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Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's…

Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry's Darkest Secrets (2015)

by Joanna Blythman

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Before I became a stay-at-home mom to two wild and crazy guys, I worked as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at a pediatric hospital. In this role, I provided nutrition education and counseling to children with diabetes and their families. Knowing what is in the food is an important part of managing blood sugars. We always discussed how to read food labels to make informed decisions about daily care. Little did we know that the food label was not telling us the entire story.

The new book, Swallow This, opened my eyes and also left me with many unanswered questions about what is really in our food. Although the author is British and this book is written about the processed food industry and food labeling in the United Kingdom, it still applies to our American system.

Blythman takes us through the processed food industry from top to bottom, dividing the book into 2 sections. First, she looks at the processed food system itself, what you see and smell inside the factories, industry efforts to “clean” labels, the producers that sell to food manufacturers, and the stores where food is sold. Second, she breaks down the processes and ingredients used to make foods sweet, oily, flavored, colored, watery, starchy, “fresh”, and packaged. I found the chapter on packaging to be the most surprising and alarming. Materials and chemicals used in packaging do not need to be divulged on labels, and yet, evidence is mounting that these substances may be leaching into our food.

Swallow This is very well researched and informative, and the writing is engaging and easy to understand. I came away with a much better understanding of how to decipher food labeling and a stronger conviction to eat less processed food. If you are even remotely interested in learning more about how our food is produced, read this book. Your weekly trip to the grocery store will take on a whole dimension. ( )
  asoutherngirlreads | Feb 26, 2016 |
Now I'm all for science improving food, protecting me from getting food poisoning etc, but I also like my food to be a bit more honest. I'm not one of those people who proudly (apparently) exclaim that they don't eat anything they can't pronounce, I can pronounce 2, 4, di-nitrophenylhydrazine without really stopping to think as I was a science student once upon a time. I would also have missed out on quinoa (who knew I was pronouncing it wrong for years? No-one around me!) and Japanese Foods among others. Yes, I believe that there should me more transparency and less lax regulations about what our food is being mixed with and washed with to ensure that it doesn't cause problems with people.

This is an interesting read and there needs to be more research in this area and less acceptance of flavourings and colourings over food that comes from more core ingredients, more acceptance of natural variations and less addition of things that tend to make my mouth feel strange after eating. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Apr 10, 2015 |
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From the author of What to Eat and Shopped, a revelatory investigation into what really goes into the food we eat. Even with 25 years experience as a journalist and investigator of the food chain, Joanna Blythman still felt she had unanswered questions about the food we consume every day. How 'natural' is the process for making a 'natural' flavouring? What, exactly, is modified starch, and why is it an ingredient in so many foods? What is done to pitta bread to make it stay 'fresh' for six months? And why, when you eat a supermarket salad, does the taste linger in your mouth for several hours after? Swallow This is a fascinating exploration of the food processing industry and its products - not just the more obvious ready meals, chicken nuggets and tinned soups, but the less overtly industrial - washed salads, smoothies, yoghurts, cereal bars, bread, fruit juice, prepared vegetables. Forget illegal, horse-meat-scandal processes, every step in the production of these is legal, but practised by a strange and inaccessible industry, with methods a world-away from our idea of domestic food preparation, and obscured by technical speak, unintelligible ingredients manuals, and clever labelling practices. Determined to get to the bottom of the impact the industry has on our food, Joanna Blythman has gained unprecedented access to factories, suppliers and industry insiders, to give an utterly eye-opening account of what we're really swallowing.… (more)

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