Friday, February 27, 2015

This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth?

"If I Can't Believe It's Not Butter isn't butter, what is it?"

Good question; the answer to that query and many more can be found in Patrick Di Justo's new homage to all mysterious, yet common, foodstuffs and household products: This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth? What do you know about the staples of your diet and pantry? More importantly, are you brave enough to find out?

The book is divided into two intriguing sections. The first, This is What You Just Put in Your Mouth, addresses some of the most familiar foodstuffs around. Shockingly common items are broken down by their ingredients with expanded explanations of the origins and purpose of each. Celebrity Chef Alton Brown drops in for his take on A1 Steak Sauce in the first chapter and it's a magical reveal of components. Di Justo's commentary on each product is just the right amount of familiar versus technical. 

While researching a certain brand of canned dog food, he first contacted the company, Alpo. Initially excited by his contact, the company tune soon changed as his questions became more specific. Noting the dog food contained liver, Di Justo was shocked to learn that its provenance was a little puzzling. The "I don't have to tell you where I got my liver" attitude from the company is symbolic of the relationship between consumer and producer. Sure, they are open and honest about what they want to be open and honest about - do you need more? I guess it depends on whether or not you have a dog.

The second half of the book is called This is What You Don't Put in Your Mouth. From Fabreeze to Heroin to Play-Doh, Di Justo looks more and more like a chemist than a writer - and there's nothing wrong with that. I couldn't put the book down.

The backstories that follow each item are as interesting as the product breakdown. Do yourself a favor and don't skip this peek into the author's quest for information. History, humor and humanity come together in the tales behind the research. I absolutely loved the backstories. 

Thumbs up for the geek factor; this is an engrossing and entertaining book for anyone who wants to have a readable reality check. Neurotic shoppers might shorten their shopping list as a result of reading this book. The rest of us should make a permanent place for it in the pantry.

[I received this book free, from the Blogging for Books program, in exchange for my honest review.]
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48 comments:

  1. I think it's the raisin paste in A1 that's the secret ingredient.

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  2. It's scary to think about all of the ingredients that somehow sneak into our food. My son would like this book, as he is constantly saying, "I'm not gonna put that in my body." Every mom dreams of hearing this about her cooking. Great review, Cherdo!

    Julie

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    1. Thanks - your son sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders. My son would still eat plastic, I think.

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  3. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    I'm terrified of swallowing my own spit!

    Now this is my kind of book, engrossing, or maybe just plain gross. To be Frank with you, I would probably use it as a recipe book because boar bristles and insect debris are chief sources of protein in my diet (by choice). I once won immunity for my tribe by consuming a bowl of flied lice in 30 seconds. (10 seconds later I upchucked on Jeff Probst's moccasins.) Janie Junebug is foolish for stepping on beetles (or Beatles) and flushing them down the toilet. She's throwing away food and missing out on a tasty, nourishing, low fat treat. Those squashed lizards she tosses in the trash? They're an excellent source of zinc!

    Thank you for a great book review, dear friend Cherdo. Now take Shady's advice, send Coco outside to fetch that dead skunk, put him in a kettle of water (the skunk, not Coco) and let him simmer on the stove a few hours. By lunchtime you and your family will be warming your innards this cold winter day with a delightful skunk soup. Mmm Mmm Good!

    Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friend Cherdo!

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    1. Shadzilla, if you knew what I put Hubzam through to guarantee that Coco would never have access to the dearly departed Stinky...

      I've noticed that Janiepoo is on bad terms with several bugs and reptiles. I would have thought that she would (and could) be the saint of all things crawly. I'm shocked to learn that she has a violent lizard-killer personality lurking below the surface of her kind, external self. It's like she is a super villain and we never knew it.

      Snow is melting and I'm off to get Gonzo, so have a great weekend, Brother Shadicus.

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    2. Don't put up with Shady wanting to be Frank with you. He thinks he's Franklin and that he can move here and be fed and petted and adored. Lizards and roaches and beetles, oh my!

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    3. Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice!

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    4. If you say that three times and wait 27 years, you'll turn into Birdman.

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  4. On my list. I love these kind of books. Due to health (and elite athletic training) factors, I make most food my family consumes from scratch--this is in large part due to FAST FOOD NATION causing me to rethink the notion of food supply chain. Also, processed food makes me very, very ill. I'll admit, I'm kinda scared over the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter wake-up call I'm bound to get....
    Thanks for sharing!
    Veronica

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    1. This author does a fantastic job of informing without making you quake with fear. I highly recommend this book, Veronica. And kudos to you for not needing it!

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  5. Yeeeee!!! Not for me.
    There's something to be said for the aphorism "Ignorance Be Bliss".

    I just keep hoping that all the 80-proof alcohol I consume is sanitizing my innards.

    ~ D-Fens[hic!]Dogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. You are practically immaculate internally, STMcC! No one can tell me otherwise. :-)

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  6. After what I went through, I know ever last thing I put in my yap. No way will I eat anything different. I am better off starving.

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  7. Cherdo, it certainly doesn't hurt to read up on some of this info, so we are more aware of what we are putting in our bodies. Some of it is pretty gross! I'll put this one on my 'to read' list!

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    1. I loved this book and I had to hide it from my son till I finished; he will probably claim it as his own. It's very well written - and fun.

