Author(s): Nicola Temple
Long before there was the ready meal, humans processed food to preserve it and make it safe. From fire to fermentation, our ancestors survived periods of famine by changing the very nature of their food. This ability to process food has undoubtedly made us one of the most successful species on the planet, but have we gone too far? Through manipulating chemical reactions and organisms, scientists have unlocked all kinds of methods of to improve food longevity and increase supply, from apples that stay fresh for weeks to cheese that is matured over days rather than months. And more obscure types of food processing, such as growing steaks in a test-tube and 3D-printed pizzas, seem to have come straight from the pages of a science-fiction novel. These developments are keeping up with the changing needs of the demanding consumer, but we only tend notice them when the latest scaremongering headline hits the news. Best Before puts processed food into perspective. It explores how processing methods have evolved in many of the foods that we love in response to big business, consumer demand, health concerns, innovation, political will, waste and even war. Best Before arms readers with the information they need to be rational consumers, capable of making informed decisions about their food.
Does our food packaging tell us the whole story behind what's in the food on our plate?
“Nicola Temple argues in her smart, informative book Best Before: The Evolution and Future of Processed Food, is that nearly everything we eat – even the most seemingly natural and wholesome foods in our kitchens – has been processed in one way or another. If it’s been cut, ground, mixed, heated, cooled, dried, fermented or packaged in any way, Temple points out, it’s technically a processed food.
Best Before, then, is a work of popular science that seeks to upend many of our assumptions about processed food. It does this by providing detailed and sometimes highly technical explorations of the ways in which food processing technologies have evolved over time and, in the process, have often changed the course of human history (think refrigeration). Temple’s goal is to demystify the science of food processing so that readers might become “discerning consumers who can identify when innovative ideas might benefit society and our planet, and when they purely benefit company profits.”
Ian Moseby – The Globe and Mail (JC BookGrocer)
Nicola Temple is a biologist, conservationist and science writer. She was raised on a smallholding in rural Ontario, Canada, where she spent her days catching turtles and fireflies. After spending 10 years as conservation biologist, Nicola became a full-time writer, and is now based in Bristol. Her writing has taken her from the precipices of volcanoes in Ethiopia to the banks of salmon streams in Canada's temperate rainforest. @nicolatemple
Introduction: I'll Have That with a Side of Pragmatism Please Chapter 1: Have We Tinkered Too Much? Chapter 2: Maturity Doesn't Necessarily come with Age Chapter 3: Breaking Bread Chapter 4: Ripe for the Picking Chapter 5: Processed Protein Chapter 6: No Added Sugar Chapter 7: The Convenience Conundrum Chapter 8: Really Really Small Stuff Chapter 9: The Future of Food Processing Selected References Acknowledgements Index