Americans Are Afraid Of Their Food And For Good Reason In 2011, The Deadliest Food Borne Illness Outbreak In A Century Delivered Killer Listeria Bacteria On Innocuous Cantaloupe Never Before Suspected Of Carrying That Pathogen Nearly 50 Million Americans Will Get Food Poisoning This Year Spoiled, Doctored Or Infected Food Will Send Than 100,000 People To The Hospital Three Thousand Will Die We Expect, Even Assume, Our Government Will Protect Our Food, But How Often Do You Think A Major U.S Food Farm Get Inspected By Federal Or State Officials Once A Year Every Harvest Twice A Decade Try Never Eating Dangerously Sheds Light On The Growing Problem And Introduces Readers To The Very Real, Very Immediate Dangers Inherent In Our Food System This Two Part Guide To Our Food System S Problems And How Consumers Can Help Protect Themselves Is Written By Two Seasoned Journalists, Who Helped Break The Story Of The 2011 Listeria Outbreak That Killed 33 People Michael Booth And Jennifer Brown, Award Winning Health And Investigative Journalists And Parents Themselves, Answer Pressing Consumer Questions About What S In The Food Supply, What Authorities Are And Are Not Doing To Clean It Up, And How They Can Best Feed Their Families Without Making Food Their Full Time Jobs Both Deeply Informed And Highly Readable, Eating Dangerously Explains To The American Consumer How Their Food System Works And Importantly How It Doesn T Work It Also Dishes Up Course After Course Of Useful, Friendly Advice Gleaned From The Cutting Edge Laboratories, Kitchens And Courtrooms Where The National Food System Is Taking New Shape Anyone Interested In Knowing About How Their Food Makes It From Field And Farm To Store And Table Will Want The Inside Scoop On Just How Safe Or Unsafe That Food May Be They Will Find Answers And Insight In These Pages. Despite the authors claims to the contrary, this came across as fear mongering Cooking deli meat before eating it Throwing away half eaten fruit rather than refrigerating it Placing foods to cool in containers no than 2 deep I m gonna need a whole bunch casserole dishes if I ve gotta pour my double batch of spaghetti sauce into 2 pans to cool
In Eating Dangerously the authors offer a look at the risks inherent in our food supplies However, having just finished The Norm Chronicles a wholly enjoyable read on assessing risk , I m skeptical of the concerns presented here.
For example, cantaloupe was responsible for the 2011 Lysteria outbreak that killed 33 people a story the authors were involved in covering and which makes several appearances throughout the book Not to minimize those deaths or the suffering of the families involved, but I have to wonder how many people ate cantaloupe in the U.S during that time frame in 2011 330 330,000 3.3 million I don t know, but I m guessing my chances of getting sick, much less dying, from eating cantaloupe are pretty small yet the authors portray that humble melon sitting on your kitchen table as a time bomb just waiting to go off and put you and your family in the hospital, facing death or permanent kidney failure and a life time of dialysis.
The same with raw spinach, sprouts, shellfish and all the other food items that are presented here Feta cheese Really, we should stop eating feta cheese right now because it s made with unpasteurized milk They make it sound like putting a loaded gun to my head and pulling the trigger
In fairness to Booth and Brown, these are not their claims they are simply reporting the concerns pointed out to them by the food safety experts they talked to However, there was no attempt to put these claims or the risks presented into the broader picture of overall food consumption in this country.As eaters who depend on the giant trough built by mass production and mass distribution and the notion of no seasons strawberries in February, but of course , we are increasingly at risk of ingesting a sub microscopic morsel that could transform an otherwise healthy fad vegetable into junk food and threaten our health and maybe our life Eating Dangerously, in quick slice and dice fashion, presents a prosecution as tight as the Zip Loc bag trying ward off the growth of unhealthy bacteria in the back of your fridge Eating Dangerously dips briefly into the same contaminated waters as The Omnivores Dilemma Michael Pollan and Fast Food Nation Eric Schlosser But Eating Dangerously makes it painfully clear that meat isn t the only place that shoppers should cast a wary eye and details the many ways in which our safety infrastructure provides a defense that s about as sturdy as, well, a wet paper towel Or leafy green After consuming Eating Dangerously, you may view the produce section as cautiously as you look for off color spots beneath the plastic wrap on the shelves of ground chuck For all the spotlights trained on slaughterhouses during years of disturbing headlines about meat, from 2006 through 2011 U.S consumers learned about potential pathogens in previously innocuous foods such as melon and peanut butter, write co authors Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown Eating Dangerously rises above the killing floor horror show and the corporate greed of the meat processors to demonstrate that the safety guards we have put in place are woefully inadequate Worse, they aren t being shored up they are being shredded by budget pressures Even when the process is followed and a bad ingredient is traced back to the cattle poop that taints a spinach crop or careless reckless peanut farmers, government officials aren t always forthcoming to consumers The authors spell out a frightening case in which the U.S government failed to identify a well known fast food chain by name Taco Bell , despite the ample evidence that led to its doors The Taco Bell saga is yet another opportunity to think that corporate power overrides consumer needs and government officials buckle at the mere mention of legal challenges The book charts budget reduction after budget reduction that have reduced the ranks of inspectors and watered down the illusion, weak to begin with, that safeguards are in place Let s say for argument s sake, the FDA in some magical year in the near future actually gets the modernization budget it asks for, and get it in time to fill all the new positions before the next budget battle begins How many people would that be Remember, the FDA s oversight of 80 percent of the American food supply means responsibility for 350,000 food factories, warehouses, and farms Then curb your enthusiasm with the number of new full time domestic inspectors requested in the 2013 budget exactly nineteen The FDA said those gains would be multiplied many times over by partnerships with state and local health agencies Meanwhile, as Congress confronted plummeting revenue and entrenched budget battles from the 2008 recession onward, states and counties let go of 20 percent of their health departments workforce The recession s toll A devastating attrition of than thirty four thousand jobs The pathetic state of the inspection system should be a Page One headline for about a month As the authors mention, when it s generally assumed that your packaged chicken is contaminated in Salmonella and when all the safety precautions are placed squarely on the home cook and not the processors or distributors or grocers something has gone strangely awry Eating Dangerously breaks down what went wrong in the Colorado cantaloupe Listeria outbreak that led to the deaths of 33 eaters and sickened many The fragile safety system s use of auditors paid for by the farmers themselves gives a fresh imagery to the idea the fox can guard the hen house While the oversights suggest ineptness rather than greediness in this melon case, the way in which safety checks are structured hardly looks good on paper, let alone the light of day Eating Dangerously is written in a brisk, efficient style with a dollop of humor and razor wit The talents of two hard nosed, experienced reporters are obvious The tone isn t confrontational, only expository The book wraps up with helpful chapters on shopping and managing your foodstuffs once you ve returned from your grocery store Given the risks involved, these chapters alone are worth the price You ll learn a few things about how to ruin a pathogen s day Bottom line the food safety pipeline is busted We stand at the end of that pipeline with our mouths open and our food thermometers out right, people We have a major role to play in protecting our innards and for the guts of anyone we choose to feed The food safety system we have in place today is the one we want, given our unwillingness on one end to pay taxes and our apparent demand on the other end for cheap food in every variety and at all times of year We stand in the kitchen, the last defense in the battle to keep our meals safe and healthy, and it s always a good idea to know your enemy and the lack of assistance being delivered by the good guys Full disclosure that Michael Booth is a friend but I stand by every word of this review. DON T WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THIS BOOK There are SO many other MUCH better