Top positive review
If you time travel to the 1900's, you may want to take your lunch with you!
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2018
I heard the author interviewed on the radio and it sounded interesting. It is a very detailed look at the beginning of the industrialization of food in the US, when we moved to large scale food processing and distribution. All types of food, candy, medicines, and beverages were modified, faked, disguised or adulterated with additives, preservatives, fillers, colorants, discolorants, watered down, and it was all legal, because there were no food laws.
If formaldehyde in your milk or meat sounds wholesome, this era is for you. A short list of the ingredients that were routinely added to food, beverages, candy, and medicine; formaldehyde, coal tar (or aniline) dyes, copper sulfate, zinc, salicylic acid, methyl alcohol, borax, sulfuric acid, diethylene glycol, sodium sulfite, alum, coconut and almond and other nut shells, sawdust, morphine, heroin, cocaine, arsenic, mercury, lead, copper....
Harvey Wiley led what was the forerunner of the Food and Drug Administration and battled all sorts of obstacles, but made slow, steady progress. He used healthy human volunteers to test some of the additives, they were known as the ‘Poison Squad’.
His foes and a few friends were both big and little food processors, politicians on the take, trade associations protecting their turf, beareaucrats, The Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Upton Sinclair, Good Housekeeping magazine, throw in Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders, it was a wild time back in those days.
At the end of 29 years with the US Department of Agriculture, Wiley had established a blueprint for food testing and more importantly convinced a significant number of people that we should be testing and protecting our food from all sorts of adulterations.
Again, if time travel ever becomes feasible, and you travel back to the early 1900s, you may want to take your lunch with you.