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Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) [Paperback]

Rob Lyons
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2011 Societas
The availability, range, cost and quality of food in Western societies have never been more favourable, yet food is also the focus of a great deal of anxiety. There are concerns that our current diets will mean we will get steadily fatter and more unhealthy while consuming junk food', with consequences for our quality of life, our children's behaviour and even the environment. This book challenges these ideas and places the food debate in a wider context. As the political imagination and the scope of social policy have narrowed, the focus on the personal and corporeal has filled this gap, creating an inward, individualised perspective that breeds a personal sense of vulnerability and distracts from issues of broader social importance. The book also examines the current use of food as metaphor the way that bad food and obesity, for example, have become code words for an elite disdain for the masses, implicitly promoting the idea that the consequences of poverty are the fault of the poor, and that a solution to the problems of social inequality lies in the consumption of five fruit and veg a day. The author also discusses how health fears around food are used as a lever for greater official control of our everyday lives, from lunchbox inspections and school food crusades, to endless media health advice and scientifically-dubious healthy labelling initiatives. The upshot of these connected trends is misplaced anxiety and wasted effort fixing what, for the most part, does not need to be fixed. Our modern food system allows us to be healthier than ever before, while transforming food from fuel into a source of entertainment, pleasure and choice.

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Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) + Something to Chew on: Challenging Controversies in Food and Health
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Imprint Academic (1 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845402162
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845402167
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 13.4 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 425,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm deputy editor of spiked (, the online current-affairs magazine. I've been writing about food and health issues for a few years now. I've written for a wide range of publications including The Australian, The South China Morning Post, City AM and Times Online and I frequently take part in debates on TV and radio.

Product Description


Rob Lyons serves up a fine menu of plain common sense followed by roasted panic-mongers, garnished with fresh facts. A very revealing book. --Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist

you will automatically change their behaviour, prospects and pretty much their whole lives... In this brilliant new book, Panic on a Plate, Rob Lyons busts open foodoo myths with all the glee of a mischievous child slipping a whoopee cushion under the posterior of pomposity. --Julie Burchill

About the Author

Rob Lyons is Deputy Editor of Spiked Online.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Sally
If you have wanted to shoot the television when Jamie Oliver says that giving your children three scoops of ice-cream is child abuse (I paraphrase - but only slightly), then I recommend you read this great book. It is full of amusing anecdotes as well as lots of interesting facts. For example, did you know that you get more Vitamin C for your sugar in tomato ketchup than you do in an apple? It puts todays panics about food in their political and historical context and allows you to enjoy food again. If you prefer your food with no added guilt - then I recommend you read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to stop worrying about every mouthful 7 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you,ve ever been on a diet, or wanted to eat more " healthily " you, like me, will probably be thoroughly confused by now. We scour labels in the supermarket s for the so called baddies, we fret over what to have for dinner that won,t kill us or give us some dreadful disease, I used to enjoy food and mealtimes but now every meal is a nightmare
This book goes a long way towards putting the record straight and looking at the food on our plates from a different angle. It dispels a lot of the modern myths surrounding our food and points out why we needn't,t be scared to eat normal food. I found it very informative and enlightening and I now feel a lot less fraught about my eating habits. Go for it.xx
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect xmas gift for anxious parents 28 Oct 2011
This is a kind and sensible book. Lyons wants to remove our guilt about food, and get us to relax and enjoy it.

Today we worry about obesity, additives, and convenience foods. We're wary of industrially produced food, and of supermarkets. We're guilt-tripped about not buying locally. Yet our diets have never been as nutritious, varied and inexpensive as they are now. Refrigeration, better farming methods and imported foods have all made feeding a family - especially on a low income -- easier than ever before.

Panic on a Plate argues that there is no technical obstacle to our being able to feed everyone on the planet. Indeed, up to a third of the world's food supply is destroyed before it ever reaches us, via poor storage, vermin, and other avoidable disasters. My gran used to guilt-trip us to clean our plates by reminding us of starving black babies in Africa. Lyons rebuts this, pointing out that food shortages today are a political, not a natural problem, for which ordinary people are entirely blameless.

Lyons shows how our fears about food coincide with countless other contemporary neuroses about everyday life, Today we are inclined to fear the worst about everything, regardless of the facts. He's good at drawing together umpteen apparently isolated trends, to show the common thread of irrational paranoia and morbid distrust running through them.

Panic on a Plate is particularly reassuring about obesity scares. It explains that only a tiny percentage of people are truly obese, and that there's no proof that being moderately overweight is bad for your health. Indeed it's likely that the authorities' obsession with our diets is directly responsible for the rise in food obsessions among young people.
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By dikdok
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Contains some fascinating facts about food. For example, according to the US Dept of Agriculture there's more vitamin C per gram in tomato ketchup than apples.
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