An intelligent examination of food that probes how it is produced, procured and delivered to consumers—or not.
While many Americans and citizens of other wealthy nations take food for granted because of its abundance and availability in seemingly endless variety year-round, millions elsewhere, even in the United States, fare terribly. Gay explores the topic of food as a commodity in a way young readers have perhaps never encountered. Writing with skill, clarity and a finely tuned sense of fairness on all sides of issues, she conveys what a complicated business getting food to the table is. The word business is not to be underestimated, as today’s food culture involves multinational corporations in addition to governments and politics, science and technology, and the environment and global warming. Excellent color photographs and illuminating, easy-to-understand charts and diagrams enhance readers’ comprehension. Some of this may be difficult to digest: Descriptions of the treatment of food animals before and after slaughter and the handling of industrial waste might turn some stomachs; photos of starving youngsters are heart-wrenching. Yet the outlook isn’t completely dire. Gay points to optimistic news, such as the sustainable-agriculture movement, for example. Documentation is sound, though the bibliography offers few child-friendly titles—which perhaps speaks to this book’s singularity.
A sobering, thought-provoking discussion that provides, yes, much food for thought. (glossary, source notes, bibliography, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)