Written by Eric Schlosser
After reading (and absolutely loving) Schlosser’s ‘Fast Food Nation’ last year, I ordered more of his books including ‘Reefer Madness’ which investigates the far-reaching influence of the American black market—specifically pot, porn and illegal immigration. These three areas, which the government consistently seeks to regulate, all contribute substantially to the national economy. The book is a few years old, and a lot of information outdated, however it’s interesting to see the current outcomes of how these areas evolved. As Schlosser writes “no deity that men have ever worshipped is more ruthless and more hollow than the free market unchecked.”
Favourite line: “Many of the social and economic trends of the past two decades seem remarkably similar to those described in Frederick Lewis Allen’s classic history of the 1920s, ‘Only Yesterday’. The sex scandals, stock swindles, and celebrity murder trials, the youthful hedonism and religious fundamentalism, the Big Bull Market, thriving black markets, fondness for literary irony and political apathy of that era have strong contemporary echoes.”
Real Food, Fake Food
Written by Larry Olmsted
I’ve eaten “kobe” beef several times in my life, always somewhat skeptical that it was the real thing as it is a relative rarity outside of Japan and notoriously expensive. After reading this book, my suspicions were confirmed but not only for that - there are numerous food products we consume every day, from olive oil to various cheeses, that may not really be what you think they are. One fascinating fact Canadians may not know is that Maple Leaf Meats trademarked the name “Prosciutto di Parma” in 1971 and duped consumers into believing it was the authentic Italian dry-cured ham. Only in 2013 was this rectified with a new trade agreement in which both actual Parma producers and Maple Leaf Meats can still can sell the product, real and fake, in Canada. This is a great book that will get one thinking while shopping for groceries.
Favourite line: “Meat marketers use what is known as modified atmospheric packaging, or MAP, to make products look artificially fresh. Basically, they fill the package with small amounts of carbon monoxide, the same stuff unhappy folks use to kill themselves in garages.”
Written by Christopher Manson
I’ve collected gamebooks since I was a kid. I am exposing my nerd side but I have spent significant coin on old, weathered, well-used copies of the Fighting Fantasy series on eBay just for nostalgia. Paired with hot cocoa and a comfy couch, reading them comprises a perfect Sunday afternoon for me (especially with current temperatures in the -40 degree celsius range). Billed as “the world’s most challenging puzzle”, ‘Maze’ was a popular gamebook aimed at adults during the eighties. I hadn’t heard of it before and it is, indeed, very hard. I could only complete part of it, the main quest of navigating through the maze; for the other, visual puzzles—which were coupled with a publisher-sponsored prize back in the day that no one rightfully claimed—I resorted to cheating (and honestly probably wouldn’t have figured them out anyway).