PANIC IN THE PANTRY: Foods-Facts, Fads and Fallacies by Elizabeth M. & Fredrick J. Stare Whelan

PANIC IN THE PANTRY: Foods-Facts, Fads and Fallacies

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Time to sweep away those depressing Calvinist misconceptions about the evils of a pleasant, tasty, convenient diet, say Whelan and Stare, and we couldn't agree more. But their basic premise turns out to be a with-us-or-against-us mania that equates all criticism of standard supermarket fare with some sinister entity called ""Healthfoodland"" which grows fat on irresponsible scare tactics, promotion of dangerous fads, and suppression of the True Facts about the wholesome qualities of sodium nitrite, MSG, diethylstilbestrol, and food colorings. Without preservatives, pesticides, and the like, food would relapse into the chancy and joyless thing it was before Nabisco or McCormick & Co. (two of the sources cited in the acknowledgments). Crops would fail, botulism and worse would dog the steps of the innocent diner, and our diet would be reduced to pallid monotony. The authors justly point out that health food stores sell many items of dubious value at unconscionable prices, that a great deal of balderdash is to be found in the writings of the late Addle Davis, and that much of our information on health hazards comes from biased industry studies intended to prove the lethal qualities of the other guy's stuff. They also note the clumsiness and inconsistencies of existing anti-carcinogen legislation. Still, in the main this could be a PR release for the fast food industry and the FDA. We note that no attention is paid to the custom of adding salt and sugar to nearly all canned and packaged goods (you must pay extra to escape them). We are also bemused by the idea that food tastes better after the processing process, and that all nay-sayers are a bunch of kelp-chomping zealots. Ah, well, anyone who can write that processed cheese is ""about as natural as you can get"" will have a hard time believing that some people actually like the taste of homemade applesauce, homegrown vegetables, and other vestiges of a troglodytic past.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1975
Publisher: Atheneum