In the tradition of Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma comes an “indispensable,” (New York Newsday) fascinating, and cutting-edge look from the author of The Magic Feather Effect at the scary truth about what really goes into our food.
If a piece of individually wrapped cheese can retain its shape, color, and texture for years, what does it say about the food we eat and feed to our children?
Former New York Times business reporter and mother Melanie Warner decided to explore that question when she observed the phenomenon of the indestructible cheese. She began an investigative journey that took her to research labs, university food science departments, and factories around the country. What she discovered provides a rare, eye-opening—and sometimes disturbing—account of what we’re really eating. Warner looks at how decades of food science have resulted in the cheapest, most abundant, most addictive, and most nutritionally inferior food in the world, and she uncovers startling evidence about the profound health implications of the packaged and fast foods that we eat on a daily basis.
Combining meticulous research, vivid writing, and cultural analysis, Warner blows the lid off the largely undocumented—and lightly regulated—world of chemically treated and processed foods and lays bare the potential price we may pay for consuming even so-called healthy foods.
Warner takes readers on an investigative journey into the history, current practices, and future trends concerning food processing and additives. We meet characters like Harvey Wiley, the "founder of modern food regulation," whose legal briefs helped ban dangerous additives like borax and formaldehyde in the United States, and James Lewis Kraft, whose 1914 processing technique created cheese that could be "kept indefinitely without spoiling." She covers the history of soy, from its early uses as fertilizer and livestock feed to the development of soybean oil for frying food, this despite containing toxic aldehydes that have been linked to serious medical conditions. Warner visits a soy protein plant, describing the processes through which we get our faux meats, before we reach her own refrigerator where she discovers her supermarket guacamole contains amigum a gelling agent used in cosmetics which a food scientist theorized was made with an avocado facial mask recipe. Other topics include the origins and effects of synthesized vitamins, shortcomings of the FDA, the manufacturing of artificial flavors, and new innovations in "healthy processed foods." Warner's thought-provoking study does an excellent job presenting the facts without sensationalizing, and offering common sense solutions to those seeking to make better food choices.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I liked this book as it presented me with knowledge on the food industry that I did not already have. It's quite amazing how "scientific" our food actually is! The book left me wanting more, it was a pretty short book. Either way it was well written and informative.
While a lot has been written about the food industry, not much has been discussed about processed food. Probably due to the complexity in that you almost need to have a chemistry degree to truly understand what you're eating - even beyond the likely culprits (the soy chapter was surprising). Pandora's lunchbox does a great job of this, and in looking at all angles of the implications. I highly recommend this book!