Before I became a stay-at-home mom to two wild and crazy guys, I worked as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at a pediatric hospital. In this role, I provided nutrition education and counseling to children with diabetes and their families. Knowing what is in the food is an important part of managing blood sugars. We always discussed how to read food labels to make informed decisions about daily care. Little did we know that the food label was not telling us the entire story.
The new book, Swallow This, opened my eyes and also left me with many unanswered questions about what is really in our food. Although the author is British and this book is written about the processed food industry and food labeling in the United Kingdom, it still applies to our American system.
Blythman takes us through the processed food industry from top to bottom, dividing the book into 2 sections. First, she looks at the processed food system itself, what you see and smell inside the factories, industry efforts to “clean” labels, the producers that sell to food manufacturers, and the stores where food is sold. Second, she breaks down the processes and ingredients used to make foods sweet, oily, flavored, colored, watery, starchy, “fresh”, and packaged. I found the chapter on packaging to be the most surprising and alarming. Materials and chemicals used in packaging do not need to be divulged on labels, and yet, evidence is mounting that these substances may be leaching into our food.
Swallow This is very well researched and informative, and the writing is engaging and easy to understand. I came away with a much better understanding of how to decipher food labeling and a stronger conviction to eat less processed food. If you are even remotely interested in learning more about how our food is produced, read this book. Your weekly trip to the grocery store will take on a whole dimension.
Author: Joanna Blythman
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Date Published: January 13, 2016
Source: Edelweiss ARC