The First 1,000 Days

The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – and the World by Roger Thurow

RJ 216 .T48 2016

“‘Your child can achieve great things.’

A few years ago, pregnant women in four corners of the world heard those words and hoped they could be true. Among them were Esther Okwir in rural Uganda, where the infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world; Jessica Saldana, a high school student in a violence-scarred Chicago neighborhood; Shyamkali, the mother of four girls in a low-caste village in India; and Maria Estella, in Guatemala’s western highlands, where most people are riddled with parasites and moms can rarely afford the fresh vegetables they farm.

Greatness? It was an audacious thought, given their circumstances. But they had new cause to be hopeful: they were participating in an unprecedented international initiative designed to transform their lives, the lives of their children, and ultimately the world. The 1,000 Days movement, a response to recent, devastating food crises and new research on the economic and social costs of childhood hunger and stunting, is focused on providing proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of children’s lives, beginning with their mother’s pregnancy. Proper nutrition during these days can profoundly influence an individual’s ability to grow, learn, and work – and determine a society’s long-term health and prosperity.

In this inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking book, Roger Thurow takes us into the lives of families on the forefront of the movement to illuminate the science, economics, and politics of malnutrition, charting the exciting progress of this global effort and the formidable challenges it still faces: economic injustice, disease, lack of education and sanitation, misogyny, and corruption.”
– publisher description

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Vitamania

Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection by Catherine Price

QP 771 .P76 2015

“Most of us know nothing about vitamins. What’s more, what we think we know is harming both our personal nutrition and our national health. By focusing on vitamins at the expense of everything else, we’ve become blind to the bigger picture: despite our belief that vitamins are an absolute good – and the more of them, the better – vitamins are actually small and surprisingly mysterious pieces of a much larger nutritional puzzle. In Vitamania, award-winning journalist Catherine Price offers a lucid and lively journey through our cherished yet misguided beliefs about vitamins, and reveals a straightforward, blessedly anxiety-free path to enjoyable eating and good health.

When vitamins were discovered a mere century ago, they changed the destiny of the human species by preventing and curing many terrifying diseases. Yet it wasn’t long before vitamins spread from labs of scientists into the realm of food marketers and began to take on a life of their own. By the end of the Second World War, vitamins were available in forms never before seen in nature – vitamin gum, vitamin doughnuts, even vitamin beer – and their success showed food manufacturers that adding synthetic vitamins to otherwise nutritionally empty products could convince consumers that they were healthy. The era of “vitamania,” as one 1940s journalism called it, had begun.

Though we’ve gained much from our embrace of vitamins, what we’ve lost is a crucial sense of perspective. Vitamins may be essential to our lives, but they are not the only important substances in food. By buying into a century of hype and advertising, we have accepted the false idea that particular dietary chemicals can be used as shortcuts to health – whether they be antioxidants or omega-3s or, yes, vitamins. And it’s our vitamin-inspired desire for effortless shortcuts that created today’s dietary supplement industry, a veritable Wild West of overpromising “miracle” substances that can be legally sold without any proof that they are effective or safe.

For the countless individuals seeking to maximize their health and who consider vitamins to be the keys to well-being, Price’s Vitamania will be a game-changing look into the roots of America’s ongoing nutritional confusion. Her travels to vitamin manufacturers and food laboratories and military testing kitchens – along with her deep dive into the history of nutritional science – provide a witty and dynamic narrative arc that binds Vitamania together. The result is a page-turning exploration of the history, science, hype, and future of nutrition. And her ultimate message is both inspiring and straight-forward: given all that we don’t know about vitamins and nutrition, the best way to decide what to eat is to stop obsessing and simply embrace this uncertainty head-on.

By exposing our extraordinary psychological relationship with vitamins and challenging us to question our beliefs, Vitamania won’t just change the way we think about vitamins. It will change the way we think about food.”
– publisher description

Pandora’s Lunchbox

Pandora's Lunchbox

Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal by Melanie Warner

HD 9000.5 .W339 2013

“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?

Former New York Times business reporter and mother Melanie Warner decided to explore that question when she observed the phenomenon of the indestructible cheese. She began an investigative journey that took her to research labs, university food science departments, and factories around the country. What she discovered provides a rare, eye-opening – and sometimes disturbing – account of what we’re really eating. Warner looks at how decades of food science have resulted in the cheapest, most abundant, most addictive, and most nutritionally inferior food in the world, and she uncovers startling evidence about the profound health implications of the packaged and fast foods that we eat on a daily basis.

From breakfast cereal to chicken subs to nutrition bars, processed foods account for roughly 70 percent of our nation’s calories. Despite the growing presence of farmers’ markets and organic produce, strange food additives are nearly impossible to avoid. Warner digs deep into the ingredient lists of purportedly healthy foods, and what she finds will change the way readers eat – and how they feed their children.

Combining meticulous research, vivid writing, and cultural analysis, Warner blows the lid off the largely undocumented – and lightly regulated – world of chemically treated and processed foods and lays bare the potential price we may pay for consuming even so-called healthy foods.” – publisher description

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol

Drink

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

HV 5137 .J645 2013

“Over the past few decades, the feminist revolution has had enormous ramifications. Women outnumber their male counterparts in postsecondary education in most of the developed world, and they are about to do the same in the workplace. But what has not been fully documented or explored is that while women have gained equality in many arenas, they also have begun to close the gender gap in terms of alcohol abuse. In the United States alone, more than twenty-three thousand women die from heavy drinking each year. Binge drinking and so-called drunkorexia are on the rise, contributing exponentially to an an array of health conditions and cancers.

Combining in-depth research with her own personal story of recovery, Ann Dowsett Johnston delivers a ground-breaking examination of a shocking yet little-recognized epidemic threatening society today, what preeminent researcher Sharon Wilsnack believes is a “global epidemic” of women’s drinking.

Dowsett Johnston’s authority comes from a place of experience. Eight years ago she was an award-winning senior journalist with Canada’s major newsweekly magazine Maclean’s and popular on the speaking circuit. She seemed to have it all when she was named vice principal of McGill University. In private, the high-functioning professional knew she was wrestling with a demon that had undone her own mother: alcohol addiction. Dowsett Johnston took a very private exit from her professional life and went to rehab. She reentered professional life in 2010, winning the prestigious Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy, charged with examining the closing gender gap in the world of risky drinking. Sober now for five years, she retells her struggles with brutal honesty, affording us an unprecedented look at women and drinking that is both moving and enlightening.

Dowsett Johnston dissects the psychological, social, and workplace factors that have contributed to this crisis, exploring their far-reaching impact on society at large and individual lives, including her own. Comprehensive and emotionally riveting, Drink is sure to become a modern classic on the topic of women and drinking, much as Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon was for depression. Drink is a brave and powerful story beautifully told and an important investigation into an epidemic that we can no longer afford to ignore.” – publisher description

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

Salt Sugar FatSalt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

RA 784 .M638 2013

“In the spring of 1999 the heads of the world’s largest processed food companies – from Coca-Cola to Nabisco – gathered at Pillsbury headquarters in Minneapolis for a secret meeting. On the agenda: the emerging epidemic of obesity, and what to do about it.

Increasingly, the salt-, sugar-, and fat-laden foods these companies produced were being linked to obesity, and a concerned Kraft executive took the stage to issue a warning: There would be a day of reckoning unless changes were made. This executive then launched into a damning PowerPoint presentation – 114 slides in all – making the case that processed food companies could not afford to sit by, idle, as children grew sick and class-action lawyers lurked. To deny the problem, he said, is to court disaster.

When he was done, the most powerful person in the room – the CEO of General Mills – stood up to speak, clearly annoyed. And by the time he sad town, the meeting was over.

Since that day, with the industry in pursuit of its win-at-all-costs strategy, the situation has only grown more dire. Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that twenty-six million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.

In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognizable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century – including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Frito-Lay, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more – Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, eye-opening research.

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed – in a technique adapted from tobacco companies – to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users” – as the companies refer to their most ardent customers – are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way.” – publisher description

Food Politics

Food Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know by Robert Paarlberg

HD 1415 .P12 2010

“The politics of food is changing fast.  In rich countries, obesity is now a more serious problem than hunger.  Consumers once satisfied with cheap and convenient food now want food that is also safe, nutritious, fresh, and grown by local farmers using fewer chemicals.  Heavily subsidized and underregulated commercial farmers are facing stronger push back from environmentalists and consumer activists, and food companies are under the microscope.  Meanwhile, agricultural success in Asia has spurred income growth and dietary enrichment, but agricultural failure in Africa has left one-third of all citizens undernourished – and the international markets that link these diverse regions together are subject to sudden disruption.

Food Politics carefully examines and explains the most important issues on today’s global food landscape, including international food prices, famines, chronic hunger, the Malthusian race between food production and population growth, international food aid, “green revolution” farming, obesity, farm subsidies and trade, agriculture and the environment, agribusiness, supermarkets, food safety, fast food, slow food, organic food, local food, and genetically engineered food.

Politics in each of these areas has become polarized over the past decade by conflicting claims and accusations from advocates on all sides.  Paarlberg’s book maps this contested terrain, challenging myths and critiquing more than a few of today’s fashionable beliefs about farming and food.  For those ready to have their thinking about food politics informed and also challenged, this is the book to read.” – publisher description

The Hundred Year Diet

The Hundred Year Diet: America’s Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight by Susan Yager

RM 222.2 .Y24 2010

“Weight management is a $55 billion industry in the United States – which is not surprising, given that 67 percent of Americans are categorized as overweight or obese.

What is surprising is the multitude of ineffective, illogical, and downright unusual diet and weight-loss plans that have been developed over the last century, many of which gained popularity long before America got fat.  It raises the question: Is our national preoccupation with counting calories borne of an actual need to lose weight, or is it simply as uniquely an American phenomenon as reduced-fat, low-sugar apple pie?

The Hundred Year Diet is the story of our national obsession with food, dieting, deprivation, and weight loss.  From the groundbreaking discovery of the calorie at the turn of the century to the advent of supersizing and high-fructose corn syrup to the newfound popularity of the organic movement, Susan Yager traces our relationship with food and the ways in which it has impacted – and been impacted by – culture, science, politics, and religion over the last 100 years.

This riveting account of the forces that have shaped our diets (and our waistlines) is filled to the brim with fascinating food lore and unforgettable personalities.  Providing a unique perspective on America’s dietary triumphs and failures, The Hundred Year Diet sheds light on how we’ve become a nation of chronic dieters more concerned with losing weight than eating well.” – publisher description