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

LET'S ASK MARION

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

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 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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