Can You Trust a Tomato in January?: Everything You Wanted to Know (And a Few Things You Didn't) about Food in the Grocery Store

Vince Staten, Author
Vince Staten, Author Simon & Schuster $18.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-76941-3
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-671-88578-6
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In this amiable set of observations about the way we eat, Staten ( Real Barbecue ) takes readers on an eye-opening trip through the supermarket. Starting in the produce section of his local Winn-Dixie in Louisville, Ky., Staten wends through aisles of fresh fruit and prepared foods, reflecting on each item he and his wife add to their cart. A tomato leads to a discussion of its seven-day journey from being green on a Mexican vine to being ``unnaturally red'' on a winter market shelf. A jar of Jif peanut butter engenders a replay of the legal maneuvering between the FDA and the Peanut Butter Association that led to a 1971 compromise that peanut butter must be at least 90% peanuts. Neither an analysis of agribusiness nor a food memoir, this is a collection of reflections and information that, through accrual, becomes an entertaining social history of the supermarket and its contents. What's more, the book's chockablock mix of facts is so engaging that readers may find themselves thinking things like ``I didn't know that sliced bread wasn't widely available until 1930.'' A list of references would have been useful. (July)
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