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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you prefer your food with no added guilt - read this!!, 10 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) (Paperback)
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
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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
By 
Jan Bowman - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) (Paperback)
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. In the past, people with eating disorders were pretty much left alone to get over it. Today children are taught about anorexia and bulimia right from the off, with school lunchbox inspections and mass weigh-ins. I can't think of a better way to encourage an obsession with your weight than to stick it on the curriculum at school.

My mother used to say she'd quite enjoy cooking if she didn't have to do it all the time. Parents who can now buy cheap ready meals from Aldi can celebrate the fact that feeding a family no longer involves daily slaving over a hot stove. Lyons' widowed mother was a school dinner lady, and he grew up on the sort of homemade, meat-and-two-veg meals that would tick all the right boxes today. This being 30 years ago however, it was hard work for his mum, as well as dull; thus "corn on the cob appeared like some fluorescent exotica when I was in my teens". And yet, even those of us raised on the traditional British diet of `something hot and fill up on stodge' still survived, and now we're living longer than our parents.

While variety is key to a healthy diet, our bodies are surprisingly able to adapt to make the most of what they get. And nowadays it's far easier to eat a varied diet anyway. As Lyons says, "things have never been this good; let us relax and enjoy our good fortune while striving both to make things even better here and to make sure that everyone in the world can take a seat at the feast'.

Significantly, he also points out that `All this handwringing about food has provided a way for governments to connect with the populace, through telling us how and what to eat.'

Rather than beat ourselves over the head about food miles, we'd be better off saving our anger for the things that really matter. Top of my list would go such things as government policies which ignore real social problems - housing shortages, dreadful hospitals, unemployment, wars - in favour of trying to micromanage our eating habits as if we were naughty children.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun - puts balance back into the debate about healthy eating., 31 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Talking sense on food, 31 July 2012
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This review is from: Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) (Paperback)
I bought this book for my father (who is a farmer and supplies beef to supermarkets) who, despite being highly intelligent, educated and knowledgable on the subject of food production and nutrition, was constantly criticising fat people and blaming them for all the ills of society, and making utterly outlandish statements about the evils of "processed" food and ready meals.

I like Rob Lyons' positive, progressive outlook on the modern methods of food production and his debunking of myths and exposing of bad science around the health benefits of food. This book should be standard reading for all the Jamie Olivers etc. out there who think they should tell us all what we should and shouldn't eat.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and informative read, 14 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) (Paperback)
From my blog: gibneyonfood.blogspot.com:
"Panic on a plate - how society developed an eating disorder" is an excellent book for those who want to read behind the headlines of doom and gloom or shock and awe stories from the mass media on the dangers of the modern food chain. It is a small book, concise but covering all of the important issues myths that need to be addresses. The chapter which most interested me was the one entitled: "How has our food changed". Here Rob Lyons looks deep into the past eating habits of the poorer social classes in London and he also explores the middle classes assumptions about the diets of the poorer classes. Thus he shows that todays obsession with such issues is over a century old and probably older if we had access to the right data. He cites a study of the diets of the poorer classes in 1901.The following are daily averages in grams and the figures in brackets are the intake data of the Irish population from a recent national nutrition survey: 435 for bread (115), 104 for potatoes (71), 57 for sugar (75), 11 for cereals (57), 91 for meat (140), 114 for milk (195) and 20 for fats (14). The quantitative differences between today in Ireland and then in London hide several problems The first concerns micronutrients because we know that these limited growth and development in the early part of the 20th century to such an extent that mandatory food fortification was introduced base on the appalling rate of rejection of military recruits to the Boer war based on poor nutritional status. The second hidden problem was access to adequate cooking facilities. He cites studies of eating habits in 1914 by Maud Pember Reeves:" Another difficulty which dogs the path of the Lambeth housekeeper is, either that there is no oven or only a gas oven which requires a good deal of gas, or that the stove oven needs much fuel to heat it. Once a week for the Sunday dinner, the plunge is taken. Homes where there is no oven send out to the bakehouse on that occasion. The rest of the week is managed on cold food or in the hard-worked saucepan and frying pan are brought into play." I had never heard of a bake house! On the plus side was the fish and chip shop and In the latter part of the 19th century, one study showed that "working class families in industrial areas use the fish and chip shop three or four times a week". And of course, there were critics of these fish and chip shops. He quotes from J K Walton's `Fish and chips and the British working class, 1870-1940': "...Critics alleged that fish and chips was indigestible, expensive and unwholesome. It was seen as a route to, or an aspect of, the `secondary poverty' which arose from the incompetent or immoral misapplication of resources that would otherwise have been sufficient to sustain an adequate standard of living". Apparently, in 1906, the English sea side town of Blackpool had 182 sweet shops, 79 fish and chip shops and 58 restaurants. The point that Rob Lyons is making is that it is a common myth to believe that "....there was a Golden Age in which everyone ate well, with lots of locally produced meat, fruit and vegetables, lovingly prepared at home....Eating out was rare and convenience food non-existent".

A second issue which he covers in this area, is that the present day obsession of the well heeled with the diets of the Hoi Polloi is nothing new. He cites George Orwell who in The Road to Wigan Pier wrote of: "Parties of dames now have the cheek to walk into East End houses and give shopping lessons to the wives of the unemployed". He cites a government commission of 1904 on physical deterioration who decry the food choices of the poor: "It is no doubt that with greater knowledge, the poor might live more cheaply than they do but ..the tendency is to spend as little as possible on food".
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rule by fear, 15 Nov 2011
By 
Mark Lockett (Manchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) (Paperback)
This is an easy to read book, though the facts Lyons gives the reader make you very uneasy indeed.

We all know that there is something wrong with the dietary advice we are given by the Government and it's medical advisers, we are just not sure of the exact details of how wrong it is.

This excellent book points out some of the things that are just not true, with some clear evidence to back up what the author claims. Body fat, saturated fat, salt, five-a-day and many more widely believed myths are punctured and the fears they create put into proper perspective by this book.

As with so many "public panics", the hysteria over diet is shown to be a mix of vastly exaggerated risks and over-politicising of Health and safety issues which inevitably leads to distortions of the science and the growth of entire industries with a vested interest in keeping the panic going.

Don't panic, relax or stress will kill you long before that sprinkling of salt on your lard-fried rump steak and butter-fried mushrooms does.

Buy this book and learn to chill about the "poison on your plate".
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars some proper food sense, 30 Mar 2012
This review is from: Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder (Societas) (Paperback)
A must for:

any adult who's felt puzzled and slightly annoyed, whenever a parent says, beaming with pride at their child, "Oh it's so good, s/he just loves broccoli!"
any parent whose child unashamedly asks in a loud voice "Can I have a McDonalds?"
and any adult who thinks the only really "bad food" is "no food"
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