Food Links: The Rise (and Possible Fall?) of Processed Foods

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So, I was perusing “Kitchen RoyaltyAn illustrated tour of the top chefs (and the many products they endorse) in the food world” by Robert Klara at Adweek the Barnum-like world of brands and chefs. (Thanks to SteamyKitchen for the link.) Looking through his past articles, I also came upon this gem that corresponds perfectly with the new book: “Banquet in a Box: Frozen meals are miracles of convenience—with a dollop of denial.” A short piece, but nonetheless an insightful look at the evolution of TV dinners. When they launched, the meals promoted the technology that allowed one to avoid missing even a moment of television. Now, the same meals try to play up a dubious “farm to table” connection to not-so-delicately mask the fact that, as someone Klara quotes, “you have to nuke this sucker.”

On a completely related subject, a United Nations summit this week urged holding food companies accountable for their role in making everyone obese and unhealthy. As part of their investigation into chronic disease, the summit called for more responsible marketing of processed food to children and that trade in tobacco, alcohol and processed foods laden with fat, sugar and salt needed reform. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted “there is a well-documented an shameful history of certain players in industry who ignored the science — sometimes even their own research — and put public health at risk to protect their own profits.” For a bit more d context, take a look at this story by Eliza Barclay at NPR’s blog.

All this underscores something fundamental. A study released this week by Bosch (an appliance manufacturer) revealed that 28% of those surveyed admitted they simply didn’t know how to cook. Based on my research, there’s an even larger number of people who can put together a meal, but don’t feel confident in their kitchen. If you can’t cook, or you don’t cook, you leave yourself at the mercy of companies to feed you and their primary motive is profit, not your health.

A shout-out to some of the bloggers who have reviewed the new book, which happens to be about this very subject:

  • Mommy’s Memorandum: “[A]n excellent resource…humorous while offering real life, easy to implement guidance to making life healthier, more fun, cheaper and dare I say, easier.” (Book giveaway)
  • A Book Lover: Brittanie wrote: “This is my favorite book I have read this entire year.”
  • Urban Farm Junkie: Loved the introduction in this well-thought review by Christina Dudley on a farmer’s market blog; she compares the guilty items people keep in their cupboards to the TV dating game show “Baggage” hosted by Jerry Springer.
  • Thrifty Nifty Mommy: “This book is a stirring, practical and humorous book that shows how boosting your self-confidence in the kitchen can make your entire life easier, cheaper, healthier and more fun. It has the potential, along with programs like First Lady Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move Campaign,’ to really change America ’s relationship with food and positively affect the obesity rates in the U.S.” (Book giveaway, deadline Oct. 3rd)

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry,” “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School” and “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good.” All are published by Viking/Penguin.


  1. People are finally beginning to pay attention. Thanks so much for helping bring attention to this mammoth problem.

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