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Barry Glassner

Reviews of The Gospel of Food

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"Barry Glassner's THE GOSPEL OF FOOD is a well-timed brick through the plate glass window of conventional wisdom, pretentiousness, willful ignorance and political correctness through which most writers on food look out at the world. He gives you plenty to think about."
Anthony Bourdain

"Mr. Glassner's latest book, THE GOSPEL OF FOOD, posits that misguided (and misguiding) gospelmongers are persuading Americans to eat according to ever more irrational notions and sillier motivations. It's plain that part of his own motivation is a genuine love of food and indignation at seeing a great common blessing made the sparring ground of officious sectarians who frequently don't know what they're talking about.

"As in THE CULTURE OF FEAR, Mr. Glassner exposes the strained interpretations, 'prejudices dressed up as science,' and pure fabrications behind much received wisdom simply by checking out sources with an eye to original meanings... he gets to the heart of something deeply wrong on the national food scene: Most of us want the right food to make us healthy and wise as individuals and as a society, without trusting ourselves to know rightness.”
The New York Times

"THE GOSPEL OF FOOD is pure fun to read. In pitting pundits against each other — the New York Times' Jane Brody versus former Los Angeles Times writer Emily Green, the New York Times Magazine's Gary Taubes versus the Washington Post's Sally Squires — and citing numerous food writers, including M.F.K. Fisher, Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Jeffrey Steingarten, the book is a deliciously gossipy, delightfully acerbic, voyeuristic foray into the inner circle of the culinary cognoscenti...
"Glassner is methodical and relentless in his exploration, fierce in his finger-pointing; and ultimately, his accessibility and humor offset the density of information (he opens with a quote from George Carlin). For such a negative book, THE GOSPEL OF FOOD is actually quite uplifting. Glassner may be an iconoclast, even a bit of a contrarian, but for all his obsession with fear and failure and false food facts, he's an optimist. He's a lover of the Slow Food movement and all its peripheral idealisms. He believes in the primal power of food to sustain, bond, transform and transport. And he's genuinely concerned about our growing disassociation with, and emotional baggage around, food."
The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Frequent sensational headlines and scientific controversies about obesity, fast food, and food safety have left many Americans bewildered about what to eat. Glassner's well-researched and wide-ranging commentary on American eating habits and food-related beliefs offers a welcome antidote to such confusion by examining the veracity of numerous food myths. Casting his clear-eyed, critical gaze on restaurant reviewers, nutrition reformers, McDonald's critics, and corporate food marketers, Glassner succeeds in making a persuasive case that Americans take their concern over healthy eating to unnecessarily extreme levels.

"As he amusingly skewers one food fad after another, he advocates for a sensibly skeptical and moderate approach to food beliefs."
Library Journal

"Finally, a book about the culture of food that doesn't preach to the choir. THE GOSPEL OF FOOD is an equal opportunity skewer. Page by page, chapter by chapter, Glassner provocatively examines everything all of us have held near and dear about the food we eat. It is by turns surprising, gutsy and fun."
Ed Levine, author of New York Eats, contributor to the New York Times food pages, TV host, and co-founder of SeriousEats.com

"The Gospel of Food is a remarkable book. It is well written, accessible, and full of information. I learned something surprising on every page. And what I learned is that even though we eat (at least) three times a day, we know a lot less about what's good, and what's good for us, than we think we do. People who are tired of being bludgeoned by the 'nutrition police' or the elite food critics should read this book."
Barry Schwartz, Professor at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice

"Everybody eats. The only question is what. Call this a sane guide."
Paco Underhill, bestselling author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

"I devoured this book! Barry Glassner is such a smart and engaging writer, that I snarfed it down like a novel. It's probably one of the few sociology books that I have ever decided to give as a gift; I can think of so many people – professional sociologists, students, foodies, and just observers of popular culture – who would adore this book. The Gospel of Food just might be a constant on my list of books I give people I like."
Pepper Schwartz, Professor of Sociology at University of Washington, author and columnist

"In his latest debunking project (after The Culture of Fear), sociologist Glassner argues that 'everything you think you know about food is wrong.' And Glassner really does take on almost everything, from Atkins to vegans, with particularly hard jabs at those who, in the name of nutrition, take the fun out of food... Only two conventional bits of wisdom survive Glassner's skeptical approach: the rich really are thinner than the poor, and four-star restaurant cooking really is delicious...."
Publishers Weekly

"…while Glassner examines nearly every issue populating the food landscape, GOSPEL shines brightest when he turns his gaze to two that are frequently absent from it: poverty and class.”
Salon

"Barry Glassner has made it his business to set credulous consumers of mass media straight... A master at the art of dissecting research, he points out that the obesity epidemic...came about through a complex mix of genetic predisposition, econonic hardship, and antismoking campaigns."
The New York Times Book Review

"[Glassner's]  is a plea for sanity, an exhortation to avoid the looniness of 'foodie' extremism... Glassner's views about food are on the whole so bracing…it's hard not to root for him as he tilts against modern food dogma."
Wall Street Journal

"In this fact-saturated sermon, Glassner argues that what we read in the health and food sections of newspapers like this one-- what we think we know about food -- is wrong, biased and based on limited or faulty research... If Glassner preaches anything in "THE GOSPEL OF FOOD," it is not to trust anybody's pronouncements about what to eat, be they from a scientist, nutritionist or well-respected diet guru."
The Washington Post

"In his convincing THE GOSPEL OF FOOD, Glassner looks at conflicting myths about food, such as the suggested health benefits of the Atkins diet and the purported deadliness of eggs and hot dogs. Glassner decries those who preach "the gospel of naught,'' the idea that "the worth of a meal lies principally in what it lacks.'' He thinks America's obesity epidemic has been exaggerated, in part by a food industry eager to sell higher- priced "natural'' products, many of which have no more nutritional value than processed foods. The right path, he says, is to learn to take genuine pleasure from your meals. You'll be happier, which in and of itself will make you healthier."
Bloomberg

"Glassner understands that any food can be made to seem good or bad depending on which features one chooses to emphasize, and that a dish’s merits cannot be fully captured by a table listing vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, fats, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. Glassner is not oblivious to health concerns, but he points out when they are exaggerated or mistaken... Glassner resists turning every meal choice into a moral statement or political act, and he is quick to question all forms of food snobbery, including his own... In short, Glassner appreciates food in all its amazing variety and is not willing to deny what his palate tells him for the sake of fashion or ideology."
Reason Magazine

”For anyone who has longed for a good read that speaks sense to America's preoccupation with diet fads and irrational food fears, Barry Glassner is your man. Glassner made the rounds, talking to nutritionists, chefs, restaurant critics, physicians and food chemists to divine the truth about why we're so afraid of food. Glassner makes a highly readable argument for why everything you think you know about food is wrong.”
The Denver Post

“In his previous book, the sociologist Barry Glassner showed us why the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. In this latest effort, he applies the same pragmatism to the ever-more-complex interlocking worlds of food, gastronomy, and health. The result is another work of refreshingly sensible skepticism about all manner of nostrums that offers some sound advice to avoid extremes, in either practice or expectation. Along the way, Glassner gives sharp views of the restaurant scene and piquant portraits of some of its stars.”
The Atlantic Monthly

"This book will surely serve future historians of American foodways as a clear-eyed, if cranky, primary source-- a food portrait, if you will-- of twenty-first century America."
Jenna Weissman Joselit, Princeton University, in Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture