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Best before : the evolution and future of processed food  Cover Image Book Book

Best before : the evolution and future of processed food / Nicola Temple.

Temple, Nicola, (author.).


"Long before there was the ready meal, humans processed food to preserve it and make it safe. From fire to fermentation, our ancestors survived periods of famine by changing the very nature of their food. This ability to process food has undoubtedly made us one of the most successful species on the planet, but have we gone too far? Through manipulating chemical reactions and organisms, scientists have unlocked all kinds of methods of to improve food longevity and increase supply. Best Before puts processed food into perspective. It explores how processing methods have evolved in many of the foods that we love in response to big business, consumer demand, health concerns, innovation, political will, waste and even war. Best Before arms readers with the information they need to be rational consumers, capable of making informed decisions about their food" -- from Publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 1472941438
  • ISBN: 9781472941435
  • ISBN: 1472941446
  • ISBN: 9781472941442
  • Physical Description: 272 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
  • Publisher: London, UK ; Bloomsbury Sigma, 2018.
Subject: Processed foods.

Available copies

  • 3 of 3 copies available at BC Interlibrary Connect. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Terrace Public Library.


  • 0 current holds with 3 total copies.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Holdable? Status Due Date
Terrace Public Library 664.07 TEM (Text) 35151001065184 Adult Non-fiction Volume hold Available -

  • Booklist Reviews : Booklist Reviews 2018 March #2
    This British import is a balanced, well-documented, and engaging overview of the history and current state of processed food. Introductory content considers early human attempts to preserve food, perhaps as recently as 1.9 million years ago, through emerging technologies, such as nanoencapsulation. Ensuing chapters may evoke a variety of responses, from alarm over cheese skippers (ew!), drooling over rapturous descriptions of breads, empathy about determining the ripeness of fruits (strawberry time bombs), or awareness of being manipulated by new products (mini carrots that awaken our inner bunnies) to exhaustion from learning more about sausage than one might ever want to know (early sausage enthusiasts include Homer and Nero). An entire chapter affirms that convenience is the underlying impetus driving food processing, and always has been and always will be. Temple, a biologist and conservationist, ends by acknowledging that processed food will be part of our future, and she expresses hope that efforts will aim at solving challenges facing humanity and the planet, and not corporate profits. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
  • Choice Reviews : Choice Reviews 2018 December

    This is a well-written, engaging book that explores a host of issues related to food processing. Temple, an independent scholar, begins by defining processing as "any action, chemical or mechanical, that is done to food in order to change it or to preserve it." The introductory chapter considers the evolution of food processing from its original purpose (to avoid starvation or food poisoning) to current techniques intended to optimize a food's convenience, taste, and aesthetic appeal. Subsequent chapters specifically address the history of processing for various kinds of foods and consider current controversies. Cheese and bread, two foods that have a long history of being processed, are considered first. Later chapters examine arguments regarding packaging, preservation, and transport of fresh fruits and vegetables; processing techniques for meat and protein; sugar; development of convenience foods; nanotechnology; and the future of processing. Temple touches on timely concerns throughout. For example, the chapter on bread provides an extended discussion of the growing prevalence of gluten intolerance. While references are not comprehensive, chapter citations provide enough information for the interested reader to pursue specific topics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates, faculty, and general readers.

    --M. E. Richmond, emerita, Suffolk University

    Martha E. Richmond

    emerita, Suffolk University

    Martha E. Richmond Choice Reviews 56:04 December 2018 Copyright 2018 American Library Association.
  • Kirkus Reviews : Kirkus Reviews 2018 February #2
    A thoroughly researched, well-written account that attempts to remove the stigma from the term "processed food."Temple, a Canadian science writer, conservationist, and biologist now based in England, has researched and exposed fraud in the food industry (co-author: Sorting the Beef from the Bull, 2016), but her mission here is not to expose but to educate. She seeks to help consumers sort out fact from fiction, to understand how processing has evolved and how it benefits society. She looks at the origins of some of the oldest processed foods—cheese and bread—and describes why and how it is processed. Among other reasons, food is processed to reduce waste, extend shelf life, improve nutrition, and provide convenience and diversity, and the methods are widely varied: smoking, fermenting, canning, dehydrating, refrigerating, freezing, and irradiating, to name a few. Temple reminds readers that washing, peeling, cutting, and packaging are also forms of processing that impact how consumers select fruits and vegetables. The author elucidates the processing of meat from the early days of sausage-making to current techniques of mechanically separating meat from bone and the latest attempts to produce cultured meat using stem cells. There is also a brief exploration of nanotechnology, but it is clearly a field in which Temple is not especially comfortable. She excels at telling stories from her own life, some from her childhood and more from her own kitchen or her outings to markets. As a shopper, she is concerned about the choices facing consumers living within a complex global food system. This book is an attempt to inform readers and make them more aware of that complexity and to understand how their decisions can shape the future, one likely filled with shortages and instability as well as innovations. Despite the book's decidedly British flavor, its subject, food, is universal, and so should be its appeal. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
  • PW Annex Reviews : Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

    Science writer Temple (coauthor of Sorting the Beef from the Bull) condenses huge amounts of information about the history and evolution of processed food into a comprehensible overview of the food industrial complex. In chapters on cheese, bread, produce, and proteins, she explains how the food in grocery stores gets marketed (advertisements "showed rows... of carefully placed crackers with various topping glued on with Cheese Whiz"), shows how various advances in technology have influenced food production (irradiation in the 1950s "was established as a scientifically sound and safe method of preserving food"), and gives readers a glimpse of the evolution and purposes of food additives such as preservatives and emulsifiers (carrageenan, for instance, is derived from red seaweed and added to low-calorie ice cream for texture). A chapter on food applications of nanotechnology makes it clear that food processing companies are operating at the cutting edge of science, employing innovations such as nanoparticles that increase photosynthesis in plants. Temple asks throughout whether humans have moved too far from simple ingredients and traditional processes—especially considering the environmental impact of human food systems—but doesn't come to a firm conclusion. This thoughtful, well-researched history makes a great companion to Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. (Apr.)

    Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly Annex.

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