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Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal | [Melanie Warner]

Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal

If a piece of individually wrapped cheese retains its shape, color, and texture for years, what does it say about the food we eat and feed our children? Former New York Times 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 takes her to research labs, 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.
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Publisher's Summary

If a piece of individually wrapped cheese retains its shape, color, and texture for years, what does it say about the food we eat and feed our children? Former New York Times 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 takes her to research labs, 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 devastating 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. 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.

©2013 Melanie Warner (P)2013 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Warner's thought-provoking study does an excellent job presenting the facts without sensationalizing, and offering common-sense solutions to those seeking to make better food choices." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (63 )
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4.1 (60 )
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  •  
    Jeff Goleta, CA, United States 10-01-13
    Jeff Goleta, CA, United States 10-01-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting."
    What did you like best about Pandora's Lunchbox? What did you like least?

    A nice background on food history


    Any additional comments?

    There's obvious bias present in some of the stories based on the author's own perceptions and a desire to persuade others. Substances such as fatty acids are referred to as "grease" as a way of influencing others or attempting to debase some of the substances. This style is repeatedly used throughout the text and juxtaposed against scientific or factual data to attempt to provide more emphasis. Overall, a decent history lesson on the food and supplement industry.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Lindon, UT, United States 03-31-14
    Shawn Lindon, UT, United States 03-31-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Bland. Boring."

    This book was not remotely interesting. The author seems to to just read ingredients to everything in the supermarket. After five minutes, I got it. Eat fresh organic food. I am a big fan of Michael Pollan. This was nothing like him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Rex Michigan 11-13-13
    Linda Rex Michigan 11-13-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Very informative. Scary, but informative."
    Would you listen to Pandora's Lunchbox again? Why?

    I will listen to it again and again to make notes. The book gives so much detail. We are being bombarded by toxic chemicals and most of them are coming from processed, packaged and canned so-called foods. Pandora's Lunch Box names names and describes the fake food ingredients, where they come from and what they do to our children, particularly.Melanie Warner has done her research, that is for sure and I appreciate all of her hard work. Even with all of the scientific detail, it is a fun book to listen to. Ann Marie Lee is a beautiful reader.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Describing the contents of some of our most popular "foods".


    Have you listened to any of Ann Marie Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    She is always outstanding.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I thought the opening story about Kraft was interesting. People need to know more about this "food" company, especially if they have little ones who like macaroni and cheese.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mom in FL Largo, FL, United States 08-26-13
    Mom in FL Largo, FL, United States 08-26-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Fascinating and scary all at the same time"

    What our food processors have done to our food supply is sinful, and it seems like every new change or additive is made with profit as the driving factor. I understand that companies are in business to make money, but so much of what they're doing seems so questionable and seems to completely discount long-term consequences. Of course, they're not going to outright kill us, but who knows what the long-term impact is of adding so much soy to our diets in the form it's being provided to us? And how our food is manipulated is kinda gross, too. I listened to this twice, back to back, to make sure I absorbed as much of it as I could, because there is a LOT of information. The first time intensified my desire to eat more homemade foods and rely less on processed. Second time is just reinforcing that decision. I'm not going to pretend I can stay away from processed entirely, but if I can make even small changes, it has to be better than maintaining the status quo.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura ponte vedra beach, FL, United States 08-24-13
    Laura ponte vedra beach, FL, United States 08-24-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Fabulous"

    This is an extremely informative book. I found it so useful that I've given several copies to friends. I got a great deal out of the book in audio format but probably would have done better with a physical book. At least I would have know how to spell the unfamiliar elements in today's processed foods. I spent a lot of time on the internet learning more about what goes in to today's food. It is horrifying!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian D. Savage Hardscrable, NY 08-08-13
    Brian D. Savage Hardscrable, NY 08-08-13
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    "Informative"
    What did you love best about Pandora's Lunchbox?

    Learned a lot.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There were no characters, really.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    I never was a processed foodee in the first place, but this book has definitely changed the way I've eaten. I try to avoid most all processed food for myself now and do it for my children as well.


    Any additional comments?

    It was an easy listen and the narrator was great, easy to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ray Glendale, AZ, United States 06-20-13
    Ray Glendale, AZ, United States 06-20-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Straight Information"

    Very good presentation of facts without a lot of subjective measures sprinkled in as is so often the case with books in this genre.

    This would work well as a second book to read after some primer such as Pollan's "Omnivore" or most anything by Salatin or Berry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rebekah BOISE, ID, United States 06-09-13
    rebekah BOISE, ID, United States 06-09-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Lots of great information and an easy listen"
    If you could sum up Pandora's Lunchbox in three words, what would they be?

    Informative, Enjoyable, Necessary


    What about Ann Marie Lee’s performance did you like?

    You didn't notice her too often, which I think is the mark of a good narrator.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book really made me think more deeply about the food choices I make for my family. I'm part of the choir when it comes to eating real food, but there were definitely a few things I need to rethink:

    -Canned beans due to the BPA in the lining

    -Puffed rice cereal for my baby because of the decimation of nutrients caused by the process that puffs the rice

    -Fortified baby food - even the organic stuff. According to the book, fortified vitamins are coming from plants in China (need I say anything about what we know regarding the regulation of Chinese manufacturing?)

    Eating well doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming. I'm really glad that someone has finally pointed this out in a convincing way that discards the convenient rouse used by Liberals and Conservatives that "middle-class folks are too busy and financially stretched" to eat well. Who can't spend 5 minutes cooking plain oatmeal purchased for $2 lb in the bulk section? Hopefully it will move the national conversation away from how to make processed foods healthier and towards eating real, whole foods.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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