Mark Bittman is scared. Although he has no patience for people who are scared about cooking.

“People somehow think, ‘Oh I should be able to cook without failure,’” Bittman says. “But it’s not like that.” Instead, he says people should think about cooking like tennis. “No one expects to go out on a tennis court and hit the ball really well the first time they go out there.”

No, Bittman is anxious about the future of food. “The threats of industrial agriculture, both in terms of environmental damage and public health are very, very real,” Bittman explains. He thinks the point of no-return is just around the corner.

And we have gotten dependent on the increasing industrialization (and pre-preparation) of our food.

“We had two generations of people growing up not learning, in houses of people who didn’t cook,” Bittman says. “The victory of those who claimed that the food they were selling was more convenient than homemade food.”

Though in some ways, things are starting to look up. Lots of young people are interested in cooking, and although book sales are down, cookbook sales remain steady.

So even if the macro forces in society don’t encourage healthy eating or cooking, Bittman thinks that this is “something that can be fixed.”

Bittman wants to tax what he calls “non-food” items -- things like soda and junk food -- and use those taxes to subsidize fruits and vegetables.

“To make it easy for [people] to eat healthy food, you need big changes in society at-large,” Bittman insists.

He also thinks we should bring cooking classes back to school (remember home economics?). Though this time, make it for both genders, not just women. But right now, the way forward isn’t clear to him.

“I think that food, like climate change, is going to have to be seen as part of a larger struggle and part of bigger issues,” he says. “And the real question is how do humans want to survive? Or do humans want to survive? Or are humans destined to survive and what do we want society to look like 20 years from now.”

Bittman pauses for a second, and admits, “I’m scared about this.