I enjoy reading about food – cooking, what someone else enjoys eating or the science behind food and cooking. I recently finished “Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took over the American Meal” by Melanie Warner.
Warner takes us behind the scenes of Subway, Kraft, Kellogg and other processors of food. In an entertaining as well as informative manner, she writes about how processed cheese product came to exist, how some cereals are created using guns, how the nutrients are taken out of foods in order to increase their shelf life and how chemicals are added to increase shelf life and restore some nutrients. The book was fascinating and quite scary. The FDA does not regulate everything that goes into American foods – loopholes allow many things to be used without rigorous testing. Substances that may not be good for our health are added so foods can sit in the grocery stores and our pantries longer. I am going to be reading all food labels from now on.
But there is also an upside to all this processing of foods. In an article in the August issue of Atlantic Monthly, David H. Freedman describes “How Junk Food Can End Obesity.” He takes issue with some of Warner’s ideas. Freedman feels that food science could be used to make junk food and fast food healthier since people are going to eat these products anyway. Junk food and fast food are easy to obtain and usually taste good. This article was an interesting counterpoint to Warner’s book.