When Paul Krugman, a famous liberal economist who has gained enduring cultural prominence by writing for the New York Times, actually put his philosophical beliefs to practical use, he helped give us Enron. Today, Dr. Krugman wisely avoids anything that translates to the real world. In the Sarbanes-Oxley culture he helped make necessary, he can stay out of jail if he sticks to polemics about Republicans.

Mark Bittman, food writer and vegan advocate, won't have that worry in his foray into entrepreneurship: private companies are exempt. So he is probably excited to try out his opinions in the corporate sector, comfortable in the belief that veganism has not taken over the world simply because someone from the realm of diet books hasn't joined a corporation in the plant food business.

But his perspective about American culture might be as wrong as it has been about science. He writes in his farewell column "When I began, nearly five years ago, food was not generally considered as serious a topic as it is now", which will be confusing to people beyond the Hudson River.  Do editors at the New York Times only read what is in their own paper? How could they not understand that food has been a "serious" topic since we became sentient? At the American Council on Science and Health, food has been a serious topic for 38 years, precisely because undermining science about food has been a huge money-maker for anti-science groups like Natural Resources Defense Council (which buys full-page ads in the New York Times that apparently NYT editors have never seen) and Greenpeace and all the others who promote fear and doubt.

And Bittman was, more often than not, right in there with them. He declared sugar was a toxin before he declared butter was safe. In a moderate diet, he was actually right on both stances - just like he would have been right saying just the opposite.

But the free market is not in the bag for an ideology and they don't gladly suffer opinion based on reading the abstract of a meta-analysis. They want to know there is real data if they are spending more money on a world view. His “inclinations to impersonate an expert” may work for a while in his core market, but identification-based companies have often flopped when they believed their circle of friends could be extrapolated out to the real world.