Middleton Public Library
Address: 7425 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton, WI 53562
Phone: 608-831-5564     Email: info@midlibrary.org

UW-Go Big Read Book Discussion

Sunday, October 13, at 2:00pm    Add this event to your calendar
Location: In the downstairs Friends Community Room (through the lobby stairwell)
Sign-up Required
(event is over)

2019 GO BIG READ : THE POISON SQUAD by DEBORAH BLUM. America’s nauseating industrial food supply of yesteryear sparks political turmoil in this engrossing study of a pure-foods pioneer. Pulitzer-winning science journalist and Undark magazine publisher Blum (The Poisoner’s Handbook) looks back to the end of the 19th century, when unregulated manufacturers routinely added noxious substances to the nation’s foodstuffs: cakes were colored with lead and arsenic; milk was preserved with formaldehyde; brown sugar was padded out with ground-up insects; processed meats contained every variety of flesh and filth. Blum centers the book on Harvey Wiley, crusading head of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Chemistry, who fed a “poison squad” of human volunteers common food adulterants like borax to see if they got sick—and they usually did; his reports helped pass the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. Blum’s well-informed narrative—complete with intricate battles between industry lobbyists and a coalition of scientists, food activists, and women’s groups—illuminates the birth of the modern regulatory state and its tangle of reformist zeal, policy dog-fights, and occasional overreach (Wiley wanted to restrict the artificial sweetener saccharin, which nowadays is considered safe, and wasted much time trying to get corn syrup relabeled as glucose). The result is a stomach churner and a page-turner (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY).