29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2004
After reading this book I am now planning to go organic (away from the Big 4 supermarkets if at all possible), buy a breadmaker (to avoid the rubbish that is put in the bread - have you wondered how bread is made long life?), buy a coffee maker to use fairtrade beans and generally change the way I think about food for myself and my family. If you read this book wihout a change in your diet you must be very dumb or know this stuff already. A very important book.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Nutshell: Even though this book can be read in a matter of a few hours, it is crammed with fascinating and very useful information.
There are a number of similar books available at the moment, (see "Fast Food Nation - also very good), so why should you choose this one?
1. It is not sensational. Many books today contain "shocking revelations" of "medieval" practices leading to immediate catastrophe (you get the idea). This is not one of those books, even though the book states some facts which are worrisome, and which will convince you to change your ways. The point is that the autor could have made sensational claims, but chose to stick to more believable situations and examples, which does a lot for her credibility.
Example: She doesn't write about the New World Order and how they want to control all the sources of energy and food. She rather writes about the supermarket system's share in unemployment in the UK itself, and about the various supplements and additives in our food (pork in chicken, pesticides, that sort of thing). Things which affect us and things about which we should have been informed in the first place.
2. She offers a plan. The message of the book is not that we are doomed. It is rather that, if we keep on going about our supermarket business the way we are doing it now, we are in for a couple of very nasty suprises, in more areas than only health.
The author offers a number of (practical) solutions and alternatives. One entire chapter is dedicated to this, and her suggestions work. I use them myself and most are quite easy to implement.
This book falls into the "should be required reading" category. If you purchase goods, especially food, from a supermarket, you will BENEFIT by reading it (and so will I, because it is going to take mass action to make this world a fun place again).
PLUS: it is well written, very well researched, and the auther comes up with arguments which are guaranteed to make you pause and think. Great book, great value for money, great read, and sure to change your life (in a good way!)
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2004
Basically, don't read this book if you wish to remain ignorant about what you eat. Otherwise, it really will change your views and approach towards food. As a result of reading about what supermarkets are doing to our food, and the environment and economy, I'm now looking into getting local, organic food delivered, as I don't want to eat any more rubbish out of supermarkets anymore.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2004
This is a superb expose, even for those of us who "thought we'd heard it all", about practically every aspect of today's food industry. The format, with each chapter starting with a simple, apparently inoffensive item of food (eg 'Beans') and going on to reveal anything from slow poisonning to slave labour, makes the read easily digestible even if its contents are not. Drawing on her experiences working as an investigative journalist for The Guardian and Panorama, the author exposes how even vegetarians and those of us who try and 'shop organic' may inadvertantly be adding to the problems.
However all is not necessarily doom and gloom. The author outlines legislation which could be applied in any country to curb the problems, and which would have a realistic chance of becoming law here in the UK. The book ends with a comprehensive guide to how you the consumer can avoid the worst of the food industry's excesses, including a list of sources of more detailed information, bibliography and footnotes.
In the light of the UK's problems with BSE, FMD, e. coli, obesity, teenage delinquancy (I could go on!) this is a crucial read. And if you are from outwith the UK, read it anyway and learn from our mistakes.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2004
This is the book the confirms all the sneaky suspicions you have always had when shopping in big supermarkets. Why is nothing ever out of season anymore? Why is everything packed in plastic? Why do we pay the same price for chicken today that our Grandparents did? If everything is so clean and perfect now-a-days why do we still have outbreaks of foot-and-mouth and bird-flu and E-coli, not to mention CJD?
When I read this book I realised that deep down I was aware of the facts I'd just never linked them together. It has helped me to feel better about making the time to go to the butcher's, bakers, fishmonger's etc. It is worth taking the time to visit these local shops (if you have any left). The author explores the links between the movement of immigrant workers, packing factories, the congestion on our roads, the distances travelled by our food before it reaches the supermarket shelves. Her research is thorough and well followed through.
I live in Spain and it just happens that after having read the chapter on salad and the greenhouse of Europe (southern Spain, Almeria(Andalucia)) we went to Roquetas de Mar for a weekend break. This had been booked long before I read the book! When we were there we couldn't stop thinking about everything the author had commented on during her stay in Roquetas, about the soil being used for 3 harvests a year, the pesticides needed to support this, water brought down from the north. In the meantime we, the tourist, were stuffing our faces at buffets and wasting water in an area that is a man-made oasis in the dessert. How long can this go on? I looked out of my hotel room window and saw the sea, the beach and a beautiful swimming pool. Then I went for a walk and could see all the plastic covering the greenhouses shimmering in the sun light and I thought of all the immigrants living in the rubble with no clean drinking water and little food, who wait by the road at sunrise to get selected to go to work or not. That lettuce is then sent by lorry to UK or other EU supermarkets.
The book makes excellent reading, it is very well written, packed with information and facts. It should be studied in schools by our children, those who can make a difference to the future . The facts are presented in a coherent and interesting way making the author's points hit home hard. I am not an exremist in anything and am sometimes wary about reading this sort of thing, but it is not what I would call a doom and gloom book. The facts are there she has just used her considerable talent to link them together for a fascinating read.
This book really has made me think and I would recommend it to anyone.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2004
The other reviews here have described what this book covers - and I'm not going to repeat them (I agree though!)
On the basis of reading this book I have changed my "consumer habits" - I've voting with my wallet: shopping & eating locally, and keeping the money in the local community rather than in a corporate entity. The food I cook tastes better, turns out cheaper, and I definitely feel better for it.
This is probably the only book that I have read in the last 5 years that has changed my outlook so categorically. I'm tring and failing not to evangelise...
I would recommend this book to anyone who cares about what they eat, and the impact of it on their environment.
77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2004
Most amazing fact about this carefully researched and important book: it’s a delight to read. Instead of the usual trudge through worthy facts and figures, the author has given us a firsthand account of the people and firms which have changed the way we eat. Lawrence gives plenty of space to academic research on the effect of “big food” on our nutrition and the well-being of small-scale food producers. But the most memorable passages detail the time she has spent with migrant workers picking and processing in the UK and developing countries. The author is not a head-in-the-sand anti-globalist naive enough to think we can resist entirely the capitalist onslaught. But she shows how our lazy shopping and eating habits have debased our most precious commodity and impoverished small farmers while enriching supermarket chains and food processing giants. Read it!
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2004
The Labour Government, and Opposition for that matter, should be locked in a windowless room until they have all read this book. Once read, you will walk through the likes of Tescos and Sainsburys, Asda and Sommerfield with a heavy heart. Macdonalds is not quite the be all and end all of ogres portrayed by Fast Food Nation because in the end we all have a choice not to eat there. Increasingly, however, we do not have the choice as to where we buy our food. I for one am digging up the lawn and growing my own.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2004
Every adult who is responsble for buying food or preparing meals should read this book.
Having read it, I neve want to buy food in supermarkets ever again.
What goes into food and how it is treated is shocking enough, but the way the major suppliers act to maximise their profits while further impoverishing the already impoverished in the developing nations made me ashamed of our cheap food.
I did not know that the 'buy one get one free' offers are not subsidised by the supermarkets but by the growers.
Though I do not enjoy cooking I am determined to seek out fresh, wholesome foods in future.
If we all did this, we could make a difference.
This is a very important book. Read it!
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2004
This is an EXCELLENT book. It contains lots of important, well-researched information and it is extremely well written. As someone interested in food production I thought I knew a fair bit, but reading this showed me a) how little I knew and b)how bad things are out there.
All the chapters made a big impact but I was particularly moved by the descriptions of the migrant agricultural workers living on rubbish tips in Spain, of coffee farmers who were paid so little for their crop that they couldn't support their families and of the phenomenally destructive (and disgusting) practice of prawn farming in South-East Asia.
Time and time again what came across is the enormous power of the supermarkets and how in competing with each other to be cheapest they create misery all the way down the food supply chain. Some of the supermarket practices described simply beggar belief.
In short, I'd recommend that anyone with an interest in food devour this book and disgest its contents. The facts it contains might give you some indigestion but you'll be very glad you tried it!