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  8. This is a book i would be tempted to read and then put down and not want to know more since I am eating my lunch right now. I don't serve my doggie Alpo but I am wondering if he found out where the liver came from? Hopefully not a mad cow

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    1. The liver answer appeared to be "from what ever critter that was cheapest at the time." Poultry, beef, swine...use your imagination. :-)

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  9. Interesting book. Don't know if I am brave enough to read it, but I know I will.
    I have reduced processed food already for many year I have several auto immune problems and try to watch what I eat.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. I'm in the same boat as you are, Parsnip, and I'm making moves towards better practices all the time. One of the things I love about reviewing books is that I get to choose the book from categories I like. It's no accident that I usually like them - and if so, I'm glad to tell others about it.

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  10. Does sound interesting... I'm a label reader for entertainment purposes. The ingredients likely wouldn't surprise or influence me... though the way they are used would satisfy some curiousity.

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    1. I'm trying to pay more attention, but I'll admit that some of the things on the list are staples and I might just go, "Eh, whattaya gonna do?"

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  11. This book sounds intriguing and frightening. But what's the deal with not putting heroin in your mouth? I always lick the needle after I shoot up. Delish! (Delete if you must.)

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I know, right? Ha ha ha.

      If I ever come across such substances, I will send them to you - along with the book. I don't want you to be abusing anything incorrectly. Don't hold your breath, though...my crew doesn't really roll with that crowd.

      Given a choice, I'd rather you get a little daredevil with the A1 Sauce.

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  12. Gah! I'd ever eat anything again if I read this book. It's awful to think of all the chemicals and additives they put in things. I'd rather not know. Although, really, most stuff I eat in Egypt is healthy. There aren't many "prepared" foods here.

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    1. Totally off topic: I used to be obsessed with Egypt when I was young. It was my dream to go there and my mother actually bought tickets and invited me to go with her. Unfortunately, it was the same month I moved South and started a new job; I didn't think I could ask for time off. Actually, my finances had probably just taken a hit with the long distance move, too.

      So eat something Egyptian and think of me! That's the closest I can get now. :-)

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  13. I'll pass on this one. I prefer to pretend that my processed food diet it perfectly natural and 100% healthy. It just tastes so goooooood.

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    1. Fantasizing! Why do I keep forgetting this brilliant tool for food-coping! Thanks, Jen!

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  14. Hmmm... I think of the time I had a block of scrapple in my shopping cart. (You know, scrapple? Sausage ground fine and formed into a loaf to be sliced and fried at the right time?) Someone looked at it and said in a throbbing voice "If you KNEW what is in SCRAPPLE you wouldn't BUY it!!!" I said, "Well, actually, I have a recipe for it, but no time to make it" I eyed his cart and said, "Now, if you KNEW what is in HOT DOGS you would never look at them again..." He went hurrying off.

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    1. Let me see if I remember the hot dog recipe: Junk meat, hips, lips...delicious. With chili sauce and slaw, please.

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  15. Sounds interesting. I'm always fascinated by the underbelly of post-modern society. Right now, I'm in the middle of The Omnivore's Dilemma which takes a good, hard look at the food industry. I think you'd enjoy it.

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    1. I'm still reeling from Forks Over Knives, but I'll give it a look-see.

      Does post-modern society only have one underbelly?

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    2. Multiple underbellies? Is that like a double chin?

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  16. Ignorance is bliss. :)

    I had a friend who constantly asked me, every time I ate a hot dog..."Do you know how they make them?" My answer was always don't know- don't care. I like hot dogs. But I will admit, I stopped using spray grease after I saw how it coagulated in the pan. That was pretty gross. Now I stick with olive oil or canola from a pump spray.

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    1. I'm all about the olive oil pump, ha ha.

      Hot dogs get grief from all directions - and what have they ever done to us except jump in a bun and act delicious?

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  17. I believe it was in the Boy Scouts I learned humans and goats have digestive systems of identical construction. I now draw the line at straw hats and tin cans though.

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    1. Actually, goats are ruminant critters...said the lady who used to raise Nigerian Dwarf goats...

      I'll still be your pal even if you won't eat a can, I pinky swear.

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  18. This book sounds interesting... I remember reading about additives in food back in the late 70s when in college and it kept me from eating much prepared food. Thanks for visiting my blog. You have an interesting webhome here.

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    1. You have a lovely blog and I'm sure I will return! Thanks.

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  19. That book looks interesting! I mostly eat stuff with a single ingredient these days, though maybe I'm fooling myself and all manner of horrifying things are snuck in there.

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  20. This sounds great!! I'm a little afraid to read it, though. These types of books usually affect my lifestyle choices (probably a good thing).

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  21. Since I'm drinking Diet Dr. Pepper right now and thinking about making a cup of strawberry hot chocolate in my Keurig, I'm probably better off not knowing!

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  22. I haven't read this book, but I've read articles about what's really in food. Some of it is a delicious surprise, while other things are plain grotesque. I'd rather not know. The worst I've read about his cheese mites. *shudders*

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  23. You would surprised at what's in barbecue sauce!

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  24. I would definitely read a book like this just for curiosity's sake. And really, this is why I homecook and make everything (including my own sauces, broths, dressings, you name it), grow all of my own fruits and vegetables, only use all natural ingredients, etc. It sounds incredibly paranoid and hippiesh, but, uh, I think this book can confirm that I'm not all that crazy. Well, at least not when it comes to food.

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  25. I'd be afraid to read that book. I probably wouldn't eat again!

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  26. I'd be afraid to read that book. I probably wouldn't eat again!

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo