Debating Your Plate: The Most Controversial Foods and Ingredients

Greenwood Nov. 2021. 222p. ISBN 9781440874352. $63. REF
Acknowledging that food controversies can be traced back to ancient Greece, medical journalist Minetor (Greenwood’s Medical Tests in Context: Innovations and Insights) analyzes the ins and outs of contemporary nutrition science in the U.S.—why it’s prone to ambiguity; how the results of scientific research can be skewed—and explains how to analyze scientific studies. Minetor illustrates changes in Americans’ diets over time and discusses the history of nutrition science, nutrition standards, relationships between food and illness, social changes (e.g., women working outside the home; fad diets), and the food industry’s ability to slant the results of research to promote their own products (in the 1960s, for instance, sugar producers funded their own scientific study). The most helpful chapter focuses on evaluating nutrition research and health claims and offers tips for identifying research distortion. Alphabetically organized entries tackle subjects like artificial additives (flavorings, colors, sweeteners), bottled water, caffeine, chocolate, cruciferous vegetables, essential oils, genetically modified foods, and superfoods. Each entry includes historical context and discusses controversies and debates (on, for instance, the value of gluten-free diets for all), in clear, straightforward language. Chapters include bibliographies, and the volume has a glossary, a directory of resources, and a detailed index. Unlike most other works on food and diet controversies, which tend to focus on a single aspect (e.g., meat; ethical issues), Minetor’s balanced, simple, informative book is wide-ranging, making it invaluable.
VERDICT A strong updated complement to Myrna Chandler Goldstein and Mark A. Goldstein’s Food and Nutrition Controversies Today. Minetor encourages readers to make up their own minds on nutrition, food science, and marketing.
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