Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chew on This

So in lieu of cooking a lot lately (it's too darn hot right now for that), I've been reading about food. Here are two of the latest books to grace my shelves:

Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. At first glance, this seemed like a scaled-down version of Schlosser's 2001 expose, Fast Food Nation. However, this book is more than just an attempt to cash in on the success of the previous title. Several chapters in Chew on This deal with how the fast food industry has affected young people in particular. A twelve-year-old girl in Alaska starts a Stop the Pop" campaign at her school. A teenager in Quebec helps successfully unionize a McDonald's, only to have the restaurant shut its doors soon after. And a young man in Chicago who is morbidly obese must decide whether or not to have gastric bypass surgery. I'm happy to say that our library system's copies have several holds on them (and they're not all from staff members). If you want more info about the book, check out Houghton Mifflin's press release.

I'm just finishing Jane Goodall's Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating. Goodall's tone throughout the book is conversational and she includes many personal anecdotes, which sometimes seems detremental to the book's effectiveness (Her parenthetical asides in particular are distracting - just like this!). However, the chapter on genetically modified organisms is not to be missed. Goodall rails against the misconception perpetuated by large corporations like Monsanto that genetically engineered seeds are the answer to world hunger. Here's an excerpt:

"Even if world hunger could be solved with more food, we haven't seen any solid evidence that genetic engineering is restoring the world's depleted farmlands or increasing food production. Given the speed with which Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, and other multinational corporations are buying up the world's seed supply, some suspect that the main incentive for genetic engineering is financial greed, an attempt by corporations to secure, through patents, control of the world's food supply" (p. 52). Go Jane!

Okay, must go and grill veggie burgers and asparagus at Hager Park with some friends.

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