books that talk about the evils and perils of our current industrial food system If you want to read about how to eat better, healthier, real food I suggest reading Joel Salatin, Ben Hewitt, and many others who are farming in smaller scale, sustainable ways By the end of this book I was so mad at the misinformation and lack of helpful options The first half of the book talks about recent outbreaks of food borne illnesses and why these things happen basically it s a product of the industrial food system which I agree with completely Then the second half of the book talks about ways you can be safer and with your food this is where I start to get mad Basically the authors seem to be suggesting that you re better off eating processed food full of who knows what because most food borne illness outbreaks are related to fresh food hamburger meat, cantaloupe, spinach They also say that if you shop at farmer s markets you re just romanticising your food and it s not any better for you or safer That is bullshit When you KNOW your farmer and you ve visited their farm you KNOW your food That is not the case with ANYTHING you purchase at the grocery store I know that there might be shady farmers at some markets that don t grow their own food, etc but that s why it s so important to get to know them and visit their farms so you can see first hand how they are raising their animals or crops The authors also imply that many people think if they buy from the farmer s market they don t need to wash the veggies or cook the meat I mean what kind of dumb asses are these people talking to NO ONE at a decent farmer s market would EVER suggest that you don t follow basic kitchen cooking safety guidelines Basically this book scares the hell out of you with horror stories of food poisoning outbreaks which are true and are scary , but then their solutions are to either eat processed food or just wait until you get one of the many food borne illnesses out there They even have a chapter on the most common ones and what the symptoms are so you can self diagnose WHEN not IF you get one I am NOT a fan of the industrial food system, but this book is a joke as far as helping anyone If you are afraid of the industrial food nightmare and you should be , the answer is to opt out by knowing your local farmers, growing some of your own food, and cooking local foods at home safely of course Don t waste your time reading this joke of a book I can t remember the last time a book made me as mad as this one did Here are a few of the worst quotes Which is better to feed your kids for lunch processed chicken nuggets from the freezer section or a burger made from ground turkey The answer depends on whether you are worried about feeding the children nitrates, sodium, and saturated fat or reducing the risk of ingesting illness inducing Salmonella or Campylobacter p 91 REALLY Those are your ONLY food options Processed shit or real shit in your meat this is one of the most offensive sentences I ve EVER read It s all the rage to buy farm fresh food, to seek out free range eggs and organic vegetables delivered to the door or grown in the backyard That s all great but don t take the back to nature way of life all the way to raw milk It s not worth it Raw milk is horrifically dangerous I would never advise anyone under any circumstances to drink it, said Klein, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest p 95 So now eating local, whole foods including raw milk which people have consumed for centuries, is now just a trend that will die off when all the raw milkers die from food poisoning give me a break Stroll through the farmers market each week, sampling watermelon and homemade sausages and loaves of bread full of hearty seeds and grains Go ahead these are all wonderful ways to live You ll develop a greater appreciation for the people who raise our food and, at the same time, help bolster the local economy But while you are doing all this, don t be naive enough to assume you are less likely than traditional grocery store shoppers to pick up a dangerous food pathogen along the way Eating healthy, or organically, or locally, has its benefits few pesticides, humane treatment of animals, less fossil fuel burned to transport the bananas from Chile or the hamburger from who knows where but it has not been found to reduce the risk of foodborne illness p 137 In my opinion this is just a flat out lie There is no way that eating locally grown and humanely raised food is as dangerous as industrially produced food Echoed egg expert Jay Russell There is a lot of naivete going on as people go back to the locavore There is a romanticism that doesn t appreciate the risks p 149 The risks with food are from the industrial system and no amount of laws or incentives to those companies will ever fix that Food was never meant to be produced on the scale that it is now and that is why the industrial food system will NEVER work This sentence is on the last page of the book and I just wanted to throw this book at Jay Russell AND the authors I knew the subject would be distasteful, ha, ha but I expected a bit of Michael Booth s humour but I didn t find it. I thought this would cover of how foods from other countries may be unsafe, but it turns out that 90% of the content is about food safety within the US itself It mentions the poison cantaloupe incidents, how salads make people sick, how tenderised beef may pose a health hazard, and various other examples of food safety lapses that take place in America There was only a fleeting 1 page mention in the entire book, of how seafood from Asian countries could be unfit for human consumption due to the large amounts of bacteria on them In turn, the author recommends eating shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, which I found not very convincing at all since this particular stretch of water is itself full of contaminants The rest of the book provides advice on how to keep your food as clean as possible Mainly this involves things such as not eating