I don't write reviews on books often. In fact, the last time I felt compelled to write a book review over here was almost exactly three years ago when I finished Sarah's Key. That book changed my life. It moved me, and my life will never be the same because of reading it. That's exactly how I felt about The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker.
I came across this book on my Auible account when I had finished reading The Martian last month. It was on my suggested book list, and being a fan of all things Doritos, I added it to my list of books I wanted to read. I started this book Wednesday night of last week, and finished it Friday morning. (My favorite part about an audiobook is that I can listen to it on triple speed and finish it in no time!)
This book talks about the agricultural industry in America. Back in the early 1900s food had flavor. Not added flavor with spices and seasonings, but the foods itself had wholesome real flavor. Tomatoes tasted like sweet, succulent balls of red deliciousness, instead of the watery blandness they have today. Chickens tasted like actual chicken, instead of bland chunks of meat that are now used to absorb the arsenals of flavors we soak them in today.
So what happened? After WWII and the soldiers came home, there was a huge push to produce more food in faster, and larger quantities. Farmers changed the way that they raised their crops, heards, and flocks so that they could produce more chickens, more vegetables, more everything in larger quantities, at lower prices. By changing the way crops were produced, and fowl are raised we lost flavor. All of our food has become much more bland as a result of these farming practices over several generations.
As a result to blandness, massive corporations came about to solve the flavor crisis. This is where artificial flavorings came into play in America. The more bland food has become, the more and more flavorings are being pumped into our food to make them edible, and enjoyable experiences. Chickens that we buy at the grocery store a soaked and pumped with "chicken flavoring". Additives are put in milk to make it taste more like milk, and in our butter, bread, and basically everything we purchase on a store shelf.
Because our foods are filled with additives that are made of combinations of fat, sugar, and salt, this has been the main cause to the obesity rise in America. The human brain is triggered by these three things the same way our brains are triggered by cigarettes and drugs. We want more, and we want a lot of it.
The book tells of a lot of interesting case studies of PhD's and other professionals who have made it their life goal and career to get food back to how it tasted in the early 1900s. Many of them have had success, but since the American people don't know, or care about the problem, it's hard to get the food industry (restaurants, farmers, grocery stores),to put large financial dollars into the problem and change growing habits when there aren't enough people out there demanding said change.
What is the change? How to we cure the obesity problem? How do we get good, real, flavorful food on store shelves? Well, I won't spoil the entire book for you, you'll have to check it out from your library or find it on Amazon to get all the answers. This book inspired me though. It changed the way I look at food and it's changed the way I want to shop for my family. (Also, if you're thinking organic everything is the answer, it's not, the book will tell you how those farming practices aren't too much different than commercialized farming as well... at least livestock).