Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pandora's Lunchbox

After reading Michael Pollan's Cooked, I thought that Melanie Warner's Pandora's Lunchbox: How processed food took over the American meal  would be a quick read, going over the same old ground. I was very pleasantly surprised.

PBS interview with author Melanie Warner

Ms. Warner starts with leaving food around her office past its "best before" date and then wanders back through the history of processed food in America from Kellogg to current trends. And she makes it an interesting ride.
She's not the first person to note the disconnect between what food scientist's do and what they eat (most don't eat the "food" they design), but she's very careful not to be too condemnatory. In the end, despite all she uncovers about the actual nutritional value and consequences of manufactured food-like substances, she still cannot call for an outright moratorium on the consumption of processed foods. Instead, she calls for a proportional reversal: from 70% processed and 30% home cooked, to the reverse, with 70% of our food being made from raw ingredients in the home kitchen.
With Ms. Warner maintaining a conversational "mom-to-mom" tone throughout, this book would be great to introduce friends or family to the concerns we have with processed foods.  there's not a lot that's actually new in this (although she does a good bit of original research and reporting), but it is very well presented. Kudos, Ms. Warner.
BTW, you can check out the Kirkus review here.

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