A provocative yet grounded look at the U.S. food industry. Though the prospect of finding quality food products may prove...

REAL FOOD/FAKE FOOD

WHY YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE EATING AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

An investigation of the American food industry, providing examples of authentic and fraudulent products and how best to differentiate between the two.

In his solidly researched new book, USA Today food and travel columnist Olmsted (Nonfiction Writing/Dartmouth Coll.; Getting into Guinness: One Man's Longest, Fastest, Highest Journey Inside the World’s Most Famous Record Book, 2008), a well-traveled and knowledgeable food writer, takes readers on an enlightening but frequently disturbing culinary journey. While providing fascinating insights into where and how some of the most delicious food products are produced, the author also reveals how often these are imitated to detrimental effect. “When you choose to eat Real Food, your immediate benefit is that it tastes good,” writes Olmsted. “Your long-term benefit is that it is almost always healthier….Conversely, when you choose—or are duped into eating—Fake Foods, you usually get things that taste worse, are less healthful, and sometimes truly dangerous. Eating them supports production methods that are often unsustainable and sometimes illegal.” Beginning in Parma, Italy, the author emphasizes the importance of terroir in the establishment of the quality and character of individual foods. Three basic products have been carefully produced for several generations in this region and consistently meet the highest quality standards—parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto—while the various knockoffs always fail to compare. In later chapters, Olmsted explores specific products and industries, such as olive oil and truffle oil, champagne, beef, wine, cheese, and possibly the scariest and certainly most confusing of all: the fishing industry. Regarding seafood, writes the author, “in many major U.S. cities, your chances of getting what you ordered—and paid for—in both restaurants and stores are slim at best.”

A provocative yet grounded look at the U.S. food industry. Though the prospect of finding quality food products may prove increasingly challenging for most consumers, Olmsted provides encouraging tips to help navigate the many obstacles.

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-421-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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