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Book review featuring books available at PCC

Sound Consumer | June 2001

Life used to be so simple. You used to walk to the corner drugstore, order a strawberry milk shake and if it was the right time of year, the soda jerk would slice up some fresh berries from the farm down the road and proceed to whip up your treat.

It's not like that any more. According to author Eric Schlosser, in his new book, "Fast Food Nation," when we ask for a strawberry shake in one of America's more popular fast food restaurants we may be asking for a culinary wild ride, indeed. According to Schlosser, there is an entire American industry devoted to faux flavors. These are large chemical companies spawned by the perfume makers of the past whose main skills are in formulating artificial concoctions that are designed to trick our senses.

Schlosser cites the example of the strawberry milk shake offered by that well-known institution, Burger King. Keep in mind the following list contains ONLY the ingredients found in the artificial strawberry flavor (the so-called milk shake is another story): amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphrenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, y-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

That's the kind of chemical soup I'm always happy to pass by. For these wizards in the white coats, a rose is not just a rose, it's something to mix with amyl butyrate to make it taste like fruit. For my taste treat and personal safety, I'd prefer to wait until spring for a 100 percent organic, delicious strawberry, thank you very much.

Schlosser's research and writing in "Fast Food Nation" is a real eye-opener, expanding on themes such as the pressure put on our food supply from farms to processors by the mega purchasing of the fast food giants.

I challenge other readers to pick up this book and offer a review of your favorite chapter! You won't have to look far.

"Fast Food Nation" is available at PCC stores, or by special order.

Dennis L. Weaver is the founder of "Change Your Food, Change Your Life!™" a company in Edmonds, Wash., that helps people make good, organic food choices. As a "Good Food Guide," Dennis uses humor, solid information, and real-life stories to coach and inspire consumers.

To participate in a co-op wide (you pick the chapter) collaborative book review to be published in the Sound Consumer and on this website. First book, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. For details, call Dennis Weaver 425-774-8971. Look for more member reviews in future issues of the "Sound Consumer" and on this website.

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