Mr. President, I have the honor of presenting Mark Bittman, food writer, bestselling author and member of the Clark University Class of 1971.
Mr. Bittman, good food is your passion, one you have been pursuing since your days as a Clark undergraduate, when you taught yourself to cook while living off campus. Throughout your career, you have written eloquently, and forcefully, about preparing and consuming food intelligently — for taste, for health, and with an awareness of the environmental and social costs involved.
After your graduation, you became a community organizer, agitating for rent control, women’s rights, fair welfare benefits, and justice for immigrants. All the while, you kept cooking. When you decided to write restaurant reviews, you did it by telling the editor of the New Haven Advocate that his critic wasn’t good enough and the job should be yours — and soon it was.
Not long after, The New York Times came calling, and your unfussy recipes and wit-spiced Minimalist columns earned you a devoted following and served as a roadmap for eating well. You eventually moved to the Times’ Opinion pages, where you offered candid assessments of factory farming, Big Food, the traditional food pyramid, and many more food-industry topics through the prisms of sustainability and social justice.
You continue to offer a sane response to an American diet flirting with madness, seeking to reconnect people with the lost art of preparing meals at home. How to Cook Everything and your subsequent books have sold millions of copies, earned numerous awards, and are staples in kitchens everywhere.
Mr. President, on behalf of the trustees, faculty, students and staff of Clark University, I request that the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, be conferred on Mark Bittman.