REVIEW BY NATALIE GUYETTE
If you’ve eaten a meal today without experiencing anxiety, congratulations. You are one fearless consumer. But perhaps, before you go grocery shopping next, you should read a bit more about where exactly your food came from. And I’m not talking about those sprightly potato farmers that are always pictured basking in the morning sunlight and proclaiming their family story on the back of your potato chip bag.
“Eating Dangerously” is a nonfiction book written by two investigative reporters, Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown, published in March 2014. While the first few chapters feel like an episode of the television show, “Scare Tactics,” it’s really just delivering raw facts that the entire U.S. population should be aware of. Except we’re not because the dangers found in our food supply are not something the mainstream media likes to cover.
With chapter titles like, “The Whole World in Your Kitchen” and “Too Many Cooks, Not Enough Test Tubes,” the book delves into every step of the real farm-to-table process, and not just the cheery farm-to-table talk you get from those nice restaurants that leave you feeling like you just cured the universe of its processed food epidemic (great feeling, but possibly false hope).
The book presents a comprehensive case, beginning by presenting facts and concluding by presenting solutions. Brown and Booth include information about food-borne illnesses of the past and present, food inspections, and more you need to know about the process your food takes from farm to table.
I found it fact-heavy, but only because it’s new information. If it had been a topic in rotation in the public sphere, reading this book would merely be a reinforcement of conversation. However, this is not the case. I recommend writing utensils for highlighting and underlining and being prepared to reread parts you’d like to “digest” further.
Did you know that 33 people died from eating Cantaloupe in 2011? Death by fruit! Jensen Farms is a producer of cantaloupe, onions, carrots and watermelon (to name a few) in Holly, Colorado.
Unfortunately for consumers, Jensen Farms decided that cantaloupe and potatoes are basically the same thing, therefore can be sorted at the same speed in the same machine. Because of the speed, the cantaloupe were not properly washed of bacteria, and an outbreak of Listeria caused many illnesses, and yes, 33 deaths among consumers.
Prior to the food outbreak, Jensen Farms’ produce had never been swabbed by inspectors. This is not a rare case. I repeat. This is not a rare case. It is not safe nor accurate to assume your food has been tested.
“Eating Dangerously” will affect the way you eat your next meal. You will go to the grocery store and wonder if your spinach was washed properly. Without having to memorize the specifics, statistics and facts, the book will shake into you some sense and feeling of alarm. In fact, the second half of the book is dedicated to advising you on how to shop at the grocery store after you’ve had the wits scared out of you.
From how to store leftovers, to a fair argument of which foods you should maybe just eliminate from your diet, the book offers options to wade your way back into wise eating decisions. At least you will be educated!
Booth and Brown provide a no-nonsense, rich and informative read that raises awareness and prompts its readers to take action as soon as they need to shop for groceries. The detailed insight about governmental budget cuts, the role of the FDA, and background on farm inspections lends it to be an unbiased source, allowing you to form your own opinions.
You eat every day, and you shouldn’t continue to eat until you’ve consumed some literature like this fact-driven, investigative look into today’s food culture.