BrooklynFans of Books: Real Stories About The Food We Eat

Ever wonder about the process that goes into producing the food we eat and how safe it is. There are two new books that will enlighten you’re thinking on what is at the market: The Truffle Underground by Ryan Jacobs, and Unsavory Truth by Marion Nestle.

The Truffle Underground: A Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and Manipulation in the Shadowy Market of the World’s Most Expensive Fungus

By Ryan Jacobs

Clarkson Potter; paperback, 288 pages; $16.00

In his landmark 2014 article in The Atlantic, “The Dark Side of the Truffle Trade,” Ryan Jacobs investigated crime in the most unlikely of places: the exorbitantly expensive fresh fungus market. The piece went viral and became one of the most popular articles that year.

Jacobs sensed that this mysterious phenomenon couldn’t be fully understood until he tracked the ingredient from its source all the way to the dining room. One autumn, in the overlapping period between white and black truffle seasons, he boarded a plane for Europe, bent on shaving off the truffle industry’s artifice.

The result is Jacobs’ new book, The Truffle Underground, which is based on years of research and extensive reporting in secluded villages and hamlets throughout France and Italy.

Beneath the gloss of star chefs and crystal-laden tables, the truffle supply chain is touched by theft, secrecy, sabotage, and fraud. Farmers patrol their fields with rifles and fear losing trade secrets to spies. Hunters plant poisoned meatballs to eliminate rival truffle-hunting dogs. Naive buyers and even knowledgeable experts are duped by liars and counterfeits.

Deeply reported and elegantly written, this page-turning exposé documents the dark, sometimes deadly crimes at each level of the truffle’s path from ground to plate, making sense of an industry that traffics in scarcity, seduction, and cash. Through it all, a question lingers: What, other than money, draws people to these dirt-covered jewels?

The Truffle Underground is a thrilling journey into the hidden underworld of the world’s most prized luxury ingredient.

Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew The Science Of What We Eat

By Marion Nestle

Basic Books; hardcover, 304 pages; $30.00

Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health, emerita, at New York University, is America’s leading nutritionist.

In the new book Unsavory Truth, Nestle exposes how the food industry corrupts scientific research for profit and how it impacts what we eat.

Is chocolate heart-healthy? Does yogurt prevent type 2 diabetes? Do pomegranates help cheat death? News accounts bombard us with such amazing claims, report them as science, and influence what we eat.

Nestle explains that these studies are more about marketing than science, as they are often paid for by companies that sell those foods. Whether it’s a Coca-Cola-backed study hailing light exercise as a calorie neutralizer, or blueberry-sponsored investigators proclaiming that this fruit prevents erectile dysfunction, every corner of the food industry knows how to turn conflicted research into big profit.

Nestle argues that it’s time to put public health first, and Unsavory Truth reveals how the food industry manipulates nutrition science–and suggests what we can do about it.

In this intensely-researched book, there are examples of research influenced by a variety of industries, such as sugar, meat, dairy, and soft drinks, as well as trade associations for fruits vegetables and nuts.

Nestle discusses what the food industry can learn from attempts to manage conflicts of interest induced by the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries; how nutrition professionals and food companies can manage conflicted interests, now and in the future; and how consumers can interpret conflicted research when considering their own health and nutrition.

With riveting prose and unmatched investigative rigor, Nestle argues that we have a fighting chance to get our country’s nutrition back on track with better policies for food companies and researchers, professional societies and journals, and consumer education.

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