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  • Writer's pictureTamanna Mohapatra

Book Review: What the Fork Are You Eating?

I read this for both the content and the catchy book title. I found a good book review for it and have also supplemented it with some of my own.

Some additional ones I jotted down while reading the book:

Section 1 of the book starts of by reviewing the top 10 terminators aka food additives in our food these days. It’s safe to assume none of these are good for us and therefore below is some advise on what to avoid and how.

  1. Chemical preservatives-fresh food is the best, followed by food preserved simply by adding salt, naturally occurring citric acid, or sugar. The less offensive chemicals, obviously the better.

  2. Artificial Flavors and Enhancers- A product may say natural flavoring but not be natural at all. Better to select brands like Annie’s that uses real herbs and spices. MSG is one such flavor better to be aware of and reduce the use of.

  3. Artificial Colors- American food and beverages use about 9 dyes commonly; of which red no. 40, yellow no. 5 and yellow no. 6 are most prevalent. It’s better to choose dye free version of foods or foods that use natural dyes such as beets etc.

  4. Artificial Sweeteners-Such as Aspartame, Stevia, Splenda etc. are also not healthy when taken often. it’s better to eat real sugar but to consume it with some fat or protein to slow down sugar metabolism.

  5. Added sugar (and its many euphemisms)-Includes brown sugar, agave syrup, HFCS etc. It’s better to consume real but less sugar (of good variety such as honey, real maple sugar). For men the daily quantity of added sugar (i.e. not found in fruits and vegetables) is set at 36 grams (9 teaspoons) and for women at 24 grams (6 teaspoons). 

  6. Trans Fats (Hydrogenated Oils)-This is created by taking vegetable oil and adding hydrogen to it. Best to choose snacks and food that contain negligible amounts of transfat. Better options are olive oil and coconut oil.

  7. Pesticides- These chemicals added to help plants grow pest free are bad for the human body too. EWG (a non profit) has a list of fruits and vegetables to avoid just because they have way too much pesticides in them. Good idea to review and remember them. Better to buy organic versions of those. But eating plants with pesticides by washing them is better than not eating plants at all. If organic is not affordable local is as good.

  8. Antibiotics: When meat we eat has been fed too many antibiotics, it makes our bodies resistant to fighting future diseases. And because of the high demand for meat in the world today, more and more animals are being given antibiotics to be healthy enough to produce meat from. Better to eat meat sparingly and only antibiotic free. It’s a major cause of concern and debate in US currently.

  9. Hormones- Similar to antibiotics, when animals are injected with hormones to grow larger and produce more, these hormones when eaten by us cause havoc in our bodies. Go organic with dairy as much as possible.

  10. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)-This is another topic of hot debate and can’t be covered cursorily here. Best is research and be aware of the issues involved and buy mindfully.

Section 2 of the book talks about Food labels. The sad story is that there are way too many food labels out there and very few validations methods for each. For example, what types of eggs shall we buy? Cage free,  free range, certified humane raised and handled, natural, omege 3 enriched? None of them have a proper certification to fall back on. As far as possible therefore buy something that states organic (as there is certification behind the organic label) or if it reads, ‘Certified Naturally Grown’.

In general it was a good read but a little overloaded with information. I think one would have to own it and use it a reference. I feel good reviewing it and sharing whatever highlights I could.

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