Friday, October 11, 2013

Booknote: Eat Drink Vote

Marion Nestle, Eat Drink Vote: an Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.  Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2013.

This book is a guide to food politics supplemented by editorial cartoons. To be honest, I wish the author would have used a few more cartoons and a little less text given that there were some parts of the book that felt a little repetitive after a while. For readers who are well-informed on topics of food politics, this book may seem a little basic. However, if those readers need a book to give others that need to learn more about food politics, this is the book they need. It is an accessible introduction to the major topics in food politics.

The book includes an introduction that is followed by ten chapters discussing a broad range of topics, such as: the American food system, food production, food safety, and the food movement. The author strives to explain why these issues and more are significant and why the average consumer needs to care. The cartoons do help in illustrating some of the complex ideas, plus at times they do add a bit of humor to serious topics. Food politics should interest everyone because, as the author tells us in her introduction, "everyone eats." Add to that the fact that corporations have an interest in making sure that people keep eating, regardless of the consequences, and it becomes clear why politics are so relevant and important.

The author works to present the various arguments, such as levels of regulation being needed or not in the food industry and legislation, with some balance. However, she does make her view clear. As she writes in her introduction, "from my public health standpoint, if a government intervention in dietary choices improves health, it is a good thing to do." That is not what Big Agro and big food conglomerates want to hear, but given how they undermine public health, it may well be what is needed. Overall, throughout the book the author makes a strong case for why we need to be more aware, why we need to change the food environment, and why we need to care and act.

I'd give this 4 out of 5 stars if you ask.

I would say this is a good title for public libraries to add to their collections. For academic libraries, this would be mostly a title for undergraduate students as it might help them get started on research related to food politics.

And here goes the disclosure note where I tell you, in order to keep The Man happy, that I was provided with an electronic galley of the book via NetGalley by the publisher so I could give you an honest review of the book.

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