Twinkie, Deconstructed

Twinkie Deconstructed CoverNot that I have thought much about it, but have you ever wondered what actually went into a Twinkie? Steve Ettinger did. Or rather, his kids did. When Steve began reading the label of ingredients, he was astonished to find that he could not answer any of his children’s questions about where the pieces and parts of a Twinkie came from. What was polysorbate-60 and how did it get into what someone might call “food.”

Steve went on a journey and at the end, he created “Twinkie, Deconstructed.” This frightening little book will tell you not only what is in the ubiquitous Twinkie but also its point of origin and processing journey to your mouth.

Frightening. Really.

As Ettinger points out, most of a Twinkie comes from corn. Really? Yes, Michael Pollan was right – corn IS our first food group. If you eat any processed food, you know it’s true. Ettinger takes on his trip of investigation of every ingredient in a Twinkie, including the “enrichments” given to flour to
make it “better,” and gives us a truer picture of where this “food” comes from.

This astonishing “did you knows” from this book are…

…Did you know that Twinkies have different ingredients depending on where you are in the country, based on the price of the specific ingredients?

…Did you know that your Twinkie could contain beet sugar if you’re in the North and cane sugar if you’re in the South? The West and East seem a toss up depending on food prices.

…Did you know the difference between “enrichment” and “fortification?” I didn’t. Enrichment is when a company puts back into a food stuff something that was taken out – like bran to processed flour. Fortification is when things are put into a food stuff that weren’t normally there – like Vitamin C into corn flakes.

…Did you know that most vitamins in enriched flour come from either petroleum, coal-tar, or corn and are manufactured in China?

This isn’t about Twinkies – it’s about processed food as a whole. If you shop in a supermarket, and buy anything even remotely processed, I would recommend you read this book. It’s not to put you off eating. But we should all be aware of where our food comes from, and what it means to us to eat something “fortified” or “enriched.”

And yes, Ho-Ho’s are included in the lineup.




bloodcellsinveinOkay, today’s word is “supplements.” These are the things we all put in our mouth that are “supposed” to fill the gap between what we eat and what our bodies need.

The truth is, everyone is all over the board on these things, and up until a few months ago, I think I was, too. When I was younger, I worked at GNC – General Nutrition Center – in Newark, California. I had always been interested in alternative healing; I started being an herbalist in my late teens after reading Jeanne Rose’s Herbs and Things. Here I was, working at GNC, reading The Nutrition Bible and Diet for a Small Planet. In the early 80’s, it was the best and most up-to-date work that I could find and read.

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