We are, I am sure, all familiar with the Rough Guide travel books. They are expertly penned volumes giving lots of advice and support to the independent traveller. Books full of dos and don’ts to keep readers safe on far-flung adventures. Well, The Rough Guide to Food is written with the same thoroughness as the travel guides but the subject matter should be of interest to all of us who are fortunate enough to have food choices.
We are indeed blessed if we can eat 3 times a day. The epidemic of obesity in the “developed” world is contrasted by the plight of a great proportion of the world’s population. The health services in the western world are put under strain, not due to water-borne diseases, not from the effects of malnutrition but from over-indulgence of food, alcohol and “leisure” drugs. No, Mum, that’s not paracetamol after a nasty knock with a tennis racket!
The Rough Guide to Food is fascinating reading. It paints a rather gloomy picture of thoughtless food production, immoral employment practices and chemical misuse. It encourages cynicism in the consumer but that’s probably no bad thing.
Some of the facts presented in this volume are quite disturbing. Under the heading ‘Bananas can be bad for your health’ we are told that Nicaraguan banana workers were made sterile by banned pesticides and that in March 2007 Chiquita pleaded guilty to paying money to a brutal, right-wing Columbian militia in return for protection of the company’s plantation.
OK, so it’s not just bad news. The Rough Guide to Food offers a glimmer of hope with the promotion of Fairtrade products. Perhaps that goes some small way towards redressing the imbalance between the plight of producers and our enthusiasm for cheap food no matter the cost in human terms. There are lots of pointers on growing your own food, organic box schemes and farmers markets. It is possible to eat ethically.
The Rough Guide to Food is a book that tells it like it is. It’s not a comfortable read but perhaps it should be required reading for all of us who have a passion for food. We should all want to eat healthily but not at the expense of others who have fewer choices. Thought-provoking.
The Rough Guide to Food
Published by: Rough Guides
Food guide book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018