Here is the comment to this article that I posted on the NYT website:
I am disappointed with Bittman's oversimplifications and his apparent ignorance of the vast amount of scholarship on food insecurity.
First, Bittman presents "Let's end poverty in order to end hunger" as his own novel insight. He does not mention that this concept has been accepted in the development community for decades. (Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen published his famous book "Poverty and Famines" in 1981.)
Second, Bittman wrongly says "boosting yields does nothing" for the world's hungry. In developing countries, agriculture is the only viable industry in many rural areas, so increasing farm productivity is key to improving livelihoods. In addition, higher farm productivity can lead to lower and more stable food prices for urban dwellers.
Third, Bittman conflates very different issues in the developed vs. the developing world. In the developed world, the poor are mostly urban, and are generally mal- instead of undernourished; in the developing world, the poor are often rural dwellers with low farm productivity.
Finally, Bittman offers a glib solution: "The best method of farming for most people is probably traditional farming boosted by science." But there are thousands of different "traditional" production systems globally – some sustainable, some not. Also, this implies that "traditional farming" ignores science, when in fact, farmers often understand their own land better than anyone.
With these oversights, Bittman’s column is more misleading than helpful.