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The Erin Brockovich of the food industry exposes the toxic truth about risky additives, skyrocketing allergy rates, and other alarming dangers lurking in America’s grocery aisles
THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH
One Mother’s Shocking Investigation Into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply—And What Every Family Can Do To Protect Itself
By Robyn O’Brien
With Rachel Kranz
Foreword by Kenneth A. Bock, M.D., Author of Healing the New Childhood Epidemics
“It seemed like an ordinary day. The baby was fussy, so I put her down for a nap. The next thing I knew, her face looked like a swollen, red tomato, and I had plunged into the midst of a childhood epidemic I barely even knew existed. What had changed in our food to make it so suddenly toxic to our children? How had PB&J and a carton of milk become loaded weapons? When had food become so dangerous?”—robyn o’brien
Hailed by Erin Brockovich for her “courageous pursuit of the unhealthy truth,” Robyn O’Brien has become one of the nation’s trusted ambassador for children’s health by exposing the hidden dangers in the food we eat in order to revolutionize the food industry at all levels. Her mission is clear: to inform and inspire ways in which we can all do our part to protect the health of our families. She’s an unlikely crusader for regulation: a Houston native from a conservative family, she holds an MBA and worked her way through the ranks of corporate America. And that’s exactly why she’s the food industry’s worst nightmare. When her youngest child nearly died after eating seemingly ordinary eggs, O’Brien used her skills as a former equity analyst to become a corporate super-sleuth. What she uncovered about “farm fresh”ingredients will shock you. What she proposes we do about it will change your life. Eye-opening and inspiring, her findings and action plans are now fully revealed in THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH: One Mother’s Shocking Investigation Into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply—And What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself (Broadway Books; Trade Paperback; $14.99; On Sale May 11, 2010).
A self-described reluctant crusader, O’Brien was ostracized by her own parents when she first began questioning the events that led to her daughter’s severe allergic reaction. But the more she researched the lethal and largely unregulated relationship between Big Food and Big Money, the more convinced she became: she had to go public with her findings. In an alarming first-person examination of the U.S. food industry, O’Brien reveals a shocking relationship between the toxic manipulation of our food and the increase in chronic conditions and diseases, particularly among children. In THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH, she empowers not only parents but all concerned consumers with crucial facts about these topics and more:
• Proof that childhood allergies ARE on the rise—and why the “hygiene hypothesis” doesn’t account for it. O’Brien used to be a skeptic, rolling her eyes at moms who mentioned their children’s food allergies. Now she can spout dozens of statistics in their favor, with sources ranging from the Centers for Disease Control to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology—proving that allergies are dramatically increasing among American children, including those from polluted neighborhoods (refuting the theory that kids have more allergies today because of America’s “antiseptic” culture).
• The ABCs of allergies, GMOs, and other key pieces of the food-allergy puzzle. From the distinction between “food allergy” and “food sensitivity” to the intricacies of genetically modified organisms, O’Brien deciphers the jargon—and provides the link between allergic reactions (the response to “foreign” proteins) and the GM process (the implantation of a “foreign” protein). No coincidence there, says O’Brien.
• Unsettling revelations about the “watchdogs.” O’Brien discovered that, with sponsorships from both Big Food and Big Pharma, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (the largest, oldest organization of its kind) may be putting the interests of the food and pharmaceutical industries ahead of the allergy sufferers it claims to serve. O’Brien also exposes the role of special-interest groups in funding government and university research on genetic engineering (GE) and other food-production techniques.
• What other developed nations know about soy, milk, and corn, but the United States ignores. While France, Germany, and other countries have issued advisories against giving babies soy products, the FDA has remained silent. As for cow’s milk, the use of the risky growth hormone rBGH has been banned in Canada, the E.U., and Japan. But it’s more than approved in the US; rBGH manufacturer Monsanto even helped to quash an Oregon law that would have required GE foods to be labeled as such (plus, rBGH was launched when the FDA’s deputy director was a former partner with Monsanto’s law firm). As for American corn, roughly 80 percent of it is GE, often to make it insect-resistant, but such U.S. crops are not studied in accordance with protocols established by the World Health Organization.
• A proven action plan. Some of O’Brien’s strongest inspiration comes from the Southampton Shocker, a British study that demonstrated a correlation between behavior problems in kids who consumed foods containing additives, dyes, and benzoate preservative, prompting corporations in the UK to voluntarily stop using these ingredients or risk bad publicity. O’Brien wants American consumers to have the same information and choices that British, European, and Australian shoppers and our counterparts in other developed countries enjoy. Her chapters of solutions share ways to help spread the word, handy lists for creating a chemical-free pantry, and parent-friendly recipes that even the busiest, most budget-constrained mom or dad can try—and that even the most veggie-resistant kid can try.
From a brave whistle-blower who dared to take on the medical community, the food industry, and government regulators, THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH offers an inspiring prescription for change.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robyn O’Brien earned a Fulbright Fellowship, an MBA and served as an equity analyst before founding AllergyKids on Mothers’ Day 2006 after her fourth child was diagnosed with food allergies. She was named by SHAPE Magazine as one of 2009’s “Women To Shape the World”, along with Michelle Obama, and has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by national news organizations, including the New York Times. She was recently named by Forbes magazine as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter” and by the Discovery Channel as one of 15 Visionaries. Her work has been recognized by Ted Turner, Dr. Oz, Erin Brockovich, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and others. Robyn was raised in Texas and now lives in Colorado with her husband and four children where she serves as the founder and director of the AllergyKids Foundation. Robyn also serves on the board of the Environmental Working Group and works as a contributing editor to SHAPE magazine, the Huffington Post and other media.
ABOUT THE BOOK:THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH One Mother’s Shocking Investigation Into the Dangers of America’s Food Supply—And What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself Robyn O’Brien with Rachel Kranz Broadway Books • Trade Paperback • ISBN: 978-0-7679-3074-1 • $14.99 • On Sale May 11, 2010
To schedule your interview with Robyn O’Brien, please contact the Broadway Books publicity department: Tammy Blake (212)572.2542 TBlake@randomhouse.com.