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Über dieses Buch

It has become popular to blame the American obesity epidemic and many other health-related problems on processed food. Many of these criticisms are valid for some processed-food items, but many statements are overgeneralizations that unfairly target a wide range products that contribute to our health and well-being. In addition, many of the proposed dangers allegedly posed by eating processed food are exaggerations based on highly selective views of experimental studies. We crave simple answers to our questions about food, but the science behind the proclamations of food pundits is not nearly as clear as they would have you believe. This book presents a more nuanced view of the benefits and limitations of food processing and exposes some of the tricks both Big Food and its critics use to manipulate us to adopt their point of view. Food is a source of enjoyment, a part of our cultural heritage, a vital ingredient in maintaining health, and an expression of personal choice. We need to make those choices based on credible information and not be beguiled by the sophisticated marketing tools of Big Food nor the ideological appeals and gut feelings of self-appointed food gurus who have little or no background in nutrition.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Why Is America So Fat?

Abstract
America is facing an obesity crisis, and it is growing bigger every year. It is estimated that 34–36 % of Americans are obese (BMI of 30 or higher) with a higher percentage of obese women than obese men. Since 1999, however, men are beginning to catch up with women. Among adolescents and children, the gender roles are reversed as almost 19 % of boys are obese compared with 15 % of girls. The USA has become one of the fattest countries in the world, but obesity is not just an American crisis. Obesity has surpassed hunger and starvation as the leading cause of concern among food-related issues. It is estimated that 34 % of the world’s population is either overweight or obese. Obesity is a concern because it is a factor in the development of arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and many other diseases.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 2. Why Does Processed Food Have Such a Bad Reputation?

Abstract
I was at a faculty awards banquet one April evening and seated next to the husband of one of the awardees. The banquet was held in a huge room of the hotel and conference center with all the partitions pushed back and at least 200 guests present. When the gentleman next to me learned that I was a food scientist, he picked up a baby-blue packet of Equal and said that his wife wouldn’t eat anything like that or any processed foods. During the banquet I looked around at what we were eating. We had a salad with dressing. I suspect that the greens came out of a bag, and the dressing did not separate because the processor had added emulsifiers. The main entrée was their famous Celestial Chicken which by a strange coincidence was the same size and shape on everybody’s plate. Were all the contributing chickens the exact same size?
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 3. Why Can’t We Find More Locally Produced and Fresher Food in Our Supermarkets and Restaurants?

Abstract
Americans are pushing for fresher more local food, but it is hard to know how fresh is fresh. As covered in the previous chapter, the definition of “natural” is ambiguous at best. “Fresh,” on the other hand, has at least two distinctly different definitions related to food which at times contradict each other. Fresh is used to distinguish fruits and vegetables that have not been processed from those items that have. Freshness of a fresh fruit or vegetable is also an indication of how long it has been since it was picked. Freshness of a bakery item dates back to how long ago it came out of the oven. Consumers are urged by nutritionists and pundits to choose fresh produce over canned, dried, and frozen. At the same time supermarkets are criticized for calling their produce fresh even though it may have been a long time between the time when it was picked and the time it was bought.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 4. How Widespread Is Food Addiction in Our Culture?

Abstract
Addiction is a term that has shock value. As Michael Moss indicates, the word conjures up visions of tragic celebrity deaths, street crime, crack houses, and abandoned children. Although the quote above and the subtitle of his book, , are as close as Moss gets to accusing Big Food of addicting us to junk foods, the book and associated tour brought national attention to the topic. Other authors have not been as careful in using the term. Some, like Moss, suggest that the linkage of food addiction to drug addiction is either coincidental or unfortunate, others indicate that the two forms of addiction are of equal consequence. Use of a term out of place to induce shock can be a clever tool to force us to rethink an idea or position, but continued use of the same term as stated fact distorts a conversation.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 5. Why Are There So Many Chemicals in Our Food?

Abstract
The thought of chemicals in our foods conjures up bad memories from chemistry labs of nasty jars filled with foul smelling powders and bottles with pungent, corrosive liquids. Or maybe when thinking of chemistry we recall Walter White, the chemistry teacher who went rogue in the popular television series Breaking Bad. Either vision obscures the role of chemistry in our everyday lives. We live in a material world from the furniture in our rooms and offices to the vehicles that get us to and from work or school to the electronic devices that keep us plugged into the world to the very utensils and dishes we use to convey the foods we eat to our mouths. All of these materials owe their very existence to a complex mix of chemicals.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 6. How Can We Tell Which Foods Are Real?

