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Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
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Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health

(California Studies in Food and Culture #3)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  3,968 ratings  ·  228 reviews
We all witness, in advertising and on supermarket shelves, the fierce competition for our food dollars. In this engrossing exposé, Marion Nestle goes behind the scenes to reveal how the competition really works and how it affects our health. The abundance of food in the United States--enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over--has a downsi ...more
Paperback, 472 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by University of California Press (first published 2002)
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Hanneke Mwk Yes, still worth a read. I am reading an updated version with an extra -updated- introduction chapter. I think the book provides a worth-reading tour…moreYes, still worth a read. I am reading an updated version with an extra -updated- introduction chapter. I think the book provides a worth-reading tour through the food&beverage industry in the States. (less)

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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,968 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food, social-theory
There is really only one thing driving the food industry – the hunger for more profit. This is such an obvious fact that it hardly needs to be restated, however, it is best to keep obvious facts at front of your mind. This particular fact tells us a lot about what is wrong with food today.

As hard as it is to believe food is incredibly simple. We need food to give us energy and to provide us with nutrients. So, if we were to be rational in our eating we would eat food that is balanced with our en
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: health-books
This book was a difficult read. The information about the history of each change to the food pyramid (something none of us should use as a dietary guide anyway) was particularly boring and tedious to get through. Much of the book was hard going to read and not written in an engaging or interesting way. It is dull, dull, dull. It has none of the intelligent writing style and ease of reading of so many other books I have read on this topic. The content of the book was also very problematic.

Yes, th
Mar 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Food is indeed political. At least this is a message that I’m being hit with a lot recently. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution on TV, a show that takes on America’s bad eating habits and tries to change them, also documents an incredible amount of resistance to this change. “We don’t wanna sit around and eat lettuce all day!” says the local radio show host in Huntington, West Virginia (a city which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is the unhealthiest city in America). It seems that pe ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Boy... if you have any conspiracy-theorist-leaning tendencies at all, this book will really get you going! I think most of us are aware of ties between food corporations and our government's food regulations and safety standards to some degree, but this book will show you just how deeply ingrained it all is. It really is kind of disturbing that the FDA and the USDA have responsibilities both to the health and safety of U.S. consumers, AND to the agricultural industry. Those are definitely a conf ...more
Mark Hartzer
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
If I had to paraphrase and summarize Nestle, it would be that you would be very wise to question every single thing you put in your mouth. Why exactly are you eating that particular item? Is it because it is “healthy” or “good for you”, or because it is convenient and tastes good? The American food industry most certainly does not want you to eat less for heaven’s sake. They desperately want you to eat more.

You are being marketed to folks. Even for a cynical person, it is hard not to feel depres
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I actually didn't finish this book, which for me is a very rare thing. I got about 3/4 of the way through but then had to stop and return the book to the school library, where it was about 3 months overdue already! One of the reasons I checked the book out was because no one else ever had, though, so I doubt the book was missed. I thought the beginning was very good and everything was explained in terms simple enough to understand, but by the end my interest was dragging. Also, I had those AP En ...more
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People concerned with health & nutrition and who are struggling to get and/or remain healthy.
This information in this book is priceless. It is shocking how the food industry functions, and our society seriously needs to start thinking for themselves, instead of buying into all the propoganda the media is throwing our way, if we ever want to be healthier and prevent more obesity and chronic disease. HOWEVER...this book definitely reads like a text book. It is not an "easy" read. It is slow going for me, but I value everything I've read. I highly recommend Michael Pollan's "In Defense of ...more
Virginia Messina
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
Published by the University of California press, this reads a lot more like a textbook than popular literature and it can be a little bit of a chore to plod through. But for anyone who wants to understand the politics behind nutrition advice, it is absolutely the best book to read. Nestle, who is well-known among health professionals for her experience and perspectives on the politics of food and nutrition, does an amazing job of covering the history of dietary guidance in the United States. She ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Book club pick for June 2015
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At times you might be forgiven for thinking that surely food can be left free of politics, when so much else in the world is tied up with political string. Sorry, but politics plays a big place here too!

Whether it is public policy and politics dictating what we should eat and drink on health grounds, or should that be "health" grounds, geopolitics with us being encouraged to favour produce from country X instead of country Y for various reasons or just plain business politics, with companies lob
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, science
The idea that profit-maximizing behavior by food companies might harm your health and your waistline is a more mainstream idea now than it was back in 2002 when Food Politics was first published. Skyrocketing obesity rates seem to have focused a lot of peoples' attention, and while there's no real consensus on what (if anything) we should do about it, corporate behavior is definitely on the radar screen. In one level it should be obvious that corporations exist to maximize profits and there's no ...more
I wasn't expecting to learn much from this book, having already poured through books like Fast Food Nation, The Omnivore's Dilemma, School Lunch Politics The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program, Organic, Inc. Natural Foods and How They Grew and Toxic Sludge is Good For You Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, but I feel that this book has a lot to offer above and beyond what other books discuss about food politics.

Although at times the book can get a bit hard t
Lexie Stoneking
I have this thing that once I start a book, I have to finish it. I don't know what it is, possibly some OCD, but no matter how much I dislike the book I will finish it.

Except for this book.

I found this book to be interesting, but so deep and dry that I avoided reading it. I should have know that this book wouldn't be a great pleasure read considering it is used as a textbook here at Iowa State University. I really did find some of the material interesting. It was enlightening and fascinating to
Anne Green
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Described as an "engrossing expose" of the food industry in the US,the book is an account of the unscrupulous practices pursued by those with commercial interests in marketing food, interests which it is claimed outweigh any real sense of responsibility for the health and well-being of consumers. Based on the premise that the food industry is motivated by selling more more more, regardless of whether it's nutritious or beneficial, the book contains many revelations about what's been described as ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Food Politics as a fairly deep study of the politics of the food industry in the Unite States. The book can best be catagorized as text book caliber in both look and feel. Despite the in depth research, the author, Marion Nestle (no relation to the food corporation), does her best to make the information accesabile and understandable to both the professional and the casual reader alike.
To be fair, you shouldn't read this book casually. I am not a food professional but I have read on the topic ex
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health, nonfiction
This is a subject that I am passionate about. We need to rethink the way food is produced and sold in our country. The U.S. government is being influenced by big companies, making unhealthy, processed food more accessible and affordable. I didn't realize how difficult congress is making it for the FDA to actually be productive. Americans (and much of the world) have an obesity problem due to corporate greed. The book mostly talks about what is broken in our system, but the last chapter does talk ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is definitely worth the read for an understanding of how FDA recommendations and warnings (or lack thereof) came to be. Interesting, there's no mention of the often-weak science that led to the preferred recommendations, but that's a different topic addressed by other books. Nestle takes it as a given, but the political aspect is still worth challenging, even if she fails to challenge other things.

I love that she cited the history of the Nestle company (unrelated to the author) marketi
I have to be honest . . . it took me ages to finish this book. It was a tough read, but I am so glad I stuck with it because it was so illuminating. I have been so hoodwinked by the food industry and I am astonished by how much goes on that we all do not know about. I feel so much better informed after having read this tome. Kudos to Dr. Nestle for her brave work. Truth!
Leran Minc
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I tried to keep in mind the importance of this book when it first came out in 2002 in the pre-Omnivore's Dilemma world. At that time no one had written such a comprehensive book about the influence of corporations on government and how that impacted what we consider safe or desirable to eat.

Reading this in 2017 and 2018 there are many sections that seem obvious to anyone who has even leisurely read about food policy or watch several of the popular food documentary. However, it still struck me a
Kat Williams
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This was interesting, but is entirely based around American politics and health legislation, so much of it wasn't completely relevant.

That said, as we use a lot of American companies, it's partially relevant, and the content is eye-opening to say the least. From the well-known Nestle formula scandal, to food companies sponsoring in-school educational programming (and then forcing teachers to show their pupils advertising for incredibly unhealthy food), this book is likely to make you bristle at
Emily Kirik
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
This books was well written and informative. However, since it was written in 2002, food science and nutrition has changed considerably since then, but I can attest that the ultimate “food politics” principles are the same. It would be interesting to read an updated account of such food policy practices today. I enjoyed the section on supplements the most, and I found the school lunch policies section the least intriguing. I felt the tone of the book was supportive of more government regulation ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Interesting, but a bit of a slog.
Hunter Pechin
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
In a sentence: Choosing what to eat is a political act.
خليل عباس
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book has extensive information but the writing style is so boring and dull, even textbooks haven't reaches this level of dullness yet.
Carolyn Fagan
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Has some fascinating information, but could have stood a good editing.
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Important information, though quite dry. A large portion of the book is devoted to exploring the history of regulations on labelling of supplements and supplement-like foods.
Brittany Cuthbert
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
A thorough look into how the food industry influences policy that ultimately impacts our health. It is a dense read, so be prepared to focus and spend some time with it.
Boogie Brew
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eye-opening, not for the faint of heart or those who want to keep their head in the sand when it comes to whats really on those grocery store shelves.
Helen Park
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Got the info I needed in, but a little in the ... politics
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Must read!
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Orange State: Food Politics 1 2 Mar 21, 2017 04:42AM  
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Marion Nestle, Ph.D, M.P.H., is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is also a professor of Sociology at NYU and a visiting professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University.

Nestle received her BA from UC Berkeley, Phi Beta Kappa, after attending school there from 1954-1959. Her degrees include a Ph.D in molecular biology an

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“This book exposes the ways in which food companies use political processes—entirely conventional and nearly always legal—to obtain government and professional support for the sale of their products. Its twofold purpose is to illuminate the extent to which the food industry determines what people eat and to generate much wider discussion of the food industry’s marketing methods and use of the political system.” 0 likes
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