Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss – Audiobook Review

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, narrated by Scott Brick
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Random House

Synopsis (partial synopsis from the publisher):

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed—in a technique adapted from tobacco companies—to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users”—as the companies refer to their most ardent customers—are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

Thoughts on the story:

The one thing I’m really still stuck on from Salt, Sugar, Fat is the part where Coca Cola refers to people who consume a lot of its product as “heavy users.” The drug analogy continues throughout much of the book, as Moss explores our physiological and cultural addictions to  the titular ingredients. Moss does a fabulous job covering exactly how we got to where we are and just why it is so problematic. I was continually astounded by the prominence of Moss’s sources in the food industry; he clearly did his research and it is evident in the wealth of very well-presented information in the book. There was only one thing I did not love about Salt Sugar Fat, and that was how much my OCD self was bothered by the fact that  these building blocks of processed food are discussed in a different order than the title: sugar, fat, then salt instead of salt, sugar, then fat. It drove me a little crazy, particularly during section changes, but Moss’s astounding work still sucked me back in immediately

Thoughts on the audio production:

Scott Brick, I have finally listened to you! Besides Simon Vance, Scott Brick is the only audiobook narrator I know who has his very own superfan. Audible has close to 500 results for Scott Brick’s name, but despite the number of audiobooks I have listened to over the last few years, I have never heard him until now. Nonfiction narration is generally not what inspires superfandom, but Brick does a wonderful job with Salt Sugar Fat. Because Moss inserts himself in his research from time to time, the book often has an almost conversational quality (if you have conversations with REALLY SMART people who know an awful lot about nutrition and food science), and Brick translates this wonderfully straight into the listener’s ear. He does that thing where you forget that you are listening to a narrator speak someone else’s words and tricks you into believing that he is the author and he knows ALL THESE THINGS AND MORE. Really top-notch.

Overall:

General nonfiction caveats apply here: if you want to really study the material and be able to easily go back and reference things, you are probably best served either with print or a combination of print and audio. However, if you just want to be exposed to Moss’s research, the audio production of Salt Sugar Fat is wonderful and one I highly recommend.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

 

Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets

This plugin requires intervention by this site’s administrator.

To display the widget for this post, please click here.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013

Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson – Book Review

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson
Published by Basic Books

Whether you are an advocate of slow food or most of your nourishment comes from cans, the freezer, or drive-thrus, cooking and eating are integral parts of your daily life. But just how did we get to where we are today? Remember, at one point humankind didn’t even have mastery of fire. Now we have gas or electric ranges, rice cookers, regular and convection ovens, sous vide machines, and much more.

In Consider the Fork,Bee Wilson traces the development of many aspects of cooking and eating, including cutting implements, heat sources, cooling sources, and eating utensils. Although her focus is primarily Western Europe and, later, the United States and Canada, she does make mention of Asian innovations from time to time, particularly the Chinese ton knife and, of course, chopsticks.

Consider the Fork is chock full of interesting things that you never knew about the ways that we cook and eat, such as the fact that the act of cutting food before we eat it (knife and fork eating in the West, ton and chopstick eating in China) actually seems to have changed the alignment of our mouths; an overbite is not helpful if you’re ripping all of your food with your teeth. Although that is the factoid that most impressed and stuck with me, Consider the Fork is packed with similarly fascinating information, such as how a woman from Boston influenced the United States into measuring things in cups, when weight is a much more useful and accurate measure for dry ingredients.

A perfect read for both foodies and those interested in histories of specific objects, Consider the Fork is fascinating and a great read. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, via Netgalley.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2012

Parents Need to Eat Too by Debbie Koenig – Book Review

Parents Need to Eat Too: Nap-Friendly Recipes, One-Handed Meals, and Time-Saving Kitchen Tricks for New Parents by Debbie Koenig
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks

The time after a new baby enters the house is a tricky one for parents who want to eat something not originally from the freezer section of the grocery store. There’s so much to do with an infant in the house and so much uncertainty about how and when to do it. It seems that things should get easier as the baby gets a bit older, but it isn’t only infants who want to be held, to be able to see and touch whichever parent is attempting to prepare a meal. My son is 2.5, and it is really only recently that cooking has gotten fairly easy again, he’s happy to sit and play with something in the next room while I prepare food, until then it could only happen easily if someone else was home to distract him. As I contemplate adding two more little ones to our household this summer, the idea of what on earth we’re going to eat is in the forefront of my mind. I’m hoping to freeze a lot of things ahead of time, but that also requires us to get moved into a new house sooner rather than later and to get a large freezer that can hold all of these things. Plus, there are times when you just don’t want one of the same old dishes you made a giant batch of and have had on rotation for weeks.

Enter Debbie Koenig’s new cookbook: Parents Need to Eat Too.

