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on 22 March 2013
As someone who has always found feeding, eating, preparing and sharing food one of life's pleasures, and as a vegetarian, with a keen interest in health and wellbeing, who has read fairly widely about the subject, I thought this passionate and starkly laid out book would have little to teach me about 'what really goes into the food on your plate'

I'm a keen follower of information about the paucity of nutrition in the average Northern Europe and North American shopping basket. I abjure and loathe junk food, eat far more than my 5-7 portions of fruit and vegetables, avoid trans fats, prefer butter to marge, avoid anything labelled 'low fat' (what is put into it, is the question for me, what ghastly made up synthetic chemistry or manipulated molecular structure we are not evolved to process), never knowingly eat anything with artificial sweeteners, read labels to make sure that ingredients are RECOGNISABLE if I do buy anything ready made.

So I thought I was going to be smugly and superiorly nodding at everything I knew, and patting myself approvingly on the back for my nutritional choices. Which, in the main, I was.

However, where Lawrence delivered a huge gut punch to me was in her section on what is staple in my diet - fresh fruit and vegetables. And the punch was not due to nutritional value information - I knew already that monoculture factory agribusiness, intensive crop growing has depleted the soil, is depleting the soil, and that in the main our fruit and vegetables are no where near as nutritious as they used to be, since the trace nutritional minerals have been taken out of the soil plants grow in. Way back, we husbanded, and grew crops in rotation, and were prepared to leave fields fallow, allow weeds to grow and die back in, to remineralise. Different plants have different mineral needs, so rotation growing was a skilful nurturing of the earth, what grew in it, and what we ate.

The big shocker for me was Lawrence's revelation of the existence of virtual slavery, yes, even in this sometimes green and pleasant land. The bullying techniques of supermarkets and just in time delivery has placed all the power in the hands of multinational bullies and their shareholders. Farmers are forced to comply, the independent small holding goes to the wall - this I knew, but what I didn't realise was how deeply the grower's margins are squeezed - so that in the end, the only way to make a profit, is to cut what costs you can - wages, of a mainly unskilled, often seasonal, often migrant, ununionised workforce. The production of even our 'buy British' fruit and vegetables is often linked with terrorised, exploited workers, living in overcrowded, substandard accommodation, recruited (often by being forced to pay hefty backhanders to gangmasters - some of whom are linked with organised crime and human trafficking). Lawrence shocked me by saying 'do not think slavery was abolished a couple of hundred years ago - it is still going on, in all but name - and in THIS country'

She comes from a solid, investigative journalist tradition, and indeed worked undercover to experience what goes on in this country (as well as others) in slaughterhouses, meat processing plants, bakeries, and in the fields.

Other books, by another writer writing equally well and starkly about how far we have departed from any sort of sensible relationship with our daily bread and more, is the excellent Michael Pollan Food Rules: An Eater's Manual;In Defence of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating: An Eater's Manifesto
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on 9 March 2011
I bought this book some years ago and found it had a huge effect on the way I thought about the food I was buying and where it was coming from. After reading it you find yourself checking the ingredients in your bread, looking at what country veg and salads were grown in and generally thinking more about food production, food miles, buying more locally produced foods or growing/making your own!

However I suspect some of the information in the book is no longer current as the rules and regulations governing food production will have moved on since then and things change, so if you are looking for a book about how food is produced today I would look for something written more recently.
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on 27 August 2016
What a brilliant yet infuriating book. Everyone needs to read this; you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of the food industry. I thought I knew and boy was I disappointed. I thought going vegetarian would be good enough, fruit and vegetables go through just as much processing than meat; if not more. Not an easy read but worth it. I've changed my shopping habits after reading it.
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on 14 July 2016
Brilliant. Anyone who cares about food animals and where you're food comes from should buy. Provides the eye opening reality of the control supermarkets have over the rubbish on the shelves. Your food bill will rise if you buy this. Mine has.
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on 1 April 2014
You are what you eat and I'm nothing more than a skin bag of chemicals. Hopefully most of them are the right ones, but if you are not careful they might be the wrong ones. There is plenty of room for error. This book is a thought-provoking look at the rubbish we might consume - and probably do despite any best efforts not to. Even a simple old steak or glass of rhubarb juice could be loaded with toxins or the source subjected to manipulations beyond the considerate. Uneasy subject matter. Recommended.
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on 17 August 2015
I loved the first part of the book the most, as it's talking about what the industry is doing to the products that you buy. I felt bored during the later part as it's talking about workers who works in factories and how poorly they live and they are treated by employees. Also, I found that this book is less relevant in 2015 as it was written so long ago and many things has changed!
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on 26 June 2015
I should have read the size of this book as I thought it was going to be smaller . It is quite heavy so too big to take shopping, although I have not read it all yet there is so much to read and small print. It is not really a reference book or shopping guide for the foods etc but a great deal of information in each chapter on the story of the findings .
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on 12 October 2012
The author goes behind the scenes to find out what really goes on in the places that bring us our food. There are lots of things in here that will make you angry, but it's really important to know these things so we can make informed decisions, and try not to support unethical and unhealthy systems. It's NOT some hippy book about how we all have to live on a farm eating only vegan organic - this is a serious investigation of some really upsetting practices that we DESERVE to know about before we decide to purchase something. Very informative.
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on 18 November 2013
I havent as yet got through all of this book..... the first few pages made me sit up and take notice ...If you want to be informed about what goes into our food chain then this is a MUST HAVE....But if you want to not know the gruesome dark side of the industry...then dont bother to get this.I am glad I did ...as it now gives me choices and an active concience
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on 19 October 2017
Good book
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