"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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