Book & Movie Reviews

My Chemical MountainMy Chemical Mountain
By Corina Vacco
Delacorte Books For Young Readers, June 2013
Reviews: 4.5

From The Cover
Rocked by his father’s recent death and his mother’s sudden compulsion to overeat, Jason lashes out by breaking into the abandoned mills and factories that plague his run-down town. Always by his side are his two best friends, Charlie, a fearless thrill junkie, and Cornpup, a geek inventor whose back is covered with cysts. The boys rage against the noxious pollution that suffocates their town and despise those responsible for it; at the same time, they embrace the danger of their industrial wasteland and boast about living on the edge.

Then, on a night the boys vandalize one of the mills, Jason makes a costly mistake–and unwittingly becomes a catalyst for change. In a town like his, change should be a good thing. There’s only one problem: change is what Jason fears most of all.

Nanette’s Review: 5
There’s nothing I enjoy more than a creative slant on real environmental issues. My Chemical Mountain calls out the rapacious practices of chemical companies, past and present. Vacco’s edgy, dark descriptions kept me turing page after page, well into the night. I’d love to be in her head for just one day! Well worth the read. Enjoy!


Omnivore’s Dilemma
By Michael Pollan
Penguin, August 2007
Review: 5

From the Cover
Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. Will it be fast food tonight, or something organic? Or perhaps something we grew ourselves? The question of what to have for dinner has confronted us since man discovered fire. But as Michael Pollan explains in this revolutionary book, how we answer it now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, may determine our survival as a species. Packed with profound surprises, The Omnivore’s Dilemma is changing the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating.

Nanette’s Review: 5
I think it’s only fair to state that I am a Michael Pollan fan. I love his ability to wax eloquent what is potentially a very dry topic: nutrition. The Omnivore’s Dilemma brilliantly, and quite wittingly, sums up how we got into our modern day food dilemma. Unfortunately, it does not offer many realistic solutions for how we get out. Regardless, unless you are nutritionist or third generation agriculture then you’re likely to walk away with a better understanding how our food is grown and processed, enabling you to make better food choices. At the very least, it will get you to read the labels, which if nothing else, is a step in the right direction.


FOOD, Inc.
2008 PG
How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer – And What You Can Do About It.

From the Cover:
Drawing on Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, director Robert Kenner’s provocative, Oscar-nominated documentary explores the food industry’s detrimental effects on our health and environment.

Nanette’s Review: 3
If you care about what you’re really eating then you should considering renting the movie Food Inc. or reading the book. The movie is a documentary, the book is a collection of essays written by prominent industry groups and individuals who care enough to know the details of industrial food today. You may be interested to know what cows are feed and how they’re processed before you order another cheeseburger. Or how your food choices can be supporting global warming? It’s all here in Food, Inc.

It shouldn’t surprise you that I enjoyed the book, considering the subject matter. With that said, I found it a little preachy at times. I prefer to come to my own conclusions versus detailed instructions at the end of every chapter telling me what organization I should join and who I need to complain to. Other than that, a good read.


The World According To Monsanto
By: Marie-Monique Robin
The New Press, 2010

From The Cover
The result of a remarkable three-year investigation that took award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin across four continents, The World According to Monsanto tells a little-known yet shocking story of this agribusiness giant-the world’s leading producerof GMOs (genetically modified organisms)-and how its new “green” face is no less troubling than its PCB- and Agent Orange-soaked past.

Nanette’s Review: 4
What I love about this book is the investigative journalism. Marie digs deep into the secret relationships between politicians and Monsanto executives. She reveals private emails, meetings, strategic employee plants, and interviews the few people, worldwide, who are willing to speak out in spite of the company’s reputation for litigation against anyone who does so. She goes beyond the argument that GMO crops should be labeled and exposes the one multinational company that has the ability to control the world’s food supply, and how they are spending millions to ensure that they do. If you are at all concerned about what you are eating, then The World According to Monsanto is a must read.

What would make it better? Get to the ex Monsanto employees (changing their identities for protection of course), and see what you come up with, Marie. I’ll bet they have lots to say, uncensored.


Book Review - In Defense Of Food

In Defense Of Food
By: Michael Pollan
Penguin Group, 2008

From The Cover
Because in the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion–most of what we’re consuming today is no longer the product of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. With In Defense Of Food, Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food, Not too much, Mostly plants. Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

Nanette’s Review: 5
Loved it! Fabulous. The best way to summarize the book is with a few quotes from the author. All of the uncertainties about nutrition should not obscure the plain fact that the chronic diseases that now kill most of us can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food: the rise of highly processed foods and refined grain; the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in a huge monoculture; the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture; and the narrowing of the biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops, notably wheat, corn, and soy. These changes have given us the Western diet that we take for granted: lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of everything—except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Therefore, in order to live longer don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food and whenever possible, shake the hand that feeds you. Also, cook more because when you cook at home you rarely find yourself reaching for the ethoxylated diglycerides or high-fructose corn syrup. Afterall, when you consider the diseases associated with the Western diet, food no longer seems like the best place to economize, in either time or money.