What We Are Reading Today: Swindled

Updated 04 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Swindled

Author: Bee Wilson

Bad food has a history. Swindled tells it. Through a fascinating mixture of cultural and scientific history, food politics, and culinary detective work, Bee Wilson uncovers the many ways swindlers have cheapened, falsified, and even poisoned our food throughout history.
In the hands of people and corporations who have prized profits above the health of consumers, food and drink have been tampered with – in often horrifying ways — padded, diluted, contaminated, substituted, mislabeled, misnamed, or otherwise faked. Swindled gives a panoramic view of this history, from the leaded wine of the ancient Romans to today’s food frauds — such as fake organics and the scandal of Chinese babies being fed bogus milk powder.
Wilson pays special attention to 19th- and 20h-century America and England and their roles in developing both industrial-scale food adulteration and the scientific ability to combat it.
As Swindled reveals, modern science has both helped and hindered food fraudsters.
— increasing the sophistication of scams but also the means to detect them. The big breakthrough came in Victorian England when a scientist first put food under the microscope and found that much of what was sold as “genuine coffee” was anything but — and that you could not buy pure mustard in all of London.


What We Are Reading Today: The Alzheimer Conundrum

Updated 20 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Alzheimer Conundrum

Author: Margaret Lock

Due to rapidly aging populations, the number of people worldwide experiencing dementia is increasing, and the projections are grim. Despite billions of dollars invested in medical research, no effective treatment has been discovered for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
The Alzheimer Conundrum exposes the predicaments embedded in current efforts to slow down or halt Alzheimer’s disease through early detection of pre-symptomatic biological changes in healthy individuals.
Based on a meticulous account of the history of Alzheimer’s disease and extensive in-depth interviews, Margaret Lock highlights the limitations and the dissent associated with biomarker detection. Lock argues that basic research must continue, but should be complemented by a public health approach to prevention that is economically feasible, more humane, and much more effective globally than one exclusively focused on an increasingly harried search for a cure.
Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.