Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shmoo Review: Twinkie, Deconstructed


"EEEW"..."Gross!"..."YUCK!" Warning: don't curl up in bed with Twinkie, Deconstructedif outbursts like that are going to keep your spouse from sleeping. Because it's hard not to exclaim out loud as author Steve Ettlinger leads you through the mysterious inner workings of the industrialized food system.

Ettlinger sets out to follow each ingredient in a Twinkie back to its original state, and describes the convoluted industrial processes that give us such food additive favorites as "polysorbate 60" and "sodium stearoyl lactylate".

This book is the perfect read for anyone who wonders where our food comes from and what it's made of. If you partake of modern processed goodies – and I don’t mean just the golden cream-filled ones -- you may be quite surprised to find out what you’ve been putting in your mouth. Even though Ettlinger chose to focus on the Twinkie because of its popularity and long list of ingredients, the additives and chemicals he describes are present in a vast number of the foods on our grocery store shelves -- yes, even some of the vegan ones.

Vegans might want to pay special attention to the chapter on soy, where Ettlinger describes the process by which soybeans are transformed into shortening, lecithin, and soy protein isolate, the last of which shows up in many vegan "meats" and "sports bars".

I highly recommend Twinkie, Deconstructed, but maybe not for bedtime reading. Because even after you quit shouting and let your partner go to sleep, you may find it hard to sleep yourself, your mind haunted by images of giant factories filled with corn, flour floating through sprays of chlorine gas, and soy flakes soaking in vats of lye. I know I did.

21 comments:

bazu said...

Thanks so much for this review! This is a book I've been wanting to read for a while now. As a vegan, I have the ideal of whole, fresh foods, which I usually adhere to, but sometimes convenience foods are so tempting. Anything that will help educate us about where our food comes from is a step in a positive direction. Unfortunately, I've heard the author say that he doesn't want people to stop eating Twinkies- uh, how can we not?!

Cherie said...

Thanks for letting us know what you think about this book! :) Further evidence that whole foods, for all diets, are usually best.

Roxy said...

Thanks for the great review! I will definitely be reading this book--I've always wanted to know where all those weird, scary-sounding ingredients come from!

KleoPatra said...

I also have been wanting to read this book... curious if the soy stuff i eat is "OK," y'know? Thank you for the mini review.

Rebecita said...

I've been looking forward to reading this book with morbid interest. For those interested, there is a website for the book here, with a few excerpts. Also, chewswise.com blogged about the release party, which apparently featured tastings of an organic-vegan twinkie.

I saw that the author will be doing a reading here in capitola in may, so i'm marking that on my calendar :)

Jacqueline said...

can I buy the Vegan Lunchbox book in any stores? need it asap for a baby shower gift!!
thanks!

Eva said...

Wow. This is the second time in two days someone has mentioned this. It's on my request list at the library. Here's hoping it shows up soon!

Allergy Free said...

Yay, a book to give the husband for Father's Day. =)

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Eek! I'm so interested to read this book but I'm afraid! I don't eat twinkies but I do love my faux meat products...

Elizabeth said...

That's what really bugs me about a lot of vegan eating--like, if you're going to go vegan, then eat real food, not fake stuff. All the long lists of chemicals really freaks me out.

I'm off to look for this book in the library!

Alexis said...

The remark about the vegan organic twinkie tasting reminded me of something in the Mercury News yesterday: "An organic cheese puff is still a cheese puff." It made me chuckle. I like homemade versions of things because I know what's in them. Just being organic and vegetarian doesn't mean they don't have weird stuff.

amy said...

Ahhh, you've read the book? I want to read it also. In a magazine, it listed #32 maybe? Something about an ingredient that could explode? Yum...that's something I want to sink my teeth into!!

foodiemama said...

thanks for the recco...i am ordering this asap.

Miss Tiffie said...

I went to amazon and bought it as soon as I read about it.

Jacqueline said...

Please, can someone tell me if I can buy the Vegan Lunchbox book in any U.S. stores?? I want to give it as a baby shower gift this weekend. Many thanks!

Leigh Anna said...

Oh bah! Not that I'm all for processing but some of these books make these things sound more terrifying than they are. Soaking in lye, for example, has been used in plenty of traditional food processing, such as hominy, which can be eaten plain or ground into masa for tamales.

My favorite was one book (I want to say it was the tie in to Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock) where he described an ingredient as an engine degreaser like being a degreaser automatically makes it a horrible thing to ingest. However, lemon juice is also an excellent degreaser. Oh my!

Sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to check my library for it.

(P.S. The cookies in Vegan Lunchbox are always a hit. Especially the Honeybee No-Bakes. I always love smiling at people and saying, yes, that is a vegan cookie that tastes so good.)

Eva said...

I heard your blog and this review mentioned on WTOP (local DC radio station) this morning. I just thought you'd like to know!

Mary said...

Hi Jen! First off, thanks for commenting on my blog. I added the collard greens with the liquid, but I would probably add them at the end. Also, I want to add some more greens to it. It was quite tasty! Omni approved. :)

be_zen8 said...

Just wanted to let you know, that I ordered this book. They don't sell twinkies in Australia, but I imagine them to be fowl little things.

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My favorite was one book (I want to say it was the tie in to Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock) where he described an ingredient as an engine degreaser like being a degreaser automatically makes it a horrible thing to ingest. However, lemon juice is also an excellent degreaser. Oh my!


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