Vote With Your Fork, You Are What You Eat.
21st October 2015
If you get through this list of books without becoming a food activist, I’d be surprised! They range in topic from the intricacies of life inside your gut to the scandalous activities in parts of the food industry–and while this might sound like two different worlds, the connection is clear and vital. As Michael Pollen writes: "the best ethical and environmental choices also happen to be the best choices for our health” and “the chronic diseases that now kill most of us can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food."
Many shocking revelations await you. Such as: the food industry has understood that consumers are more attracted to food descriptions that make it sound like what's inside the packet has been made in your grandma’s kitchen–so they choose their vocabulary carefully to give that impression.
Or: it turns out that a lot of what we think is food is actually flavouring. As observed by Joanna Blythman in Swallow This, one company advertised: “Why buy ingredients when you can buy solution?” The author notes that many of the companies providing these solutions for ready meals are also the producers of air freshener, fly spray, deodorant, paint and glue.
Not exactly what I had in mind for grandma’s kitchen!
Felicity Lawrence does a brilliant job at connecting what arrives on your plate to large corporations in the food industry, politics and the global market. What might seem like a bargain could really be livestock given antibiotics to increase their weight, or meat filled with water and added potassium nitrates to make cheap pork look pinker, or exploited workers in a factory.
Lawrence also explains that livestock are responsible for a bigger share of all greenhouse gas emissions than the whole of the global transport industry. In other words, meat should be a luxury and not part of our every day diet.
Lawrence also reveals that the sugar industry, the largest agricultural donor to political campaigns in the US, has been compared to the tobacco industry when it was trying to block action on smoking. Apparently, the sugar industry has tried to undermine reports from the WHO, who recommend a limited sugar intake.
If you read these books, you'll a) learn to love your gut much more and b) never walk down a supermarket aisle in the same way again!