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LET'S ASK MARION

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE POLITICS OF FOOD, NUTRITION, AND HEALTH

Informative, pragmatic responses about what, why, and how we eat.

A noted nutritionist critiques the "industry-driven food environment."

Author and food columnist Nestle, emerita professor of food studies and public health at NYU, joins with environmental advocate Trueman in a broad consideration of food policy, consumption, and sustainability. “Food is political,” Nestle asserts, connecting issues such as obesity, hunger, food safety, and climate change to governmental food policy, industry lobbying, and inequality. Using a question-and-answer format, Trueman elicits Nestle’s responses on the relationship of food to illness, choice of one diet (low-carb, for example) over another, the need for supplements, and the benefits of fake meats. Nestle points out the difficulty of studying what people eat: The best that studies can do, she says, is to “show some kind of association or link between what you ate and the likelihood—your risk—of developing a disease. They cannot prove that what you ate caused a disease.” As for trendy diets, she advocates eating in moderation, choosing plants over meats, and avoiding the supersized portions that the food industry promotes. She admits “discomfort about using ‘addiction’ to describe loving relationships to food. We can’t live without eating. Food is delicious.” Marketing, not scientific evidence, has created a demand for supplements and so-called “superfoods.” Although she has tried manufactured foods, Nestle questions their processed ingredients and finds “technological approaches, no matter how entertaining or potentially useful,” a distraction from addressing problems inherent in the food industry. Decrying the lack of a “committed food safety culture” that would prevent food-borne illnesses, Nestle notes that in the U.S., responsibility for food policies is fragmented among too many agencies, making progress and oversight impossible. Because food advocacy is a global issue, she urges readers to become involved: “pick the problem you want to address, find a group working on that issue, and join it.”

Informative, pragmatic responses about what, why, and how we eat.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-520-34323-8

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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