veggies raw, washing melon rinds with soap before cutting them, how to correctly handle raw meat, etc etc Most of these tips many of us should already know and perhaps currently practice, so nothing new here. I simply do not need to be any concerned or paranoid about food I thought this was about food additives It is actually about food born illnesses and how poorly the FDA handles this issue I skipped to the appendix of useful tips in the back after reading a good chunk of this book I m sure it is a wealth of information but I have enough to worry about without adding in something I largely have little or no control over. I skimmed this at my mother in law s house today Lots of information about the dangers of food poisoning Mostly it made me paranoid about eating anything According to this book the majority of foods you purchase at your local grocery store are contaminated with something and even if you scrub your produce and overcook your meat, chances are good you ll still get sick at some point anyways. This book is yet another muckrucking expose about the sorry state of food within the United States, of which there are many And many of these books go over the same ground and discuss in detail the failures of the government to adequately protect the interests and health of the American people And all of that is true, although it is also equally true that it would be prohibitively expensive to attempt to inspect our way to healthy food Intriguingly enough, the authors point out that there is often an inverse relationship between the goodness and healthiness of a food and its safety, as foods that have been irradiated are much safer for it, but healthy foods like melons, sprouts, and raw milk come with a high degree of risk attached based on how such foods are stored and kept Likewise, this book like many others of its kind is far stronger when it comes to pointing out the dangers of many of the foods than in providing a great deal of worthwhile information when it comes to making the food we eat safer.This book is a relatively short one of about 150 pages and it is divided into two parts, and beginning with an introduction that shows the author s journalistic background The first part explores the question of whether we should be afraid of our food, answering with a resounding yes There are chapters on sickness from food 1 , the lack of testing and inspection 2 , the real life forensics behind responding to food outbreaks 3 , the whole world in our kitchen 4 , and what happens to companies that are responsible for the outbreaks not much 5 The second part of the book then at least seeks to answer the question of how to feed one s family safely and sanely There are chapters about foods to handle with care 6 , the most dangerous foods being sprouts and spinach 7 , the authors praise of radiation 8 , what do do when one has become sick 9 , and the wide gulf between eating healthy and eating safely 10 Those of us who have been frustrated by the struggle of finding sprouts after repeated outbreaks are aware of some of these issues After this comes two appendices, including resources to help one eat less dangerously i and some food safety quick tips ii Finally, the book concludes with notes, index, and some information about the authors.It is rather perverse that there is such a gulf in our present evil age between eating healthy and eating safely Healthy foods that contain nutrients and that are nourishing in the long term are generally also vulnerable to the conditions in which they are stored from farm to table In a contrary fashion, foods that have been radiated and otherwise processed to an extreme degree have little nutrients to lose and thus that which is beneficial for our lives and that which feeds bacteria can simultaneously be destroyed How is one to resolve this dilemma It would appear that if the healthiest foods are ones that are the most vulnerable to problems when sold by various agricultural businesses that the best course of action would be to seek to put as much as possible of one s food purchases and or growing under conditions where food growers can be held accountable for what happens, which would encourage farming, involvement with local farmer s markets, and less reliance on government and companies to keep people safe when one party lacks the profit motive and the other lacks the capacity to engage in that important and necessary task. In all, a fairly balanced discussion of the major outbreaks of food poisoning, and why, and where they failures in our food system lie It discusses the various types of food poisoning though when we think of food poisoning, we think of botulism and salmonella, not Norovirus or listeria isn t that a plant or hepatitis I m now convinced it was a case of Norovirus that kinked my stomach band , as well as the ways various companies have taken steps to keep their food as clean as possible I think I found a homonym error, and I disagree with their blase attitudes toward having inspectors on premises there s no way in hell one inspector is going to catch every sick animal at the speed they go by , but in all it was an interesting and informative book, not hard to understand, and nicely short 150 pages, and then 50 pages of sources Of course, now I m washing my food like crazy, chucking anything that s been open than a day, and fearing my watermelon despite the fact we re trained in food safety and have never, not once, knowingly given anyone food poisoning And yes you can eat that cookie dough raw just use pasteurized eggs or Eggbeaters in your batter This works well as a reference bookand also as a prelude to food horror stories Overall, I tend to stay away from books like these, just because it spikes my paranoia and then I go around feeling like a crazy person, and spending oodles of time over analyzing everything Let me live and die peacefully in my oblivion.
- 200 pages
- Eating Dangerously: Why the Government Can't Keep Your Food Safe ... and How You Can
- Michael Booth
- 09 July 2017 Michael Booth