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Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats

 

by Steve Ettlinger

Review
     Ettlinger provides an excellent journey into the science and industry of key food ingredients using the ingredient list of a 'Twinkie' as the itenary for this trip. The book clearly provides an excellent overview of the sources, production processes and chemicals involved, some key players of each of the ingredient - without providing any specific 'judgements' on its relative health benefits - of course, all are deemed safe by regulatory agencies. That approach is welcome, though sometimes gives the narration a lack of "closure". To be fair, the author does point out this lack of studies, in passing, in a couple of chapters. The book does not reach the gravity of books like Omnivore's Dilemma, but still an excellent read. Overall, an excellent overview of the processing involved in some of the key ingredients we are now used to or "subjected to".... A must-read.
Sreeram Ramakrishnan, Yorktown Heights, NY (Amazon.com)

Book Description
     Like most Americans, Steve Ettlinger eats processed foods. And, like most consumers, he often reads the ingredients label—without a clue as to what most of it means. So when his young daughter asked, “Daddy, what’s polysorbate 60?” he was at a loss—and determined to find out.
     From the phosphate mines in Idaho to the corn fields in Iowa, from gypsum mines in Oklahoma to the vanilla harvest in Madagascar, Twinkie, Deconstructed is a fascinating, thoroughly researched romp of a narrative that demystifies some of the most common processed food ingredients—where they come from, how they are made, how they are used—and why. Beginning at the source (hint: they’re often more closely linked to rock and petroleum than any of the four food groups), we follow each Twinkie ingredient through the process of being crushed, baked, fermented, refined, and/or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder with a strange name—all for the sake of creating a simple snack cake.
     An insightful exploration into the food industry, if you’ve ever wondered what you’re eating when you consume foods containing mono- and diglycerides or calcium sulfate (the latter, a food-grade equivalent of Plaster of Paris) this book is for you.

About the Author
Steve Ettlinger, author of six books, has long been fascinated with everyday consumer products, from hardware to beer.

 

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