Wednesday, April 12, 2017

290. Additives

          Two LibraryThing early reviews of Bill Hope: His Story:

graham, March 30, 2017:  I sat down to read this book around 6 p.m.; it's 11:20 p.m. and I've just finished it. I couldn't put it down. This is a very engaging, fast-moving first-hand "biography" of a turn-of-the-century petty thief turned con man which held me enthralled from start to finish.  

terry, April 7, 2017:  Engrossing novel that makes you want to continue reading in order to find out what happens next in the life of Bill Hope. Many ups and downs make it a truely enjoyable read, about a bygone time.


Bill Hope: His Story: ($20: Softcover: 6X9”, 158pp: 978-1-68114-305-7; $35: Hardcover: 978-1-68114-306-4; $2.99: EBook: 978-1-68114-307-1; LCCN: 2017933794; Historical Fiction; May 17, 2017) is the second novel in the Metropolis series. New York City, 1870s: From his cell in the gloomy prison known as the Tombs, young Bill Hope spills out in a torrent of words the story of his career as a pickpocket and shoplifter; his scorn for snitches and bullies; his brutal treatment at Sing Sing and escape from another prison in a coffin; his forays into brownstones and polite society; his brief career on the stage playing himself; his loyalty to a man who has befriended him but may be trying to kill him; and his sojourn among the “loonies” in a madhouse, from which he emerges to face betrayal and death threats, and possible involvement in a murder. In the course of his adventures he learns how slight the difference is between criminal and law-abiding, insane and sane, vice and virtue—a lesson that reinforces what he learned on the streets. Driving him throughout is a fierce desire for better, a yearning to leave the crooked life behind, and a persistent and undying hope.
          This is the second title in the Metropolis series of historical novels set in nineteenth-century New York.  The first in the series is The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), mention of which appears at the end of this post. 

         The book can be ordered from Amazon and will be shipped after the release date of May 17, 2017.  But the paperback, which goes for $20, will cost an additional $4.95 for shipping, unless you order books totaling $25 or more.  The book is also available now from the author and will be mailed immediately ($20 + postage).  And now let's talk about food.

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         Here, in another midweek mini-post, is an additional thought about food to die for, or maybe food to die with.  My partner Bob often orders take-out from nearby restaurants, and with the food come crackers and other packaged goodies.  Of course the ingredients have to be listed on the wrappings, and if most people ignore this precious information in the tiniest print, I do not.  So what have I found?  Here follows, verbatim, the ingredients of the crackers that come with soup.

·      Enriched flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), folic acid, soybean oil with TBHQ for freshness, salt, corn syrup, contains 2% or less of leavening (baking soda, yeast), soy lecithin.

All in all, it could be worse.  Vitamins, and no long names of chemicals, at least.  But then we come to TBHQ, an abbreviation for the preservative  tertiary butylhydroquinone.  Right off, would you want your crackers preserved with something called tertiary butylhydroquinone?  Probably not.  And sure enough, TBHQ is controversial, being toxic at high levels, even though allowed by the Food and Drug Administration at lower levels.  Some online sources say that more study is needed, while others call it flat-out dangerous.

         But that’s just the warm-up for this subject. Let’s look now at the ingredients of a banana nut muffin that also came our way.

·      Enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, water, bananas, maltodextrin, vegetable oil (soybean, canola), high fructose corn syrup, eggs, contains 2% or less: pecans, walnuts, glycerin, modified corn starch, potassium sorbate (preservative), salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), medium chain triglycerides, lactylic oleate, mono- and diglycerides, corn starch, xanthan gum, sodium stearoyl lactylate, enzyme, natural flavor, mixed tocopherols.

And you thought you were just getting a banana nut muffin! 

         But once again, it could be worse.  While potassium sorbate is toxic in high doses, studies have not found it to be carcinogenic in rats.  (Lucky rats!)  And if sodium aluminum phosphate contains aluminum, a known toxin, it is described as “probably safe,” though watch out if you have a kidney problem.  Xanthan gum at least doesn't sound intimidatingly chemical, and if it’s considered safe at low levels, it is also a laxative that increases “stool output, frequency of defecation, and flatulence.”  Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a skin moisturizer that for some reason gets put into food, where one source calls it an “ingredient to die for,” a description that, under the circumstances, I could do without.  Enough said; I won’t mention the sugars.

         Conclusion:  All these additives are FDA-approved, and as we all know, the FDA enjoys a sterling reputation and has our best nutritional interests at heart., even if our beloved President Trump has vowed to deregulate it.  But what about the effects of combining all these “safe” ingredients in a single food?   And what if one consumes that food daily?  Ah, that might be another matter.  So I think I’ll do without packaged crackers and banana nut muffins for the nonce and frequent the greenmarkets instead.

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          BROWDERBOOKS:  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World, my selection of posts from this blog, has received these awards: the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016.  For the Reader Views review by Sheri Hoyte, go here.  As always, the book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World

The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), the first novel in the Metropolis series,  tells the story of a young male prostitute in the late 1860s in New York who falls in love with his most difficult client   It is likewise available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

         Coming soon:  As announced, Helena Rubinstein: "Beauty is power."

          ©   2017   Clifford Browder