Abstract
Perhaps no one has changed the way we think about food in the twenty-first century as much as Michael Pollan. I confess that his writing, in part, inspired me to write this book. As seen in the quote above, he has introduced the concept of “nutritionism” which from his perspective has focused attention on eating to supply nutrients rather than on eating simple foods. His mantra has become “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He decries an obsession with healthy eating based on the “chemical principles of nutrition” which change so rapidly that it is difficult to keep up. He also criticizes the food industry for manipulating such information to their benefit and our detriment. He asks us to forgo “foodlike substances” for real foods.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 7. How Does Food Processing Change the Nutritional Value of Foods?

Abstract
The closest experience I ever had to primary food processing was on a summer job at a Green Giant canning plant in Delaware. After a 24-h bus trip, I was welcomed with a thick manual on how to operate a steam retort, a huge pressure cooker used to can vegetables. My greeter told me to study the manual and show up for work that night. As the understudy of the retort operator I experienced the hottest night of my life. We were perched with four other workers on a catwalk about halfway between the plant floor and ceiling. Ten, 12-feet highpressure cookers at various stages of processing were arranged in a semi-circle. Our task was to turn the valves all the way the right way at the right time. The operator and I communicated in hand signals as his English wasn’t much better than my non-existent Spanish. The best case failure scenario was to ruin about $3000 of asparagus. The worst case scenario was to turn these monster cookers under pressure into rocket ship/bombs that would wipe out all of us on the catwalk. The next night, the regular operator failed to show, and I was tapped as his replacement. That night was even hotter, and I lost about 10 % of my body weight those two nights. I was transferred to warehouse duty the next day.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 8. How Safe Is the American Food Supply?

Abstract
One thing that brings food pundits and Big Food together is safety of the food supply. Big Food obviously does not want to frighten or sicken its loyal customers. A major recall damages their brand. A national media report of an outbreak can have a major impact on the bottom line, and a major cover-up usually ends up in a turnover of top management. Food pundits are genuinely interested in the health and wellbeing of the general populace. Recalls, reports of outbreaks, and news of cover-ups verify previous warnings pundits have issued about dangerous foods, corporate greed, and irresponsibility by Big Food. Whenever there is such an event, Big Food cites it as an isolated event while food pundits suggest the problem represents only tip of the iceberg. Even consumer-friendly chains such as Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods are not immune to food safety issues.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 9. How Can We Eat More Sustainably to Save the Earth for Our Children and Grandchildren?

Abstract
Predicting the future is always tricky, but it appears that we are running through our natural resources faster than we should. I have carefully studied four very different views on what is ahead for readers who will still be alive in 2050. The pessimistic view warns us that if we do not make dramatic changes to our lifestyles, we will face world-wide famine and the collapse of the world economy. A more optimistic perspective points to further reliance on technology to allow rich nations to maintain their profligate ways while upgrading the lives of humans who currently live in abject poverty. Two middle paths have been advanced that suggest nations will continue to do just enough to prevent economic collapse while suffering consequences associated with an inability act quickly enough. From my vantage point each view appears to be plausible. Each vision suggests that governmental action will be needed beyond individual efforts if we expect a healthy earth half-way through the twenty-first century. I will revisit these predictions at the end of the chapter.
Robert L. Shewfelt

Chapter 10. Can Processed Food Be Part of a Responsible Diet?

Abstract
Americans live in a polarized society, and fewer things are more polarized than thoughts and ideas about food. Dietitians, food scientists, nutritionists, and toxicologists tend to view whole and processed foods as complex combinations of edible chemicals. Food pundits, media personalities, medical doctors, and researchers of food addiction tend to see processed foods as more dangerous than whole foods primarily due to added food chemicals. The former are the foxes who talk in relative terms suggesting that any individual food has positive and negative aspects that must be balanced when making a decision to eat or not to eat. The latter are the hedgehogs who speak in absolute terms of good and bad food (see Figs. 10.1 and 10.2). Consumers caught in the middle of conflicting information tend to stick with certainty over uncertainty. The irony is that both the food pundits and Big Food are most successful when acting as hedgehogs. Big Food uses its two most powerful weapons, advertising and convenience, to convince us that the latest processed product is good for us and will save precious time. Food pundits call out Big Food not always based on merit but because the products are “processed.”
Robert L. Shewfelt

Backmatter

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