Sunday, December 18, 2011

Twinkie, Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger


Why I read it: Cod, Salt, Twinkie - deep focus on a single item and its place in the world.

Summary: The author's journey around the world to find the ingredients that make up one of America's most iconic snack foods.

My Thoughts: Disclaimer: the copy I purchased at Barnes & Noble in Hingham, Massachusetts, is missing pages 111 to 142.

It's truly scary to look at a food label and honestly face the notion that we know not what we are putting in our bodies. We are trusting manufacturers and our government to protect us and nourish us, and in some cases to simply gastronomically delight us. I don't think "nourish" and "Twinkie" need be in the same sentence.

So off the author goes, taking the ingredients on the Twinkies package in order, from top (most abundant) to bottom. He deciphers the vitamins we've come to know we need, if not what for, and describes the roles they play in making the food "work," what they do in our bodies, and, most importantly, where they come from. To put it simply, a Twinkie is as international a foodstuff as one can get. Its ingredients are produced, mined, extracted and otherwise gathered from all corners of the globe.

The one major personal challenge I took away from reading this book was not to stop eating Twinkies - believe it or not, even after all I read, they don't particularly scare me - but instead to focus on stopping the flow of high fructose corn syrup into my system. It's not easy to do, especially in the United States, which are just saturated with it, but I think it's a key to a healthier life.

I wish I had the middle pages of the book so that I could have seen the roles Cellulose Gum, Whey and Leavinings play in Twinkies, but I think the message was clear enough. Our food production system is ridiculously complicated, but creates wondrous things - like small cakes that can sit on store shelves in thin plastic wrappers for weeks without going bad. Now that is scary.

No comments:

Post a Comment