Parents Need to Eat Too is a cookbook specifically designed for the parents of young children. There are extremely simple recipes, recipes already divided up for you for nap time prep, slow cooker recipes, meals you can easily eat with one hand, and recipes that promote lactation for mothers who are breastfeeding. Perhaps the most helpful aspects of the book, though, are Koenig’s list of essential ingredients in the beginning (someone may get sent to the store with the book right before the twins arrive) and the tips on turning each and every recipe into baby food. Yes, you read that right, every recipe can be used as baby/toddler food. This, to me, was almost revelatory. We made most of Daniel’s babyfood, but it was usually an all-day Saturday sort of thing, cooking and pureeing vegetable after vegetable and freezing them all. You know what is easier than that? FEEDING YOUR KID WHAT YOU ARE EATING. Not only does it simply involve a little extra prep time instead of getting something completely different, if you know you won’t finish your leftovers, guess what? You can turn them into baby food and freeze them for later.

Another thing I appreciated about Koenig’s book is the gustatory diversity. This is by no means a cookbook of casseroles. There are a number of Asian and Indian-inspired meals, such as the Chana Masala. Koenig freely admits that many of these recipes aren’t particularly authentic, particularly since she is aiming for things that are fast and easy to make, but they are delicious. I made her fried rice last weekend, and I must say that it simply knocked the socks off my own version (it seems the delicious secret is sesame oil, yum!).

I think Parents Need to Eat Too (and maybe some of the dry ingredients from Koenig’s list) would make a wonderful gift for a new parent, or really anyone with young children. Highly recommended.

If you need more convincing, here’s Koenig herself talking about the book:

I also have one copy for a lucky reader with a US mailing address. This copy will be sent out by HarperCollins. Please enter on the form below by noon Eastern on Tuesday, February 28.

FORM

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2012

The Sparkpeople Cookbook by Meg Galvin – Book Review

The Sparkpeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight by Meg Galvin
Published by Hay House

Sparkpeople.com is a diet website. It provides its 11 million plus members with weight loss resources, including community support. As befits as responsible diet website and plan, much of Sparkpeople focuses on exercise and healthy eating. It is this second important component of dieting that The Sparkpeople Cookbook focuses on.8

The Sparkpeople Cookbook is not, however, what one would commonly consider to be a diet cookbook. Instead, the focus is on cooking for a healthy eating lifestyle, making smart choices as far as ingredients and portion sizes. The book even includes the basics of a number of healthy cooking techniques, including roasting, grilling, sweating, steaming, and more.

As is important in a cookbook, The Sparkpeople Cookbook is, overall, very well organized. After the introductory sections, which include the aforementioned healthy cooking techniques, the book is divided into the following sections:

  • Breakfast
  • Salads & Sandwiches
  • Soups & Stews
  • Main Dishes with Poultry, Meat & Fish
  • Meatless Mains, Pasta & Pizza
  • Whole Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Snacks & Desserts
  • Herbs, Spices & Seasonings

This is followed by a number of appendices, including a sample weekly meal plans, choosing a cooking oil, and keeping fruits and vegetables fresh. The only real oddity is the inclusion of Lemon Chicken with Spinach Pasta under the Meatless Mains section. It seems to just have been misplaced in the incorrect section, but it is an unfortunate error, because it looks like an incredible recipe, and I would hate for people looking specifically chicken dishes to miss it. Despite the one strange placement, the layout of the individual recipes is quite good. There are facts about the food used, suggestions to make the dish into a meal, and possible additions.

The recipes all look amazing, and are straightforward without being overly simplistic. I made the Herbed Bulgur and Lentil Salad and it was delicious, I will definitely be making it again. I can’t wait to keep making things, like the Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash with Lemon Pepper, the Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken, and the Lemon Chicken with Spinach Pasta.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Planned TV Arts.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage – Audiobook Review

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage, narrated by Sean Runnette
Published in audio by Tantor Audio; published in print by Walker Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.

Thoughts on the story:

Tom Standage has a fascinating story to tell of how our history has shaped what we drink, which ends up shaping our history again. Both the book and the argument were well-laid out, progressing logically through each of the six drinks and through human civilization, as one drink gave rise to another. Different technological and cultural advances precipitated the rise of each of the six drinks, and each of them further shaped culture in its own way. It should be noted, though, that this is less a history of the world than a history of Western Civilization, beginning with the early farmers in the fertile crescent and moving ever westward. Of course the east does get a mention, particularly when tea is involved, and coffee came to Europe from the Arab world, but in both cases the use of the beverage in Western Europe is the main focus. This is not necessarily a bad thing if one is prepared for this, but at the same time it would have been nice to have a more worldwide lens based on the title.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Sean Runnette is a great narrator of nonfiction. His delivery is clear and his voice easy to listen to, with just the right amount of interest added in his inflection. There was occasionally an issue with the quality of the recording, some of the edits were noticeable, but overall they didn’t negatively affect the listening experience.

Overall:

A really fascinating way of looking at our shared history. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011