HARD TO SWALLOW by Richard W. Lacey


A Brief History of Food
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 Charming, delightful, often richly depressing survey about what we eat, by Lacey (Medical Microbiology/Leeds;Unsafe for Human Consumption--not reviewed). Yes, Dr. Lacey is down on cholesterol, but more down on drugs, diet and lifestyle, saturated animal fats and hydrogenated oils. His message is simple: ``Ignore the cholesterol propaganda, don't have your blood tested for cholesterol and eat an enjoyable and varied diet as suggested here. The real difficulty is to get the amount of food you need right.'' Lacey begins, logically, with a history of foods, our first crops, wild meat, then intensively farmed meat and salmon (farmed fish fats have changed for the worse), with the thought that changes in food production over the past 70-80 years ``have been much more dramatic than the previous 30 million.'' He describes the present uses and consumption of cereals, potatoes, nuts, sugar, fruits and vegetables (the disaster fallen upon tomatoes, now dull, thick-skinned, tasteless), mushrooms, peas, beans, and seeds yielding vegetable oil. He also sighs over the debasing of pizza, problem bacteria in moist processed foods and canned and vacuum-packed foods, the fact that irradiating salmonella in fowls may only allow other dangerous types that can survive irradiation great encouragement ``by removing the competition''--so do not stuff chickens! Meanwhile, total confusion reigns about additives. As for bread?--``Let us be quite clear. Real bread, like real ale, is brown.'' Lacey suggests the ideal diet, even gives recipes, and ends with ideas for cleaning up poultry and eggs, reducing world hunger, and avoiding the sheer inefficiency of feeding cereals to mammals and birds instead of eating the cereals directly. Is such sapience hard to swallow? With the expanding world population, yes. British by birth but quite adaptable to American readers.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-521-44001-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Cambridge Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1994