This is What You Just Put In Your Mouth? by Patrick Di Justo (5 out of 5)
Most of you who know me are probably laughing at that title and THINKING THE WORST (I have a mind constantly in the gutter, those who don’t know me). Not so this time! This is a title I received from Random House, free of charge, through Blogging For Books,in return for a honest review. Now that we’ve gotten the pesky disclaimer out of the way, I can safely say that I enjoyed this, while simultaneously being horrified by parts of it (namely the parts on coffee and red wine. Talk about maybe needing to rethink some of my reliable drink options!). I’m sure anyone who picks it up and gives it a spin will also have the same reaction. At the same time, SOMEONE needed to write a book like this.
Overall, Di Justo scales the food chain and beyond, from coffee to Listerine to lubricants to heroin to Alpo (do NOT feed that crap to your dogs, please!), to red wine, to Midol. There is no zone in which he doesn’t fly his plane of inquiry. For some backstory on Patrick Di Justo (because you may ask yourself, “Who is this dude? What gives him the right to give us some well-needed info? Why did he write this book?”, as I did): He wrote a hugely popular feature for Wired magazine called “What’s Inside”. Maybe that’s why the name sounded somewhat familiar to me; I love Wired magazine, as does my entire staff (rearrange the letters of Wired and you have a good description of my staff and I). He’s also written columns for the New Yorker, Gizmondo, Popular Science, and he’s an editor at Make Books. So, he knows his stuff. The interesting thing about this book is not only the systematic breakdown of the singular items that are in each product he’s researching, but more eye opening are his stories about how quick corporations are to try to put the kibosh on any article he’s writing for a national magazine. I mean, it’s not surprising that those poisoning us with sugar would eventually get their hands slapped for putting them in the cookie jar, but some of the reputable companies he names? Wow. Eye opening. And again, not so surprising what those wooed by the almighty dollar will do to cover up the poisons that are in the everyday items they sell the consumer. I was sickened by a good portion of this book. Rest assured, if there was anything in this book that Di Justo broke open the secrecy seal on, he got zero cooperation from those companies. So now that I have knowledge of some of this stuff going on, I’m no longer buying some of these items. I hope those who read this book with the knowledge that he has put here, in incredibly simple terms and yet with a side order of authentic humor to match, and make some changes. Find a product that doesn’t contain the equivalent of endosperm, and use that instead!
For your easier browsing, this book is separated into two separate sections: “This Is What You Put In Your Mouth” and “This Is What You Don’t Put In Your Mouth”. Meaning- stuff you can eat (Spam with Bacon; although I will NEVER eat Spam), and stuff you don’t (Axe Deodorant). So there should be no mixing one up with the other. Now, if you ask me for favorite anecdotes or moments from this book, I have a few: Di Justo comparing the Kardasians to Potato Starch (I have no problem admitting I laughed for a good five minutes, the story of Southern Comfort Egg Nog (I like the SoCo without the nasty nog, but the story is fascinating), Fix-A-Flat (sorry, dude, I laughed my butt off at that story too), Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale (his glee is infectious, as well as making me want a beer. Darn it!), and the Doritos All-Nighter Cheeseburger Chips (Thank some diet god that I NEVER saw those. For I would have indulged. And likely regretted). The partnering with the cop to get the 411 (911?) on heroin was a great story, as is his experience with Freshburst Listerine. I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone. I used to love to read the series of books that Mental Floss put out yearly, back in the early 2000’s, but we’re 15 years on now, and I don’t think they publish those books anymore. This is more than a worthy counterpart to those books; I hope Di Justo has plans for another. You should buy this, read it, and get others to read it, because while parts are horrifying, half the battle is KNOWING.