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Beschreibung des Verlags
Long before there was the ready meal, humans processed food to preserve it and make it safe. From fire to fermentation, our ancestors survived periods of famine by changing the very nature of their food. This ability to process food has undoubtedly made us one of the most successful species on the planet, but have we gone too far?
Through manipulating chemical reactions and organisms, scientists have unlocked all kinds of methods of to improve food longevity and increase supply, from apples that stay fresh for weeks to cheese that is matured over days rather than months. And more obscure types of food processing, such as growing steaks in a test-tube and 3D-printed pizzas, seem to have come straight from the pages of a science-fiction novel. These developments are keeping up with the changing needs of the demanding consumer, but we only tend notice them when the latest scaremongering headline hits the news.
Best Before puts processed food into perspective. It explores how processing methods have evolved in many of the foods that we love in response to big business, consumer demand, health concerns, innovation, political will, waste and even war. Best Before arms readers with the information they need to be rational consumers, capable of making informed decisions about their food.
Science writer Temple (coauthor of Sorting the Beef from the Bull) condenses huge amounts of information about the history and evolution of processed food into a comprehensible overview of the food industrial complex. In chapters on cheese, bread, produce, and proteins, she explains how the food in grocery stores gets marketed (advertisements "showed rows... of carefully placed crackers with various topping glued on with Cheese Whiz"), shows how various advances in technology have influenced food production (irradiation in the 1950s "was established as a scientifically sound and safe method of preserving food"), and gives readers a glimpse of the evolution and purposes of food additives such as preservatives and emulsifiers (carrageenan, for instance, is derived from red seaweed and added to low-calorie ice cream for texture). A chapter on food applications of nanotechnology makes it clear that food processing companies are operating at the cutting edge of science, employing innovations such as nanoparticles that increase photosynthesis in plants. Temple asks throughout whether humans have moved too far from simple ingredients and traditional processes especially considering the environmental impact of human food systems but doesn't come to a firm conclusion. This thoughtful, well-researched history makes a great companion to Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma.