Pandoras Lunchbox by Melanie Warner

I started this book last summer when I went on a crazy weight loss binge and was obsessing over the food I was consuming. I some how came across an essay excerpt from the book and bought it from Barnes and Noble while I was visiting my parents in Modesto. Oddly enough, one of the only full priced books I have ever purchased. It took me a whole year to finish, I read about half of it during the first week, then read a chapter every few months, finally renting the last 100 pages via audiobook. My family is made of farmers or relation to the way food is made and I have had many debates with my uncles over the larger debate of processed foods, so even though I was lightly committed, it was super interesting! 'Processed food' is a pretty general term, but the author sums up that anything that can't be exactly reproduced in a home kitchen or made to last for several days is essentially processed- or has unnatural additives. 


If a piece of individually wrapped cheese can retain its shape, color, and texture for years, what does it say about the food we eat and feed to our children? -Pandoras Lunchbox



 

Its slightly the book form spin-off of the documentary King Corn, which I watched in college and felt like I was an expert on after 100 minutes. The book obviously goes into much more detail about why America has the need to process food, how companies are hiding and exposing themselves through marketing of processing foods, the chemicals that are in the foods in general and the reality of consumers being honest with using process foods (although I am 80% pretty healthy, I ate Hot Cheetos shortly before writing this for the first time in about 9 months, so it obviously didn't change my life, I am embarrassed to admit). The book was pretty dense and was jam packed with many chemical names I didn't even try to remember for later reference, but the overall concept was pretty interesting. I feel as a consumer of pretty much anything, it is important to at least be educated in some manner of the ways we are spending our earned income- and as far as health goes, its even more disturbing, gross, and fascinating. I think a detailed podcast would suffice a bit more than my general interest on diving into this book and I most likely wouldn't pass it on to the general non-fiction advocate, but if you are super interested in the way American companies profit off of health, this would probably be right up your alley. I haven't read Omnivores Dilemma, but the internet tells me its pretty similar. There were some really fun party facts that I have already used (butchered) since- like the amount of chemicals used in a single Subway sandwich, the incentive to actually never eat Kraft Singles again (the company doesn't even label the yellow stuff as cheese anymore- GROSS) and that Mars Corporation is the only food corp that isn't a publicly traded company so that they can totally control their product (instead of producing for high sales 100%, they actually have dived into some cool stuff for more affordable health bars and such) vs. being urged to only profit with consumers (butchering the idea here, but if any of this interest you- this is totally for you!)

Luckily, the internet provides a ton of feedback and opinions on this, as I felt like I was playing Devils Advocate during half of the book, and the other half I was nodding my head like 'YEAH, WHATS UP WITH THAT AMERICA. THIS IS WRONG. NO MORE!.' The Huffington Post covers the book pretty well, but also dives into a bit more about the labels of things here.