HarperCollins Publishers, 1997
"When microbial dangers are added to the dangers from pesticides and fumigants and herbicides and the concerns of eating properly for good health, the overly confident cultivate a dangerous assumption of immunity, the ignorant are in outright peril, and the educated cook is left wondering what, if anything, is safe to serve." (18)
The first half of the book Spoiled by Nicols Fox talks about the dangers of the food we eat due to dangerous bacteria, also known as microbes. E. Coli, bacteria most often found in under cooked hamburger, took the life of a young girl named Lauren in San Diego. She got the disease after eating a contaminated hamburger from a fast food restaurant. At the time, California had no requirements for reporting illnesses of her kind, and did not encourage testing for every disease. As a result, more people became infected with the E. Coli bacteria. Consumers are supposed to be able to trust the food they eat, but it is hard to trust it when it makes them sick. Instead of trusting the food they eat, it scares them. There must be a better way to prevent dangerous diseases from making it into our bodies. With the United States being one of the most developed countries in the world, a person would think that the food is safe, there is little disease, and what disease there is is treated very well. Unfortunately this is not the case. The U.S. struggles with fighting disease as well. When one of the most developed countries in the world has trouble fighting diseases, how will less developed countries fair?
In 1994, thousands of Rwandan refugees in Zaire contracted Cholera from contaminated water. Because of the lack of clean water and the poor living conditions, the disease spread easily, and caused tens of thousands of deaths. Underdeveloped countries do not fair well with disease, even with the aid of countries like the United States. Every country is the world has trouble with diseases, and it is especially hard when people cannot see the thing that contaminates their food and water. The United States and other wealthy countries must do a better job of reporting, documenting, treating, and hopefully eradicating, dangerous diseases around the world.
This book was written 17 years ago, so our standards for reporting, treating, and documenting infectious diseases are better than what it was at the time the book was written. However, the system is not perfect, and it raises many good questions about the food we put into our bodies, and where is comes from. Can we trust all the food we get from super markets and restaurants? What is the best way to protect ourselves from dangerous diseases? The book has yet to answer these questions, but perhaps may provide answers in the second half of the book.
Overall, I think this is a good book. It is written extremely well, does not overwhelm the reader with big, unnecessary terms, and goes a good job of explaining and elaborating on topics a person with no medical background wouldn't understand. However, the writer is sure to express her opinions during the course of the book, and does not just present the facts. In one section of the book, she goes on a tangent about the "correct" way to cook food, comparing her methods to those of her parents and grandparents. The entire book seems to be a scare tactic, trying to push the agenda of a healthier and safer food chain. The writer does do a good job of keeping the reading interesting, telling interesting stories about her life that tie in well with the information and facts, allowing me to relate to the book a little better. Because the book is 17 years old, I would not recommend it to anyone looking for factual evidence relative to today, but I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the concept of a dangerous food chain and bacteria, as some of what Fox is writing about can be applicable to day, such as the occasional outbreaks of Salmonella and E. Coli.