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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, 16 May 2013
I. Darren (Fi) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
At times you might be forgiven for thinking that surely food can be left free of politics, when so much else in the world is tied up with political string. Sorry, but politics plays a big place here too!

Whether it is public policy and politics dictating what we should eat and drink on health grounds, or should that be "health" grounds, geopolitics with us being encouraged to favour produce from country X instead of country Y for various reasons or just plain business politics, with companies lobbying politicians to help further their own means, food and politics are tied together. Depressing reading, for sure, but this book provides a good non-hectoring read of this subject in a tenth anniversary edition of a classic work.

The food industry is big business and yet this academically-minded book does a good job in opening our eyes to what is actually going on in the wider world, without it sounding like there is a conspiracy behind every door. Written from a U.S. perspective the reader should not, however, be under the misapprehension that things are only an "American problem". It is just that perhaps their own country is less open and thus more things are hidden out of view. Will you be able to look at things again in the same light?

Making food is big business and we are encouraged to consume more than we need. Cutting costs to maximise profits often leads to the food that we eat is not necessarily good for us. Convenience foods sound oh-so-convenient until you notice the chemical soup that often accompanies them. There is a reason why various "corners can be cut", totally legally, that maximise profits and waistlines alike. Ah, but there are pesky government regulations that get in the way of free trade and protect the customer, aren't there? Well, yes, there are regulations but the idea for these regulations doesn't just come from thin air. Big companies with vested interests invest heavily in lobbying, strong-arming weaker countries and elbowing smaller competitors out of the way. It sounds paranoid but nonetheless...

Through this book you will get a much more informed picture of what is going on. You still might be powerless to change things but a better informed consumer can at least attempt to mitigate change even if they cannot influence it. Things are only going to get worse as technological advances are realised. Already the world is aware of GM (genetically modified) food and the pros and cons of this, but more and more foodstuffs are coming via a laboratory and they are not there just to make things cheap and tasty. Far from it..

A great index is provided at the end of this very thought-provoking book and, for those who either doubt the veracity of what they are reading or who wish to learn even more there is a fanatical amount of notes and further reading citations as befits a serious academic work. However it must be stressed that this is an accessible book for the "average reader" but you would be best to set aside some quality time to read and digest its contents. Prepare to be shocked, amazed and possibly sickened by what you read. Tobacco and "Big Pharma" are already painted as villains in many sections of society and, at the time of writing this review, the food industry is under scrutiny in Europe for the criminal mislabelling of horse meat and passing it off in the food chain. After reading this book you might start to wonder what the next scandal will be and wonder just how it has been allowed to get to this stage...
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