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What am I eating? This book answers that question by describing more than 8,000 ingredients found in foods. The dictionary format lets you look up an ingredient alphabetically and learn what it is, how and why it's used, and the benefits and risks. You can decode an ingredient from a food label--haven't you always wondered just what "guar gum" is?--or just skim for interesting facts.
For example, the entry on "civet, absolute" explains that this essential oil used as a flavoring is "derived from the unctuous secretions from the receptacles between the anus and genitalia of both the male and female civet cat." Not very appetizing! You'll find this ingredient in raspberry, butter, caramel, grape, and rum flavorings in beverages, desserts, and chewing gum.
This book also explains commonly used (but poorly understood) food-label terms like "lite" and "low fat," what counts as a serving for different food groups, and various ways of processing food. There's a helpful chart of food storage guidelines, and resources (including Web sites) for people with food allergies or sensitivities. Ruth Winter, an award-winning science writer, is also the author of A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and several other books.
--Joan Price, Amazon.com
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