Green Book Review: The Vitamin Murders
Who Killed Healthy Eating in Britain?
I randomly stumbled across this book some time ago and placed it on the bookshelf for later reading. What drew me to it (or what drew it to me :) ) was the mention of the current day chemical industry and the pervasive chemical contamination that we so often hear and read about, at least in the media channels that find everybody's health more important than who wins the X-factor.
The book kicks off with the chance discovery of a grave in southern France whilst the author is on holiday. It is the grave of Jack Drummond and his wife, the victims of a despicable murder in the early 1950s. Worse still his young daughter, just 11 years old, was also murdered with them. Back in 1951 the story was big news both in France and back in England too.
The Vitamin Murders documents the author James Fergusson's investigation into who was convicted for the triple murder and speculates who may have actually been responsible. It unearths the fascinating history of Jack Drummond who was responsible for Britain's nutritional guidance during the rationing of the second world war and tells how he was as much a wartime hero at home as those who fought on the front line.
When James Fergusson's wife becomes pregnant during the writing of this book they test themselves for chemical contamination at a London lab and discover that they can pass on the trace chemicals they have in their systems to their unborn child. This leads to a circle that connects the murder of the Drummond family in 1951 with their own chemical legacy and finds a number of unnerving facts along the way.
The Vitamin Murders is an excellent murder mystery that delves into the fact that we owe a lot of our current reliance on poisons to the post war years and is well worth a read for advocates of organic food.
Tim Smit of the Eden Project and foodie extraordinaire Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall both lend their quotes to the back page of the book saying "read it and weep" and adding that the agrochemical industry has "made unwitting guinea pigs of us all."
You'll never look at food, or yourself, in the same way again.