arguments around those subjects where I was capable; I threw my heart and energy into it; and to a large extent have said what I had to say.
I’ve long seen myself as an activist and an advocate as well as a journalist. Although I’m eager to understand both sides of an argument, I’ve felt that my job was to parse an issue, get the facts right, figure out what I thought was the correct position on that issue, and express it.
Bittman says that the major food issues have been, as he sees them, identified. Now it's time to put his money where his mouth is. "Unless I’m not reading enough, there don’t seem to be any new significant issues surfacing, just the same intransigent themes that I’m going to try to take on directly as an entrepreneur." With that entrepreneurial spirit, I think Bittman is going to fit in here just fine.