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The End of Food: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Food Supply – And What You Can Do About It

by Thomas F. Pawlick

An unsavoury encounter with a tomato that shared the culinary attributes of a hockey puck led journalist and sometime farmer Thomas Pawlick on a journey to discover what was happening to the quality, taste, and nutritional value of today’s food. What he created from that journey is a disturbing, well-documented look at the worldwide trend toward corporate food that may look good on a store shelf but that lacks all the qualities that make eating both a physical necessity and a sensual experience.

Pawlick has managed to cull scientific journals that cover such esoteric topics as the mineral content of potatoes and the effects of concentrated nitrates on soil to put together a highly readable account of the path toward a brave new world of food products that are essentially useless for human beings. While documenting the road to this “end of food” scenario, Pawlick shows how the decline of important nutrients in a variety of fruits and vegetables has been mirrored by increasingly sinister levels of fat and sodium in processed foods. He also demonstrates that supermarket shelves, which usually feature one or two varieties of most foods, do not reflect the biological diversity of a world in which, for example, there are over 1,000 varieties of apples (down from over 7,000 at the beginning of the 20th century).

His overview of how the mechanization of agriculture, factory farming, and the reliance on fertilizers and pesticides has affected the human and natural environments is yet another reminder of peril at our doorstep.

But rather than leaving readers with an angst-ridden feeling of nausea, Pawlick devotes a third of his tale to solutions and resources for those who’d like to defend the joy of good food. Pawlick is up front in acknowledging that agribusiness is not reformable, since their only interest is in the bottom line. He thus recommends getting off the corporate food grid and setting up alternative systems, from seed sharing and rural/urban independent farmer partnerships to community and rooftop gardens. While this may at first glance prove difficult for stressed families with too much on their daily plate, Pawlick argues that the process of producing and sharing one’s own food actually contributes to the kind of community building that reduces stress and allows people to feel more fully human. If we are what we eat, he argues, we can do no better than that.