If I started to list both the problems with Bittman's manifesto, and FoodFoto's falacious reaction to it, we'd be here all day.
Typical of Bittman, though, there isn't an original thought in the whole thing. He's merely collected a lot of liberal-oriented issues and grouped them together, with no thought as to practical implementation. Just "let the government do it." You know, the government that has had such a great track record all through the 20th century and the first part of the 21st.
Let's leave out things like letting the government define "real" food, and similar inanities. Let's focus, instead, on the "sustainability" issue. It's the darling of people like Bittman, because it simultaneously gives them that nice warm fuzzy feeling while promoting a program that sounds rational even though it isn't.
This simple fact of the matter is that sustainability is an elitest position. There are just too many of us, and not enough land near where we live, to support the population as if it were the 19th century. Land use costs on acreage that is close means higher prices for food. Sustainable agricultural practices (i.e., organic growing, free-ranging, and so forth) add even more to the production costs. Somebody has to pay for them. Such payments can be made directly, by the more affluent consumer, or indirectly, through higher taxes. One or the other. There just ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
Jonathan Swift had a modest proposal for solving that dillema. You reckon that's what Bittman really has in mind?
Something else Bittman chooses to overlook is the massive economic dislocation programs like his proposal would cause. He claims to be concerned with the conditions farm workers face. And maybe he is. But his solution would result in them not working at all. If all the "evils" of big agriculture were thrown out, which is what he's recommending, there would be massive unemployment. We're not just talking about the guys who pick the lettuce, but also the ones who make the chemicals, and the people who build the farm equipment, and the truck drivers who haul the stuff to the warehouses, and the warehouse workers themselves---and the people who produce all the goods and services those folks buy with their farm wages.
If y'all think the current recession has been bad, you ai't seen nothing yet. I haven't done the math (if it's even possible to do so, meaningfully). But it wouldn't surprise me, if Bittman has his way, that 50% or more of us would be out of work, and the rest of us struggling to make do.
Wouldn't that be something. Nice healthy food, that we couldn't eat anyway, because without a job there'd be no money to pay for it.
Of course, Bittman's solution, no doubt, would be another government program to subsidize all us poor people.