Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal

Melanie Warner. Scribner, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6673-1
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. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/18/2013
Release date: 02/26/2013
Paperback - 279 pages - 978-1-4516-6674-8
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4516-6675-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-4321-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-1321-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-6321-0
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